People are calling the Facebook IPO a failure because it did not triple it’s opening price. Indeed, it retreated. So what. I’d hardly call it a failure. Yet, people are already touting the end of Facebook. Well, if that is the case, it has to be the most successful failure in business. Ever.
So, if that is a failure, what other ‘successful failures’ are there?
Let’s take a look.
First, lets look at Nintendo’s Wii. Pundits wrote this thing off the day it was released. Yet, it went on to sell tens of millions of consoles and games. It still sells well today, but not at the level it did just two years ago. Even so, it was called a turkey and that it was something a lot of people bought, played once or twice and put in a closet. Yet, those games dominated the charts for months at a time. Even now, it manages to garner high numbers for its games. Has it lived out it’s life cycle? Yes. It is aging quickly now, but our Wii sees heavy use even today. Not only is it the second biggest successful failure, it is, in my opinion, the best console ever. It is the only I have ever seen that got my kid to actually stand up and get engaged in a game and not just sit on his duff.
Next, comes another game console, the Sony Playstation 3. This turkey lagged behind Microsoft and Nintendo for years. Only recently has it really started to gain any momentum, but this comes after Sony lowered its price, several times and dumbed the thing down. But, it has sold millions. I suspect many of those sales were just for Blu-Ray since it was, at one point, the cheapest blu-ray player. So, I will call it a successful failure.
Going back a couple of decades, and citing a company that no longer exists, we have the Pontiac Fiero. The Fiero began life as a commuter car. A two seater, it was meant to be a short haul means of transport. That it looked kind of sporty gave it a false image. People started buying them in droves. Dealers could not keep them in stock. Prices went through the roof…and so did the flames. Reports of the car bursting into flames for no apparent reason and reliability issues plagued the car. Pontiac scrapped it after just four years and 370 thousand vehicles produced.
Windows Vista. What can I say? Vista is one example of why a company needs to stay in the good graces of the media. Vista ‘failed’ because the tech press – and APPLE – were relentless in criticism against the operating system. There were a few legit issues early on-like drivers-but they went away. The biggest problem was with PC makers using components that were not capable enough to handle the operating system and ones in which Microsoft just stamped OK. Like Intel’s abysmal graphics chipset. That, and the poor reception in the press, doomed the operating system. Yet, just two years later, when Windows 7 shipped, Microsoft managed fool not only the public but the tech press into thinking Windows 7 was a gigantic leap over Vista. It isn’t. It is Vista 2.0.
There are lots of products and services that started out with a flash, but just kind of fizzled…like Zune, Pets.com, Sega’s Dreamcast or the Palm Pre. These really were failures. As much as I liked all three of them, Zune, Dreamcast and Pre were failures. Big time failures. Yet, I would not call Facebook or Wii or even PS3 out and out failures. Each was a success. Facebook will be around forever, but I suspect it will far surpass MySpace or any other such site and will be around for a few more years. I don’t think I’ll buy stock, though. No, I’m sure. I won’t buy the stock.
What other ‘successful failures’ can you think of? Leave a note in the comments.
Oh, Like this post if you agree. (See what I did there?)