Leading market products made obsolete by competitors

By Sumit Modi

A US International Trade Commission judge has ruled that Fitbit has not committed any infringement against Jawbone.


Jawbone has been attempting to sue Fitbit over trade secrets violations since last year, but judge Dee Lord said that there has been no violation of the Tariff Act. Both companies create fitness tracking apps, but Jawbone has been losing market share as Fitbit slowly but surely overtakes it. Fitbit’s CEO James Park said in a statement earlier this week that Jawbone simply wanted “to disrupt Fitbit’s momentum to compensate for their own lack of success in the market.”

Many companies over the years have created leading market products which have simply been outshone by others, rendering them obsolete. Here are a few famous examples.


Betamax versus VHS

Betamax was a brand of video cassette tape in the 1970s, and was closely followed by the release of the VHS tape. Both brands did well, leading to a vicious format war which stretched into the 80s. Eventually, it became clear due to Betamax’s higher price tag and shorter recording time that VHS was the preferable brand, especially in the US. Amazingly, despite not having been popular for 30 years, Betamax only finally ceased production this year.

AltaVista versus Google

AltaVista was an early search engine, established in 1995. It proved incredibly popular, but Google launched two years later and immediately began to gain ground. Yahoo bought AltaVista in 2003, and shut down the service entirely ten years later. Now, www.altavista.com will redirect you to Yahoo, which itself is no big competition for Google.

BlackBerry versus other smartphone brands

BlackBerry gained a foothold in the cell phone world by concentrating on the business market and putting a lot of effort into e-services like email. The QWERTY keyboard was viewed as more sophisticated than the simplistic buttons of other phones, but as of 2011, shares and popularity of the devices have plunged thanks to Android and Apple smartphones. BlackBerry’s user base has almost halved in recent years, and while it retains a stronghold in some sectors, many industry experts have speculated that it may not survive as an independent going concern.

Kodak versus other digital cameras and mobile devices

Kodak was an early American innovator in the photography world, even creating a digital camera in 1975 – the first of its kind. The product was dropped due to concerns it would interfere with Kodak’s photographic film business, but the company returned to the concept much later, and by 2005 it ranked number one in digital camera sales. However, Kodak lost huge amounts of money due to underselling, and soon it was overtaken dramatically by both bigger camera companies and mobile devices, which have increasingly high-quality cameras within them.


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