10 companies that failed to innovate and

Innovation is critical to every business. As times change, businesses must learn to develop solutions that will help them adapt to changes in consumer demand, technology and the economic climate. When a business innovates in the right way and at the right time, it can lead to huge gains in market share and overall business growth.

Done incorrectly or too late, it can mean the death of a company. Don’t believe it? Here are 10 companies that failed to innovate on time and paid the price.

1. Blockbuster

Blockbuster was the original video rental business and had over 9,000 stores worldwide. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2010, and all of its remaining stores closed by 2013. How did Blockbuster fail to adapt to changing market conditions? In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Netflix emerged as a competitor with a new business model: mail-order movie rentals. Instead of having a Brick and mortar stores Along with streaming movies on DVD or VHS tape (which was becoming obsolete), Netflix would send movies directly to subscribers by mail. This service made it easy for people who didn’t want to go shopping for videos or just wanted something specific that wasn’t available at their local store.

Another problem is that Blockbuster built its business on renting physical DVDs rather than streaming them online like Netflix. When it came time to upgrade so they could play Blu-ray discs, they decided not to because it didn’t make financial sense since Blu-ray players weren’t very common yet and they didn’t want customers to lose interest!

2. MySpace

MySpace is a social networking service website that operated from 2003 to 2011 It was founded in 2003 by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolf and bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in 2005 for $580 million. In June 2009, MySpace had an estimated 100 million users who could post blogs and other content on the site. By 2008, it was the world’s most popular social networking site before falling to third place in 2010, behind Facebook and Twitter. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation bought MySpace in 2005 for $580 million. In 2011, MySpace sold to Certain Media and Justin Timberlake for $35 million.

However, MySpace still failed because it didn’t innovate fast enough when Facebook launched its platform in 2004, which allowed users to create a profile page with photos and information about themselves for friends to see.


Charles Lazarus founded Toys R Us in 1948 and for generations, it was the place to buy toys. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2018 with $5 billion in debt; At its peak it had 8,000 stores and 60,000 employees worldwide.

In its prime between 1985 and 2007, Toys R Us had sales of $11 billion – more than Walmart or Target. However, like many brick-and-mortar retail chains, the company struggled to compete with Amazon and other online retailers. Toys R Us couldn’t keep up with digital competitors who could offer lower prices without being subject to state sales tax. The company ceased operations in 2018.

4. Pan AM

The company was a major international airline that operated from 1927 until its demise in 1991. Pan American World Airways, Inc., commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal and largest international air carrier in the United States from the 1950s through the 1950s. 1970s. The airline’s routes cover South America, North America (including Hawaii), Africa, Asia and Europe at their prime. But despite its success, Pan Am struggled financially for most of its existence and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1991. Plan to recover from business failure.

When the company ceased operations at midnight on 4 December 1991, the company had over 100 destinations in 52 countries on six continents. The company was $1 billion in debt when it finally ceased operations. It continues today as the brand name of some airlines worldwide; However, there is no longer any corporate entity behind it.

5. Pets.com

Pets.com was an early player in the online pet supply retail market. With the success of companies like Chewy in today’s world, it’s hard to imagine why this company failed in its mission to provide pets. Pets.com couldn’t capitalize on being first to market. The company spent too much money on marketing and advertising which led to high operating expenses and unsustainable losses. It had difficulty securing profitable supplier relationships and managing its supply chain efficiently. But they cannot be blamed for all the failures. They are also victims of timing.

The company suffered from the bursting of the dot-com bubble and subsequent recession. Pet products are one of the few, though Products that work well in recessionsPets.com could not stay afloat and eventually filed for bankruptcy and liquidation in November 2000.

6. Polaroid

Polaroid pioneered instant photography and introduced the first commercially successful instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, in 1948. The camera uses Polaroid’s patented technology to create black-and-white images on peeled paper.

Polaroid’s innovative products were so popular that by 1972 it had become a huge corporation with sales of nearly $3 billion per year — and then failed to innovate when it needed to.

Over time, Polaroids became more expensive than standard film cameras and lost their novelty value as other companies such as Kodak and Fuji began selling similar products at lower prices. in an effort to increase sales and regain its edge over competitors such as Kodak (which had launched a line of instant cameras). Polaroid eventually stopped production of its instant film altogether. However, it still exists today as a company that focuses on consumer electronics rather than capturing memories on paper or film.

7. Radio Shack

RadioShack was known as a place of technological innovation in the retail sector. Ironically, their lack of innovation was ultimately their downfall. The company failed to evolve with the times. It did not compete effectively with online retailers such as Amazon, which offered a wide range of products at low prices. RadioShack also suffers from a dated and unattractive store image. In 2000 and beyond, this image failed to appeal to modern consumers.

Limited range of products and over reliance on mobile phones, which have become commoditized, further damaged the brand. But there were other problems with the company. RadioShack had high levels of debt and financial mismanagement. It was a perfect storm of problems that could be overcome. But, RadioShack ran out of time. The company folded in 2020. In 2021, RadioShack’s intellectual property and its remaining operations—and its online sales operations—were purchased by a Florida-based company called Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV).

8. Blackberry

BlackBerry was once the leader in the smartphone market. The company primarily focuses on smartphones as business devices. BlackBerry was slow to embrace the bring-your-own-device trend. This is where employees are allowed to use their personal devices for work purposes. As a result, corporate customers have decreased. The reputation as the “business phone” made it difficult to pivot as the smartphone became a personal device for nearly every man, woman and child in America. The focus on business use, and the inability to move towards touchscreens were two of the main reasons the company struggled.

BlackBerry has failed to innovate in terms of their ecosystem. Hardware companies like Apple rely on developers to create useful apps for their customers to use. BlackBerry’s closed ecosystem limited developers’ ability to create and distribute apps. This has further hampered its competitiveness.

One thing that BlackBerry did well was security. Blackberry devices were known to be more secure than other smartphones. on September 28, 2016, BlackBerry Limited has announced that it will stop designing its own BlackBerry devices. The company decided to pivot to focus its efforts on software security.

9. Boundaries

With the rise of Amazon and ebooks in the mid-2000s, experts predicted that physical books and bookstores would be a thing of the past. Retail booksellers such as Books-A-Million, Barnes & Nobles, and Borders were considered doomed. Many thought the industry would die out by 2020. But Barnes & Noble is surprisingly resilient. The company has seemingly come back from the dead and plans to open 30 new locations in 2023.

On the other hand, border shifting has become an accident of technology. By 2000, Borders had established itself as an international brand. By 2003 there were 1,249 stores using the Borders and Waldenbook names. However, 2006 would be the last year they would enjoy profits.

The company failed to move fast enough into the online space. Borders tried to take advantage of Amazon’s success by forging a partnership. However, in March 2007, the company announced the end of its marketing alliance with Amazon. It announced the launch of its own online business in 2008.

But, it was a little late. By 2011, Borders announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing $1.275 billion in assets and $1.293 billion in debt in its filing. The company closed its remaining stores in the United States on Sunday, September 18, 2011, and its online store on September 27, 2011.

10. Tower Records

Tower Records, the once iconic music retailer, has failed to compete effectively with the rise of digital music. Tower.com, one of the first online music retailers, launched in 1995. However, the company had a limited range of products and was still heavily dependent on physical music sales. Their timing couldn’t have been worse as the popularity of digital music began to skyrocket in the early 2000s.

The company also had difficulty competing with online music retailers such as iTunes, which launched in 2001. Tower’s competitors offer consumers a wide range of music at lower prices. These companies also focused on digital music. The nail in the coffin was the crippling debt that Tower carried. In February 2004, the debt was estimated at between $80 million and $100 million.

Photo credit: under Flickr cc


Thomas Martin

Tom is a member of Startup Mindset’s editorial team. He has over 6 years of experience writing on business, entrepreneurship and other topics. He mainly focuses on online business, digital publishing, marketing and ecommerce startups.

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