The technological world is sometimes spinning so fast it is amazing that we notice anything besides the blur. Industry leads are constantly challenged to bring out the “next best invention” or they risk being left in the dust, their company’s stock price plummeting and everyone going into survival mode. The spend millions and millions of dollars analyzing the market, prognosticating about their new products and how great they are and why the products of their competitors will soon end up in the graveyard of dead products. Below you can see what I think are examples of just how wrong these industry crystal ball wizards are some times.
1. In 2007 Steve Ballmer of Microsoft told the USA Today that “there’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.” Well we all know how accurate that prediction was.
2. In 1977 the President of DEC (Digital Equipment Corp.) was at a World Future Society meeting in Boston Mass. when he confidently stated, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Another industry leader shows just how smart and accurate he is about foreseeing the future.
3. In 2013 the CEO of Blackberry, Thorsten Heins, was very happy and proud to share with us all that, “In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore.” As tablet sales grew by 142% and Blackberry struggled and still lost marketshare it was only a month late Mr. Heins had a change of heart and stated, “We’re very interested in the future of tablets.” Now there is a decisive leader for you. I think maybe Mr. Heins should have entered politics were flip flopping is an art form.
4. In 1981, the man credited with inventing the father of the cellular phone, Marty Cooper of Motorola, announced that, “Cellular phone will never replace local wire systems.” Seems we have another “oops” from our fortune telling experts. In recent data for the USA phone market, 34% of the cellular users have no fixed line telephone and only 8% of the people who have a land line don’t own a cellphone. Seems like Mr. Cooper was a great inventor but a terrible analyst of human and market behavior.
5. In 1995, Robert Metcalf (co-inventor of Ethernet) predicted to InfoWorld and stated with supreme confidence, “I predict the internet in 1996 will catastrophically collapse.” Seems Mr. Metcalf was sure that the internet would simply melt from the amount of traffic it was handling and being asked to handle. Just for your information, in comparing internet traffic from 1995 to 2012 the volume has increased by 15,000,000%. Stick to inventing and if you want to forecast the future you may want to buy a deck of Tarot cards.