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When I started using internet in 1994, the main search engines were Yahoo and Netscape Navigator. They were the best known and the most used. There were couple of other smaller options. Then Microsoft launched its Internet Explorer which has now been replaced with Microsoft Edge. Most popular email was Yahoo mail and for instant messaging, Yahoo messenger was used.
Sabeer Bhatia in India invented Hotmail which became hot quickly. Microsoft purchased Hotmail from him at a publicly declared price of 400 million US$ and released it in 1996. Bhatia later developed another email platform by the name ‘Arzoo.com’ but it never caught up.
Netscape, Yahoo, and Microsoft ruled the email and internet search for several years. I had email accounts on Yahoo and Hotmail which are still functional. Hotmail changed its name to Outlook, but the Hotmail accounts use the same old name.
Microsoft’s main business came out to be Windows operating system. In 1992, Windows 3.1 was released and became hugely popular. Its interface actually looked like windows and one had to click the window to start the program. Windows 1995 was a smashing hit and changed the landscape of operating system forever. It remained popular even after the release of later versions of Windows. The developers loved and it was considered to be one of the most stable and user-friendly Windows ever invented. Hotmail, and later Internet Messenger – IM remained popular but not the focus of attention for Microsoft.
Yahoo and Netscape were only internet companies. They did not sell any product; they only sold the service. They did it very well and earned billions of dollars. Netscape could not keep pace with the new developments on the market and faded out rather quickly, but Yahoo sustained.
In April 2004, Gmail was introduced. In the beginning, it was an invitation only platform. The invitation had to come from a Gmail account holder. Gmail gained popularity quickly and become available to everyone for joining. Google followed up the success of its email client with its search engine, Google Chrome. It was another success story which caused the decline of titans like Yahoo and Internet Explorer.
Yahoo kept trying to keep their market space. They brought in Marissa Mayer as CEO who was the 20th employee at Google and had been rising the corporate ladder steadily. She tried to turn around Yahoo, but did not succeed, and finally resigned after five years. Yahoo still lives, but it is a relic of the past. In a span of 14-15 years, two titans of internet world had fallen.
Social Media were the next big thing to hit the world.
In 2002, LinkedIn was launched which is a connecting platform for professionals. It did not create stir for quite some time, but now it has millions of users. In 2004, Facebook was launched, and it became popular instantaneously. 2006 saw the launch of Twitter which was limited text public messaging platform. Twitter also took some time to gain popularity, and it has billions of users worldwide.
The success of social media led to introduction of several new platforms. StumbleUpon in 2001, Reddit in 2005, YouTube in 2005, WhatsApp in 2009, Instagram in 2010, Snapchat in 2011, Telegram in 2013, and TikTok in 2016. The last to join the bandwagon is Snack Video launched in 2018.
Besides the so-called worldwide platforms, there are others which are particularly popular in certain territories, mainly China. In China and several other territories, WeChat, Baidoo and Viber are much more in use.
Fortunes have been made and lost in the digital world. The titans of yesteryears are gone and even lost from memory. The new ones have replaced them. In future, these may be challenged by others who will try to displace them.
Nothing is permanent in business world. The enterprises which ruled for decades crumbled in a matter of years. Is it some kind of cycle of rise and fall? Not really.
When we study these cases, we understand that those who kept with the pace of development, those who went along with trends, those who created new trends have remined relevant, growing and thriving. In short, only the Living Organizations survive, the deadwood is discarded.
This is true for all industries, including Pharma, which we shall see later.
To be Continued……Disclaimer. Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images which does not show anyone’s copyright claim. However, if any such claim is presented, we shall remove the image with suitable regrets.