What does it take to survive as a tech company in the internet age?

The growth of the internet has completely changed the way we live our lives. Just 10 years ago, Uber was still in its infancy – today it’s the leading rideshare service in the world. Airbnb had just been founded in 2008 – today it has turned the hospitality industry on its head. These tech startups have proven that if there is a need for a service, a company has a chance of making waves (and big bucks) in the process.

However, a number of tech companies who did change the landscape in their respective industries have not survived, often having to bow to bigger startups around which a lot more buzz was created. Like in any other, but perhaps even more so than in more traditional industries, the world of tech is competitive, and fiercely so.

Myspace was the forerunner to Facebook and all the other social networking sites that we use today, and at the height of its popularity, it seemed like Myspace would be around for many years to come.

Myspace was founded in 2003, and was the definitive social networking site until Facebook came along a few years later. TIME magazine even referred to Myspace as “the place where web stars are born” and “music and film careers are launched” when it named the social media platform one of the 50 best websites of 2006.

Ultimately, Myspace became a relic of the very beginnings of the social networking arena. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram have drowned out its initial noise, but that is not to say that this tech company didn’t have a huge influence on the way we interact online today.

Samsung, Huawei and Apple are the foremost mobile manufacturers in the world today, but it wasn’t always that way. Before there was WhatsApp, BlackBerry’s BBM instant messaging service was the most popular way of instantly communicating with friends and family via mobile. Thanks to the uncapped usage by means of a monthly subscription fee offered by local network providers, BlackBerrys were very popular handsets in South Africa.

Blackberry launched its first device, a two-way pager featuring the company’s characteristic QWERTY keyboard, in 1999, but 20 years later, it has had to bow to other smartphone manufacturers, that have certainly taken a page or two from BlackBerry’s book to develop their own devices.

Rated one of America’s best brands as recently as 2005, MapQuest has today made way for more popular mobile-based GPS navigation systems like Google Maps and Waze. Despite the company’s diminishing popularity, MapQuest was the most popular way of getting directions online. Users often printed out these turn-by-turn directions to use as they navigated their way along highways and byways across the world, but a lack of innovation gave other navigation apps an edge that MapQuest simply could not match.

MapQuest, BlackBerry and MySpace still operate today, albeit in a different way than they used to before. MySpace has become a music network, BlackBerry still sells smartphones, but now make use of the Android operating system, and MapQuest – although it is dwarfed by its competitors – is still a profitable company, thanks to some loyal users who are slow adapters.

Many of us have forgotten that Apple was also close to death when Steve Jobs resuscitated the company with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. So, what does it take for a tech company to survive in an era where innovation isn’t the exception, but the rule? It seems it might be exactly that: innovating.

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