RE:INVENTION’s Mnestic Monday: October 1, 2012

by | Monday, October 1st, 2012

Time for RE:INVENTION’s Mnestic Monday. Every Monday we honor business history and heritage, paying homage to yesterday’s inventions, inventors, innovators, and their media stories. The world often forgets, so RE:INVENTION remembers. This week’s subtheme: fallible fortune telling.

mnestic (adj.) pertaining to memory, from Gk. mnestis “remembrance,” related to mnesis “memory.” Alas, mnestic isn’t a valid Scrabble Word. Darn.

This Day in History:

The CD player turns thirty today. On October 1, 1982, Sony and Phillips announced the world’s first commercially available CD (Compact Disc) player in Japan. The first disc? Billy Joel’s 52nd Street. Booyah. I remember purchasing that CD with my tech-savvy Dad (guess that dates me). Audiophiles were outraged — criticizing CD performance and predicting the technology’s demise. Despite the resistance, the CD caught on and endured. It wasn’t until last year that digital music sales (downloads) finally exceeded sales of compact discs.

Media Flashback Based on Current News:

According to breaking news, Google’s market value surpassed Microsoft’s market value today. In the past three months, Google shares have jumped 30%. Analysts attribute Google’s growing value to the rise of mobile computing, weak personal computer growth, and investor enthusiasm for large Internet-based companies. Comments across the web from readers and analysts forecast hard times ahead for Microsoft.

“For Microsoft, it was bad enough when Apple’s stock market value surpassed its own in 2010. Now Google, a company that didn’t even exist 15 years ago, just did the same thing.”
NYT Bits Blog

Has the “decade-long struggle for dominance” come to an end? Will the current market climate mark the ultimate demise of Microsoft? Doubtful. Corporate America is heavily invested in Microsoft products. And Microsoft has been investing in innovation — with plans to introduce numerous new products this month including Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, an Internet-powered refresh of Office, and additional cloud-based hosting services.

Which brings us to today’s flashback article from the New York Times (August 10, 1990). The headline? “Apple Faces Challenge To Its Role as Innovator.”

“Apple’s potential problems run deeper than the challenge from Microsoft…the company has increasingly found that it is trailing, not leading, the computer industry in innovation,” wrote reporter, John Markoff. In the article, Esther Dyson and Stewart Alsop (now esteemed early stage investors and pundits) bemoan Apple’s struggles and forecast Apple’s demise. “Apple has gotten too big to nurture ideas,” quips another technology expert quoted in the article.

Everybody is a fortune teller, but few are Nostradamus. Sometimes companies that are left for dead rise from the ashes. There is always a chance for companies to reinvent themselves.

Your Mnestic Monday “Lessons Of History” Quote:

“When it is darkest, men see the stars.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

That’s a wrap for this week’s Mnestic Monday, folks. “Thanks for the memory!” For the record, Frank Sinatra recorded an extended version of that signature song with altered lyrics on his 1981 album, She Shot Me Down — one year before Sony introduced the CD.

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