A swing and a miss by the corporation
August 30, 2018 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Is there a name for the occurrence when a relatively popular successful businesses or organization remarkably modifies/redesigns their very successful core product or service (not an ad campaign) but it falls flat, fails, flops so bad that they end up going back to their original product/service/design or they even go out of business as a result?

The best example that I'm thinking of is New Coke although they did not go out of business; it was their core product. Other flops like Google Glass, BetaMax, Minidiscs, Edsels, aren't what I'm looking for since each of those companies had other products.

I'm looking for instances of the opposite of Blockbuster, Sears that failed to adopt to consumer preferences.

If you have a good name for these, and also have great examples of these (I'd expect them to be smaller companies since most corporations have multiple, diversified products nowadays) , I'd appreciate
posted by fizzix to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps corporate backtrack. Netflix's Qwikster is another example.
posted by zinon at 10:36 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

In software it's known as the Second System Effect (or Syndrome). The article linked here mentions Netscape Navigator as a product that was impacted by the decision to do a total rewrite while trying to fight off Microsoft.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:43 AM on August 30, 2018

Best answer: Some good related answers, previously
posted by mochapickle at 10:44 AM on August 30, 2018

Mall rebranding? The Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts tried renaming itself "The Natick Collection," renting to a few high end stores in one wing, and building overpriced condos as part of the complex. The condo purchasers later sued the developers and won, and a few years later they quietly renamed it back to the Natick Mall.
posted by Melismata at 10:45 AM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Digg is a good modern example, specifically the enormously unpopular v4 redesign back in 2010. After a brief period of heavy protest, there was a mass user exodus to Reddit, traffic collapsed, and the company was sold off for scrap less than two years later.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:55 AM on August 30, 2018

In a fictional world, there was Babu's restaurant in Seinfeld who changed style on Jerry's advice, went broke and closed down - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cafe_(Seinfeld)
posted by turkeybrain at 11:27 AM on August 30, 2018

Perhaps corporate backtrack. Netflix's Qwikster is another example.

Netflix also briefly got into the movie production and distribution business back in 2006, before streaming became theirs (or anyone's) bread-and-butter. Through a subcompany called Red Envelope Entertainment, they independently financed about two dozen films and guaranteed home video distribution through their DVD by mail service.

All the studios hated them for it, from major studios down to indie houses, and threatend to walk out on agreements for discs, which would have forced Netflix to buy the movies retail just to have any to mail out. Red Envelope folded by 2008 and Netflix took four years to get back into any original productions. This time, they started smaller by co-producing Lilyhammer and House of Cards.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2018

There was a book published years ago called "In Search of Stupidity" (a riff on "In Search of Excellence") that covered a lot of tech companies who managed to drive themselves out of business by doing a super-awesome rewrite of their core product.

Although some of the failures turned out to be premature.

In 2006, Apple possessed a 3 percent to 4 percent market share in hardware and had become the world’s largest irrelevant $14 billion computer company (though the company has found a second life in MP3 music players with the iPod).

posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:59 AM on August 30, 2018

I immediately thought of New Coke before I read below the fold. If there's a formal term for this I don't know it, but I expect if you told anyone in business that "Yeah, Company X sure pulled a New Coke on that one" they'd know what you're talking about.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:18 PM on August 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

Jumped the shark.
posted by gregoreo at 3:38 PM on August 30, 2018

The failed Tropicana redesign.
posted by the_blizz at 5:03 AM on August 31, 2018

The folks who make the Transit app redesigned their application flow in version 3.0 (hiding the nearby destinations list behind a map) and lost 20% of their users overnight.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:33 AM on August 31, 2018

My impression is that Snapchat is an example of this in progress.
posted by Pryde at 7:03 AM on September 1, 2018

Broadly, I think you could call this “misreading the market” although I wouldn’t include Betamax in that category: it had trouble due to a rapidly evolving competitive market where they were just a little behind on one key factor (recording time).

The 1991 Chevy Caprice redesign was universally reviled, even though apparently everyone in the company thought it was great. Apple hasn’t had a lot of glaring missteps in a while, but they did produce the Mac Cube that was tiny (for the time) and expensive. It was a flop. The garbage-can Mac Pro was an evolutionary dead-end.
posted by adamrice at 9:34 AM on September 1, 2018

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