Big tech companies that fell off the radar

Google, Facebook, and Apple are household names today, and their products are everywhere.

They are also among the largest companies in the world today, and are titans in the tech space.

There are, however, tech companies which were arguably even more influential players in their day – and which made a massive impact on the market – which many people will never have heard of.

Many of these tech companies reached a high status thanks to their innovation, but failed to continue evolving.

This led to their demise, and while many still trade, they are shadows of their former selves.


Before the war between iPhone and Android, there was the BlackBerry smartphone.

The device allowed users to easily connect to the Internet, send and receive email, and – of course – instantly chat with one another over the company’s instant chat service BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

BlackBerry phones were found everywhere, and the company sold more than 50 million devices in 2011.

Local networks also gave users uncapped usage with their device for a fixed monthly fee, making phones like BlackBerry 8510 very popular in South Africa.

By 2016, however, BlackBerry was only selling around 4 million devices every year.

The brand is still around, with their phones now running Android, but Samsung, Huawei, and Apple are the current smartphone kings.

BlackBerry Q10


Before the days of smartphone-based GPS apps like Google Maps and Waze, MapQuest was one the best options for getting directions online.

It still exists  and operates, but it has been largely overshadowed in the consumer space by Google Maps and Apple Maps.

The ease of having your maps tracked in real-time on your smartphone has therefore rendered services like MapQuest less attractive.

As much as it has dropped off the radar now, it led the way for the improved services we all love and use today.

MapQuest Logo and Map


Netscape launched its web browser more than 23 years ago, being one of the first web browsers in the market.

It helped shape the way that tech developed through the antitrust lawsuit it won against Microsoft, with implications that still influence the industry today.

Netscape may have won that lawsuit against Microsoft, but ultimately it lost the browser war to Internet Explorer.

Netscape was discontinued and support for all Netscape browsers was terminated in 2008.

Netscape Navigator


Before the days of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the social platform of choice was MySpace.

TIME named it one of the 50 best websites of 2006, and called it the place where “web stars are born” and “music and film careers are launched”.

It may have retained this standing, had Facebook not come in around 2009, which quickly pushed MySpace off the radar and left it behind as a website where people go just to check that it still exists.

Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram now dominate the social media space.

MySpace Logo


For many years, Kodak was synonymous with cameras and film, and by 1976 it sold 85% of all film cameras and 90% of all film in the US.

Now, the company remains a shell of its former self, surviving in the retail landscape as a seller of other camera products.

Kodak sold off most of its legacy assets in the last decade, licensing its name to partners who build products like digital cameras.

In its latest developments, Kodak is now talking about a partnership with a Tennessee-based video and film digitisation company.

It is is essentially a rebranding of LegacyBox, a photo digitisation company that after much bad press has gone through multiple iterations.

Kodak Instamatic


Many will remember the days of Napster, as it opened the door for peer-to-peer file sharing through the Internet.

Napster helped speed up the shift away from CDs holding music to an entire library of songs being stored on a flash drive.

Napster’s greatest strength, however, which was the ability to exchange anything – including copyrighted material – ultimately led to its downfall, as it was forced to move into a subscription-based service which ultimately drove it into the ground.

Napster still exists today after being merged with Rhapsody – which was then phased out as a brand and rebranded as Napster.

Old Napster

Now read: This is what South Africa’s oldest websites looked like 20 years ago

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Big tech companies that fell off the radar