With its Macintosh line, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) was a premiere personal computer manufacturer in the late 1980s. In 1985, Steve Jobs left his position after being marginalized by the board and new CEO, John Scully. The company did well through the end of the decade, but performed poorly in the mid 1990s. Jobs returned in 1997 and, after 18 months of losses, the company received a $150 million investment from Microsoft. In 1998, the company released the iMac, followed by the iPod in 2001. These products marked Apple’s return and spurred its rise as a competitive consumer electronics company. Since then, its top position has been cemented by the wildly popular iPhone and iPad. Apple is now one of the world’s most loved and followed brands.
In the late 1980s through the 1990s, Japanese game company Nintendo dominated the market with its Gameboy, Nintento Entertainment System, and Super Nintendo. In mid-90s, the company introduced the Nintendo 64 to combat the next generation of consoles that incorporated 3D graphics for the first time. While the N64 sold well, Sony had entered the market and its PlayStation sold more than double that of the N64. Nintendo would continue to struggle against its rivals. The Nintendo GameCube sold less than Microsoft’s Xbox and was blown out of the water by the PlayStation 2. In 2006, Nintendo finally recovered when it released the Wii, blowing out both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. The biggest reason for the Wii’s success was its new interactive design and ease of use. The Wii was successfully marketed to families with children, rather than just to video game players. To date the Wii has sold more than 86 million units.
Volkswagen was relatively unknown in the U.S. during the 1960s, even though its products were first sold here in 1949. By 1970, the company controlled 7% of the market. It was also the first foreign automobile company to open an assembly plant in the country since the 1920s. Despite their initial success, a number of missteps, including the release of the unpopular Rabbit, caused sales to plummet. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “By 1992, U.S. annual sales had hit a low of 49,000 cars, and VW contemplated pulling out of the U.S. altogether.” Just six years later, following the launch of the new Beetle, the company began its comeback. In 2000, the car company reported its best U.S. sales month in 26 years. In 2010, Volkswagen sold more than 250,000 cars in the U.S. — its best year since 2003.
Douglas A. McIntyre, Michael B. Sauter, Charles B. Stockdale