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In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Jay Chapman
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31. Juli 2003

A funny and well-written business book that takes a look at some of the most influential marketing and business philosophies of the last twenty years, In Search of Stupidity provides through the dark glass of hindsight an educational and vastly entertaining examination of why they didn't work. Richly illustrated with cartoons and reproductions of many of the actual campaigns used at the time, marketing wizard Richard Chapman takes readers on a hilarious ride through the last twenty years. Filled with personal anecdotes spanning Chapman's remarkable career (he was present at many now famous meetings and events), his book takes a no holds barred look at the uncreative and hopeless marketing ideas surrounding the technology industry.


  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 288 Seiten
  • Verlag: Apress; Auflage: 1., Ed. (31. Juli 2003)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 1590591046
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590591048
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 23,7 x 15,6 x 2,4 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 455.010 in Englische Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Englische Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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From the reviews:

"Finally, moving on to something very different, In Search of Stupidity is a must-read for anybody involved in IT. … It’s a joy to read. … Written in an engaging style, with lots of asides and personal anecdotes, it’s a fun read." (Application Development Advisor, November, 2003)

"Sarcastic and irreverent, Chapman takes you through 20 years of folly in marketing strategies, by leading lights of the times. … A must read for every business manager." (, September, 2003)


In Search of Stupidity is National Lampoon meets Peter Drucker. In Search of Stupidity is a funny and well written business book that takes a look at some of the most influential marketing and business philosophies of the last twenty years and, through the dark glass of hindsight, provides a educational and vastly entertaining examination of why they didn't work. And make no mistake, most of them did not work. Richly illustrated with cartoons and reproductions of many of the actual campaigns used at the time marketing wizard Richard Chapman takes readers on a hilarious ride through the last twenty years. Filled with personal anecdotes spanning Chapman's remarkable career (he was present at many now famous meetings and events) In Search of Stupidity takes a no holds barred look at the uncreative and hopeless marketing ideas surrounding the technology industry. It offers clear, detailed analysis of what happened, why, and what you can do to avoid acting stupidly in the future.

This book offers unique insights into the avoidable mistakes made by some of the country's largest and best known high tech companies as well as succinct, to-the-point advice on how companies can avoid acting stupidly. It is aimed at people in the high tech industries, both software and hardware sides of the business. The software side is more heavily represented since software is more glamorous and highly covered than the hardware. Because it is a business book, I believe it also has appeal to the general business book market and the title should attract anyone interested in the various marketing disciplines.

In diesem Buch (Mehr dazu)
Ausgewählte Seiten ansehen
Buchdeckel | Copyright | Inhaltsverzeichnis | Auszug | Stichwortverzeichnis
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Kurzweilig 6. Juni 2012
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Lass mich sofort schreiben, dass dieses Buch schon sehr amerikanisch ist. Der Autor zweifelt nie an sich selbst und seine eigene Genialität. Aber seine Auffassung der Hintergründe für das Scheitern von Firmen wie Lotus, WordPerfect und Aston-Tate, für die fehlgeschlagene Strategie von IBM bzgl. OS/2 und PS/2 mit dem MicroChannel Architecture, und von MicroPro in der Weiterentwicklung von WordStar u.a.m. sind sehr interessant und wertvoll zu lesen.

Es schadet sicherlich nicht, wenn man - wie ich - alt genug ist, die ganze Entwicklung der Industrie ab Ende der 70'er mitverfolgt zu haben. Viele der Firmen, die im Buch genannt werden, sind für jüngere Menschen sicherlich unbekannt. Für uns andere ist es eine kurzweilige Reise durch unsere eigene Geschichte; vor allem für uns, die in der Industrie die ganze Zeit unterwegs waren.

Ich bin mir sicher, dass nicht alle aufgelistete Erfahrungen direkt auf gegenwärtige Unternehmen übertragbar sind, aber trotzdem hat das Lesen Spaß gemacht.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Unterhaltsam und lehrreich 1. Juni 2012
Von Kirill
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Manchmal frage ich mich, ob es kein Zufall ist, dass der Autor so viele Marketingfails mitgemacht hat. Jedenfalls ist es verdammt interessant, nachzuerleben, was damals in der Softwareindustrie lief, aus erster Hand ohne den Schleier aus Legenden.
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26 von 29 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen He who does not learn from stupidity... 29. August 2003
Von Thomas Paul - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
In 1982, Tom Peters told the world about how excellent companies were turning around the US economy. What Peters failed to recognize was that many of the companies that he was looking at weren't actually "excellent" but were in fact huge clunking dinosaurs that were producing buggy whips in the age of the automobile. New, smaller companies came around and ate the lunch of the big "excellent" guys and then proceeded to make either the exact same stupid mistakes as the big guys or new and more innovative stupid mistakes.
This book basically deals with the stupidity found in high tech companies of the 1980's and 1990's. Why is Microsoft such a huge company today? It isn't because their products were better or because they cheated other companies out of their rightful place in the market. It's because they weren't as stupid as their competition. Merrill Chapman takes us through the comedy of errors that companies like Digital Research, WordStar, Lotus, and Ashton-Tate went through as they tossed their market leads aside in fits of stupidity. You can't help but laugh (or cry) at the amazing levels of stupidity that these companies exhibited. Examples: WordStar was once one of the finest word processing programs in the world. But somehow the company ended up owning two competing mediocre products. Lotus was the leader in spreadsheets but ignored the rise of Windows and allowed themselves to be knocked out of first place by Excel. These and many more examples are well documented in this book.
The book is not an in-depth study of the business world. You won't find very much analysis of why a particular company made such obviously fatal errors. Why did Borland pay an outrageous sum to buy Ashton-Tate at a time when Ashton-Tate had virtually nothing that Borland needed? You won't find the answer here. What you will find is an amusing, well-written (without being vicious) examination of the collapse of perfectly good companies under the weight of their own serious errors of judgment.
There is a moral to be learned from this book. It isn't necessary to be excellent. In fact, excellence can be expensive and drive up your costs so much that they make your products uncompetitive. The secret is not to be excellent, in fact you don't even have to be very smart. All you need to be is less stupid that your competitors. Just ask Microsoft.
21 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Insightful and humorous 23. November 2006
Von Ben Rothke - Veröffentlicht auf
In Search of Stupidity gets its title from the classic, albeit infamous business book In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies, by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. In Search of Excellence quickly became a best-seller when it came out in 1988 and launched a new era of management consultants and business books. But in 2001, Peters admitted that he falsified the underlying data. Librarians have been slow to move the book to the fiction section.

In Search of Stupidity is not a traditional business book; rather, it's a high-level analysis of marketing mistakes made by some of the biggest and most well-known high-tech companies over the last 20 years. The book contains numerous stories of somewhat smart companies that have made stupid marketing mistakes. The catastrophe is that these mistakes have led to the demise of many of these companies.

For those who have been in technology for a while, the book will be a somewhat nostalgic look at what has happened over the years from the world of high-tech marketing. Combined with Chapman's often hilarious observations, the book is a most enjoyable and fascinating read and is hard to put down once you start.

The first chapters of the book discuss the story and mythology around the origins of DOS. It details such luminaries as Digital Research, IBM, Microsoft, Bill Gates and Gary Kildall and more. The first myth about Microsoft is the presumption that the original contract with IBM for MS-DOS gave Microsoft an immediate and unfair advantage over its competitors. The reality is that over time, MS-DOS did indeed become Microsoft's cash cow; but it took the idiocy of Apple, IBM and others to make this happen.

The book also notes that throughout its history, Microsoft would consistently make the most of its competitor's mistakes and stupidity to its advantage. The book repeatedly notes that yes, Microsoft has not always been ethical or nice; but the reality is that such behavior has also been practiced by many in the software industry. Not that it rationalizes what Microsoft has done, and to a degree still does. But it is unfair to pinpoint Microsoft as the sole miscreant in the dirty software waters.

For the better part of the last decade, Microsoft has owned the desktop. But that was not always the case. In the early 1990's IBM was frantically working on its nascent OS/2 operating system, working alongside Microsoft as a trusted partner. IBM had the cash and talent to ensure that OS/2 would own the desktop. So why did OS/2 miserably fail? It was primarily IBM's own ineptitude in marketing OS/2 which led to Windows 95 taking over the desktop. The desktop was IBM's to lose and that is precisely what it did.

Microsoft at one point was working with IBM to develop OS/2 and many have written that Microsoft took advantage of IBM in that joint effort. But Chapman writes that complete and direct responsibility for the failure of OS/2 falls completely on IBM. He notes that it is difficult to find a marketing mistake around OS/2 that IBM did not make. At the time, the market was ready to accept almost any GUI and it was Microsoft that gave the people what they wanted. It was not so much that Microsoft beat IBM; rather that IBM imploded with OS/2 and Microsoft was there to pick up the pieces.

As to ownership of the desktop, Chapman notes that even with Microsoft's near endless budget, bullying tactics, and use of the FUD factor, those alone did not enable Microsoft to monopolize the desktop operating system market. Chapman notes that the following key factors, all which are unrelated and out of Microsoft's control had to take place in order for that to happen.

First, Xerox, the original inventor of the GUI had to never develop a clue about how to commercialize the groundbreaking product that came out of its own labs. Digital Research then had to blow off IBM when it came calling to them for an operating systems for the original IBM PC. IBM would then have to fall victim to Microsoft during its joint development of OS/2.

Finally, Apple would have to decide not to license the Macintosh operating system. That decision led Apple to have a 30% share of the desktop market in the early 1990's to its current irrelevant 4% share.

Chapman lists numerous secondary factors that also contributed to Microsoft's dominance. While the accepted wisdom is that Microsoft single-handedly cornered the desktop operating system market; the reality is that the ultimate success of Microsoft is as much a result of their near endless good luck combined with the recurring stupidity of its competition.

The stupidity of IBM and Apple gave the desktop market to Microsoft. Similarly, Novell gave the NOS market to them. In the mid-1990's, Novell owned the NOS market. Netware along with myriad CNE's (Certified Network Engineerswere the dominant force in network computing. When Windows NT version 3.1 shipped (it was really version 1.0), it was clearly inferior to Netware, as myriad product reviews stated.

Yet a few years later, Windows NT was the dominant NOS and Novell was struggling. While Netware was clearly superior to NT from a functionality perspective, the genius of Microsoft was that it knew better how to deal and communicate with its development community. Today, Netware is an irrelevant NOS and Novell has effectively abandoned it to primarily focus on its Linux strategy.

Exactly at the same time Microsoft was pushing Windows NT and wooing developers, Novell shutdown its third-party development center in Austin, TX. Novell also became preoccupied with its misguided purchase of WordPerfect. Novell developers were left hanging until Microsoft came calling with its promises of NT development and marketing support. Similarly, it was Novell failures that directly lead to the success of Windows NT.

Novell had myriad chances to decimate Windows, but it never stepped up to the plate. Novell's inexperienced marketing department thought that "if you built a great NOS, they would come." But come they did not, and leave Netware they did.

It is chapter 10 that will likely give Slashdot readers a fit. The author attempts to set straight additional myths around Microsoft: that their products are of poor quality, that they have only succeeded because of its market monopolies, that they are not innovative, and more. For those who want all of the details, they should read the book. But the authors notes for example that while Microsoft has been widely criticized for not being an innovative company, it is no different from companies such as Lotus, Borland, Xerox and more.

Most recently, when Microsoft found itself behind the 8-ball and lacking a browser, Internet Explorer was quickly developer and in time, surpassed the capability of Netscape Navigator. By 1998, most reviews were giving IE a higher rating than Navigator. Of course, Microsoft has more cash and developers than Netscape, but that alone was not what doomed them. Simultaneously, Netscape derailed itself in an attempt to completely rewrite Navigator in Java. This led them to the state where they would permanently fall behind Microsoft in the development race.

The book contains 12 chapters each with a different set of stupid marketing actions. Rather than simply being a Monday morning quarterback, chapter 14 contains an analysis of each scenario and what the respective companies should have done.

In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters is a most valuable book and is a wonderful read for anyone in the software industry. For those in sales and marketing, it is clearly required reading, and in fact, should be reread periodically. While In Search of Excellence turned out to be a fraud, In Search of Stupidity is genuine, and no names have been changed to protect the guilty.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Clever, but gets tiresome 8. März 2006
Von Jeremy Epstein - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Like many of the reviewers, I was taken in by Joel Spolsky's foreward. Like many of the reviewers, I got tired of Chapman's "I was there and I knew better". I'd disagree with the complaints of footnotes - the problem isn't that there are footnotes, but that they're relatively uninformative. I stuck with the book to the end in hopes it would get better, but it didn't.

FWIW, I was a consultant to Novell during much of the time he talks about. I think he missed the point of why Novell failed with NetWare. The real problem I saw was that all decision making was by consensus, and no one would stand up and take responsibility. So when the world started changing, they were paralyzed.

Key issues are (a) there's not enough "lessons learned", (b) he only talks about places he worked and as a result misses whole parts of the computer industry, (c) his writing style is worse than most high school students.

As one of the reviewers said, a blog published as a book. It's good bathroom reading - you can pick it up for 5 minutes, and set it down when you're done. That way the repetition and obnoxious style doesn't get so obnoxious, and you can enjoy the stories.
16 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Stupidity: an infinitely renewable resource -- 23. Februar 2005
Von wiredweird - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
-- unfortunately.

This is an enjoyable, amusing, and easily digestible account of some of the multi-billion dollar horrors of the PC age. It's written in a very readable style by one of the guys who lived through a lot of it. He's not afraid to name names, and not (much) ashamed to admit that he was in the thick of some bad ones.

Long before the dot-bomb collapse around 2000, companies in the PC world had been shooting themselves in the foot, making (and repeating) insanely bad decisions, and doing everything they could to drive themselves into the ground. Many succeeded in killing themselves off, others (like IBM and Apple) did not. The recurring themes sound simply ridiculous, unless you live in this high-tech world. They they sound ridiculously familiar. They include:

* Expensive acquisitions of companies with nothing to offer,

* Demolition ("rewriting") of bread-and-butter products,

* Selling two, three, or more products that all do the same thing,

* Annoying and ignoring the customers until they all wander away, and

* Whatever it was, doing it again and again.

This mostly has an anecdotal, non-academic style, so it's an easy and enjoyable read. The dark side of that force is that Chapman isn't always strong on constructive suggestions or on the details of the analysis. Sometimes, though, it would have been psychoanalysis - personalities brash and aggressive when there wasn't that much to be brash about.

Chapman covers only the PC side of the world, so he missed some good ones. There was Apollo Computer, for example, and their steadfast determination to avoid advertising their strengths. Still, he gives plenty of cases, and gives good documentary support from the newsrags of the times.

I could have asked for a few more pointers on ways out of the stupidity trap. Simply seeing the examples is useful, though, and gives hope that readers will at least make different mistakes than the ones shown here.

15 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Learn From The Mistakes of Others 12. November 2003
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
In writing this book, Chapman has done us the service of collecting over 20 years worth of corporate blunders. As such, MBAs entering the software industry would be well advised to read this book and save themselves from making the same strategic errors that led to the demise of earlier pioneers.
This is a man who, in the 1980s, wore those blue Adidas running shoes with the cool yellow stripes. This is a man who sat in the front row and saw everything happen with his own eyes. His observations are both astute and hilarious. Old timers reading this book will probably not know if they want to laugh or cry.
There have been reviewers who claim that Chapman's lessons are not clear. Good grief, these people haven't read the book! Rick does an incredible job of analyzing history. For example, in one chapter, he looks at the mistakes that hobbled Novell. In the 1990s, Novell decided to emphasize functionality over usability. Sure, Novell's Netware package was years ahead of the pack in terms of features. However, the engineers building Netware stubbornly insisted on sticking to a command-line interface. In short, the inmates were running the asylum.
Then, there's IBM. Chapman's autopsy of OS/2 alone is worth the price of the book. Anyone who ever tried to print documents under OS/2, or run a Microsoft application under OS/2's Windows subsystem will grimace in agreement. Big Blue made one ridiculous mistake after another. It's almost as if they were trying to kill OS/2 intentionally. After reading this book, you will see Lou Gerstner in a whole new light.
"In Search of Stupidity" offers a droll look at corporate demolition; one that will make you laugh,...until it hurts.
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