The Philips Company, a Netherlands giant, is best known in the USA for the Norelco electric razor. It has sold off its consumer electronics line.
Fifty years ago, Philips introduced the audio cassette.
It could no longer compete with Japan in the consumer electronics market. The head of the company said that the DVD, even Blu-Ray, is dead. People get their entertainment online.
That is an exaggeration, but it’s close to the truth. I bought a Blu-Ray player over a year ago. I have used it once. It was cheap. It is also useless. I cannot see much difference between a regular DVD and a Blu-Ray DVD.
I dropped Netflix’s DVD rental service. I watch its streaming videos. I rarely view a new DVD.
Philips failed to keep up. It bet on the Sony Betamax format 30 years ago. It lost. It did not see the CD-ROM coming until it was too late. It played catch-up. It cooperated with Sony on the DVD, beginning in 1997. But the consumer electronics division never caught up. Yet it was once a highly competitive company in consumer electronics: an innovator. It just failed to stay ahead of the curve.
Customers decided the firm’s fate. They bought from rival firms. The firm, which had been Europe’s largest manufacturer, lost market share. Customers are economically sovereign under capitalism. Manufacturers are not.
The company was founded in 1891 by a father/son team. It grew to become a European giant after the second son was brought into the business. Their grandfather was a Jewish banker. His name was Lion Philips. He had a unique distinction. He was Karl Marx’s uncle, the sister of Marx’s mother. He thought Marx was a bum. He was right.
The greatest enemy of capitalism and the father/grandfather of three of the greatest capitalist innovators came from the same family. This is one of the oddest facts in modern European history.