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A Comparison

Three well-known high-tech companies illustrate the dynamics of Keeley's tripod model with their varied strengths and weaknesses: Novell, Microsoft, and Apple.

A lack of customer loyalty is what typically brings a company to its knees over the long term, despite the strength of any market need it fulfills. Novell is an excellent example of this. In the early 1990s, the only practical way to network your office's desktop computers together was with Novell NetWare. NetWare—the product—passed the capability test, and Novell—the company—passed the viability test. The need for local area networks (LANs) was enormous, and no other vendor had been able to satisfy it. Some companies, such as Banyan and Corvus, had also solved the technical problem; they, too, met the capability test, but they failed the viability test—their business structures failed. None of these companies made a desirable product, so although Novell prospered, only those customers driven by a powerful immediate need installed a NetWare LAN, and it remained an unloved dancing bear.


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