Thursday, May 10, 2012
Where Are They Now? Packard Bell
What it was: A PC manufacturer (named after a venerable but defunct radio company) that dominated the retail home PC market in the early 1990s.
What happened: Numerous products fell on hard times in part because of crummy business decisions by their owners, but no other one did itself in so quickly and so self-destructively as Packard Bell. Its computers were cheap in part because they were terrible, and backed by subpar customer support. When rivals such as Compaq started selling reasonable computers at reasonable prices through retail stores, Packard Bell started to founder. The decision by NEC to take a controlling interest in Packard Bell in 1995 seemed bizarre even at the time; in 2000, the last Packard Bells disappeared from U.S. store shelves.
Current whereabouts: Lots of places -- just not stateside. The brand name never died in Europe, and after a couple of further changes of ownership, it ended up as an arm of Taiwanese PC giant Acer in 2008. It now makes laptops, desktops, displays, MP3 players and desktops. And if it ever returns to the U.S. market, it’ll be a more impressive comeback than anything Paul “Pee-Wee Herman” Reubens has managed.
SOURCE: 'Where Are They Now? 25 Computer Products That Refuse to Die' by Harry McCracken.