Taking Down Iridium

from the you-won't-have-iridium-to-kick-around-any-more dept

The ultimate story in failures, Iridium, has finally decided that are no real potential buyers for the system, and are finalizing plans to destroy the satellites. I still think Iridium is a wonderful case study in what not to do in building a business. From the very beginning everyone explained why it would never work, but that never stopped them from spending their billions.

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Comments on “Taking Down Iridium”

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Don says:

Taking Down Iridium

As one who worked at Iridium LLC for over 5 years, the situation was not a simple “we won’t listen to reason” one. The problem was that Iridium was trying to spin many plates in the air at the same time–technical, marketing, sales & distribution, managing a 21st century global organization among them. The technical specs of the system had been frozen by Motorola in the early 90s–f’rinstance, the decision to limit data transmissions to 2400bps was made when 2400bps was the consumer standard–which made it impossible for Iridium to adapt.

One aspect that no one has commented on publicly is that Motorola provided handsets with a very slim, comparatively small “form factor” until fairly late in 1997. When they finally gave LLC the models for the near-production model, the slim size and pencil-thin antenna had been replaced by a thick body and cigar-sized antenna. Iridium was sandbagged by this Motorola oh-by-the-way, and given Kyocera’s software problems with their cool-silver, smaller handset, had no plan-B strategy available.


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