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Nokia was once the world's largest handset maker by a wide margin. Now, Samsung has taken over, and in the smartphone market, Nokia's Lumia devices have been ignored. Nokia says that will change with Windows Phone 8. It's early in the game, but so far, it hasn't. At this point, it's hard to see how Nokia can stay in business outside emerging markets where its Asha handsets are still selling quite well.

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Research In Motion

Research In Motion was expected to be the most dominant smartphone maker ever. But in 2007 after the iPhone launched, all that changed. Now, RIM's products are ignored because they still stick to physical keyboards, small screens and subpar software. If that doesn't change with BlackBerry 10, the company will be in deep trouble.

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Yahoo is having an exceedingly difficult time at trying to stay relevant on the Web. The company's own search capability is now a thing of the past, since Microsoft's Bing is powering it and its advertising division is far behind Google's. Unless Marissa Mayer can do something unprecedented, it's hard to see how Yahoo will regain its past success.

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Microsoft might still be generating billions of dollars, but save for Office, Windows and the Xbox 360, it's hard to see any way the company is actually appealing to customers. After all, it has little presence in tablets, its smartphone platform is a distant third behind Android and iOS, and it's always been playing catch up to Google and others in terms of its Web presence. When will Microsoft finally understand it needs to try harder to appeal to customers in the many markets it competes in?

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Cisco lost its way for quite awhile as it tried to appeal to customers in the home. The company sold camcorders, video cameras for the television and much more. Now, Cisco is ratcheting back and focusing on its core network and communications businesses. But whether that will be enough to help it regain its leadership position in an increasingly competitive market remains to be seen.

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Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble joined the e-reader and tablet markets thinking that it could compete on the same level as Amazon's Kindle and Kindle Fire devices. However, it's become clear that's not the case. Amazon has better products, a superior marketing strategy, and the best platform——on which to promote its products. Wouldn't it be a good time for Barnes & Noble to see that and move on?

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Sony has undergone serious tumult over the last few years. The company has watched its HDTV division fail, its mobile business lose its footing, and many of its executives were replaced at the hands of new CEO Kazuo Hirai. The new chief executive says better times are ahead, thanks to massive layoffs that cut costs and a new market initiative that focuses on mobile, digital imaging and gaming. Is Hirai placing the right bets?

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Panasonic has 88 divisions. Half of them haven't reached a 5 percent operating margin, and about 20 percent are losing money. Looking ahead, Panasonic expects to cut 10,000 more jobs in addition to the 36,000 workers who have left the company in the last year. So why is it happening? The company's consumer division is on the rocks and its enterprise services have been ignored. It's a perfect storm at Panasonic, and it's in deep trouble.

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Sharp is yet another Japan-based company that hasn't been able to adapt to the changing times. According to the company, many of its core businesses, including those in the health care industry and imaging, are down. Its television operation is on its last legs, and it's deeply in debt. Even worse trouble is on the horizon at Sharp.

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If not for Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, it would be impossible to see where the company might be right now. Although Motorola designs nice-looking products, its marketing machine can't seem to find a way to capture the attention of today's customers. Plus, it has yet to find the secret sauce that has made Samsung so successful in the Android market. Until it can do that, expect more trouble for the company—and for Google.

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