Technology fails. It’s just like a trip down memory lane. So many things that were or things that we thought were great technological advances of the past, turned out to be technology busts. From overrated gadgets that were overpriced and over-hyped, to products that are either, way behind their time, obsolete already at the time of their release, or way ahead of their time to generate true interest, it doesn’t make a difference how they failed or why, it just matters that for the most part, they are forgotten or sometimes even mocked. Here are ten technology fails. Some are from so long ago, you might not even remember them, but they were possibly some technology you might have used every day. Other technology fails are products you may still be currently using, but are on their way out. From gadgets to software and hardware, read on…
10. Mini Disc
Sony’s Minidisc players reached their peak of popularity in the late 90’s-Early 2000’s. Minidiscs were sort of the lovechild of cassette players and mp3 players, but the technology was also great for recording live audio. Many concerts were bootlegged on Mini Disc. The hardware looked, well, you guessed it… like mini discs and could be used to transfer CDs and mp3s. This machine was invented and popular before everyone had a portable mp3 player, such as an iPod. While some artists put out pre-recorded minidiscs, such as Janet Jackson, Madonna, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Mariah Carey and Cher, it wasn’t the most popular pre-recorded medium. So why did it fail? The product focused more on hardware than software. Oh, and this little thing called the iPod killed it.
Remember VCRs? They used to play these little things called VHS Tapes. The rival of the VHS was Betamax. What was the difference between the two? Betamax tapes were shorter, only 60 minutes (when they were first debuted), which isn’t really long enough for a movie. VHS tapes lasted 3 hours. Another reason why it failed is that Sony, which manufactured the Betamax, would not permit pornography to be distributed on the tapes, but JVC, who manufactured VHS, had no issue with it. Everyone knows that sex sells. While Betamax was a higher quality product, it was also more expensive, which wasn’t as attractive to consumers as a cheaper alternative. Another reason why Betamax died is because Sony wouldn’t let other manufacturers make their players, whereas many companies made VHS players, which also affected the price.
8. Apple Newton
The Apple Newton was the precursor of the iPad. It was a personal digital assistant (PDA) that did many of the same things that iPads and iPhones do. It has a calendar, a to-do list, calculator, currency converter, a time-zones map and an address book. The Newton could also be used to send a fax. It used a stylus (those little pen thingies- remember those?), instead of a keyboard. However, its handwriting recognition software apparently malfunctioned constantly. Like many Apple products, battery life was an issue and the screen was difficult to read but, the Newton wasn’t a total failure because its software inspired future operating systems and of course, tablet computers.
Helio burned out very fast, being introduced in 2006 and discontinued by 2010. Helio was a carrier that used Sprint’s network. But, Helio was also a smart phone brand, which had several models. In fact their slogan was, “Don’t Call Us a Phone Company; Don’t Call it a Phone.” The company had several stores and was advertised everywhere, but the product never lived up to the hype. The phones were mostly re-branded Samsung phones that were already popular, but obsolete in South Korea, by the time they became available in the United States. The company also partnered with MySpace, to promote the product. So, why did the Helio never catch on? It just wasn’t all that good technology or price-wise.
6. Garmin Nüvifone
Garmin made everyone’s favorite and most popular car navigation system, until navigation became a free app. Garmin tried to capitalize on their popularity in 2008, when they debuted a smart phone that came with a car dock. The phone had their navigation system built in, as well as allowed hands-free calling. It also had a great geo-tagging option for the camera, and a built in social network called Ciao! So why did consumers say “ciao” to Ciao in 2010? The iPhone did all the same things, plus more and in a better way. Garmin couldn’t ever quite navigate the smartphone market well enough to succeed.
5. HD DVD
Blue Ray VS. HD DVD was the new VHS VS. Betamax. In 2005, HD Televisions were available, but were not seemingly in every home yet. DVD players were popular, but the quality of DVD didn’t yet match HD. These two products attempted to replace the DVD. So, what was the difference between HD DVD and Blue Ray? To most consumers, there really wasn’t much of a difference. They were basically the same product, but incompatible with one another. Warner Brothers basically killed the HD DVD when they decided they would be releasing all of their films and television programs exclusively on Blue Ray. The company even offered to replace HD DVD titles with Blue Ray for a small shipping and handling fee. But, Blue Ray will soon be made obsolete anyway because streaming video will be king.
Do you remember Clippit aka Clippy? Clippy was the office assistant from Hell. How could you forget a big annoying paper clip that popped up in Microsoft Office and then asked you stupid questions, like if you wanted help writing a letter, when you typed the word dear. No, you didn’t want help. You wanted that thing or any of its incarnations, such as a dog, a cartoon Albert Einstein, a robot or a bouncy ball dot thing, to go away. Even Microsoft employees hated that Clippy, and it was universally panned. In 2007, Microsoft finally killed off Clippy.
3. Windows Phone
The Windows Phone is the newest piece of technology on this list and while it’s not discontinued yet, it probably will be soon. Sales are way down, with only 7.4 million Windows phones shipped in the second quarter of this year, which is down 9.4% from the same time last year. The smartphone only has a 5% market share in the US. So, why is it such a failure? Consumers prefer iPhones and Androids. The Windows Phone has less Apps, isn’t cheaper, or doesn’t have better technology than the iPhone or Android, so what incentive is there to buy it? There isn’t.
2. Smart Watches
Apple just announced that the iWatch will be released in 2015, but it’s a gamble because every other smart watch before the iWatch hasn’t exactly been successful. While smart watches have been around since the early 1970’s, they’ve been booming and busting for the past ten years. In 2003, watchmaker Fossil, released one that ran a Palm operating system. In 2004, Microsoft released SPOT, which received information via FM radio waves. It was discontinued in 2008. There are several smart watches available right now, such as the Pebble, but smart watches aren’t exactly the new Rolex. Only time will tell how smart the apple watch will be.
1. 3D Television
3D television just never took off the way manufacturers anticipated it. So why did something so cool fail? There are limited channels available worldwide that broadcast in 3D exclusively, which also makes the television not worth the price, and the prices of these televisions are quite high, anywhere from $1,500 to nearly $40,000. Also, many of the televisions require glasses to see the 3D, which are not exactly comfortable. Although this product hasn’t failed completely, it’s likely on its way out.