Ten technology FAILS
Tech that might have revolutionised your life but you have now completely forgotten
Nokia's N-Gage, Palm's Foleo, Motorola's Atrix, Apple's Newton MessagePad, HD DVD, Sony's Rolly, Sony's Mylo, Philips' CD-i, Commodore's CD-TV, IBM's PCJr, the Camputer's Lynx, Gizmondo, the Phantom, Atari's Jaguar, MySpace, Beenz - behind every iPad there are dozens and dozens of technology products that aspired to greatness but were successful only in their distinct lack of commercial success.
Some were simply beaten by better rivals, others were just released too early or too late, still more were just plain wrong. Not all were specific products - entire categories of goods and services have been hailed as the Next Big Thing only to disappear with nothing but a handful of miserable early adopters to show they were ever there.
Here, then, are some of our favourite tech fails - products, technologies, concepts and trends - from the past 30-odd years.
BOB Household Manager
In 1995, Microsoft replaced Windows 3’s rather rubbish GUI with a - for the time - snazzier interface and called it Windows 95. And then it decided that menus, windows, and icons for applications and, now, documents wasn’t what ordinary folk wanted at all. So it released BOB, a new UI for Windows that placed apps and services in a cartoon house. Like the original Mac desktop, there was a kind of logic to it - put the virtual things into a context users would understand from real life - but at least the Apple UI didn’t require a cartoon dog and a cartoon paperclip to show folk around. It was, you won’t be surprised to learn, a complete flop. BOB was killed off, though the dog survived as Windows XP’s search mascot.
Even by the late 1990s, pundits were already predicting the death of the PC. The new Millennium would herald the ‘post-PC era’, they said, a time when World+Dog, particularly the non-techie part, would access the internet cheaply and easily through set-top boxes and TVs rather than pricey desktop or laptop computers. Of course, back then most homes didn’t have digital television let alone home broadband and wireless networks. Consumer internet usage was in its infancy.
iAppliances eventually ended up looking like PCs - as this Sony eVilla shows
Attempts to build these so-called ‘information appliances’ invariably offered a sub-standard - as defined by the personal computer - experience. Instead, punters adopted the ever-cheaper PCs now coming in from Far Eastern manufacturers, and we’d have to wait another ten years for products that looked like they might supplant the traditional computer.
Next page: OpenDoc
So ... the VCD's a complete turkey except in Turkey?
Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.
The main fail of SL is it is shit (as pointed out further up thread). The only people that are still there are complete saddos who are trying to convince themselves that it will become relevant again.
Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.
Why so judgemental, Andrew Moore? People do all sorts of things and have all sorts of hobbies that they personally enjoy. They participate because it gives them enjoyment, not from some attempt to be "relevant".
For example, I simply can't get my head round football fans. I don't call them saddos though - why should it bother me what they do?
Likewise, many people still refer to people who have any interest in technology as "saddos" and "nerds". Which makes your comments all the more ironic.
Live and let live, and vive la difference, I say .
My boss in 2005: "Should we get on this Second Life thing? I keep getting asked why we're not on it by Analysts".
Me: "No, its fucking rubbish". You never get credit for the dodged bullets do you? On the other hand I owned a Newton :(
I can answer two of your points... Betamax wasn't 'far better' than VHS - it was a little better, but the tapes were too short to record anything like a movie without switching to slower speeds and negating the benefits. The later extended versions of Betamax were lower quality, while VHS kept improving. If you're talking about Beta, which was used by TV stations, that's a different animal - much higher quality (and much larger tapes)
And the reason 8 track failed was because of its short usable life... I'm old enough to remember trees on the side of the road draped in long gossamer strands of Dark Side of the Moon after someone's 8 track ate yet another tape. While 8 tracks were more convenient, cassettes were a lot more reliable.