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Top Techs That Failed

From operating systems to video game consoles to wearables, the list of technologies that failed is long. We reached out to our Facebook community and several of our in-house IT pros for their most memorable tech fails. Here’s seven of them, in no particular order. Let the debates rage on!failed-tech_EMAIL

Virtual Boy. This one was mentioned several times. And for good reason. Hailed as Nintendo’s first portable video game console with 3D graphics, it was a colossal failure — lasting less than a year on the U.S. market. A high price tag ($180 USD), limited portability, and poor marketing are several reasons that contributed to Virtual Boy’s demise. Just how bad was it? In the years following, Nintendo executives weren’t shy about calling it like it was: Virtual Boy failed.

Windows ME. Windows Millennium Edition, more commonly known as Windows ME, was the successor to Windows 98 SE. But it was anything but successful. It was heavily criticized for being bug-ridden, slow to respond, and unstable. ME also restricted users’ access to real mode MS-DOS, which proved to an unpopular change.  Released in summer 2000, ME had a short shelf life compared to other Windows operating systems — it was replaced by Windows XP in fall 2001. Even so, was ME as poorly received as Windows 8?

WiMax. It’s not that this wireless data network technology didn’t work. In fact, it’s still being used in a lot of places today, even though the number is growing smaller (An example: Sprint plans to shutter its WiMax data network this fall). The problem is that WiMax has been surpassed by LTE and the like. It depends on who you ask, but the general consensus is that its lack of availability in its early phase hampered it, which wasn’t good considering the rise of smartphones.

Internet Explorer. There was a time when IE ruled the web browser world — in 2002 it commanded a whopping 96 percent of the market. But Microsoft might have gotten too complacent, while other vendors stepped up their game. Safari was released in 2003 and FireFox in 2004. By the time Microsoft released IE 7 in response (IE was widely criticized), it was too late. The final nail in the coffin? Google Chrome being released in 2008, signaling that the web was all about applications, not static pages.

Google Glass. Remember all the hype around this device? It was supposed to help propel wearable tech into the spotlight! But it didn’t quite work out that way. From the start, it was criticized for being too spendy ($1,500) and privacy was also a concern. After all, what if someone was secretly taking photos or video with the glasses? You wouldn’t easily be able to tell. Ultimately, what might have doomed the device was its lack of battery life. If you were using it for driving directions, it might only last an hour and half, making it a challenge for longer trips.

Quantum Bigfoot hard drive. Sporting a 5.25 inch physical format, Quantum Bigfoot hard disk drives were supposed to be a solution to data storage concerns. However, the drives were wrought with their own issues. The data transfer rates weren’t good, access times were longer, and more problematic, they allegedly had a high failure rate. And even people who don’t know the inner workings of hardware devices, probably would’ve been annoyed using machines that used these drives because they were quite loud! Alas, a good idea in theory, not so in much reality.

3D TV. Quick! Do you know anyone that owns a 3D TV? If so, does he/she actually use it for 3D viewing? If you answered “Yes” to both questions, you’re in the minority these days. Despite impressive sales growth during its first three years, 3D TV appears to be a trend that never caught on — quite possibly because it wasn’t in high demand in the first place.  Other factors contributing to the short shelf life is that 3D TVs required special glasses, some of which weren’t cheap, and a lack of 3D format programming. There was also concerns about the effect of 3D tech on peoples’ vision. With all this in mind, will a similar fate await 4K TV?

Any of “failed” technologies that you think should’ve been included on or excluded from the list? Share them below!


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