Every once and a while, a new technology enters our world and changes it forever. For every one of these success stories, there are thousands of flops. Here are a few of our favorite hyped-up technologies that never took off.
Netbooks are the smaller, lightweight alternative to the laptop. Launched in the early days of the recession, the low cost netbook category quickly became the fastest-growing segment of the PC market. So what happened? In 2010, just 3 years after netbooks entered our lives, Steve Jobs presented us with the very first iPad and we haven’t looked back since. The iPad, which was lightweight, smaller than a PC and sexy, lead the way for hundreds of other tablets, many more affordable than the netbook. It’s been a downward slide for the netbook ever since.
Before Google+, there was Google Buzz. Launched in 2010, Buzz was Google’s answer to Facebook and Twitter. By integrating Buzz into its popular Gmail site, the company hoped it would quickly become the next social hotspot. A social network in your inbox? Everyone loves a combo! This didn’t turn out to be the case. From its inception, Google’s Buzz was widely criticized for its weak security settings, resulting in data leaks and, even worse, unauthorized social posts (I DIDN’T POST THAT!). In 2011, in a move that disappointed very few, Google Buzz buzzed off.
In 2006, Microsoft launched the Zune to compete with Apple’s iPod in the portable music player space. What differentiated the Zune from the iPod were innovative features, including subscription music integration and social sharing services over Wi-Fi. Despite the many that viewed it as a high quality product, the Zune was simply no match for the iPod. Side note: It was also big and ugly. Come on Microsoft, brown? In October 2011, Microsoft retired the poor man’s iPod.
From 1999 – 2001, Flooz.com sold virtual currency that consumers used to buy goods at affiliated e-tail sites, including JCrew, Restoration Hardware and Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately, despite spokeswoman Whoopi Goldberg’s noble efforts, the company didn’t garner the recognition it needed to become a story of success. On top of this, Flooz.com fell victim to a $300K money-laundering scheme involving a Russian mob. In August 2001, the company ceased operations. Upon the company’s closing, all unused Flooz credits became worthless and nonrefundable. You Flooz, you lose.
From 2003-2007, Second Life, an online virtual world where avatars interact with other avatars, was the talk of the town. People were OBSESSED. Some real-world humans quit their first life jobs in order to immerse themselves into their virtual ones. Some did so successfully! Big brands like Reebok and Dell purchased Second Life virtual storefronts. Reuters set up a virtual newsroom. All this excitement aside, the company was plagued with technical issues and a shrinking population. In the end, Second Life failed to meet the high expectations by which it was surrounded.
In a valiant effort to enhance the online user experience, the innovators at Digiscents introduced iSmell, a technology which, when plugged into a computer’s USB port, would generate different scents. Sound like a recipe for success? We may never know, as the company never released the product. Due to a deteriorating economy, Digiscents shut down in 2001. Smell ya later!
In a fast-paced world of innovative new technologies, there are iPods and there are Zunes. What are your favorite Zunes?