back to article Ten technology FAILS

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 …

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Trollface

Re: "Failures", surely, not "Fails"

Speak as one for yourself only then, you Limey :p

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If we are talking about doomed tech sectors, what about the majority of the British PC industry? just rolled over and died under IBM compatible machines....

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MJI
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Why Video CD was successfull

It was in the far east until DVD got cheaper

Players were dirt cheap, tapes got fungus growing on them in hot humid climes.

DVD cost a lot more, VCD so cheap poor people can buy it in the far east.

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Second Life

Second Life doesn't belong on this list. It may not have become the new interface to the internet that Linden Labs intended, but it is still hugely successful. Both Linden and many of its users make a great deal of money off of it. I know several people who make enough money off of SL that it is their soul income.

Sadly my own store doesn't do that well (probably because I actually do have a first life, complete with a wife, kids, friends, and frequent exposure to natural light, so I don't spend hours every day creating virtual merchandise), but I still make enough that I never have a need to spend real money to buy Lindens to get stuff in world. In fact I occasionally sell Lindens for some pocket change, so it's become one of those rare hobbies that not only pays for itself but actually makes me money.

If the number of noobs I regularly run into there is any indication they are still getting a ton of new users. This is despite the fact that I've long since abandoned the areas they usually frequent, like the freebie markets. There's another reason that I wouldn't call it a failure.

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Re: Second Life

SL is far from successful. I say this as a long-time player (8+ years). It had its peak somewhere around 2007, and since then its population and economy just kept declining: first-time users nowadays mostly take a look then leave forever, the long-standing (oligopolist) land business is surviving merely by siphoning off the capital investment from wide-eyed newcomers who believe they can just plop down a BIAB and start making money, persist for a few months then eat the cost and leave. The best a new business-oriented player can do now is mostly catch other newcomers' first few bucks before they go for good. Decline has turned the whole thing into a sort of big Ponzi scheme fed by a quickening life-and-death cycle of true end-users. In simpler words, SL is coasting on the momentum from its accumulated capital of better years.

Even at the height of it, you could count on your hands the number of players truly making a living from their SL activity (most of whom I met), and I was never one of them. I earned enough from SL to buy myself a brand new car though, so I can say I got close.

Its architecture is still unscalable, as it ever was. There have been improvements (making the protocol RESTful, for one) but it's still so bloated only a full rewrite of the server could fix it. And the UI suicide the SL viewer 2 was ? Just another nail in the coffin.

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Trollface

Re: Second Life

Those remote controlled cars are good value aren't they

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Pint

BOB?

Isn't BOB just Windows 8 in disguise... errr...

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Anonymous Coward

Linux?

Where is Linux on this list?

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Meh

Re: Linux?

One of the most, if not the single most popular/common OS on the planet.... sure I can see why that would be in a list of technology failures!

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Coat

Re: Linux?

Probably referring to the almost annual Duke Nukem like adage of "**** (insert year)..the year Linx goes mainstream!"

I and many others are still waiting.

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Flame

Re: Linux?

Yeah I know, "The Year of the Linux Desktop" perhaps deserves the fail tag. Though I'm not convinced that was ever anything but a taunt by the 'anti' side.

Linux is incredibly mainstream though. It's the most popular smartphone kernel, it's on a lot of wireless routers and other infrastructure, it's in your tv, it's running your ISP servers, it's on credit card terminals and it's in a hell of a lot of other places. You're quite likely to have more linux devices in your life than windows ones (unless you're a sysadmin!)

Perhaps we ought to change the ironic slanging to "next year will be the year of the GNOME desktop" ;)

/flame on!

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Re: Linux?

You're quite likely to have more linux devices in your life than windows ones (even if you're a sysadmin!)

There, fixed that for you.

Seriously though, the year of the Linux desktop may actually come now that Microsoft has foisted the horror of Windows 8 on us. I doubt it though. Despite the fact that it runs on half of everything that plugs into a wall (yes I exaggerate slightly) the average consumer has still never heard of it. Even if they have, they're likely to have the impression that its one of those things that only computer geeks mess with (an impression which is neither entirely right nor entirely wrong).

Sadly I think Microsoft will succeed in killing the desktop off entirely before we see the year of the Linux desktop, and that's something that I thought would never happen before I encountered Windows 8. Still, our chances of seeing it now are probably better than they've ever been before.

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CD-V

CD-V was an alternative to VCD.

I have a CD-V of New Order's True Faith, which I'm told contains the award winning video directed by Philippe Decouflé, but as I've never seen a CD-V player, I've never been able to play the disc.

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Gimp

Re: CD-V

CDV aka CD Video, was a short-lived audio/video format that was used in the mid-late 1980s. It is exactly the same size as a standard 5-inch CD but almost always gold in colour. It contains analog video data, plus usually 4-5 standard digital audio tracks.

I've got a rather large collection of 5-inch and 12-inch discs and as for playing them, all you need is a Laserdisc player.

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Blu Ray

I wonder if Blu Ray is going to be a tech fail, reported in a few years as a product released when everyone was moving away from physical media. One reason DVD got a big boost was because we could play them on our computers, and as a bonus could use them for storage. Recently purchasing a few laptops, none of them with Blu Ray, I cannot say the same for this new format.

The sales of entertainment on physical media seems to be pretty flat. It has been four years and Blu Ray sales make up may 20-30% of sales in the US, and given the higher average price for Blu Ray, that means significantly lower volume.

Some say it is early still in the format, but I don't see the restrictive Blu Ray model flourishing in this time when most people are growing up in a much less restrictive entertainment environment.

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Re: Blu Ray

I don't really need to pay £15 for a BD to just see better pore definition on some actors face.

I and many others have woken up to the fact that many discs purchased since the dawn of DVD only get watched once, sometimes twice and thats it.

Waste of money really. With cinema now so expensive other options need to be explored.

Why buy a new release BD for £15 when you can rent it from the local library for £2? A netflix or Lovefilm subscription for £8 a month also reduces the need to buy physical media.

Buying discs just takes up space. Most of my DVD collection went to Oxfam.

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Linux

Re: Blu Ray

That still leaves rentals. Physical media may seem "quaint" but it's still the most effective transport mechanism available. Streaming formats are inferior either in terms of quality or their ability to actually be streamed. I recently experienced that with a high quality stream. It looked pretty good but playing it in real time just didn't work.

Spinny disks allow for fewer compromises when you're actually watching the content.

Netflix streaming quality is generally pretty crappy and their selection isn't much better. Plus the lack of personal property rights on "streams" means that companies like Netflix are always at the mercy of upstream content owners. That's why their spinny disk library is much more comprehensive.

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'I don't really need to pay £15 for a BD to just see better pore definition on some actors face'

Oh but High-Def is a *great* leveller.

You realise that the prettiest people that hollywood has to offer, even with all the makeup artists money can buy, still have bad skin and even the occasional lady-moustache.

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Happy

Re: Blu Ray

Oh rentals still work. In my Lovefilm subscription I get as many single DVD rentals as I can watch.

It's just actually buying media to keep that seems rather old fashioned and expensive, to me anyway.

I guess at age 38 I realised I amassed 'a lot of crap I never used' and decided there were more important things in life, like beer and such.....

Never looked back.

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Re: Blu Ray

oh yes, as the quality from a streamed service comes close to the 50GB of HD picture and 8 channels of HD sound....

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Facepalm

Re: Blu Ray

@jason 7

Why are you looking at pores? I find things happen in many places in a movie scene. But in the actors' pores is not one them.

Actually, it depends on the size of the screen and at what distance you're watching. A well-encoded BD knocks the pants of DVD on the right kit when you're close enough to a full HD screen.

BDs drop down to £5-7 after a few months and I quite like having a little library.

Streaming is a joke on typical UK broadband speed, like mine.

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Happy

Re: Blu Ray

I guess you didn't twig that I was being obtuse/sarcastic about the benefit of HD regarding pores.

I'm not that bothered anymore from having the best of the best. I can see BD looks better than DVD but DVD gives a perfectly good distortion free, solid SD image that to me is perfectly watchable. I watched SD stuff for the first 35+ years of my life. It's not a biggie.

I really don't care all that much about being able to see to the nth degree. You watch Prometheus on BD and I watch Prometheus on DVD we'll have both seen the same disappointing movie. It's just I will have paid less and wont be so annoyed.

I used to have a full Meridian Hi-Fi setup and sweated all the small stuff, such as stripping and cleaning it ever 4 months, having it perfectly level, filtered and isolated blah blah bollicky blah.

Then one day I realised I was wasting my time and realised that the tech and the gear was actually getting in the way of just enjoying the music or video.

I just changed entirely. I now just enjoy DVD played through my Xbox 360 or streamed via Lovefilm (I have a 16Mbps connection and it looks as good as DVD for me), my CD collection sits unused as I stream via Spotify (standard paid account) through my PC and its speakers.

It's so much more FUN. I feel really sorry for those that cant relax and just listen to a tune of a film unless all is perfection. I used to be one so I know what's going through their minds.

Enjoying movies and music isn't about the tech. If you think it is, then you are getting it all wrong.

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Bod

Re: Blu Ray

"oh yes, as the quality from a streamed service comes close to the 50GB of HD picture and 8 channels of HD sound...."

Can do. I had that attitude in the past, but my new Samsung telly with Smart TV have been playing with Netflix HD streams and better still BBC iPlayer HD and some of the professional content on Vimeo HD. Quality varies on the material, but some have been very close enough picture quality (this on a 48" telly) that I feel a comparitive fortune on a BD is a waste of money and space unless I really was nuts about owning it on a disc. I've been more surprised that the HD quality is so good while streaming and yet I have a lowly 5mbps broadband!

But if streaming is not good enough, I can set the Sky HD box to pull down on-demand content (now also including BBC iPlayer) and the quality is often better... and in Dolby Digital. It's not streamed, but vastly quicker than waiting for a physical disc to arrive in the post and in some cases playable buffered within a few minutes.

Only thing getting me to buy stuff on discs still is lack of content online and stuff I really want or a true bargain (22 Bond films in HD for £75 for example as Amazon now have, that's £3.40 per film on BD with all the extras. That lot would take a rather long time to download!).

Mostly though I don't buy DVDs or Blu Ray now. I used to buy hundreds of DVDs but they sit there having been watched once and are mostly a waste of money. I'm not falling again for buying crap I don't need with Blu Ray.

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Re: Blu Ray

Spinny disks allow for fewer compromises when you're actually watching the content...

...not to mention that spinny disks keep functioning even if your 'Net feed goes down. My wife is a big Netflix fan, and when I try to point this out to her, she calls me a Luddite. Bah.

Netflix streaming quality is generally pretty crappy and their selection isn't much better. Plus the lack of personal property rights on "streams" means that companies like Netflix are always at the mercy of upstream content owners. That's why their spinny disk library is much more comprehensive.

I've watched streaming movies on Netflix with the wife a couple of times. The image quality is just OK; there's some visible artifacts -- more or less depending on the scene -- and some playback hiccups here and there, and overall I can't understand what the wife is so gaga about. I try to point out the advantages of owning copies of movies and TV shows on real, actual physical media, and not depending on the whims of corporations for the availability of the stuff she likes to watch, but she just gives me the "Luddite" rap.

Selection didn't exactly set my ass on fire, either. It honestly wasn't that much better than the selection you got in old-school B&M video shops -- all your standard-issue Big Hit Blockbusters, some of your standard-issue predictably quirky indie flicks, and a smattering of your "classics" -- and not a real deep selection of "classics" at that.

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Re: Blu Ray

It's just actually buying media to keep that seems rather old fashioned and expensive, to me anyway.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned (55) but owning a copy of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Yellow Submarine or The Maltese Falcon is, to me, just as important as owning copies of The Sun Also Rises or Sirens Of Titan or One Hundred Years Of Solitude. I'm weird that way.

I guess at age 38 I realised I amassed 'a lot of crap I never used' and decided there were more important things in life, like beer and such...

Well, it's like they always say -- "you only rent beer."

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Trollface

Re: Blu Ray

Jason, I hate to admonish you for your choice of 'entertainment' (ahem), but - those aren't pores, they're herpes scars!

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Anonymous Coward

vcd still sell in considerable numbers

in fact a huge amount of the pirate content is still formatted to fit VCD

it would appear that the author doesn't know why movies are still available in 2 x 700~ MB sizes

nor that a world exists beyond the borders or good old parochial UK

shame really, it's quite lovely out here

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Anonymous Coward

Re: vcd still sell in considerable numbers

whether or not they still sell vcds are a huge fail from start to finish - the video quality is much lower than dvd; movies need to be split over two, three or four discs (cuh-raaap), audio quality and options are much lower.

If that ain't enough, releases from the far east are extensively cut to meet the needs of the local censors. As to how that works out in practice, my vcd copy of pulp fiction has 3 stories, rather than the 4 you may be familiar with. For years I was, Black guy, gag?

Erase them from the face of the earth!

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Coat

tech fail

@ David Hicks, - Ignore that its just Steve I trying for an interesting vote count.

Laser Disk backup/Worm disks - belongs on this list - took a corp I worked for 2 years to accumulate about 600 of these damn things, then about 10 years to get them all moved to more reliable storage (the data are still needed for legal reasons, 12 years later) - primary issue was getting both the damned reader and the OS2 based pc to stay "up" long enough to read worthwhile amounts of data.

Never crashed when WRITING the damn things.

BOB. I remember that. I remember laughing. A LOT. For a Loooooooooong time.

(the one with the PalmIII in the pocket, and the commodore pet cassette tape.)

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VCD

The formatting for VCD is easier to generate. Most VCD's will play on DVD players (they don't advertise it much). So, yes VCD is alive and well. It is just that not much COMMERCIAL content is generated, as that is where DVDs are being used.

The company I worked for had some VCD generating software/hardware at one time (long ago!)

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Anonymous Coward

talking of dead things

there's a difference between dead and having been supplanted, but hanging on as a niche product. My teenage son wants a turntable and vinyl for Christmas, I was suprised at what you can get on vinyl these days.

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Re: talking of dead things

there's a difference between dead and having been supplanted, but hanging on as a niche product. My teenage son wants a turntable and vinyl for Christmas, I was suprised at what you can get on vinyl these days...

Oh, yeah, no shit. I understand that there's still a lot of dance tracks being issued on 12" vinyl for DJs. Also, the 30th anniversary of the release of Dark Side Of The Moon was marked by a reissue on vinyl -- and on "virgin" vinyl at that, that really insanely thick vinyl, like they used for those Mobile Fidelity Labs half-speed remasters in the early '80s. And, stop me if I'm wrong, but didn't Pearl Jam release one of their recent albums on vinyl?

The only problem I see is that with the advent of CDs, musicians were suddenly no longer constrained by the time limits of LP sides; suddenly, you could do an album up to an hour and fifteen minutes long -- or, these days, an hour and twenty minutes. (Of course, you could release it as a double-disc set on vinyl, but then you'd probably end up with one or two oddly short sides.)

Btw, just out of sheer curiosity, what LPs is the kid asking for?

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N2

Bob

My dog has died, its stopped wagging his tail. Please come and revive him...

Thats how one user reported a fault with their desktop, but to be honest I diddnt really need any more.

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Re: Bob

Followed by "The coffee cup holder doesn't come out anymore?"

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you forgot Facebook

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MiniDiscs

Late 90s MiniDiscs were going to take over from CDs. They had huge hype but personal music soon went to MP3s.

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Happy

Re: MiniDiscs

The great format that never was. Was superb for in the car and at a time when MP3 players were few and far between limited to 64Mb, on the move.

I had a 6 disc MD changer in my Puma and loved it. The media was cheap, and hooked up by TOSLINK made great effortless copies of your CDs.

The biggest loss was it never got properly pushed as a PC data medium. There in 1993 we had a cheap reliable re-recordable data format that could handle 150MB of storage.

Most HDDs were only that size around then and affordable/usable CD burners didn't really exist for another 2-3 years and as for CD-RW........

Plus it looked really cool.

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Re: MiniDiscs

Me and MiniDisc had a number of very happy years. Awesome format. Great sound at home and on the go (this was back when Sony built stuff with proper headphone amps inside), very convenient to operate, high quality recording that fit your pocket, cheap, nigh indestructable media … simply the best you could get back in the 90s unless you were a DAT person. All the later innovations came too late and Apple insta-killed it with the original iPod's ultra-convenience – but never managed to make MP3 feel as personal as MD.

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Re: MiniDiscs

It's only in the last year or so that MiniDisc has been replaced in professional theatre and radio, and only then because its got too difficult to get the discs.

Good audio quality, and many players that could cut, chop and cue up tracks without needing anything else, coupled with instant-start once cued up made them perfect.

Even modern PC-based players often struggle with that.

- If you want some the BBC World Service are selling theirs off.

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Re: MiniDiscs

I used to love my minidisc player for theatre work.

Specially being able to record, edit and rearrange tracks on-site at a tech rehearsal without needing to lug around any other equipment.

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Stop

Re: MiniDiscs

Can i jump in with the MD love too? Had a deck, and a portable player and loved it. The sound quality was amazing, the kit looked the business, and it all worked great. as someone mentioned it looked cool too.

The only issue i had was fluff and dirt getting inbetween the plastic cases. They should have been sealed.

I hated MP3 for ages due to it killing the MD. Irrational but i really liked MD

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Re: MiniDiscs

Late 90s MiniDiscs were going to take over from CDs. They had huge hype but personal music soon went to MP3s...

Shame, really. It was certainly cool as hell that mp3's showed up -- along with standalone mp3 players and recorders -- but for a brief while, there, the minidisc was looking to be a really handy format. I can't be sure about now, but for a while after the format faded in the general consumer market, minidisc recorders were still quite popular among radio reporters. They've pretty much all gone over to memory-card-based recorders now, though I hear there's still some holdouts here and there. I don't know what they do for blank media, though.

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Well Im sure there are literally hundreds of niche innovations that lasted less than a few years many times it was just because of the speed of innovation 56K hmmm you were rich I has a humble 33kps modem.Then theres the floppy the work horse of the 90s now over taken by the USB stick.

That reminds me Dont copy that floppy!

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i work in a hosted datacentre. we found a 9.6k modem under a floor tile last week. circa 1991. suitably yellowed and still powered!

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Anonymous Coward

The Cloud

How many years before it joins the list?

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Re: The Cloud

That depends on what you mean by 'The Cloud'. For some definitions, just having emailed a copy of, for example, your CV to yourself- so that you can print a hard-copy at any internet cafe- qualifies. Likewise, renting some CPU time from Amazon to render some images can make more sense than buying the hardware yourself, if you only need to do it occasionally.

I can't knock you for having a right-minded objection to fluffy buzzwords, though! : D

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Sony MiniDisc

Should have been so useful, but was locked down a bit too tightly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sony MiniDisc

And the compression was so damned good compared to anything else available at the time.

I'd just managed to buy a Sony Walkman Professional --- the real, but minitiarised, tape deck, complete with leather case. Then came Minidisc, and I never used the Walkman pro for recording.

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Re: Sony MiniDisc

Yeah minidisc compression was designed by audio engineers first.

MP3 was designed by mathematicians first.

Go figure.

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404
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Pint

Oil Change

Was a revolutionary software product that would analyze your OS and software installations and fetch any updates it found back in 1996. I bugged the HELL out of the salescritters at their COMDEX display that year in Las Vegas. Got a copy.

Good times

;)

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