Technology is tough to create and even tougher to predict. What can seem like a breakthrough product one minute, can quickly turn into a nightmarish mistake.
Last week, I asked what were the biggest tech gaffes in history. This question was prompted, in part, by the dismal sales of Amazon’s Fire Phone, which the company’s quarterly report confirmed with horrific losses.
But as you all pointed out, Amazon isn’t alone, but what defines a “failure” prompted some interesting answers. Of course, there are the obvious one — lots of Microsoft software for example. However, a few seem successful (and in fact were at the time), but maybe sent a company in the absolute wrong direction. In other cases, some gadgets were actually great, maybe even revolutionary, but it was the companies behind them that were blind to what they had created.
Whatever the reason, here are 9 of the biggest face palms in tech history.
Google does a lot right. Snatching up Android? Pretty solid. Developing amazing software and smartphone tools? Not too bad. Oh, and that search engine isn’t too bad either. But even the biggest companies can’t escape the occasional tech blunder, and Nexus Q was exactly that. Announced in 2012, Google handed out this $US300 digital media player known as Nexus Q to everyone attending the 2012 Google I/O conference.
After receiving abysmal feedback (primarily its price versus function disparity), Google pulled the device from its store and basically gave them out for free to whoever actually pre-ordered one. You’ve got to hand it to Google, though. At least they know a bad thing when they see one. Let’s just hope Google Glass (which many of you also mentioned) can avoid future iterations of this list.
The Microsoft Kin should always be at the top of the list when talking about failures in tech. The thing is it was a cool device, just priced very wrong. Similar to the Fire Phone had Amazon given up, scrapped it, and stopped selling it in a few weeks.
via Captain Jack
The Lisa sucked, slow, over designed, lacking not just the affordability but also the usability of the Mac. Even the Lisa’s most advanced OS features that the Mac lacked, such as preemptive multitasking and protected memory, weren’t very useful on such a hobbled CPU.
via Randy Hill
Windows Vista, which was essentially Windows 7 Beta without the Beta tag.
via Sean F.
What is there to say about Vista? Even after an extended beta period, this notoriously horrible OS was plagued with compatibility issues and was unforgivably slow. There just wasn’t anything to love, and certainly nothing worth abandoning Windows XP for. Luckily, Windows 7 sorted out a lot of the mess Vista created.
Nintendo 64 (Cartridges)
Though I love love love the N64, Nintendo’s decision to stick with carts really blew their dominance in the industry. Especially when considering that they were dipping their foot in the optical media pool, working with Sony to develop a CD add-on for the SNES. Once Nintendo pulled out of the project, the PlayStation was born. Way to shoot yourself in the foot.
I also love the N64 (GoldenEye, amirite?), but ditching Sony is a painful fact that probably ended up hurting Nintendo more than it helped.
The single biggest blunder in Tech is Alto. Xerox PARC developed the first PC in 1973. They called it Alto. It had a mouse. It had a graphical UI. Instead of licensing it, they let guys like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates look at it and walk away with ideas to be developed later. Xerox could have had a piece of every PC ever sold.
I wish I could say that Vista was the only operating system on this list, but Microsoft has a penchant for creating software that turns out to be a nightmare (we won’t even talk about Windows ME). Microsoft Bob tried to weirdly reimagine the internet as a house with certain objects standing in for applications. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well and neither did its offensively cute design. Also, the most hated font of all time, Comic Sans, was created for Microsoft Bob. Man, this thing just sucks.
Those cheap little things were easy to carry, and that’s about all they had going for them. They had pathetic hardware that could barely support Windows, which made every task one attempted intensely frustrating.
Cyberdyne creating Skynet was a bit of a misstep…
Now, I was going to skip over this small joke, but after hearing Elon Musk’s reiterated fears of artificial intelligence at MIT’s symposium this past week — saying that creating AI is like “summoning the demon” — I’m going to leave just leave it right here. Not so much as a part of tech history, but possibly an upcoming problem in our tech future.
Got any other tech disasters that deserve a mention? Post them below.