Last week, we posted our collection of tech that you thought was pointless at first but now you absolutely need. While putting that together, we kept getting it mixed up and thinking of the opposite – tech that blew our minds at first but then fell by the wayside. Turns out there are a lot more of those.
Rather than letting those cringeworthy memories go to waste, we thought we’d be good Internet citizens and share them with all of you! If you’re ready for a trip down memory lane, check out our list below. *WARNING: You’re about to be tempted start digging through some dusty storage bins*
When bluetooth headsets first hit the market, we all rejoiced and looked forward to a hands-free future. Just think of all the stuff you could do now while talking on your cell phone: drive your car, jumping jacks, play the drums, paint your house…the possibilities were endless!
There was just one problem: Having an earpiece with a bright blue light permanently on the side of your head looked…well, let’s just say “less than favourable.” Wearing one seemed to say, “I’m so important that I need to answer answer my constantly incoming calls immediately,” which made everyone else think:
We all knew that mobile gaming was the future, and Nokia’s N-Gage was looking to be the one leading the way. Similar in form to its gaming rival, the Game Boy Advance, the N-Gage went one step further by adding the ability to make phone calls.
Though it did a lot of things, the N-Gage’s downfall was that it didn’t really do any of them well. Putting in a new game required shutting down the device, opening the back cover & removing the battery. Once the game was loaded, the number pad was used instead of 2-4 dedicated gaming buttons like a more conventional controller would. And as for calls? You had to hold the thing sideways, which many criticized looked like you were speaking into a weird electronic taco.
When MiniDisc players came out in the early 90s, they had all the right elements to be the future of portable music. They were smaller than a tape player and didn’t have the skipping issue that plagued many portable CD players. So what happened?
Once MP3 players hit the market, it was game-over for the MiniDisc. Greater storage and no physical discs to keep swapping out were a huge plus. Also, you could just drag and drop files onto an MP3 player instantly, rather than having to play songs and record them onto a MiniDisc. Once the iPod came along and offered way more storage than everyone else in a sleek design, the rest was history.
Google Wave sounded great in theory. It was the ultimate solution to the fragmented experience of email. No more forgetting to reply all, conversations in multiple email threads, or other normal frustrations that can be part of the everyday chaos of sending emails.
A ‘wave’ allowed multiple people to collaborate in real time in an organized and threaded conversation. Everyone included in a topic could add comments, pictures and videos, which were all organized chronologically. You could even see what other people were typing if you were both contributing to a wave at the same time. Again, this sounded awesome in theory.
The reality was that even though Google Wave had elements of email, IM & a wiki page, it didn’t really do any of those things particularly well. Even though it was thought to be the communication tool of the future, the masses didn’t latch on to the idea, and in August 2010 Google announced that they were going to kill off the service.
In a day and age where getting emails & updates pushed instantly to all of our devices is expected, it can be easy to forget that there was once a time when information being sent directly to you as soon as it becomes available was unfathomable.
When it first came out, PointCast was all set to be the future of the Internet. By launching the program (or setting it as your screensaver), you were delivered up to the minute information including the news, sports, stocks, or pretty much anything else you’d like to be in the know about.
There’s no denying that PointCast was incredibly innovative for its time; however, a lack of continued innovation proved to be its downfall. Failed acquisition attempts, a change of CEO and other missteps took its toll while the Internet around it continued to evolve. Plus, the service itself was plagued by networks that weren’t set up to handle the excessive bandwidth that PointCast required. The ways that we access information have elements of PointCast here and there, but sadly the platform just wasn’t meant to be.
The debut of Siri was an amazing moment for iPhone users everywhere. An artificially intelligent personal assistant that can do pretty much anything you ask just by speaking into you phone? We all couldn’t wait to start having our new robot butler with the oddly soothing voice doing all of our tedious tasks like typing, scheduling appointments and setting reminders.
Unfortunately, what ended up happening was Siri wouldn’t understand most of what you were asking it to do. You would instead hear the all-too-frequent response that she doesn’t understand but can do a web search for what you are asking about. While Siri makes for a fun source of witty responses to inappropriate questions, her use as a main way to interact with your iPhone never really panned out the way Apple had hoped for.
QR codes are undeniably one of the most efficient ways to point people towards a place online while in a physical location. The possibilities are seemingly endless: provide more information about a product, offer a coupon, check in…pretty much anything you can think of.
As great as all of this is, the QR code has one fundamental problem – you need to have a QR code scanner installed on your phone. While us tech-savvy folk were quick to find one as soon as we were able to do our first scan, this process was a little too much for the everyday smartphone user. First they’d have to understand what a QR code is, then find a program to download that can scan one, then open up the program and figure out how to scan it. For something designed to make content discovery easier, this barrier to entry made the technology not worth it in the end. You can still find QR codes out there, but they are definitely few and far between.
Ever since the iPhone ushered in the age of the touchscreen, BlackBerry had been struggling to reclaim its previous lead in the smartphone world. After multiple failed attempts, the PlayBook was poised to reclaim the company’s former glory by taking over the new tablet category.
The PlayBook had many great features and its smaller form factor offered a nice alternative to the rather large iPad (which didn’t offer the Mini at the time). All was good except for one major, major, major flaw (it’s a really big one): It didn’t have a native email or calendar app. Well, that’s not the whole story – you were able to access these if you had a BlackBerry smartphone; if not, then too bad. For a brand that built itself around email & organization, it’s unfathomable how the PlayBook was released without these two essential services. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the PlayBook to disappear from the tablet landscape.
The Sega Dreamcast, still much beloved by its fans since its launch in 1998-1999, is also one of the most well-documented flops in the world of technology. Coming off the heels of Sega’s less than favourable Saturn & Sega CD days, the Dreamcast was the first in the next generation of consoles and had a slew of revolutionary features to lead the way with: Internet connectivity, a VMU memory card that could store data, play games and show game information, and the best graphics at the time.
It was brave of the Dreamcast to lead the way for the next era of gaming, but this also proved to be its downfall. Sony’s Playstation 2 came a short while later with a massive marketing blitz behind it and, most notably, superior hardware. The lack of support from EA & Squaresoft, advertising money, and support from Sega’s new president Isao Okawa ended up being too much for the Dreamcast. Unfortunately for Sega fans the Dreamcast ended up being the final gaming console that Sega ever produced.
Forget walking – what are we, cavemen? The Segway was promoted as the next step in the evolution of human transportation. Inventor & CEO Dean Kamen proclaimed, “the impact of this in the twenty-first century will be just like what Henry Ford did at the beginning of the twentieth century…[It will] change lives, cities, and ways of thinking.”
This might have been a little over ambitious. As it turned out, people didn’t want to spend $8,000 to whiz about the streets on 2 wheels and stick out like a sore thumb. It might have made more sense in the long run financially compared to owning a car, but we just couldn’t get past how much of an eyesore it was. All the more important was where do you even ride this thing? It’s too fast for the sidewalk, too slow for the road, and cities did not embrace Kamen’s enthusiasm for redesigning their infrastructure.
What other tech were you excited by only for it to completely disappear? Let us know in the comments!