The 20 Most Successful Technology Failures of All Time – Magazine


Time magazine has an interesting feature highlighting “Successful Technology Failures of All time” This list, ranked in order of influence, was extensively debated by TIME’s technology team.

In Silicon Valley “failing fast” is heralded as a virtue and, sometimes, even failing slowly can have unforeseeable benefits. The list has several interesting nuggets and lessons for Entrepreneurs and startup founders looking for ideas.

Ideas that failed or set trends?

20  TiVo – One of the first Digital Video Recorders, or DVRs, to come to market — and a brand so successful it became a verb — TiVo to this day puts out some of the best set-top boxes on the planet.  But considering that many consumers think TiVo went out of business, in the end, did it really win?

19  Virtual Boy – Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, released in 1995, was a physically uncomfortable mess of a game system. But creator Gunpei Yokoi’s critical misfire was vital in at least this sense: It got the public thinking about virtual reality decades before true virtual headsets like the Oculus Rift arrived.

18  MapQuest – Long ago, MapQuest was one of the best options around for getting driving directions before you set off on your road trip.  The service was many users’ first foray into getting driving directions from the Internet, leading to the much-improved services we enjoy today.

17  The Daily – Launched with hype and hoopla during the honeymoon period following Apple’s original iPad reveal, The Daily, a News Corp.-backed digital-first newspaper, featured flashy graphics, embedded video, and new ways for readers to interact with stories.

16  Pebble – Apple and Samsung may have popularized the smartwatch, but Pebble led the way beforehand. In December 2016, Pebble announced it would sell its technology and other assets to Fitbit. Still, versions of some of Pebble’s early ideas can be found in today’s top smartwatches.

15  QR Codes – QR codes sound like a genuinely useful idea: Barcode-like symbols that smartphone users could scan for more information about some real-world object, be it a movie poster or a museum exhibit. The idea of scanning real-world objects with our smartphones remains: Pinterest recently introduced Lens, an app that analyzes physical items to help you find similar products for sale online.

14  Segway –   Designed as a revolutionary new transportation option, Segways have largely been relegated to the realm of the mall cop and tour group.

13  Motorola ROKR E1 –  The ROKR E1, released in 2005 in partnership with Motorola, was the first phone pre-packaged with a version of Apple’s iTunes music software. However, the device was more or less dead on arrival, as critics lamented the software’s sluggish performance and the phone’s small storage capacity.

12  Dreamcast – Sega’s spiral-topped, candy-buttoned swan song console was the video game powerhouse buyers didn’t know they needed half a decade too soon.

11  Google Glass – From its flashy introduction demo that featured skydivers streaming their jump through the device, to a spread in Vogue, Glass had possibly one of the most-hyped gadget launches of all time. But all for not: Google shelved the product in 2015, though it’s still being used in some professional applications.

10 AltaVista –  Founded in 1995, it set the stage for Google, which has become such an incremental part of how we discover information that “googling” is part of our vernacular. Yahoo officially killed AltaVista 10 years later in 2013, and Google continues to dominate the Internet search landscape.

9   MySpace  – MySpace was the place where “web stars are born” and “music and film careers are launched,” as TIME wrote when we named it one of the 50 best websites of 2006. And it certainly helped popularize the basic concept of social media and online profiles.

8   Windows 8 – Deplored by many for its removal of Windows’ iconic “Start” button, Windows 8 in 2012 was the biggest rethink of Microsoft’s too-big-to-fail computing linchpin since Redmond first slapped a “Start” button in Windows 95’s lower left-hand corner.

7  Netscape – It’s fair to call Netscape a dinosaur of technology — after all, the web browser launched 22 years ago, which is eons in in Silicon Valley time. But the company played a vital role in the way tech develops through the antitrust lawsuit it won against Microsoft, a decision with implications that still influence the industry today. Yet while Netscape won that battle, it eventually lost the browser war — but not before selling itself off to AOL for $4.2 billion.

6  GM EV-1  -Today, it feels more clear than ever that electric cars will be at least a part of our automotive future. Upstart electric automaker Tesla is leading the charge, having sold over 76,000 vehicles in 2016. But it was a legacy Detroit company, General Motors, that put the first mass-produced electric vehicle on the road.

5  Betamax –   Betamax’s technical bona fides were trifling (even to videophiles), and that, along with its higher price tag, made VHS the consumer no-brainer. Though its technical impact was nominal, Betamax’s iconic role in the latter part of the 20th century’s videotape format wars laid the notional groundwork for all the binary platform battles since.

4  Palm Pilot – The first mainstream product to fit our digital lives into our pockets, the original Palm Pilot PDA sold a million units in its first year alone, which makes it hard to brand the device a failure. But that was 1997, the year in which Microsoft came in and rescued Apple with a $150 investment, and the rest — iPods and iPhones — is history.

3 AOL – It’s hard to look at what America Online was and not wonder what it could have been. The first Internet service provider to capture the country’s attention, it began to gobble up content on the web much in the same way that Facebook and Google are doing today.

2 BlackBerry  – Before the iPhone, there was the BlackBerry — or “CrackBerry,” as the devices’ obsessed users affectionately referred to them. These iconic devices were many users’ first smartphones, able to connect to the Internet, send and receive email, and chat with one another over the company’s BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, service.

1   Napster  – Napster’s meteoric turn of the century rise as the world’s de facto peer-to-peer Internet client hastened the shift away from compact discs to ethereal digital tunes (the notion that your entire music collection might fit on a hard drive was unimaginable before Napster).

Article source Time Magazine (link)

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