They can’t all be winners. The last 17 years have seen the technology industry crash and rise, and while we’ve got a few mega-success stories to show for it, most of what we’ve seen has ended up on the cutting room floor of history. Then, there are the slip-ups so extraordinary that they do make the final cut — whether it was from hubris or from being ahead of their time, we’ve found 23 of the most notorious tech debacles of the new century, presented in no particular order (be sure to yell at us if we missed a good one). Call it a history lesson, because as the memories come flooding back, two lessons come to mind — history repeats itself, and there is no such thing as a sure thing.
Easily one of the most notorious flops. Google Glass was supposed to launch modern wearable tech long before the current crop of smartwatches, but after an exciting 2012 introduction, Glass would only leave Google with a black eye — for our part, we were too busy making Dragon Ball Z references to see the train wreck coming. Memories of privacy concerns and bar bans come to mind immediately, but it’s worth remembering that Glass was also beset by tons of bugs and terrible battery life. After an internal scandal rocked the development team, there was little else to do but shut it down in 2015. But, like most things on this list, Glass wasn’t a complete failure. The face computer still finds use in medical, business, and military settings, and although the device itself failed as a consumer product, it ended up being an effective demonstration of Google’s voice-activated search assistant, Google Now. Word is Google is still developing Glass behind closed doors, but it’s difficult to imagine it’ll ever be a successful consumer product with its history.
Well, OK, this was a complete failure. This was also back in 2002, when Nokia was hot stuff in the mobile phone market — long before their handset division was bought and later dissolved by Microsoft (we’ll get to that later). The N-Gage was supposed to be both a phone and a video game console, which means it was, oh, five years too early (alright, maybe six years if you want to start with the App Store). Derided as the taco phone (the speakers and mic were on the flat edge), the N-Gage sold far below expectations, with Nokia throwing in the towel in 2005.
The legend. This is where the whole bit about every other Windows release being terrible started. Although it did introduce a lot of desktop customization features we take for granted now, Windows Millennium Edition was blasted for being buggy and slow. Launched in 2000 (hey, it failed in 2001, so it still counts as this century), Microsoft kept supporting it until 2006, but they replaced it with the completely new (and great for its time) Windows XP less than a year later.
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