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2007 10 Biggest Tech Failures

home alone 2007 has been a year of many changes, additions, new products and even failed products.  Every day the rumor mill grinds out promises of greatness, but very few promises are kept.  Those products that actually do see the light of day are posted on thousands of blogs, dissected, disseminated and digested for a public willing to trade dollars for delivery of a better life. 

Ladies and gents, I have swept the landscape of 2007 and I bring you the Biggest Tech Failures of the year – in no particular order.

After the break…

vista_vs_xp

1. Windows Vista.  What?  A failure?  It’s on millions of desktops and laptops.  It has huge market share!  How can it be a failure?  That’s a good question.  Let’s hop to an answer.  First of all, Windows XP computers with an 800MHz processor, and 512MB of memory were supposedly all that was needed to upgrade.  C a n  y o u  s a y  s l o w ?  No way, dude!  No way can a computer with those specs run Vista.  Heck, I have a brand new laptop with Two Cores and one GB of ram, and it is too slow!  So everyone had to upgrade their hardware or just buy new computers.  Suddenly a software upgrade became very very expensive!

Then there is Aero, the slick user interface. 

Aero

Looks great, huh?  Try using it.  Memory hog!  I disabled it because it taxed my system.  How about Superfetch, the software built into Vista that was supposed to know in advance what programs you would want, thus making your system faster.  Come on Karnac, do you know what I’m thinking of you? 

Vista SP1 is on its way.  It’s too late to take the bloat out, but maybe it can make even brand new systems usable.

2. The UMPC (ultra mobile PC).

samsung-q2crop

If Vista can’t run on a new, top of the line computer, how’s it going to run on an underpowered, oversized pocket pc? 

UMPCs were supposed to cost $500 and run the latest Microsoft OS, have at least a 30 GB hard-drive, a touch interface, 256 MB of ram or more, and be portable.  Well, at least they’re portable. 

3. Microsoft Office 2007.  Yeah, I said it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Office. 

office 2007

I’ve been using it since the mid 90’s.  But everything I knew and was familiar with is now changed.  What’s with the Ribbon?  I’ve been so used to knowing where all the oddball menu items were hidden, that I now cannot find things that are hidden in plain site!  Plus the Ribbon has taken up my valuable screen real estate.  And the price?!  Ouch.  With so many free alternatives now on the market, this is a tough upgrade to justify.

4. Daylight Savings Time Fix.  Uh, that worked real well.  Need I go on?  Ok, I will.  I downloaded the patches for all my systems including my pocket pc, laptops and desktop.  Now they all have different times.  The good news is I now know the time in various parts of the world.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the spring.

5. The iPhone

iPhone brick-thumb

Now how is the iPhone a failure?  Back in February, in a Mobility Site article, I found this quote:

Apple seems to be repeating the cycle again with iPhone, developing what is undoubtedly an advanced product with a remarkable interface and overcharging for it. A recent survey found that a minuscule number of consumers would pay $500 for a 4 GB iPhone.

That was David Haskin comparing the iPhone to the Newton.  So what did Apple do?  After they got tons of people to “overpay”, they lowered the price by $200 only a couple months after introduction.  Whoops.  Then the backlash of angry consumers had to be mollified with a $100 coupon for the Apple Store. 

Then Apple went to war with their own customers.  They attempted to put a stop to “jailbreaking”, forcing customers to be locked into an expensive AT & T contract, and tried to make consumers buy apps through the Apple Store instead of letting developers sell on their own. 

What’s going to happen in May, on the first anniversary, if the iPhone is upgraded to a 4G network and gets more onboard memory?

6. Bluetooth Stereo Headsets.

anycom_BT

I have tested several Bluetooth Stereo headsets and was amazed by the wireless aspect.  But after 10 minutes the novelty wears off and you become more concerned about the sound quality, or lack of.  I have found that for 1/3 the price you can get a superior wired pair of cans.  I always wondered why bluetooth has not been added to many popular mp3 players, but after testing several pairs I found out why. 

Here is what I said in May when reviewing a pair of BT Headphones:
“Bluetooth earpieces for phones are mainstream now, but bluetooth headsets are not. Why don’t the Zune, iPod, Sandisk Sansa and all the other mp3 players out there offer bluetooth? Could it be because most people don’t know how to download an HP bluetooth stack or play around with AVRCP and manipulate similar files? The people who read articles like this one are the early adopters. We are the guinea pigs. We are playing around with cutting edge technology, and in order to be able to use it, we have to accept that this technology may not work right out of the box.”

Overpriced and mediocre.  Next.

7. WiMax in the US

WiMAX is a wireless digital communications system, also known as IEEE 802.16, that is intended for wireless “metropolitan area networks”.   WiMAX can provide broadband wireless access (BWA) up to 30 miles (50 km) for fixed stations, and 3 – 10 miles (5 – 15 km) for mobile stations.  In contrast, the WiFi/802.11 wireless local area network standard is limited in most cases to only 100 – 300 feet (30 – 100m).

Ok, we know what it is.  So where is it?  According to PC World, Sprint and Clearwire called off plans a couple weeks ago, to build a nationwide WiMax network.  And as for the future of Wimax:

“Just as the July announcement was seen as a major step forward for WiMax-based services, scrapping the deal is likely to be seen as a major step backward, throwing into doubt whether either company on its own will be able to deploy WiMax aggressively or, perhaps, at all. Sprint announced in 2006 its decision to go forward with a nationwide mobile WiMax net, the first large-scale commitment to a technology that was just then becoming available in commercial, certified products. The net would require Sprint to invest about $5 billion by 2010.”

Maybe I’ll move to Korea.  They are rolling in WiMax.

8. Palm.  I was going to just include the Foleo, but what about the rest of Palm? 

palm foleo

Remember when they announced the Official Palm Blog?  It hasn’t been updated since September 4.  Oh well.  How about the new Palm OS?  Well, that was pushed back.  At least their Treo line is still running…Windows!  That Treo line was their saviour, but it’s getting long in the tooth.  HTC has come out with their new Touch Technology phones, and of course, Apple brought out the iPhone, so who wants a Treo? 

“I predict someone will buy Palm in 2008.”

—–Karnac

9. Tablet PCs.

TabletPC

I could’ve included this with the UMPC, as they are usually underpowered, severely overpriced, and hey, where’s the frickin’ keyboard?!  How are you going to input data into these things?  You can’t easily carry them around, and using a stylus to enter information is so slow and low-tech.  And try to find one for less than $2000.  Come on.  I dare you. 

10. Google.

Just kidding!

10. The Amazon Kindle.

Kindle-front

Try kindling, as in wood kindling.  Why?  $399 for crappy black and white technology and a crappy business model.  As CTitanic explained in his post on the subject,

The Kindle’s business model has another set of problems. To avoid a monthly subscription fee, Amazon is charging a wallet-taxing $399 for the device–then $9.99 or so for every book that you download from Amazon’s “Kindle Store.” Publishers seem reluctant to put their entire stock into the discounted e-book format. Bezos brags that 101 of the 112 current New York Times best sellers and new releases are available for download. Just don’t ask about best sellers from past years. I went searching for Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff and came back with only I Am Charlotte Simmons.”

11.  Ten wasn’t enough.  Here’s some bonus material for you.

Cell Phone Companies.  As Radimus reported, cell users are pissed off!  $40 for a data plan just because you have a keyboard on a mobile device!  Unlimited data plans that are limited!  Sprint subscribers are “let go” for calling service too often!  2 year contracts with hefty termination fees!  Aaaarghhhh!  Enough. 

Not enough…here’s another great article on MobilitySite.  The Top 10 Reasons to hate your cell phone carrier.

  • They stifle progress
  • They’re a cartel
  • They’re going to make you pay for Tetris
  • They just can’t behave themselves
  • They illegally spy on you
  • They have annoying commercials
  • They hate you
  • Their contracts are nonsense
  • They charge crazy fees (for services you didn’t ask for)
  • They lock handsets
  • They cripple their products
  • They charge double for data
  • They own politicians
  • Their products suck

    12. Blackberry.

    blackberrycurvei

    My wife is addicted to her’s.  Are you?  Sorry.  I mean, they’re really cool and all, but the service outages have to be a little annoying.  This was reported in Engadget in August,

    “If it turns out to be of any size, this particular outage would be only the latest in a recent spate RIM has suffered — and not even the first in the past month.”

    Ok.  No WiMax.  No Blackberry.  Can I just have a phone that works?  And doesn’t cost $100 per month?

    13.  iPod wannabees

    sansaView

    The wannabees come in two categories, those who try to outdo iPod, and those who try to match iPod.  The Sansa View (see my review) tried to outdo the iPod by offering double the memory for the same price as the Nano.  $200 gets you 16 GB of flash memory, an FM radio, voice recorder and larger screen.  But it sucked. 

    The Zune line falls in the latter category.  For the same price as the respective iPods, you get the same basic player.  As an incentive they offer Wifi so you can share music.  But you can’t download anything or view the internet.  Personally, when I have headphones on and am listening to music, I don’t want to speak to anyone.  So what would I do, see a friend who also happens to have their Zune, and say, “Hey bro, check out this new tune by Feist.” 

    “Uh, hey!  Did you hear me!”  My friend didn’t remove his headphones yet.

    “Yo, dude!  I’m talking to you!”

    My friend responds, “What?  Were you talking to me?  I had my headphones on.”

    Thanks!  I hope you found the humor in my lucky 13 list.  It was fun writing it.  Please add some more to my list.

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    November 21, 2007 - Posted by | Opinions

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