Technology Flops of 2007

Sometimes we have very notable advancements in the world of technology. Sometimes things come and we THINK they will be advancements and then it just fizzles away. This is just how things work. So, what do I think are the technology flops of 2007? Read on and find out.

Windows Vista

I think Vista is perhaps the most obvious flop of the year. Windows XP long dominated the world of Microsoft Windows. After 6 years of development, one would think Windows Vista would be simply fantastic. It was advertised as the most secure Windows ever. It was rewritten for security and stability. It was supposed to give us the gorgeous design Apple users gloat over.

In reality, what we got was a beefy, bloated operating system with nothing incredibly noteworthy about it that caused instabilities on a multitude of systems. For various reasons, the driver support was not complete when Vista was announced. A slew of third-party applications required core-level changes to even work with Windows Vista. In short, Vista threw the Windows world into a tizzy of incompatibilities, crashes, and expensive hardware and software upgrades.

You could argue that this was just a continuation of the Windows trend. Each successive Windows version, unfortunately, gets bigger and beefier. Instead of concentrating on the core operating system, they load on more side features that could be better dealt with by third party vendors. Each Windows update usually does result in incompatibilities in the beginning and then it winds down as a barrage of updates fixe the problems. So, this is typical Microsoft.

What’s different is that this is the first Windows release to come out in the new Web 2.0, blog-heavy internet. Today, if something sucks, the whole world is going to know about it – FAST. Even if it doesn’t completely suck (and there is some good to Vista), the speed of complaining online has never been faster. So, Vista quickly got shot down and this leads to skepticism in the mind of the consumer. The result is an extension of the Windows XP product lifespan and some casual comparisons between Windows Vista and Windows ME. Ouch.

And to drive this point home even further, my Windows Vista laptop froze and crash while writing this very article. Go figure.

Facebook Beacon

Facebook revolutionized social networking earlier in 2007 when it opened up a development platform for third-party developers. They were on a roll and Facebook was right up there with Apple in terms of sheer geek love.

Then came Beacon. It was supposed to revolutionize internet advertising by bringing the power of social proof to the world of ads. Cool in concept, yes. But, Facebook did not launch this thing very well and it resulted in a digital sh*tstorm of privacy concerns and embarassment for the company.

Facebook ultimately reversed many of the initial efforts to allay privacy concerns and Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of the company, had to issue a public apology in order to placate the allegations of silence.

Apple Iphone

A lot of people would probably be very surprised to see the Iphone listed here, so let me clarify one thing. In terms of innovation, the Iphone is fantastic. That has driven good sales for Apple and would easily land the Iphone on a list of 2007 successes as well. However, there are some things about the Iphone that I think Apple flopped on big time.

First and foremost, they locked the phone down to AT&T. I’m sure they had some profit-hungry reason for making this deal with AT&T, but it was bad for consumers. AT&T doesn’t have the best network around, and this shows itself in the fact that the Iphone crawls around the internet on the pokey EDGE network rather than the much snappier 3G network. AT&T recently let it be known that a 3G version of the Iphone will be coming out in 2008. This is good, but does nothing for the early adopters who screwed the pooch by buying this thing too early. All this after Apple also screwed early adopters by issuing significant price drops weeks into the launch.

Secondly, the fact that the Iphone was so closed and tightly controlled was, again, bad for consumers. Apple has gone out of it’s way to keep consumers from using their new Iphone how they see fit by actively blocking third party applications on the device. This has given rise to a whole movement online on how to hack the Iphone. Much to the chagrin of Apple, too, it is a movement they cannot control despite the number of firmware updates they release to try to break everything. Some argue that blocking third-party apps is a wise decision for fear of device instability. My response is that if I pay that much for a phone, I should be able to do anything I want with it.

Apple got a lot right when they designed the Iphone. However, they severely handicapped the phone unnecessarily by so tightly controlling it. Its a success and a flop, all in one. And only Apple could muster up the army of forgiving followers necessary to make such a device thrive on the buzz that it has gotten, despite these shortcomings. I guess this is a classic case of style over substance, and in this case style won over the crowd.

Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD

Lastly, I will mention the battle of the DVD formats. The fact that no headway has been made to raise a white flag here has lead to both formats being flops for 2007. Both sides continue to compete intensely, releasing more and more movies in both formats while the two continue to be incompatible.

The worse part is that the major content providers are falling evenly between the two camps. This means that buying a Blu-Ray player means that half the HD content out there is out of your reach. Vice versa for the HD-DVD players. The result has been lackluster migration to high definition DVDs and continued use of standard definition DVDs.

Until something happens here, both camps will remain in the “flop” category and both could end up in the dustbin of failed technology.

Comments

  1. I’ve been been a (daily)PC user since the days of Windows 95 and I’ve seen nothing that makes me compelled to run out and spend an obscene amount of money for a glitchy operating system(Vista).Granted I seem to remember XP having some issues when it first came out but not to the degree Vista has had. I’ve got multiple machines running 2000 Pro and XP and they are solid performers. Not mention how memory hungry Vista is. Perhaps Microsoft should be thinking like Detroit automakers should think lean and mean. Vista seems to consume system resources like a Hummer consumes gasoline.

  2. I found this article very good and I do agree with it. I still haven’t even thought about upgrading to Vista since I first played with it at my friend’s house. I found it quite a mess. I can see XP being dominant in the Windows category of O.S.s for a very long time. I’m also running a couple of W2K and XP machines and haven’t had any problems with either in a loooong while. I also feel that Apple came out too strong with the restrictions. If anyone has to pay such a price for an item, they should be able to do what they want with it. Last of all (since I’m uneducated about Facebook), I am very left out of half of the HD-Content out there since I have a blu-ray player. The continuous fight has really made it hard for consumers to enjoy a never ending list content. A $400 blu-ray writer and HD-DVD reader was featured in this months PC World on pg. 72. Seems to be the best bet for now if you have a nice size monitor. I’ll wait till the cease fire is called though.

  3. 64 bit processing goes mainstream…Not!

  4. I couldn’t even read this article, because the four things you chose … well three of them… must have been done in an uneducated, closed-minded way.

    First, Windows Vista is a very decent operating system. It works fine, has great support, and is offered at huge discounts in a variety of ways. Just because lots of people own terribad computers doesn’t mean that the operating system is bad. On that note, 64bit processing is very popular and in the loop. Vista is a very good product, people just don’t have the time and money to upgrade.

    Second, well facebook beacon sucked, your right.

    Third, the iPhone is fantastic, popular, and going to be open to various networks soon. What’s wrong with that?

    Fourth, good things come to the consumer from competition. Even if you don’t like it, just like we went from beta to vcr, we’ll be on one of them soon. It’ll all get cheaper and better for sure, CD drives used to cost you 60 bucks and now you can pull a sweet dvd +- r/w for <30.

    Let’s not bash unless we’ve tried it, eh?

  5. It is typical, Microsoft is compelled to put out new operating systems just to “stay ahead” of the competition and fix things on the fly. There lucky that Linux apps are not as plentiful thus preventing it being mainstream. Hey, I want a true 64 bit system and I trust that VISTA will eventually produce. Until then, I’ll stick with my XPpro. and W2K.

  6. asdf, I don’t think that you are getting the point he is trying to make. Vista is not ‘good’. IMO it came out too early. I purchased a laptop and it came with vista home premium. It ran slow, froze, and I got the BSOD a few times a day for no apparent reason. I decided to just put Ubuntu on my laptop… and wiped vista. No dual boot because I only have an 80gb HD and I need over 17gb of free space (not sure bout the numbers but I have a 17gb partition and it isnt big enough).

    Iphone… the point he is trying to make is that consumers buy an expensive product… and then gets screwed… multiple times… in multiple ways…

    I know nothing about facebook.

    lol… I am not really in the loop of what is going on between HD-DVD and Bluray but I know that I don’t care(for now). As far as I can understand, the 2 are in a fierce battle that is heading nowhere.

  7. I don’t know anything about the iphone since after messing with itunes for a little bit I turn my nose up at i-anything but..
    “Third, the iPhone is fantastic, popular, and going to be open to various networks soon.”
    I don’t get your aurgument here. The title of this article is Flops of 2007. If you mean soon as in the next 2 weeks fine but if you mean soon as in 2008 like the author stated then wait for next years article to reply.

    Oh yeah and who comments on an article they couldn’t even read?
    “I couldn’t even read this article, because the four things you chose … well three of them… must have been done in an uneducated, closed-minded way.”

    Now that is just “uneducated” and “closed-minded” as you said.

  8. If you wait until the war is settled you’ll never get any HD stuff. It will be like the DVD-R and DVD+R blanks that you can write on. Eventually writers and readers came out that could deal with both. Eventually you’ll see that with the HD stuff too, blu-ray and hd dvd players that can do both.

  9. For the average home user I don’t think Vista is bad. Not all of us are big gamers, want to edit home movies etc on our computers. I’ve only had my computer freeze on me 1 time in the 5 months I’ve had it. And after Vista got to know me the times it asked me for permission to do things almost went away – I get more annoying issues like that from my Zone Alarm…

  10. I think you are wrong about the iPhone. I only know about the UK contracts with O2, and they seem very good albeit a little pricey. And HD-DVD/Blu-Ray? well I think they are both doing well and as soon as there is an external PC drive that reads both formats for under £100 or $200 i will be buying one.

  11. But computers shouldn’t freeze. Not unless there are software problems(by this, I mean non OS related software that is buggy), or if there is malware or something on the computer that is causing OS related problems.

    I can say that vista looks pretty sweet though. Although I hate to say that it isn’t enough to get me to actually use it… Anyway, hopefully most of the problems will be fixed with SP1…

    All in all, vista is nice but there are some core problems and just consumes way too much resources for me.

  12. I agree(about the HD-DVD and Bluray), Dan, as soon as there is something that reads both, all our problems will be solved, lol.

  13. From asdf: “On that note, 64bit processing is very popular and in the loop.”

    Where? When did 64 bit processing become more popular than 32 bit?

    I don’t see it other than a few examples here and there.

    I’m just disappointed it has not happened yet with the advent of 64 bit CPU’s a few years ago now.

  14. Problems with vista, I don’t have a “terribad” computer, and I just got it a month ago
    -Bizzare Vista/Nvidia driver issues with my monitor.
    -Occasional Crashes with video on start up.. back to drivers..
    -Causes many programs to freeze, from anti virus software to games.
    -Incompatibility issues all over my face
    -38% ram usage by vista on 2 gigs..

    Whats more, is its features. Aero.. completely useless as I don’t see the point in going to the rotating screen shit + transparent bars. Plus, it turns off half the time for programs that don’t support it.

    The only thing I actually like, the search functions including the start bar.

    These problems lessened (although still there) after about half a month of trying to find fixes for everything, but all in all Vista is fugly.

  15. From Jah: “I agree(about the HD-DVD and Bluray), Dan, as soon as there is something that reads both, all our problems will be solved, lol.”

    It already exists. It’s just a matter of time before more manufacturers are making a dual format players forcing the prices to come down. Bottom line, there won’t be a format war given some players now and many players in the future will run on both formats.

    Samsung and LG are already making such players.

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070125-8702.html

    http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-BD-UP5000-HD-DVD-Blu-Ray-Player/dp/B000VDG0UK

    http://www.engadget.com/2007/01/07/lgs-bh100-hybrid-blu-ray-and-hd-dvd-player-1-199/

  16. I have high-end spec computer with 4GB RAM, Twin video cards, new CPU, motherboard etc.. and it takes 2-3 minutes for the computer to boot with Vista. There is a 10-20 second delay when I select a function on the start bar. In all, Vista is shit. XP was much quicker.

  17. Thanks for that, David, I learned something new today… That’s pretty sweet but a bit on the expensive side… You do have a good point there but I wonder how much it costs to actually make one. Eventually(a few years… maybe) the price will go down to an actually reasonable price. Ahhh I just read that article in your first link – Steve Wilson believes price will drop dramatically. “That $1200 price would seem to be more about matching Blu-ray player prices than about reflecting the cost of producing a universal player,” says Wilson. “There’s no reason universal players should cost significantly more than HD or Blu-ray players.”
    The article was written in january and the price is now <$900(just did a quick google search). So yeah… not sure How much cheaper it is going to get(I am guessing it will go down to around $600 or so) but you are right, once more companies start making them, there will actually be some competition.

  18. WinVista has been great for me and in general better than all the problems we had with XP on launch sure it’s not perfect but it’s far from the worst tech product of the year. When people compain about memory usage they have to remember Vista is USING the memory not letting it all sit there idle, idle RAM does nothing for you – think about that!!

    iphone – totally over rated!

    facebook – i really really don’t care!

    Blu-Ray and HD-DVD – well no-one is winning here especially the consumer!

  19. Vista Home Premium is actually pretty bloody good now SP1 RC is out and the Nvida beta drivers are out for my 8800GT. It was shit before that (slow network, bad problems with 64bit software), but now I’m very happy. Plus.. Crysis DX10 is awesome… and once more games follow the DX10 route, then XP will fade out like win98SE did. So I think saying it was a flop is a bit premature (excuse the pun). Maybe for 2007.. but it won’t be for 2008.

    I completely agree about Blu Ray and HD-DVD though. I won’t touch either. Oddly Sony’s profit removing addition of the Blu Ray drive to the PS3 actually seemed to work better than I expected, so blu ray might with this war. I’m hoping 4.5gig downloadable 720p HD movies will happen soon instead. I hate having discs when hard drives are so cheap :P

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