The decade's 30 biggest tech flops
After 10 years of working at CNET, Executive Editor David Carnoy looks back at the most hyped tech products that didn't pan out as planned--or just flat out bombed.
First, an admission. We ran this same story last year with many of the same picks. At the time, several readers said we were not only wrong for running it, but were downright ignorant.
As elbrado67 so eloquently put it:
We still have another year left in the decade, I would expect more from a "tech" site to be scientifically correct. You start counting with "1," not "0." Despite popular belief on the news and everywhere else, the new "Millennium" started in 2001, not 2000. Please stop dumbing everything down.
Many others were just fine with us publishing the story at the end of 2009, but a year later, we're willing to get smart and republish the story adhering to elbrado67's rules for what a decade really is. Hey, we aim to please.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let's get the parameters straight. This isn't a list of all the most spectacular tech failures. I chose to exclude dot-coms, corporate debacles (AOL-Time Warner), search engines (i.e., Cuil), and assorted other Web 2.0 flame outs (I'll let Webware handle that). No, this is a roundup of gear, the stuff that turns on and off.
It's also important to define just what a flop is. As previously noted, a flop in our book is simply something that was really hyped but didn't live up to its promise or expectations. And while the word "flop" has a negative connotation, we here at CNET have a lot of admiration for the designers, engineers, and everybody else who put their hearts and souls into bringing these products and technologies to the world. Some of them didn't deserve their fates. Sometimes they were ahead of their time or just marketed poorly. Whatever the case, we appreciate the vision, risk-taking, and hard work that went into creating these things.
As always, if you disagree with any of our picks or have more to suggest, please post a comment. We've already updated the list twice based on your feedback.
Click on any image to start the slideshow. (Note: The list is in chronological order).