GeoCities crumbles into the dust of internet history
For US dwellers, Yahoo GeoCities died in 2009; in Japan, it somehow hung on another 10 years. Yes, it was an eyesore, but in its heyday it was an easy way to throw up a personal site or to find other people with even the most bizarre interests. Now it's got an expiration date: March 2019. If you're too young to remember, check out the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine for a snapshot.
A once-bright star valued at $9 billion, Theranos made an ignominious exit following a huge fraud scandal that went on for several years for making false claims about its blood analyzer. Theranos had laid off the bulk of its employees by April 2018, settled with the Securities and Exchange commission, and on September 12 posted an insolvency notice on its site.
Portable gaming has changed a lot since the PlayStation Vita debuted in 2011, so it's no surprise that Sony finally declaredit would cease production in Japan in 2019. What's a bit more surprising is that it doesn't plan another gaming portable, though it's in the realm of possibility the company will just add the ability to stream games to mobile devices to its PlayStation Now capabilities instead.
The beeping, booping absolutely adorable rolling robot companion that made a splash at CES 2017 and CES 2018 will likely never see the inside of your home. Mayfield Robotics announced in July 2018 that it was ceasing production of this promising li'l 'bot and refunding preorders. Why? It just didn't fit into the business plans of Bosch, a company whose products run the gamut from power tools to sensors that's the power behind the incubator that helped birth Kuri.
Toys R Us came back from the brink of closure. In March, saddled with $5 billion in debt and sales being strangled by big online sites like Amazon, the big toy retailer declared bankruptcy and closed its stores. Before you could say "remember when?", it cancelled its bankruptcy auction and decided it could follow in the footsteps of companies like Polaroid and live on by selling its brand.
An immersion circulator designed to let you cook sous vide-style in a standard pot by maintaining a consistent water temperature, the Sansaire Delta was forced to shut down in February when it ran into problems with its manufacturer.
Because Apple doesn't rev its laptop designs as often as Windows-system manufacturers, it takes longer for bad ideas to work their way out of the line, and even longer for Apple to admit failure. So I'll keep begging: Please, get rid of the Touch Bar. It defeats the purpose of a secondary input for creatives -- its primary target audience -- which is to keep you from having to look away from the screen, and actually makes things worse.
I'd never heard of this one, a fitness startup launched by Dick Costolo, former CEO of Twitter, that was predicated on peer pressure: you join with a group of friends and announce your daily plans for healthy living. I had to include it because of the reason it failed: the "abstinence violation effect." If you need to be motivated that much, you'll lack the motivation to keep checking in. Raise your hand if you saw that coming a mile off.
It wasn't hugely popular, but Valve's box that let you play Steam games on your TV had some fans. In November, the company announced that once existing supplies ran out, it would not respawn. Instead, Steam's playing up its app-based solution, which as yet is still in beta on Android and MIA on iOS.
MacBook Air and Mac Mini drop off the endangered list
We'd given up on ever seeing an update to this fan favorite, along with the Mac Mini, but Apple surprised us this year with upgrades. The Air received the higher-resolution Retina display people had been demanding, and the Mac Mini got some much-needed modernization inside.
The division of Oppo responsible for its well-regarded DVD players and audio products bid farewell -- literally -- to the consumer electronics market in April. Don't worry, though; its cool phones live on.
The VW Beetle is one of the most iconic cars in history; while automobiles come and go, this one deserves a moment of retrospection. In September, VW announced a 2019 Final Edition and its intent to cease production of the Beetle next year.
The day the music died: Shure phono cartridges discontinued
In 2015, veteran audio company Shure was enthusiastic about the "vinyl revival": Flash forward three years and it pulled out of the photo cartridge business in May 2018. Not because it wasn't doing well -- its component suppliers just couldn't keep up with demand for the high-quality parts.
Palm's resurrection plan puts it back on the endangered list
Palm was the king in the prephone years when PDAs ruled, but it just couldn't innovate fast enough in the changing market, even after being acquired by HP in 2010. In 2014, TV-maker TCL bought the brand from HP, and this year it launched a baby phone sidekick -- throwing technology at the problem of...technology overload.
Microsoft ceased production of the Kinect body tracking camera for its Xbox game console in 2017 when it was seven years old. This year, it was brought back to life -- its guts at least -- as a commercial product that developers could support via Microsoft's less-fun Azure cloud computing platform.
The company behind Baxter, a robot designed to work with humans in small spaces -- or a "knife-wielding robot grocery clerk" -- closed its doors in the fall of 2018. In a farewell letter, CEO Jim Lawton said of the company's work in collaborative robotics "In the end, we just didn't get it quite right."
Life for Kuvee, a Kickstarter-funded startup with a bottle designed to extend the life of wine after it's been opened, turned to vinegar in March when it shut down. The CEO blamed the Napa fires for its troubles, and stated "to properly educate the market, we would need a much louder voice and considerably more capital." It needed more than that. Unfortunately, the FreshPour requires proprietary cartridges, now leaving owners with a useless piece of smart home history.
Google puts Inbox in the outbox and subtracts Google+
Google giveth and Google taketh away. In September, it put an expiration date of March 2019 on its Inbox Gmail client and then gave its unpopular social network a pink slip in October, with the news that it would shut down in August 2019. Coincidentally on the heels of announcing a data vulnerability which had left the personal information of up to half a million users exposed.
Snap Spectacles, the camera sunglasses with direct upload to the social media site, made my endangered list last year because of unspectacular sales and a flawed concept. But Snap doubled down and released a marginally updated version this year while positioning itself as a camera company rather than a social media network. I'm keeping them on the endangered list for 2019, because there are no signs of new life in the specs.