For most of us, the Yahoo-controlled GeoCities died in 2009. In Japan, it somehow hung on another 10 years. If you're too young to remember, this was a community site, really a proto-social-network, where anyone could publish a hideously ugly web page. The final pages now have an expiration date: March 2019. For a little nostalgia hit, check out the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine for a snapshot.
Published:Caption:Lori GruninPhoto:Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET
DEAD: Theranos bleeds out
A once-hot blood-testing machine company 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. TL:DR, the product never worked, and the company knew it.
Published:Caption:Lori GruninPhoto:Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET
DEAD: PlayStation Vita
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. Sony says it doesn't plan another gaming portable, which makes sense as competing with the massive success of the Nintendo Switch (and 3DS) seems like a fight you don't want to pick. Note that this comes after the earlier PSP (PlayStation Portable) also failed to catch on.
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 and is the power behind the incubator that helped birth Kuri.
An immersion circulator designed to let you cook sou- 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. Too bad, this was a good trend to capitalize on this year.
DEAD: Chorus, fitness startup from an ex-Twitter CEO
I'd never actually heard of this fitness startup launched by Dick Costolo, former CEO of Twitter. It 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 was actually pretty good. 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. You could just drag a gaming PC over to your TV and hook it up directly via HDMI, or try this Raspberry Pi hack.
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 Volkswagen 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. Let's pour one out for OG Bumblebee...
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.
DEAD: Rethink Robotics lays off Baxter, the robot grocery clerk
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, COO Jim Lawton said of the company's work in collaborative robotics "In the end, we just didn't get it quite right."
Update December 26, 2018: corrected Lawton's title.
DEAD: Kuvee FreshPour, a smart wine bottle that aged poorly
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 giveth and Google taketh away. In September, it put an expiration date of March 2019 on its Inbox Gmail client and then gave Google+, the unpopular social network, a pink slip in October, with the news that it would shut down in April 2019. Coincidentally on the heels of announcing a data vulnerability which had left the personal information of up to half a million users exposed. At least Inbox will kind of live on, as its best features have been folded into regular, old Gmail. The company also decided to kill its Allo messaging client in March 2019.
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.
Standalone toy stores like Toys R Us are about as rare as CD-filled music shops now. Toys R Us is pretty dead, even as it's playing with our emotions again. After closing its remaining stores and declaring bankruptcy in March, 2018, the company cancelled its bankruptcy auction and decided it could follow in the footsteps of companies like Polaroid and live on, in a fashion, by selling its brand.
NOT DEAD, BUT SHOULD BE: Please Apple, kill the Touch Bar
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.
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.
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.