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Netflix axes viewer reviews

Last year, Netflix dropped its star-based rating system in favor of the binary thumbs up/thumbs down; this August, it did away with user reviews as well. It doesn't seem to be a big deal, since there are tons of places to find more and better reviews of its programming.

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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.

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Theranos bleeds out

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

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No life left in the Sony PlayStation Vita

Portable gaming has changed a lot since the PlayStation Vita debuted in 2011, so it's no surprise that Sony finally declared it 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.

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Kuri goes silent

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.

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Toys R Us lives to play another day. Sort of.

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.

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Will the Apple iPad Mini 4 fall to the Great Phone Embiggening?

With no word on the fate of the 2016-era iPad Mini 4 in 2018, we've started to think the 8-inch runt of the line is losing relevance in an age of 6.5-inch iPhones.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Sansaire Delta couldn't take the heat

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.

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Cambridge Analytica wilts under public scrutiny

Facebook's feeling the fallout of offering up the intimate details of its two-plus billion users lives to pretty much anyone with an advertising budget. But no one fell harder than Cambridge Analytica, which acquired the data "improperly" and then used it to influence US elections and the UK Brexit campaign by selling psychographic profiles for targeted political ads. That earned the two companies a spot in our list of top tech screwups for 2018. But unlike Facebook, CA blinked in the light shining on its practices and threw its hands up in May, filing bankruptcy.

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Path loses its way

Don't feel bad if you forgot -- or never heard about -- Path, the one-time Facebook competitor that launched in 2012 with a vision of small, simpler social communities rather than the friends of friends of friends of random strangers more common in social media. In September it tweeted about the upcoming closure, and as of mid-November it evaporated into the ether.

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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

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Chorus goes silent

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
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Apple finally admits the AirPort has shut down

We've been waiting, waiting and waiting for Apple to finally acknowledge that it was getting out of the router business, given that its AirPort line hadn't seen a new product since 2011. In April, the company finally announced that when supplies ran out for all its AirPort products, the line would go away, and the AirPort Extreme base station was almost completely sold out by May. Now it's on Apple's Vintage and Obsolete list. But as a parting gift, Apple delivered a firmware update to the old routers supplying AirPlay 2 support, essentially turning it into a (bulky) wireless speaker dongle.

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Bad Karma for GoPro

Action camera-maker GoPro made an attempt to break DJI's grip on the drone market with the Karma, but the company was having enough trouble staying profitable with its popular mainstay Hero line. At the very end of 2017 the company announced it was getting out of the drone biz and looking for a deep-pocketed suitor.

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Klout gets knocked out

Another one that was easily forgotten, in 2012 Klout tried to put a single number on the influence of high-profile folks on social media and soon fell out of the minds of anyone who might have cared. It was eventually bought by Lithium, which announced in May that "the Klout acquisition provided Lithium with valuable artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities but Klout as a standalone service is not aligned with our long-term strategy."

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Apple retires old iPhones, MacBook 15

Old Apple products never die, they just get pulled from the Apple Store. This year's disappearances included the iPhone X, iPhone SE, iPhone 6S and the last MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar, the 15-inch from 2015. The legacy of the iPhone X's notch lives on, though.

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Steam Link hardware logs out

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.

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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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Pocketable phones on the way out?

Phones are getting bigger and bigger, and with the discontinuance of the iPhone SE, Apple has put one very big nail in the small-phone's coffin.

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Oppo Digital opts out

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.

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Does Faraday Future have a future?

Whether or not the claim that its biggest investor is trying to drive it out of business in order to obtain its intellectual property is true, it remains that the cutting-edge automaker is living on the edge. Despite money woes, it's still trying to get its first car out the door and talking up an IPO for 2020.

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Ossic takes the money and runs

There always has to be at least one big crowdfunding disaster: This year's standout looks like Ossic/SonicVR: The company raised over $3.2 million (on a $100,000 goal) for its Ossic X 3D surround headphones, produced about 250 of them, and then disappeared, leaving behind angry backers and a class-action lawsuit.

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Snapcash was gone in a snap

Social media youngster Snap partnered with Square to launch its peer-to-peer payment service in 2014, but it didn't even make it to its fifth anniversary because everyone wants to middleman your money. It announced it was shutting down the service in August.

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Last call for Honda Asimo, your robot bartender

Asimo's been around a while -- or what passes for a while in robot years -- and Honda's finally retiring its friendly humanoid, incorporating elements in future, more practical robots such as the ones it showed at CES 2018.

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Will MoviePass make it another year?

Oy, the tribulations of MoviePass, which has modified its subscription offerings at least 11 times in the past 7 years, refused to let go of some subscribers and temporarily ran out of money this year. Its latest plan: spin it off into a separate company from its data-mining parent, Helios and Matheson Analytics.

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VW Beetle drives off into the sunset

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.

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Halo Smart Labs leaves behind a dumb detector

One of the big problem with the smart home is its dependence on cloud services; when the company folds, it can frequently takes the intelligence of your devices with it. That's the case with Halo Smart Labs, which announced it was shuttering in July, leaving your the Halo+ Smoke Alarm without the ability to connect to the internet. Take a walk through the smart home graveyard.

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Nintendo Miitomo, its first app's last hurrah

Nintendo's first app wasn't a game, it was an oddball avatar-based social-quizzy thing that lasted about two years; in May 2018, Nintendo shut down the Miitomo servers in May, driving people to get their quiz fix from one of the billion other apps on the market.

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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.

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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.

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Microsoft Kinect lives again

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.

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Rethink Robotics rethinks itself

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."

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Kuvee FreshPour smart wine bottle 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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET
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Telltale Games zombies out

Popular mobile-game studio Telltale Games shut down suddenly in September after laying off a chunk of its staff without warning and leaving the fate of eagerly anticipated Stranger Things and Walking Dead games up in the air. Skybound later announced that it had picked up the Walking Dead development.

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Mad Catz has only used one of its nine lives

Mad Catz, purveyor of uniquely designed game accessories, liquidated its assets in March 2017 after a couple years of financial struggles. The bulk of them went to a Hong Kong-based holding company whose employees were instrumental in creating Mad Catz' products, and  at CES in January, brought the brand back with updated versions of its gear.

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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. 

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Yahoo kills the Messenger

Instant messaging client Yahoo Messenger is a piece of internet history, though not a piece everyone remembers fondly. Parent company Oath, or Verizon Media Group, or whatever it's called now, laid its anachronistic IM to rest on July 17.

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Blockbuster is going, going... almost gone

The once-mammoth video rental chain is down to a single store in Oregon after the last two stores in Alaska went belly up -- despite John Oliver's attempts to save them by donating Russell Crowe's jockstrap (and more) in hopes of giving people a reason to pay a visit. We don't give the lone remaining store good odds of making it through 2019.

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Amazon won't store your MP3s and its Mayday button can't help you anymore

Amazon shut down its free MP3 storage service for your uploaded files on April 30 of this year, and Mayday, Amazon's one-click access to Kindle tech support stopped taking your questions in June.

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A Facebook bot bites the dust, along with Trending Topics and Friend List Feed

Facebook's M virtual assistant chatbot had a short life, emerging in 2015 and never leaving beta, only to leave us in January 2019. But its soul will live on in Facebook Messenger as "M Suggestions." The company also decided to remove its controversial Trending Topics in June and the Friend List Feeds view in August.

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Is the smart garden still growing?

The most popular and accessible smart garden accessory, plant sensors, were popping up all over the place in 2014; by now, they've almost disappeared. Is the category dying or just lying fallow?

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Snap Spectacles live on

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.

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Phone headphone jacks more endangered than ever

It's not dead -- there are still a lot of phones with a headphone jack on the market to declare that yet. But one of the big stalwarts in the jack camp, OnePlus, shocked us this fall when it sacrificed our analog audio friend in exchange for the in-screen fingerprint sensor in its OnePlus 6T

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