Technology is bigger now than ever before. It seems like every year there is a new gadget or device that is supposed to change the electronic world. However, many of these gadgets fail to live up to the hype and fall into obscurity. Here are a few technological items that were supposed to be the next big thing but failed.
When Google Glass was first shown to the public back in 2012, it received an insane amount of hype. People were looking at them as a huge step forward for modern technology. This half computer-half glasses accessory looked like it came straight out of a science fiction movie. It allowed you to surf the web, record HD videos, and manage your social media pages. The future looked bright when Google Glass hit store shelves in 2013 but after some time passed, the high-tech gizmo failed to deliver.
Once Google Glass was made available to the public, the device received a fair amount of criticism. Many people had privacy concerns since it was easy to film people without their permission. Many entertainers banned Google Glass from their performances in hopes to diminish the chances of people recording the show without consent. There were also some safety concerns surrounding the gadget. People start to wear Google Glass while they were operating a vehicle resulting in reckless driving. People were also worried about the amount of carcinogenic radiation the device emitted. Smartphones also emit harmful radiation, but they are always not in contact with your skin, unlike Google Glass.
As time went on, it became obvious that Google Glass was a massive failure. With all the safety and health concerns on top of the $1,500 dollar price tag, many consumers decided to steer clear of the device altogether. Google Glass was discontinued in 2015 but announced its comeback in 2017. There was also an upgraded model announcement in 2019. We might see a successful comeback for Google Glass in the future but as of right now, it failed to live up to its hype.
During the 90s many video game consoles still had crude 3-D graphics. Many games were extremely pixelated and awkward looking causing them to be a complete eyesore. This all changed once the Sega Dreamcast was launched in North America in 1999. The Dreamcast’s graphics blew all other video game consoles around at the time out of the water. It had the most realistic 3-D graphics and was highly praised by critics and video game fans alike. It was also the first video game system to allow players to play online successfully. There was only one problem. Sega released their console a year before the best-selling gaming system of all time, the PlayStation 2.
Although the Dreamcast was critically acclaimed, many people decided to wait until the PlayStation 2 was released. The PlayStation 2 had a built-in DVD player which was a huge bonus for consumers. It even cost less to buy a PS2 than a DVD player at the time. The Dreamcast did not have a DVD player which hurt them tremendously. Dreamcast sales were alright for the first year but as soon as the PS2 was released in 2000, sales came to a screeching halt.
Stores could not give the Dreamcast away. At one point there were more Dreamcast in warehouses than there were in households. Eventually, Sega was forced to stop production for their system if they wanted their company to survive. It was the last console Sega ever made. Although the Dreamcast was overshadowed by the PlayStation 2, it still has a devoted fan base with many people still making homebrew games for it to this day.
Many of the younger readers might not be familiar with Laserdisc. Believe it or not, Laserdiscs were the first optical disc format that came out way back in 1978. It had a higher quality picture and audio than VHS tapes but never seemed to catch on in the United States. It sold well in Japan and was actually sold there until 2001. That was not the case here in the states. Although Laserdiscs were sold up until the mid to late 1990s, many people forgot about this entertainment medium and it seemed to vanish into thin air.
The Laserdisc, or LD for short, was simply ahead of its time. It came out almost 20 years before DVDs but offered much of the same content. As stated before, it was the first disk format and had superior video and audio than everything else on the market during this time. It also was the first home entertainment system to offer scene selection. Many film buffs preferred Laserdiscs over VHS and Betamax, but it never caught on with the average everyday consumer.
Looking back there are a variety of reasons for the LD’s failure. It was extremely expensive compared to the other formats. The first players cost around $1000 dollars when they were first released. It is important to remember this is 1980 so after adding inflation, it would be around 2,900 today. The discs were also the size of a vinyl record and weight around half a pound making them hard to store. You would also have to flip the discs over halfway through the movie which turned a lot of people off. On top of all this, laserdiscs were easily damage and extremely expensive to replace. Although the Laserdisc was superior to VHS, it had many downsides that casual movie fans were not able to get past.
Tivo pretty much paved the way for the modern cable experience. It was the first Digital Video Recorder, better known as DVRs, and was all the rage back in the early 2000s. It allowed you to record television shows without the use of a VHS tape. This might not sound like a big deal today, but back in 2001, it was revolutionary. Tivo also allowed audiences to rewind and pause TV shows for the first time. It offered a whole new television watching experience but has been forgotten about over time.
It is somewhat unfair to say that Tivo failed since it was insanely popular when it was first released. Consumers had nothing but positive things to say about Tivo since it allowed you to record, rewind, and pause live television. Cable companies saw how successful Tivo’s DVRs were becoming and decided to make a cheaper version of their own. This was the beginning of the end for Tivo.
As soon as cable companies started releasing their own knock-off DVRs, Tivo noticed a decline in their own sales. Instead of suing the cable companies for ripping off their product, Tivo decided to play it safe and work out a deal with them. Unfortunately, this move didn’t work out. Tivo then decided to compete with these giant corporations since they had a much better product. This, however, backfired on the company since it was much cheaper for the consumer to just get a DVR from their cable provider.
Sales steadily declined for Tivo for the next few years even after they introduced the commercial skipping option to their DVRs. Fearing the worst, Tivo decided to finally sue the cable companies but it was far too late. Rip off DVRs were everywhere. They were often including in a cable package which is something Tivo could not provide. Since Tivo did not provide cable with their DVRs, they crumbled to the compaction. They actually won the lawsuit, but it did little to save the company.
Tivo is still around today but is a shell of its former self. Many people think they went out of business years ago since you never hear from them. The company has one foot out the door and is only staying afloat due to the lawsuit. Maybe they can come up with another revolutionary product in the future but the odds of that happening are slim to none.