Rising Star Technology: Whatever Happened To?

Rising Star Technology: Whatever Happened To?

November 14

In the technology world, certain items that were thought to be “can’t miss” sometimes end up on the scrap heap of history. The reasons for these tech failures could be poor marketing, bad timing, a backlash against too much hype, or maybe there just wasn’t a compelling need for the item in question.

Whatever the reason, the failures of these rising star technologies make for a good story, so here’s a look at a few examples of some can’t miss tech that missed.

Segways Traveling Down Every Sidewalk in the US

During its pre-release hype in 2001, the Segway was supposed to be bigger than the Internet, with Steve Jobs himself saying the highly-engineered uber-scooter was going to be as big as the PC. In the twelve years since its release, the Segway remains something of an oddity, with the visions of Segways traveling down sidewalks all over America seemingly the stuff of marketing fiction.

While the Segway does hold a minor niche status and a smattering of user groups in the U.S., the personal transporter never lived up to the hype. In fact, its only recent appearance in the news involved pro golfer, Brandt Snedeker, straining his ACL after falling off of a Segway in China. Maybe the safety issues of the Segway for both riders and those sharing the sidewalk with the scooter played into its lack of impact in the world?

Windows Media Center: Ahead of its Time?

It is hard to believe that Windows Media Center has been around for over 10 years. The user interface, embedded within versions of Windows, allows users to play music, watch videos, and view photos from an easy to navigate interface optimized for big-screen televisions. Media Center never really took off, probably because large TVs weren’t as commonplace in 2002 as they are today.

Even so, many of today’s users leverage different interfaces, like those on the PS3, Xbox 360, or Apple TV, to access their media content from a big screen TV. Many television manufacturers also feature robust UIs on their current models. Despite some proponents even today, the thought of hooking a Windows PC up to a home theater system remains far from the mainstream.

The Sony PSP Go Proved the PSP and Smartphone didn’t Mix

In 2009, Sony released the PSP Go which attempted to combine Sony’s popular handheld PSP gaming system with an Android smartphone. Unfortunately, the game quality wasn’t up to even the aging PSP’s standards, and many Android developers didn’t support the PSP Go’s special control set. A lack of compelling game titles doomed the PSP Go, and Sony’s PS Vita isn’t doing much better, despite its superior technology. It seems the smartphone has essentially killed the handheld video game.

For whatever reason a certain technology fails, in many cases that piece of tech did inspire someone at some point. Would today’s Roku or Apple TV be the same without the failure of Windows Media Center? Sometimes bad timing is just that — bad timing. On the other hand, there is no excusing the hype that arrived with the Segway. Its failure may have been due to marketing karma.