15 Tech Flops from the Past Decade

Tech Flops

Technology moves at a rapid pace. So rapid that the “next big thing” often passes through without even a blip on the radars of most people. It can be hard to tell whether something will fly or fail. Sometimes, though, it seems painfully obvious that developers should have seen a flop coming. Here are 15 of the biggest tech flops of the last decade. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Standalone DVD Recorder

Everyone loved copying VHS, so it only seemed natural to create a standalone DVD player/recorder that could do the same with new technology. The idea never really caught on, though, because everyone was too busy recording DVDs with their computers. And now DVD is already on its way out, replaced by Blu-ray and streaming video. Photo Credit: FreeBird 71

Sony Aibo

Who needs a real pet when you can have an Aibo? Sony (Stock Quote: SNE) came up with this robotic pet pal that seemed destined to be a hit with kids and parents alike. A fun toy that does what you say, doesn’t need to be fed or walked, and won’t make a mess or chew the furniture. Sadly, almost no one bought Aibo because he cost too much. Without the sales numbers for support, Aibo was soon relegated to the pet cemetery. Photo Credit: Ms. President


Modo debuted in 2000, billed as a device that could offer lifestyle information on local areas. It was all about social networking — before any of our social media existed. Even though it was supposed to be a huge seller in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the timing was horrible. The dot-com bubble was bursting, and after only one day, Modo was dead in San Francisco. Photo Credit: UseIt.com

Apple Power Mac G4 Cube

Sure, it looks sleek and stylish. But like so many things Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) at the beginning of the last decade, the cube was quirky and incompatible with many standard graphics cards. Plus, it was overpriced. So the fact that it ran like a dream went largely unnoticed, allowing the G4 Cube to quietly disappear into the annuls of technology history. Photo Credit: cocoate.com


Why walk when you can ride your own personal conveyance? Because you can walk faster than the Segway takes you. And you have to balance on it. Hyped as an invention that would revolutionize the way we travel through cities, the Segway ended up a big disappointment. However, this is one mass market flop that still has a loyal cult following. Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Tapwave Zodiac

This hand-held gaming system struggled through iterations one and two, but eventually flopped out because developers didn’t really support it. Tapwave tried to market the Zodiac as a mobile entertainment console, and it limped along for two years, but when it came up against the PSP, Zodiac was finished. Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Nokia N-Gage

Awkward. That one word pretty much sums up the N-Gage. It’s a phone as well as a gaming system, but you have to hold it vertically on its side, so it looks silly while you are talking. Nokia (Stock Quote: NOK) has updated the N-Gage, though, so side-talkin’ is a thing of the past. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the coming decade will see the N-Gage un-fail. Photo Credit: zone41

Microsoft Smart Watch

Using FM radio frequencies, the Microsoft (Stock Quote: MSFT) Smart Personal Objects Technology gathered information about current weather conditions, news, stock updates, movie listings and more and transmitted it to watches. Unfortunately, Microsoft's medium was a watch — a technology dying out anyway. All of those things can be found on a cell phone now. If the Smart Watch allowed you to call your friends on top of everything else it did, it might not have tanked. Photo Credit: Wikimedia


Surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED) technology is supposed to be better that LCD or plasma display. However, a joint effort by Toshiba and Canon (Stock Quote: CAJ) slated to hit the markets in 2007 ran into patent problems, and then a nasty global financial crisis. There are some hopes, though, that the next decade will see SED technology move forward. Photo Credit: Wikimedia

LocationFree TV

No one likes to be tied down to one location for the TV, and that’s just what Sony tried to accomplish with LocationFree TV. You could stream your satellite or cable TV to a remote PC using the Internet, and watch your shows from anywhere. However, LocationFree TV has yet to catch on. Slingbox is doing better, but even that has failed to be a game-changer. After all, who wants to pay for satellite or cable to stream over the Internet when you can stream most shows for free direct from an online source like Hulu. Photo Credit: sekimura

Palm LifeDrive Mobile Manager

The idea behind this tech flop was that you could use a mini computer on the go for a number of options. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi were to make it versatile. Only problem: You couldn’t talk on it. Palm (Stock Quote: PALM) released LifeDrive just as smartphones were coming out, so no one wanted another expensive PDA. Photo Credit: Wikimedia


After a two-year battle, HD DVD lost out when Warner decided to go exclusive with Blu-ray. It didn’t help that Disney was switching to all Blu-ray as well. In the end, better players that cost less couldn’t hold up against the fact that everyone was defecting. HD DVD can reap one small comfort, though: Blu-ray could disappear this decade as consumers jump to streaming technology. Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Palm Foleo

A netbook before netbooks were cool, the Foleo was pulled on the eve of its launch. Palm meant the Foleo to companion the Treo, and it could have been great. But the MBA types got nervous about a small, basic mobile device, failing to recognize that simplicity would be back in demand for mobile computing. Photo Credit: thomcochrane

Apple TV

Once again, Apple’s limited compatibility results in failed technology. Apple TV, bringing the Internet to the little big screen, would be awesome — except it's restricted to YouTube and iTunes. So, until its offerings catch up with its expanding capacity, Apple TV will be just another flop. Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Ergo Audrey

Toward the end of 2000, 3Com (Stock Quote: COMS) rolled out the Ergo Audrey, the inaugural piece in what was supposed to be a whole line of Ergo devices. However, the line died with its first offering. Even though the Ergo Audrey could synch with two Palm devices, e-mail and access the Internet, it failed to catch on and died suddenly in the dot-com bust. Photo Credit: Wikimedia

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