Biggest Tech Flops of 2014
2014 was a year that was remembered for the ILS Ice Bucket challenge and the public indiscretions of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. As far as memorable tech performances go the highlights of note were the iPhone 6 release and Facebook acquiring WhatsApp for $19 Billion (which turned out to be money well spent). We’re not here to dwell on the negatives, but there were some less than memorable big time tech flops from 2014 to report on too.
Smart watches, who didn’t have a go this year? Everyone threw their hat into the ring and the results, to date, have been largely uninspiring – or at least as far as consumer response is concerned. Sony, Samsung, LG served up smart watches for the masses and Microsoft actually introduced a fitness band that was described as uncomfortable. So what went wrong? Is the product or the lack of demand at fault here? People consider watches fashion accessories these days, so do they actually need a second smart device? Well, 2015 will give us an answer. Once Apple walks into the market with their soon to be released Apple Watch, we will know if they are the next Google Glass or another Apple hit.
Apple iCloud & iOS 8.0.1
2014 was more positive than negative for Apple, with sales of the iPhone 6 eclipsing those of rival Samsung, however it was a year the developers would love to forget. The hugely publicized hacking of celebrities iCloud accounts lead the news. Model Kate Upton and actress Jennifer Lawrence were the hardest hit, Apple’s response was to provide more security alerts to users, but it was an embarrassing scenario for all involved. The negative press continued with the failed release of the iOS 8.0.1 for iPhone and iPad. Widely panned for causing users to be kicked off their networks and disabling touch ID sensors, Apple quickly responded with fixes and an 8.0. update – but it’s fair to say there is a level of trepidation with any new iOS update for users.
There’s a disruptive and aggressive way to enter new markets and then there is stupid. Uber’s attempts to silence critics and beat out their nearest rivals was more bully boy than smart innovator. Reports of poaching drivers by ordering then cancelling rides from competitors services was one of the complaints to surface in 2014. Admissions that the company was considering spending $1 Million on a campaign to discredit journalists writing negatively about Uber didn’t go down well with critics. Uber is now fighting an uphill battle with many governments worldwide.
It was a huge year for Facebook, they spent $19 Billion acquiring messaging app Whatsapp in a move that stunned many but now most consider an excellent purchase. On the flip side, they also launched some apps that you probably didn’t even notice existed. Ever heard of Slingshot, Rooms or Paper? In an attempt to combat their most feared competition, Snapchat, Facebook came out with Slingshot – you get sent a picture but can’t open it until you slingshot one back to the sender. Why did you never see it? It was quickly tossed to the scrap heap with little or no fan fare.
Have you seen anyone seriously wearing a pair of Google Glasses? 2014 was expected to be a big year for the glasses, but with the risk of being called a glasshole, people have not flocked to wear the products street side and Goolge decided to postpone the consumer launch. Google has switched up their focus and the product is now aligned to more the workplace – Glass at Work designed to deliver enterprise solutions for glass. It’s tough to image this product going anywhere in the near future, the sports field and the work place may be Googles best bet for now.
On the surface it sounded like a great service – streaming and recording your favorite shows to your phone, laptop or tablet for $10 per month. Aereo simply used a mini antenna to grab the T.V signals out of the air. to Too good to be true? Yep. How Aereo got as far as they did was surprising because once the big broadcasters stepped in it was all over. It turned out that they weren’t paying the broadcasters and the Supreme Court ruled that they were running an illegal service. Aereo soon filed for bankruptcy and shut down operations.
The big mysterious barge that was stationed in San Francisco bay and Portland. No one knew what it was for but speculation was rife including oceanology research and enormous secret data centers. Google came out and said that they were mobile showcases for new technology. The coast guard was not a fan though and ordered them to be dismantled due to fire and safety hazard. A mere drop in the ocean, but Google sank around $10 Million into them.
One of the biggest games of 2014 was the oddball and kind of frustrating Flappy Bird. People went so nuts for the game that the developer – a one man operation in Vietnam couldn’t handle the stress and pulled the game. Old handsets with pre loaded Flappy Birds were selling for enormous prices and it only caused demand to spike even further. Once the developer dusted himself, he came back with Swing Copter…no one really cared for it, there was no hype and it was the biggest game flop of 2014. Why didn’t they just re release Flappy Birds 2?
Widely considered the biggest flop of 2014 was the Amazon Fire. The Fire was talked up with 3D display and in-store product scanning capabilities. The price was the same as an iPhone but considered inferior, not surprisingly it didn’t catch on and Amazon were left with a hefty $170 Million charge for unsold phones. Sold exclusively though AT&T in the States, prices were initially $200 plus a contract, but that soon fell to $0.99 plus a contract due to low demand.