If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then your Black Friday shopping list probably includes some of the year’s hottest technology. Maybe you’re eyeing a VR headset, wearables, or smart home devices. The trouble with being an early adopter, though, is that not every gadget has staying power. Some turn out to be, well, turkeys.
- The Twitter Peek frankly defied logic. A device that only allowed users to read and send tweets, it didn’t even do that particularly well, not even displaying a full 140-character tweet and only allowing login to one Twitter account. And given the smartphone options on the market in November 2009, when Twitter Peek made its debut, it’s hard to imagine the Twitter user who wouldn’t also want to access email, text messages, Facebook, and so on while on the go.
- Microsoft’s Zune—an iPod competitor—was probably a victim of bad timing more than anything else. By the time the Zune appeared on the market in November 2006, five years after the first iPod, it was hard to compete with Apple in the music download business. The only people looking for an iPod alternative were diehard Microsoft fans who didn’t want to touch an Apple product.
- The Virtual Boy, a 1995 Nintendo product, was far ahead of its time. Think of it as an ancestor to today’s VR headset. Looking a bit like a View-Master on stilts, the Virtual Boy had an all red-and-black display. Nintendo sold only 770,000 Virtual Boy units—compared with 40 million Game Boys and 61.9 million NES units.
- Betamax, Sony’s entry in the 1980s home video recorder wars, ultimately lost out to VHS because a Betamax format tape could only hold one hour of content compared with two-plus hours on a VHS. No surprise that the movie rental industry embraced VHS and consumers followed.
- Microsoft Bob took a cartoonish bent on Windows 95, turning your computer’s operating system into the home of a friendly guy named Bob. (Think Clippy on steroids.) The effect was just too … cute. Microsoft gave Bob the boot, deciding to keep one hallmark of Bob’s design: the font Comic Sans, much to the chagrin of graphic designers everywhere.
They can’t all be winners. May the only turkey you encounter this year be on your plate of leftovers!
Tech Time Warp is a weekly feature that looks back at interesting moments and milestones in tech history.
Photos: David Scott Dodd/Shutterstock.com; Travis Rigel Lukas Hornung via Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 License; Iain Farrell via Flickr.com. Used under CC 2.0 License; Paul Townsend via Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 License.