Gli 84 più grandi flop, fallimenti e sogni morti del decennio nella tecnologia


Il mondo non cambia mai esattamente come ti aspetti. Ma a The Verge, abbiamo avuto un posto in prima fila mentre la tecnologia ha permeato ogni aspetto della nostra vita negli ultimi dieci anni. Alcuni dei momenti risultanti – e gadget – probabilmente definito il decennio e il mondo in cui viviamo ora.

Ma altri abbiamo mangiato con i popcorn in mano, meravigliandoci di quanto incredibilmente duri si siano floppati.

Questo è il decennio in cui abbiamo appreso che i gadget con crowdfunding possono essere assolutamente disastri, anche se non rubano del tutto i tuoi soldi. È il decennio di dispositivi indossabili, tablet, droni e batterie che bruciano e di valutazioni ridicole per le aziende che sono state davvero brave a nascondere quanto poco avevano davvero da offrire. È il decennio in cui Google riempie il suo cimitero di prodotti, Apple nega ostinatamente i passi falsi evidenti e Microsoft annulla miliardi di dollari.

Ecco 84 cose che è morto duro, spesso esilarante, per portarci dove siamo oggi.

—Sean Hollister

84. Google Nexus Q

Abbiamo scattato questa foto nel 2012. Non la usiamo più come fermaporta.

Tutti furono confusi dal Nexus Q di Google quando debuttò nel 2012, Compreso The Verge – questo è probabilmente il motivo per cui la palla da bowling di uno streamer multimediale si è schiantata e bruciata prima ancora che arrivasse sul mercato. Al prezzo di $ 299, più altri $ 399 per gli altoparlanti e $ 49 per i cavi, il Nexus Q era incredibilmente costoso per quello che equivaleva a un ingombrante fermacarte. Ha trasmesso in streaming solo da YouTube, Riproduci musica e Riproduci video; ha avuto strani problemi di connessione; e ha richiesto un'app per modificare le impostazioni del dispositivo.

Poco dopo che è stato annunciato, Google ha spinto la data di lancio ufficiale di Nexus Q, dicendo a quelli che lo hanno preordinato che la società "ha ricevuto feedback iniziali dagli utenti che vogliono che Nexus Q faccia ancora di più di quanto non faccia oggi", e "ha deciso rinviare il lancio da parte dei consumatori di Nexus Q mentre lavoriamo per renderlo ancora migliore. "Quel lancio non è mai arrivato: Google ha tranquillamente accantonato il dispositivo deviare le voci sull'interruzione) e ha distribuito gratuitamente i prototipi rimanenti. —Dani Deahl

83. LeEco (precedentemente LeTV)

Immagine di Dieter Bohn / The Verge

LeEco, la "Netflix della Cina", avrebbe dovuto essere la prossima società tecnologica cinese a fare la sua comparsa negli Stati Uniti. Ma i due più grandi giochi d'azzardo di LeEco – un'acquisizione del produttore televisivo californiano Vizio e un concorrente di alto profilo Tesla chiamato Faraday Future – finirono per offuscare la sua reputazione e far deragliare massicciamente i piani della società di avviare un'attività di elettronica negli Stati Uniti. (C'era anche quella volta che la sua auto a guida autonoma non è riuscita a svelarsi.)

Ostacoli normativi hanno affondato i suoi piani per acquisire Vizio, che doveva essere il grande ingresso di LeEco nel mercato televisivo e di intrattenimento degli Stati Uniti. Il risultato fu un ritiro imbarazzante – e un paio di cause legali di Vizio. (Le due società alla fine si stabilirono.) Per quanto riguarda Faraday Future, finanziato e alla fine guidato dal fondatore di LeEco Jia Yueting come trampolino di fuga degli Stati Uniti per evitare miliardi di debito cinese, questo è un vero e proprio flop. L'ultimo sviluppo: Yueting è stato rimosso come amministratore delegato e potrebbe dover tornare in Cina e affrontare i suoi debiti se la società chiede il fallimento. —Nick Statt

82. Apple Watch Edition

edizione di apple watch

Apple in realtà pensava che la gente avrebbe voluto uno smartwatch da $ 10.000. Ho detto abbastanza, davvero. Ma prima dell'uscita originale e incerta di Apple Watch nel 2015, un sontuoso modello "Edition" in oro 18 carati ha iniziato ad apparire al polso di celebrità come Beyoncé. Con sorpresa di nessuno, in seguito scopriremmo che l'orologio di lusso era un progetto di passione di Jony Ive. Ma non molte persone potrebbero essere convinte di spendere fino a $ 17.000 in un dispositivo indossabile che sarebbe obsoleto in una manciata di anni, rispetto alla mancanza di tempo di qualcosa come un Rolex. E nel caso dell'Apple Watch originale, ciò significava Beyoncé e co. erano bloccati da una visione particolarmente lenta del futuro.

Bloomberg ha riferito che le vendite sono state nelle "decine di migliaia" e sono crollate solo un paio di settimane dopo il lancio. Con le versioni successive di Apple Watch Edition, Apple è passata a un involucro in ceramica e ha ridotto drasticamente il prezzo. —Chris Welch

81. JooJoo

Immagine di TokioDriftt (tramite Wikimedia Commons)

Originariamente noto come CrunchPad, JooJoo è stato uno dei primi tablet. Due anni prima che Apple annunciasse l'iPad, TechCrunch il co-fondatore Michael Arrington aveva chiesto ai suoi lettori di aiutarlo a costruire il computer in ardesia da $ 200. Ma una lotta con Fusion Garage, la società di hardware dietro JooJoo, ha significato che il prodotto finale da $ 500 sarebbe stato spedito senza il coinvolgimento di Arrington e pochi giorni prima del lancio dell'iPad di Apple. Dopo tutto quel dramma, l'attuale tablet JooJoo era semplicemente pessimo, con un semplice software solo per browser che non corrispondeva alla potenza dell'ecosistema App Store e dell'hardware di Apple. Non iniziamo nemmeno con il nome. —Chaim Gartenberg

80. Google Reader

Immagine: @leftoblique

Nel 2019, Google Reader ha finalmente ottenuto la lapide che meritava. È probabilmente il motivo per cui le persone tendono a parlare del cimitero dei prodotti di Google. Non è stata la prima o l'ultima volta che Google ha smentito un'idea, ma è stata sicuramente una delle più stupide: la decisione di Google di uccidere l'amato lettore RSS nel 2013, nonostante le proteste e probabilmente solo per risparmiare sui costi del server che Google non avrebbe " Si noti che tra mille anni è stata senza dubbio la morte di RSS come tecnologia di distribuzione delle notizie. Google News non ha mai colmato il divario e il feed delle notizie di Facebook è diventato una fonte di informazione dominante.

Era anche un ottimo lettore RSS. Oggi piangiamo ancora per la sua perdita. – Sean Hollister

79. Segreto

Secret v2

Per un breve momento nel 2014, un social network "anonimo" è stato di gran moda. Secret ti mostrava i messaggi dei tuoi amici e amici di amici, senza identificare nessuno per nome. Il risultato è stato uno spazio relativamente sicuro per parlare di sesso, droghe e altre cose che ti avrebbero spinto fuori da Facebook. Ha rapidamente accumulato 15 milioni di utenti e raccolto $ 35 milioni.

Ma una lezione duratura degli anni 2010 è che nulla di anonimo può rimanere. Dove non esiste un'identità permanente, non esiste un social network permanente. A soli 16 mesi dal lancio, il co-fondatore di Secret ha cercato di salvare la faccia staccando la spina da solo, inviando Secret al cimitero dell'app anonimo insieme a Yik Yak, Ask.fm, Formspring e molti altri. I fondatori si sono impegnati a dare i soldi che avevano raccolto agli investitori – anche se potrebbero aver conservato alcuni milioni per se stessi. —Casey Newton

78. Salto magico

Foto di James Bareham / The Verge

Quando Google ha aiutato improvvisamente a versare mezzo miliardo di dollari nelle casse di Magic Leap, la sconosciuta startup di AR sembrava improvvisamente pronta a cambiare tutto – nonostante il fatto che la gente non sapesse quasi nulla del suo prodotto, e Magic Leap ha lavorato duramente per mantenere le cose in quel modo . Ha illustrato i brevetti dal suono altisonante con un sacco di immagini fantascientifiche rubate e ha promesso che il suo lavoro "trascenderebbe ciò che può essere contenuto in un prodotto fisico".

Magic Leap ha impressionato così tante persone ricche, intelligenti e potenti qualcosa doveva succedere qualcosa di straordinario … ma consegnare quel clamore avrebbe fatto quasi un miracolo. In realtà, il primo auricolare di Magic Leap era molto simile all'attuale Microsoft HoloLens, ma senza un modello di business ovvio e una società meno affermata che lo supportava. Magic Leap ha ora raccolto $ 2,6 miliardi, ma secondo quanto riferito ha solo 6.000 vendite da mostrare per questo. —Adi Robertson

77. Google Fiber

Immagine: Google Fiber

Sembrava che Google avesse finalmente ascoltato le mie preghiere: Internet a fibra ottica gigabit stava arrivando nella mia città natale di San Jose, in California. Ma Google ha rinunciato alla fibra prima che avessi mai avuto la possibilità di usarla. La società afferma di fornire Internet a 18 aree metropolitane, ma ha attirato quei numeri dal 2016, quando ha iniziato a contare le città di Webpass in cui collega i condomini invece delle case. Parti di eccitanti città della fibra stanno ancora aspettando l'accesso. Diamine, Google ha persino lasciato alcune città da allora – come Louisville, Kentucky, dove è finita pagando milioni in riparazione per aver strappato le strade. —Sean Hollister

76. Justice League

Warner Bros.

Lega della Giustizia non è un flop in un certo senso: il film ha guadagnato quasi $ 660 milioni in tutto il mondo. Ma ha anche dato il via a un movimento globale, che ha raccolto decine di milioni di dollari, per convincere Warner Bros. a rilasciare una versione completamente diversa. Il film non ha attirato la critica, e i fan irriducibili sono stati così sconvolti dalla versione di Joss Whedon che hanno eliminato cartelloni pubblicitari a Times Square e annunci di pensiline per autobus "The Snyder Cut", una versione forse mitica ma probabilmente reale di Lega della Giustizia che cattura la visione completa di Zack Snyder per il film.

Non lo so, amico, ma se le persone sono abbastanza arrabbiate da raccogliere fondi attraverso una campagna pubblica per dire a tutti a New York City che il tuo film ha fatto schifo – e quelli sono i fan irriducibili – è un flop. —Julia Alexander

75. Microsoft Band

Microsoft Band

Il primo tentativo di Microsoft di hardware indossabile sembrava più un esperimento in prigione. L'hardware robusto e la scomoda vestibilità sembravano che Microsoft avesse semplicemente spedito un campione di ingegneria come tracker di fitness. Puoi anche usare la Band per comprare un caffè da Starbucks, ma nemmeno Starbucks potrebbe salvare questo gadget dalla morte dopo che la seconda versione ha fatto poco per migliorare l'estetica e la vestibilità. Alla fine Microsoft ha ridotto le perdite chiudendo i server, offrendo rimborsi per scusarsi con gli utenti fedeli della band. —Tom Warren

74. Solyndra

Mitt Romney tiene l'evento della campagna a Solyndra

Foto di Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Di tutte le ambite conferme che un'azienda energetica potrebbe cercare, avere Obama come ambasciatore del tuo marchio personale è probabilmente in cima alla lista. Questa è stata la posizione fortunata che Solyndra si è trovata nel 2009 circa, quando i suoi pannelli solari circolari attirarono l'attenzione dell'allora presidente. La società aveva tutto ciò che l'amministrazione Obama voleva: design innovativo ed efficiente, il potenziale per fornire centinaia di nuovi posti di lavoro e miliardi di dollari in finanziamenti da hedge fund e venture capitalist. L'unico problema era che in realtà non aveva un piano aziendale. Nel 2011, la società fallì, grazie ai costi alle stelle e una base clienti quasi inesistente. Il chiodo nella bara venne quando la Cina intervenne per fornire pannelli solari estremamente economici. —Zoe Schiffer

73. Manufatto della valvola

Valve Corporation

Quando Valve annuncia un nuovo gioco, c'è un livello di anticipazione e clamore che la maggior parte delle aziende può solo sognare, e Artefatto è stato il primo gioco di Valve in quattro anni – solo l'idea che Valve stesse facendo qualcosa di nuovo lo faceva sembrare un potenziale successo. Quindi, hanno portato avanti Magic: The Gathering il creatore Richard Garfield per progettare il gioco, ha rivelato che sarebbe stato basato sul popolarissimo Dota 2e inoltre trarrebbe vantaggio dal mercato di Steam di Valve per consentire ai giocatori di acquistare e vendere facilmente le carte. Niente di tutto ciò era sufficiente per consentire ai giocatori di affrontare l'economia in-game pay-to-play del gioco.

Nonostante le lodi critiche per il suo design del gioco, solo un decimo dei suoi 60.000 giocatori iniziali è rimasto bloccato circa due mesi dopo il lancio, e solo poche centinaia di giocatori sono rimasti due mesi dopo. Fu allora che Valve annunciò che avrebbero interrotto gli aggiornamenti per ridisegnare completamente il tutto. Mai un gioco Valve si è esaurito così rapidamente. —Michael Moore

72. Pono

Neil Young ha trascorso anni denigrando MP3, iTunes e musica digitale nel suo insieme, insistendo sul fatto che la qualità del suono compresso ha rovinato l'esperienza di ascolto rispetto a CD e vinile. Nel 2012, Young ha cercato di risolvere il problema da solo, annunciando il lettore musicale Pono e un negozio che avrebbe venduto file audio hi-fi e senza perdita di dati. Il Pono ha guadagnato un po 'di entusiasmo e oltre $ 6 milioni in supporto al crowdfunding, ed è finalmente arrivato nel 2015, ma non è riuscito a risuonare con un vasto pubblico meglio di un Gibson Les Paul scollegato. Il compiacimento di Young non ha aiutato, né il colore giallo del dispositivo e il design funky. Anche Zune di Microsoft sembrava più bello.

Ma altre aziende hanno portato avanti l'ossessione di Young per la qualità audio. Tidal uscì dal cancello con un livello di streaming senza perdite. E quest'anno Amazon ha lanciato un livello hi-fi del suo servizio di abbonamento Music Unlimited, con Neil Young il primo a cantare le sue lodi con una buona dose di iperbole. "La Terra sarà cambiata per sempre quando Amazon introdurrà streaming di alta qualità alle masse", ha detto. Pono stesso non ha mai cambiato molto di nulla, però. —Chris Welch

71. La chiatta di Google

Google Barge SF (stock)

Immagine di Josh Lowensohn / The Verge

Le chiatte avevano tutto l'intrigo di un romanzo di Dan Brown. Le strutture a quattro piani erano fluttuando al largo della costa di San Franciscoe Google non direbbe a cosa servivano. Le persone hanno ipotizzato che avrebbero presentato demo solo su invito, feste di lusso e showroom per le nuove tecnologie di Google.

Ahimè, non doveva essere. La compagnia non aveva ottenuto i permessi adeguati per attraccare le chiatte vicino a San Francisco. Quindi intervenne la guardia costiera fastidiosi problemi di sicurezza antincendio e il progetto è stato effettivamente ucciso. Si scopre che le chiatte avevano a bordo circa 5.000 litri di carburante e non c'era un buon modo per assicurarsi che non sarebbero andate in fiamme. —Zoe Schiffer

70. Falso AI

Kolibree / Baracoda

Per essere chiari: l'IA ha avuto un inferno di un decennio. Ma in agguato all'ombra del suo successo come una borsetta Gooci sfondata o un paio di scarpe da ginnastica Abibas era il fenomeno squallido di AI falso. Le aziende videro l'hype e l'incomprensione che circondavano l'intelligenza artificiale e pensarono a se stesse: “Ah-ah, possiamo vendere quello ”. Hanno prodotto spazzolini da denti AI, letti intelligenti AI, sveglie AI e lavastoviglie, promettendo che gli“ algoritmi avanzati di machine learning ”si adatteranno ai problemi della nostra vita, mentre fanno girare gli stessi vecchi prodotti facendo affidamento sulle funzioni IF / OR. In breve: hanno venduto molto tat.

Non è proprio un flop in senso classico, in quanto molti di questi prodotti sono ancora in circolazione e presumibilmente vendono bene; ma è un flop di aspettative, con le aziende che parlano di prodotti che non potrebbero mai eguagliare la loro immagine iperprecisa. Purtroppo, fino a quando l'IA avrà successo, l'IA falsa si fermerà dietro di essa. —James Vincent

69. Galaxy Fold di Samsung

Foto di Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Non so di aver mai visto un lancio del telefono come il Samsung Galaxy Fold. Dopo solo un paio di giorni, la mia unità di revisione si è appena … rotta. E così hanno fatto le unità di molte altre persone perché Samsung non ha detto loro di lasciare la protezione dello schermo accesa. Da qualche parte a nord del 50 percento dei revisori di più alto profilo nella tecnologia aveva rotto le unità. Come Samsung abbia pensato che questo dispositivo fosse pronto per il lancio, tanto meno come un dispositivo di così alto profilo, rimane un mistero fino ad oggi. La società ha rielaborato il progetto e lo ha rilasciato nuovamente in seguito, ma il danno è stato (letteralmente) fatto. I telefoni pieghevoli potrebbero essere ancora A Thing, ma il primo è atterrato con A Thunk. —Dieter Bohn

68. Vita di arsenico

NASA

Nel 2010, quattro giorni prima della pubblicazione del documento, la NASA ha programmato una conferenza stampa su un "scoperta di astrobiologia. ”La speculazione è scatenata. “La NASA ha scoperto la vita extraterrestre?" il Internet ha chiesto. Bene, non proprio: a un gruppo di ricercatori ha affermato di aver trovato una forma di vita aliena nella (dove altro) California: un batterio che utilizzava arsenico anziché fosforo nel suo DNA – un grosso problema, dal momento che tutta la vita sulla Terra usa fosforo. Il scoperta molto stimolata, si è scoperto, non è stata tanto una scoperta quanto un errore. I batteri, trovati nel Mono Lake ricco di arsenico, quasi immediatamente scetticismo innescato tra alcuni accademici. ("Ero indignato per quanto fosse brutta la scienza", ha detto un ricercatore Ardesia.) Entro il 2012, lo studio dei batteri lo ha dimostrato fatto preferisco il fosforo, dopotutto, evitando l'arsenico ogni volta che potrebbe. Questo per quanto riguarda la vita di arsenico. —Liz Lopatto

67. Film VR

Miyubi

Il film VR Miyubi.
Felix & Paul / Sundance Film Festival

Il film dal vivo era una componente enorme della prima realtà virtuale e suona meravigliosamente fino a quando non ti fermi a pensare agli svantaggi. Pro: uno schermo enorme che galleggia proprio di fronte a te! Contro: sembra coperto di maglie sottili. Pro: un'esperienza a 360 gradi in cui l'azione si svolge intorno a te! Contro: devi seguirlo ruotando su una sedia. Pro: immergiti nei media senza distrazioni esterne! Contro: non stai effettivamente interagendo con quell'esperienza e buona fortuna mangiando popcorn in un auricolare VR.

Getta le spese e l'inconveniente delle telecamere a 360 gradi, la difficoltà di fare soldi con i cortometraggi e lo stato di nicchia della realtà virtuale, e non sorprende che non siano decollati. Puoi ancora trovare film a 360 gradi nei festival cinematografici, ma le compagnie cinematografiche VR come Jaunt hanno abbandonato il mercato o chiuso, quindi sono più simili a un sotto-genere che a un mezzo. —Adi Robertson

66. Google+


Stop Motion di Michele Doying / The Verge

A causa di … oh, chiamiamolo un errore di contabilità … in questo elenco inizialmente mancava il numero flop 66 e mancava anche Google+. Per fortuna, si tratta approssimativamente di dove collochiamo il social network fallito di Google nei più grandi flop del decennio.

Secondo quanto riferito creato come risposta diretta alla minaccia esistenziale che Facebook rappresentava per le attività commerciali di Google nel giugno 2011, Google+ è diventato anche un gioco da ragazzi. Nonostante affermazioni audaci che "riparerebbe" la condivisione online… sembrava praticamente Facebook con un diverso strato di vernice. Solo Google ha anche provato a spingerlo giù per la gola degli utenti collegandolo ad altri suoi servizi più popolari, il che ha sicuramente aiutato a spremere il suo numero di utenti. Ecco come The VergeCasey Newton ha descritto il dilemma di Google + nel 2014:

Quasi tre anni e mezzo dopo aver aperto le sue porte al pubblico, ti sarebbe difficile nominare una sola persona che sia mai diventata famosa a causa di un seguito che hanno costruito su Google+; per nominare una notizia che prima si è rotta lì; o per identificare un modo in cui si è differenziata in modo significativo dalla sovrabbondanza di prodotti sociali sul mercato. Penso che ci siano molte persone che uso Google+, anche se solo di passaggio; Penso che siano in pochi a svanire che lo adorano.

Ma alcuni fatto lo adoro, e in realtà è rimasto bloccato fino a ottobre 2018 quando un altro Google non è riuscito a indurre l'azienda a ucciderlo, un'enorme violazione dei dati che la società inizialmente nascondeva ai suoi utenti.

Lungo la strada, Google ha seguito uno dei suggerimenti di Casey su come migliorare le cose, consentendo all'eccellente Google Foto di diventare la propria app, nonché Google Hangouts e Steam. E possiamo attribuire credito a Google+ con la creazione di un unico accesso unificato che puoi utilizzare per tutti i servizi di Google e sul Web. "La gente dimentica che avevi un account di accesso YouTube separato!" Mi ricorda Casey. —Sean Hollister

65. Il tentativo di eliminare gradualmente le lampadine a incandescenza

Gli standard di efficienza federali sono stati fissati per eliminare sostanzialmente sprecate lampadine a incandescenza dagli scaffali dei negozi entro il 2020, risparmiando denaro sulle bollette elettriche e contribuendo a fermare la crisi climatica. Sono già stati dimostrati nel corso del decennio, poiché CFL e LED hanno preso il posto dell'incandescenza in molte case americane. Quindi, nel 2019, il presidente Trump ha gettato un'ancora di salvezza nell'incandescenza ripristinando gli standard di efficienza dell'era Bush e Obama.

Perché? Poiché la scelta del consumatore è più importante del salvare il pianeta, Trump ha deciso. E secondo il presidente, "(una lampadina più efficiente) non ti fa sembrare così bello." Esatto, ha ingiustamente accusato la lampadina per avergli dato un aspetto "arancione". "Essere una persona vana, questo è molto importante per me", ha confessato a dicembre. —Justine Calma

64. EverQuest Next

EverQuest Next tramite Polygon

I giochi online multiplayer di massa sono stantii. Sono passati 15 anni da allora World of Warcraft è stato rilasciato e un "WoW killer" non si è mai materializzato. L'unica cosa che si avvicina è World of Warcraft – sì, nel 2019 i Blizzard hanno ripubblicato il loro MMO classico per catturare gli avventurieri decaduti. Ma per un breve momento in questo decennio, c'era qualche speranza che un nome classico negli MMO avrebbe iniettato una nuova vita nel genere. EverQuest Next avrebbe dovuto essere un grande balzo in avanti in enormi giochi multiplayer. Prometteva mondi dinamici che potevano essere fatti a pezzi come in Minecraft, ma con elementi narrativi tradizionali di giochi di ruolo fantasy che avrebbero risposto ai modi in cui i giocatori hanno cambiato il mondo. Scava troppo in profondità e il mondo potrebbe essere invaso da creature dall'abisso; abbandonare un insediamento e gli orchi potrebbero subentrare. Invece di narrazioni pre-programmate, EverQuest Next ha promesso il potenziale per un mondo con i suoi comportamenti emergenti.

Sfortunatamente, Sony ha venduto la divisione che ha creato EverQuest a una società di investimento nel 2015, che ha rinominato la proprietà come Daybreak Game Company. Alla fine l'alba è stata cancellata EQ Nexte la sua visione ambiziosa è andata persa. Speriamo che man mano che l'IA avanza nei giochi vedremo tornare alcune delle sue idee, ma per ora è solo un altro flop. —TC Sottek

63. Aereo

Il fondatore di Aereo, Chet Kanojia, aveva un obiettivo semplice: consentire ai clienti di guardare streaming TV in diretta dalle principali emittenti e altre reti per un piccolo abbonamento mensile. La società ha adottato un approccio innovativo, noleggiando un'antenna e un DVR individuali per ogni singolo cliente. In questo modo, Aereo ha affermato di fornire l'accesso ai contenuti televisivi ai quali i consumatori hanno già diritto, ma con maggiore libertà.

Tuttavia, non passò molto tempo prima che Aereo attrasse l'ira di ABC, CBS, Fox e NBC e si ritrovò in una battaglia legale. La fine è arrivata quando una decisione della Corte Suprema ha riscontrato che le "differenze tecnologiche dietro le quinte" di Aereo non la distinguono dai tradizionali fornitori di servizi via cavo, la società ha scoperto di aver violato la legge sul copyright ed è stata costretta a chiudere. La storia ha un modo di ripetersi e nel 2019 abbiamo visto uno spazio molto simile tra le emittenti e Locast senza scopo di lucro. —Chris Welch

62. Google Tango

Immagine di Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Ci vogliono due per il tango, ma Google non ha mai trovato abbastanza partner per la sua incursione nella realtà aumentata per avere un impatto sulla pista da ballo. È un peccato, dato che Project Tango ha sempre avuto borse promettenti.

Lanciato nel 2014, Tango ha adottato un nuovo approccio all'AR incentrato sulla localizzazione della posizione di un dispositivo nello spazio (come il senso umano della propriocezione) per fornire uno scaffold per le sovrapposizioni visive. Il piano di Google era quello di costruire la tecnologia di base, quindi consentire ai produttori di telefoni e agli sviluppatori di produrre i prodotti di consumo reali.

Ma alla fine, solo due aziende – Lenovo e Asus – hanno accolto Google nella sua offerta, creando dispositivi che non sono stati assolutamente all'altezza delle aspettative, e nel 2017 Google ha chiuso Tango a favore del suo più tradizionale framework di realtà aumentata ARCore per normale cellulari. —James Vincent

61. Leap Motion

Leap Motion

Leap Motion

"Siamo abbastanza sicuri di aver visto la prossima grande novità nel campo dell'informatica" – ecco come The Verge ha descritto il controller di Leap Motion nel 2012. (Narratore: Non è stata la prossima grande novità nell'informatica.) Mentre Leap Motion ha dimostrato che scorrere e pizzicare l'aria sembrava davvero fantastico, mancava dell'utilità utilitaria di un mouse o di una tastiera. La società ha ricevuto una spinta dalla rinascita della realtà virtuale, perché il mercato di un buon controller di movimento era letteralmente in crescita. Ma nonostante la ripetuta dimostrazione di un sistema per cuffie consumer, non ha mai avuto produttori di hardware come Oculus e HTC ad accedere, quindi quasi nessuno nel mondo della realtà virtuale poteva usarlo. La società ha finito per fondersi con un'altra azienda specializzata nell'hardware e per lo più è scomparsa dalla vista pubblica. —Adi Robertson

60. Flappy Bird

uccello flappy

uccello flappy

Chiamalo anti-flop; il flip-flopper; o semplicemente … Icaro dell'App Store. Qualunque epiteto tu scelga, devi ammetterlo Flappy Bird era un'opera d'arte: un gioco così ridicolmente semplice e perversamente difficile da funzionare meno come intrattenimento e più come provocazione spirituale. Senza alcuna storia, personaggio o sottotesto percepibile, Flappy Bird sei riuscito a urlare contro i giocatori: “Perché stai facendo questo a te stesso? Perché stai facendo questo al tuo vita? ”È salito in cima alle classifiche degli app store a gennaio 2014 e si è librato lì come uno spirito maligno per settimane, ricordandoci tutta la nostra follia mentre guadagnavamo il suo creatore, lo sviluppatore vietnamita Dong Nguyen, $ 50.000 al giorno.

Alla fine, la colpa ha travolto Nguyen e lui ha tirato il gioco da iOS e Android, dicendo che era diventato troppo popolare e troppo avvincente per il suo bene. Flappy Bird ha sbattuto il suo ultimo e rapidamente è uscito dall'esistenza. —James Vincent

59. ISIS (il portafoglio mobile)

softcard

Sai cosa suona peggio di un'iniziativa di portafoglio mobile supportata dai gestori di telefonia? Un portafoglio mobile chiamato ISIS. Era l'anno 2012 e AT&T, T-Mobile e Verizon sapevano ben poco che avrebbero gareggiato in SEO con un violento gruppo estremista militante responsabile di migliaia di raccapriccianti morti civili a livello globale. Il tutto è diventato così imbarazzante che i corrieri hanno dovuto rinominarlo, meno di due anni dopo il lancio.

Tuttavia, il nome non era l'unica cosa terribile del portafoglio precedentemente noto come ISIS. L'utilizzo dell'app richiedeva una carta SIM speciale e se la tua carta di credito non era supportata dal sistema, dovevi acquistare una speciale carta di credito prepagata per inserire denaro nel tuo account. Synergy! Ti piace vederlo. Nel 2015 l'intero progetto è stato scartato a favore del precaricamento di Google Wallet su dispositivi Android. —Natt Garun

58. Qwikster

Le ultime parole famose.
Netflix

Poche aziende hanno dominato il 2010 come Netflix, ma c'è un punto oscuro nel suo decennio quasi incontaminato: Qwikster. C'è una buona probabilità che Qwikster sia qualcosa che riesci a malapena a ricordare. Anche se forse ricordi il video imbarazzante di Reed Hastings che annuncia una società di streaming separata all'interno di Netflix? Qwikster, il tentativo di Netflix di separare lo streaming dalla sua attività di noleggio di DVD, è stato annunciato a settembre 2011. A ottobre, la società si era allontanata dal suo perno. Se succede qualcosa ma non succede davvero, è ancora un flop? Sì. Il perno di un perno e non pronunciare mai più la parola Qwikster è la definizione di uno. —Julia Alexander

57. Lily Drone

Lily-drone-CES 2016-03

Immagine di Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Un drone completamente impermeabile che può seguirti giù da una montagna, decollare quando lo lanci in aria, quindi scatta automaticamente la tua foto, anche nel 2019, che suona come il miglior drone di sempre. Ma questa idea del 2015 è stata un disastro di crowdfunding. Dopo anni di clamore e anticipazione, è stato rivelato che il video promozionale dell'azienda è stato un falso, probabilmente falsificato usando filmati di GoPros che potrebbero essere stati persino trasportati da un drone DJI anziché dallo stesso Lily.

Lily Robotics non ha mai spedito una sola unità tra i 60.000 preordini ricevuti e è stata citata in giudizio dall'ufficio del procuratore distrettuale di San Francisco. Anche se la società ha ricevuto $ 34 milioni dai loro sostenitori e altri $ 15 milioni in capitale di rischio, molti di questi sostenitori non hanno mai ricevuto un rimborso promesso. Ma Lilly in qualche modo è salito dalle ceneri nel 2017 per darci "Lily Next-Gen", un drone del tutto privo di ispirazione che non poteva nemmeno bagnarsi. —Vjeran Pavic

56. IPO di Uber

Foto di Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Alla fine del 2018, Uber avrebbe dovuto essere reso pubblico con un enorme $ 120 miliardi, quasi il doppio della valutazione della società in un round di raccolta fondi pochi mesi prima, e una somma che avrebbe reso la società di guida più preziosa di General Motors, Ford e Fiat Chrysler – le case automobilistiche "Big Three" di Detroit – messe insieme. Ciò non è accaduto. Invece Uber è diventato pubblico a $ 45 per azione, il che lo ha valutato a circa $ 75,46 miliardi. È un sacco di sawbucks, ma ha anche registrato un calo del 38% in valore rispetto a quelle prime proiezioni ubriache. E non preoccuparti, da allora è molto peggiorato. Il titolo è ora scambiato a circa $ 30 per azione, un calo di circa il 30% dall'IPO. Nel secondo trimestre Uber ha perso davvero la pancia e ha mosso 5,2 miliardi di dollari. E il suo percorso verso la redditività sembra inverosimile come i piani di Uber di lanciare un servizio di taxi aereo nel 2023. —Andrew Hawkins

55. Il "telefono di Facebook"

HTC Chacha premere

HTC

I primi anni del 2010 sono stati una buona corsa per Facebook, un'azienda così arrogante che ha pensato di rilasciare un telefono con un pulsante Facebook dedicato simile al pulsante Netflix su ogni telecomando della TV intelligente. Ha collaborato con HTC per lanciare Status e Salsa, due telefoni che hanno debuttato quasi senza fanfara, quindi si sono triplicati sul concetto con HTC First, un dispositivo Android con una skin Facebook Home personalizzata. Stranamente, risulta che mentre alle persone piaceva usare Facebook in quel momento, nessuno voleva ammettere di usarlo così spesso che avevano bisogno di foto di timeline di Facebook sparse sul loro sfondo in un dato momento.

Penseresti che l'imbarazzo di questi guasti telefonici impedirebbe a Facebook di rilasciare altro hardware, soprattutto considerando l'aumento delle rivelazioni sulla privacy negli ultimi anni. Ma come abbiamo visto con il Portale, Zuck non è del tutto pronto a rinunciare. —Natt Garun

54. Chatbot

diciamo microsoft chatbot-news-Microsoft

Microsoft

È una mania che le aziende tecnologiche preferirebbero che ci dimenticassimo: nel 2016, sia le aziende consolidate che le start-up sono state interessate alla possibilità di chatbot. Come minimo renderebbero il servizio clienti più semplice; nella loro piena gloria potrebbero essere il futuro dell'informatica. "La conversazione come piattaforma" avrebbe "un impatto profondo come … i precedenti spostamenti della piattaforma", ha previsto il CEO di Microsoft Satya Nadella. Inutile dire che non è accaduto e nessun chatbot ha rappresentato la iperpromissione più del Tay di Microsoft.

Lanciato su Twitter nel marzo 2016, Tay ha "imparato" parlando con gli utenti. Entro 24 ore a Tay fu insegnato a ripetere una serie di dichiarazioni razziste, sessiste e antisemite e fu ignominiosamente chiuso come un Clippy pieno di odio recentemente indottrinato nella chiesa battista di Westboro. Benvenuto in Internet, Tay. —James Vincent

53. Google Daydream

Google Daydream sembrava avere tutto. Era una piattaforma VR integrata direttamente in Android, abbinata a un auricolare mobile dall'aspetto accogliente che ha risolto alcuni dei più grandi difetti della concorrenza di Samsung Gear VR: da un grosso processo di configurazione alla mancanza di un vero controller. Quindi ha colpito la passerella, ha sputato qualche piede in aria e si è lanciato dritto nell'oceano. I produttori di telefoni Android hanno aspettato mesi per supportare Daydream se lo avessero fatto. La selezione di app di Google è stata leggera nella migliore delle ipotesi. E la realtà virtuale basata sul telefono era troppo limitata per decollare qualunque La compagnia VR, incluso Google, aveva sperato che potesse farlo. Meno di tre anni dopo, il Daydream era solo un'altra pietra miliare nel grande cimitero dei prodotti di Google. —Adi Robertson

52. SOPA e PIPA

Bill SOPA

La festa del Napster non sarebbe mai durata. Entro il 2012, Hollywood e l'industria della musica erano fortemente colpiti dalla pirateria e stavano esplodendo attraverso qualsiasi parte della cultura di Internet che si frapponeva. It wasn’t clear how much would be left by the time they were finished. That came to a head with SOPA and PIPA, a pair of bills that aimed to build privacy protections into the backbone of the internet itself.

It was the kind of bill that routinely skates through Congress, but thanks to a first-of-its-kind mobilization led by Reddit, Congress got cold feet. It turns out, when the internet gets organized, even the content lobby can flop. —Russell Brandom

51. Verizon Go90

Verizon

I can’t hear the word Go90 without thinking of limite editor-in-chief Nilay Patel using it as a scale to determine if a streaming service will survive. Netflix sits at a ten. Disney+, a five. The goal, you see, is to never fully go Go90. To go Go90 is certain death.

Here’s what you need to know about Verizon’s Go90 service: it was a streaming service that wanted to give subscribers access to films and TV shows, but focus on the social aspect. This included leaning into Tumblr, a site that isn’t really a social network anymore. Go90 launched in 2015, and was discontinued three years later. It reportedly cost Verizon $1.2 billion. It’s a flop on top of a flop: it was originally known as Intel’s OnCue, but Intel reportedly sold it for a fraction of the asking price after it failed to attract content partners.

Fortunately, Verizon figured out a much more successful way to keep its name in the streaming world, partnering with Disney to give Verizon subscribers a free year of Disney+ in 2019. The move has supposedly been very successful for both companies. Verizon’s Go90 may have gone full Go90, but the Disney partnership is a solid 5. —Julia Alexander

50. Android tablets

Motorola, Inc.

It’s frustrating to watch companies do something, fail resoundingly, then try again and again expecting different results each time. Such was Google’s decade-long run at sponsoring tablets you’d want to buy. It started with 2011’s Motorola’s Xoom, the flagship device for Android 3.0 — the only version explicitly designed for tablets. It had decent specs, but was mired by a high price, lousy software, and a lack of compelling apps. Tragically, that description also fits most of the tablets Google released after it. I remember rooting for Google when it took even the smallest chances, like with the cutting-edge Samsung Nexus 10, or with the smaller, more affordable Asus Nexus 7. But slight improvements in design didn’t mask that Google’s tablets were at a stand-still by literally every other metric. They were going nowhere, and those were the good years.

Instead, Google stubbornly gunned for Apple’s throne with the Nexus 9, the Pixel C, and the Pixel Slate. Every time, it further embarrassed itself as the dents it could make against the iPad, as well as Amazon and Microsoft’s growing hold, kept shrinking. It’s now sworn off tablets altogether. —Cameron Faulkner

49. Vine

vine stock

Before it was a failure, Vine was a glorious engine of culture. The looping 6-second videos that the app pioneered became a launching pad for comedians and musicians while also introducing countless priceless phrases and memes into the culture. Eyebrows on fleek! A potato flew around my room! Back at it again at the Krispy Kreme! No defunct social network is more fondly remembered.

Unfortunately for Vine, it was purchased in its infancy by Twitter, which might never have known what to do with it, and certainly never figured it out along the way. The New York-based team languished while the Twitter team in San Francisco focused on more pressing problems, including a decade of unprofitability. Vine itself stopped growing when Instagram introduced videos, and advertisers and influencers abandoned the app, and died in 2016 from neglect. It lives on as a series of compilations on YouTube with tens of millions of collective views, and in its spiritual successor, TikTok. —Casey Newton

48. AirPower

Image: Apple

Apple is usually associated with some of the best engineering and design in the technology world. Usually. AirPower, on the other hand, might be the biggest failure Apple’s had in recent memory, resulting in a product that was reportedly so bad, it never shipped at all. Announced alongside the iPhone X, AirPower promised to be a new kind of wireless charger, that would charge up to three devices all at once (say, an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and AirPods), without having to worry about the specific “sweet spots” of other chargers. But apparently, actually getting that tech to work together was harder than Apple thought, and a year and a half after it was announced, AirPower was unceremoniously canceled by the company. —Chaim Gartenberg

47. Ouya

Ouya seemed like a good idea. Pitched at a time when mobile hardware was rapidly improving but games didn’t really make use of it, the startup proposed sticking an Nvidia Tegra 3 chip into a sleek $99 Yves Behar-designed box, packaging it with a game controller, and curating games for a custom version of Android designed for TV screens. It raised more than $8 million on Kickstarter and is still the tenth most funded project in the platform’s history. Unfortunately the controller was terrible, the software was half-baked, and the store didn’t have any games worth playing. (Okay, except Towerfall.) Razer bought the company’s hollowed-out remains a couple of years after launch and tried to keep the storefront going, but shut it down earlier in 2019. Ouya was one of the earliest and highest profile examples of Kickstarter success turning into real-world failure. —Sam Byford

46. Essential Phone

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

When the Essential Phone debuted, it was a little bit mind-blowing: its screen pushed right against the top of the phone, with just the slightest cutout for the camera — something we hadn’t seen before. It also seemed promising that it came from Android co-founder Andy Rubin, in his first major project since leaving Google, and the titanium frame felt superb. But the company’s promises of camera quality and durability turned out to be hugely overblown, the software started out riddled with bugs, and it wound up shipping nearly two months after Rubin promised — only a month later, the iPhone X arrived with a notched screen as well.

Few bothered to buy an Essential Phone, and the company reportedly canceled development of a second phone less than a year later. Now, there’s another shadow hanging over the company and its new project: revelations about the sexual misconduct allegations that pushed Rubin out of Google in the first place. —Jake Kasternakes

45. Samsung Bixby

Foto di Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Apple had Siri, Amazon had Alexa, Google had Google Assistant. Each was a voice-activated helper that would change how we interact with our devices on a fundamental level. On the other hand, there’s Bixby, Samsung’s also-ran attempt to jump on the voice assistant bandwagon. Samsung tried really hard to get Bixby to work, going as far as adding a mandatory Bixby button to some of its phones. But Samsung’s assistant just wasn’t very good, and with the plethora of other options available on Android — like the native Google Assistant that was bundled by default on every Bixby phone — Samsung’s option mostly served to piss off people who wanted to use the Bixby Button for something else. But unlike many of the things on this list, Bixby still exists today, even if Samsung’s flagship Bixby hardware, the Galaxy Home, still hasn’t shipped. —Chaim Gartenberg

44. Hyperloop

Tesla Motors

A “cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table.” That was how Elon Musk described plans for Hyperloop, a “fifth mode of transport” that he unveiled to the world after months of teasing in 2013. The original whitepaper outlined a system of pressurized tubes that would propel pods across the country at speeds of 700 MPH. But the document proved to be little more than an elaborate back-of-the-napkin sketch, with engineers and transport experts pointing out serious structural problems in the plan, and noting that costs had been drastically underestimated.

A bevy of Hyperloop companies have so far failed to produce even a single mile of fully-operational track, and Musk himself has rerouted his ambitions to simply building tunnels for cars. Talk about going underground. —James Vincent

43. Windows 8

Windows 8 review hed

Ever wanted your Start menu and button to disappear? And everything else familiar in Windows to be shifted around? Install Windows 8. Microsoft was chasing the iPad hard, and the company went head on into touchscreens while forgetting what people actually use their PCs for. Windows 8 included a tile-based UI, fullscreen Start menu, and an overall confusing interface for keyboard and mouse users. Thankfully, Microsoft quickly recovered from a disaster with Windows 10. —Tom Warren

42. Antennagate

Apple

Apple doesn’t screw things up often, but when it does make mistakes, they tend to go big. And none were as big as “Antennagate,” a problem with the iPhone 4 that saw signal strength drop when the external antennas were blocked by simply holding the phone. Then-CEO Steve Jobs infamously advised one customer to “just avoid holding it that way.” The issue escalated, with Apple first issuing a software update to address a “mistake” in how antenna bars were displayed, before eventually admitting to the defect and supplying iPhone 4 customers with free cases. Antennagate would come to define a classic Apple scandal: deny the problem, issue a software update, and then eventually, reluctantly make amends with customers. —Chaim Gartenberg

41. WeWork’s attempt to go public

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Founded in 2010, WeWork wasn’t originally appena a co-working space. Pushed by SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son in 2016 to make the business “ten times bigger than your original plan,” Adam Neumann set off on a pot- and tequila-filled journey to make a Facebook for real life — a community you’d never have to leave. You could send your kid to WeGrow; you could rent a room in WeLive; and obviously, work at WeWork. While the coworking spaces were often popular among startups — making the real estate market more manageable — many of the other choices WeWork made were nonsensical, and when the required filings around an initial public offering came out, well, most of the internet pointed and laughed. WeWork had a sky-high valuation more befitting a company engaged in software as a service than, well, a real-estate concern.

Though the last funding round WeWork had received gave the company a valuation of $47 billion, Bloomberg segnalati that the IPO would value the company at $20 billion to $30 billion. Then that estimate dropped to $10 billion, per Reuters. Then the IPO was shelved, Neumann resigned as CEO, and took a healthy $1.7 billion payout to leave the company’s board. WeWork has trimmed its wings, selling or shuttering some businesses and laying off employees. Whether the company will recover is an open question. There is, however, some good news: Nicholas Braun, best known as Succession’s Cousin Greg, will play Neumann in a WeWork project — airdate tbd. —Liz Lopatto

40. Google’s Project Ara

Google

The dream of modular smartphones began in 2013 with the Phonebloks concept video from Dave Hakkens. It galvanized our dormant desire for a flexible handheld device that could last forever, or at least a few years longer than the disposable designs that had transfixed Apple and Samsung. Prefer face ID over a fingerprint scanner? Snap your preference into the base frame. More speed? Pop in a new CPU/GPU/memory core. Improved photos? “Okay, Google, eject the camera.” Google’s new Motorola division took the concept and ran with it, before stumbling at the finish line and calling it quits in 2016. Truly, the end of an Ara. —Thomas Ricker

39. Microsoft Kinect

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Microsoft’s 3D camera peripheral can’t be written off as a total failure. It sold well out of the gate, it was popular among artists and researchers, and Apple eventually bought the company behind its technology to power the iPhone X’s Face ID. But despite Microsoft’s insistence that “You are the controller,” its promise for gaming never panned out. Microsoft’s focus on Kinect turned out to be a huge strategic blunder, particularly when the Xbox One debuted. The Xbox One was compromised from a price and design perspective by the inclusion of a Kinect in every box — with almost no worthwhile games to show for it. Microsoft later took a dramatic decision to discontinue the device entirely, even removing its connector on subsequent Xbox One revisions. —Sam Byford

38. Color

All but forgotten today, few Silicon Valley startups ever had as much hype before their debut. Color’s hype stemmed from the massive $41 million its co-founders raised in 2011 to build the app, a photo-sharing service designed to help you explore the world around you. Instead of following individuals, as on Instagram, on Color you would open the app to see what pictures that nearby users had posted. The app was mocked widely at the time for its bizarre user interface, which used strange invented characters for basic functions and was hilariously difficult to navigate as a result. Just a year and a half after launch, Color denied reports that it was shutting its doors — and a month later, confirmed them.

Ultimately, Instagram was just a much better photo-sharing app than Color was — unless you were at a special event, it was almost always more interesting to look at photos from people you knew or had followed for a particular reason than to look at whatever photos people were posting around you. Still, Instagram ultimately offered various ways to view photos and videos by location, too. —Casey Newton

37. Nikon 1

Nikon J1

This list has a lot of bad products on it, but few where the most plausible explanation for their failure was that they were designed to suck on purpose. That could well have been the case with the Nikon 1 system, a range of mirrorless cameras with terrible controls, small 1-inch sensors, and slow lenses that was wholly uncompetitive against the likes of Sony, Fujifilm, and Olympus. Nikon apparently figured that in order to create a truly modern mirrorless camera, you needed a new lens mount, which could have risked erasing the company’s biggest lock-in advantage: its huge line-up of F-mount SLR lenses that dates back to the 50s. The Nikon 1 range, then, was seemingly intended to attract compact camera upgraders without cannibalizing its DSLR business.

The system had its advantages, like great autofocus performance and the best underwater camera ever made, but the image quality was so unimpressive it made no sense for almost anyone to buy. The real nail in its coffin was the Sony RX100, which offered the same size sensor in a smaller, more useful package. Sony is now on its seventh iteration of that hugely successful range, while Nikon finally gave in last year and released its first full-frame Z-mount mirrorless cameras. —Sam Byford

36. Google’s smartwatch ambitions

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Google hasn’t had the best time with smartwatches. In the early six years since it announced Android Wear, including its relaunch as Wear OS, it’s powered dozens of devices without producing a single watch to truly challenge Apple — generally delivering huge, hulking watches and/or poor battery life. In 2016, Google reportedly pulled out of a deal to launch LG-made, Pixel-branded smartwatches because it felt they would hurt Google’s hardware brand. And yet it still didn’t look great for the Wear OS brand when LG later released the watches on its own. Some brands like Motorola and Asus gave up on the platform years ago.

Now, Google seems to be taking matters into its own hands (wrists?) after paying millions for Fossil mystery smartwatch tech and $2.1 billion for Fitbit. But each minute that passes without a good Google smartwatch is another opportunity for Apple. —Jay Peters

35. Young Blood

Siphoning blood from young people and injecting it into old people sounds like something out of a fairy tale (the scary kind, not the Disney kind). But starting around 2016, salesmen promised that strapping into an IV of the stuff might help prevent Alzheimer’s, improve skin quality, and enhance athleticism. Peter Thiel was reportedly interested. People lined up to pay one young blood startup, called Ambrosia, $8,000 a liter for blood from people under the age of 25. Then, in February 2019, the FDA stepped in to squash the hype.

Despite the claims, there’s no actual evidence that young blood has any health benefits. And even necessary blood transfusions can have dangerous side effects, so there’s no point in taking the risk. It might be possible to identify helpful compounds floating in the blood of younger people that might eventually become helpful drugs, but that’s many years away. For now, you’re better off spending $8,000 somewhere else. —Nicole Wetsman

34. Amazon HQ2

Amazon box (STOCK)

When Amazon announced it was looking for a location to build a second headquarters, it decided to turn the whole thing into a contest — with cities across the US practically begging the retail giant to select them in hopes of new economic opportunities. But after many, many months of trotting out finalist cities like some kind of pageant, Amazon didn’t actually pick a needy city for a true second HQ. Instead, it opted for two regional offices in New York City and Arlington, Virginia. The former didn’t take the news well. When New Yorkers, already struggling with various infrastructure and housing issues, learned Amazon would be getting more than $1 billion in incentives, they waged a months-long battle against Amazon that culminated in the company abandoning its plans altogether. (Amazon is still building offices in NYC, just not the giant headquarters of Jeff Bezos’ dreams.) It’s as if we never learned you can’t conduct the business of an entire town (or country) like a reality show. —Natt Garun

33. Sony PlayStation Vita

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Unlike most products on this list, the PlayStation Vita delighted most people who bought it. The trouble was that not very many people did. A gorgeous piece of hardware capable of powering games far more ambitious than had previously been seen on handheld consoles, the Vita ended up finding its niche as a portable indie game machine and a handy PS4 Remote Play controller. There was certainly something to be said for playing Spelunky on the bus, and the stream of “free” PlayStation Plus titles meant the Vita was always worth keeping in your bag. But Sony simply didn’t support it with the type of software it was designed for, and the console never fulfilled its true potential. It’s estimated to have sold roughly as poorly as Nintendo’s Wii U, one of the worst-selling Nintendo systems ever, and many times worse than its PlayStation Portable predecessor. —Sam Byford

Correction: The Wii U wasn’t the worst-selling Nintendo system ever, which is something Sean added during an edit; it was one of Nintendo’s worst-selling home consoles, but the Virtual Boy reportedly sold fewer than 1 million after its 1995 debut.

32. Red Hydrogen

Foto di Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

RED’s cameras had such an impact on digital filmmaking, that it was easy to buy into the company’s ceaseless hype around its first steps into the smartphone world. According to RED founder Jim Jannard, the Hydrogen One would have a “holographic display” and revolutionize filmmaking with a new and improved 3D format called “4V.” It’d even be able to attach to RED cameras and be used with a RED imaging sensor and compatible lenses. Then, the phone appeared.

It’s hard to sum up exactly what went wrong, because it’s kind of everything: the basics were dated and flawed. And the fancy new features were outright bad — the screen was far from holographic, and the 3D effect looked more like a lenticular lunchbox than a next-gen revolution (let alone something good enough for this generation of mediocre 3D). The fancy accessories never launched, and at $1,300, there was just no redeeming this device. Eventually, Jannard would leave the company citing health concerns and shut the phone project down on his way out. —Jake Kasternakes

31. Zynga’s acquisition of Draw Something

Draw Something Zynga

Zynga was perhaps the biggest winner from the anything-goes era of Facebook’s desktop web era, in which developers could get seemingly infinite traffic by posting stories to your News Feed whenever any person took any action inside their app. But in the early 2010s, desktop Facebook began to wane, and so one day in February 2012, Zynga announced it would spend $183 million on OMGPOP, makers of a popular iOS and Android game called Draw Something. The basic idea was “what if we copied Pictionary in basically every way, but didn’t call it that?” It generated 20 million downloads in its first five weeks, which would still be an impressive feat today. (At the time, Instagram had only 27 million downloads. Foursquare had 15 million.)

The thing is, who wants to play Pictionary for more than a couple weeks? Draw Something printed money for a few weeks — it was supported by advertising and also sold various in-game perks — but by May the user base was in free fall. A year later, Zynga shut down OMGPOP and laid off its employees. It was the start of a brutal few years at Zynga that saw its founding CEO slink out the door. The most amazing thing about all this is that Zynga survived, and it’s basically fine now? Franchises like Farmville e Words With Friends kept it afloat, and Draw Something, somehow, is still in active development. —Casey Newton

30. Game of Thrones’ ending

Photo: HBO

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Going into 2019, Game of Thrones seemed poised to be the kind of cultural juggernaut with an ending that would be talked about for years. And in a way, it was — just probably not in the way that HBO or the showrunners had hoped. Plot threads were rushed, story beats were thrown out with apparent lack of concern for characterization, past history, or common sense, culminating in a final episode that saw the hottest TV show in recent memory fizzle out with the saddest of whimpers. Things like “subtlety” or “logic” were thrown out the window, as Game of Thrones did whatever the polar opposite of “sticking the landing” is.

It turns out, writing an ending to Game of Thrones that’s actually good is as hard of a task as George R.R. Martin has said all these years. Odds are, we’ll still be talking about Game of Thrones in the years to come — if only to puzzle out just where exactly everything went wrong. —Chaim Gartenberg

29. Healthcare.gov

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<p id=When Congress successfully passed President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, in 2010, it seemed like the hard part was over. But the administration wasn’t prepared for the true opposition: poor web design. The rollout of healthcare.gov, where Americans were supposed to sign up for insurance under Obamacare, was chaos. The site crashed repeatedly, rendering it totally inaccessible. Jon Stewart roasted it as “the weakest link.” Obama told the public that “interest way exceeded expectations, and that’s the good news.” The bad news? Almost everything else. —Colin Lecher

28. Equifax

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Cybersecurity tends to make the average person’s eyes glaze over, but it seemed like everyone paid attention to the Equifax hack. That’s mostly because of how monumental the consumer reporting agency’s screwup was. More than 143 million Americans’ Social Security numbers were exposed, as well as birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. Credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 people were accessed as well.

It was such a colossal disaster that the incident has practically become synonymous with the company’s brand name. Oh, did we mention the that former chief information officer of the company was convicted of insider trading for selling stock before the breach was disclosed? Equifax eventually settled for $700 million, but the mess didn’t end there. Only $31 million was set apart for the $125 per-person payouts, and the Federal Trade Commission had to later issue a public notice that nobody would actually receive that sum due to the sheer volume of affected Americans requesting the cash. What a nightmare. —Nick Statt

27. The FTC’s $5 billion Facebook fine

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Stock

To Facebook, a company that brought in over $16 billion in revenue in 2019, losing $5 billion is nothing. In July 2019, the Federal Trade Commission ended its year-long investigation into the company over its alleged misuse of user data and privacy scandals (like Cambridge Analytica) with that meager multi-billion-dollar settlement. It’s worth repeating once more: a record-setting $5 billion fine was such a relief to investors that Facebook’s stock price went up.

We’ll never know what would have happened if the FTC had pursued the company in court, instead of opting to end its probe quickly and get some lofty-looking numbers in headlines as an attempt to make the agency appear as though it treated Facebook harsher than what it actually did. If the company was found guilty, it would have at least been forced to admit fault — something it will never have to do for its alleged data abuses throughout the 2010s. —Makena Kelly

26. Everything will.i.am touches

Most famous for winning the competitive battle for being the worst member of the Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am (né William) struck it out on his own in the past decade as a solo artist. He’s responsible for what I believe is the worst song of the decade, ”T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)” which is — and I am non joking here — entirely about boners. One line goes: “I woke up in the morning / hard like morning wood in the morning.”

will.i.am’s other solo act was as a tech entrepreneur, which involved a series of products, decisions, and acquisitions that I would also describe as boners. In 2012, will.i.am founded i.am+, which produced garish iPhone cases with slide-out keyboards and a separate camera. This would be his least bad idea over the next eight years. Next he launched the Puls, a smartwatch which our own Dan Seifert called “the worst product I’ve touched all year.” He followed it up with un altro smartwatch — this one voice activated, for no apparent reason — called Dial that nobody bought. Then there was the Delorean-inspired car IAMAUTO, a vehicle that was immediately impounded for not being street legal, but did make me better appreciate when will.i.am’s branding is lowercase and separated by periods. i.am+ later acquired Wink, pivoting to a business focused on smart home, AI, and losing gobs and gobs of money. Things got so bad that employees went months without pay. Also, somewhere in there, will.i.am had time to become chief creative officer of a company that 3D prints bullshit.

What does the next decade look like for will.i.am? This December, he launched Buttons, a new company featuring — checks notes — wireless earbuds, which means we can look forward to 10 more years of boners. —Kevin Nguyen

25. HP TouchPad

What do you get when you take Apple’s first-generation iPad, replace its metal frame with a greasy plastic body, give it a grainy touchscreen, install a new software platform with next to no third-party app support, and then put it on shelves for the same price as the iPad in July 2011, four months after the iPad 2 was released? You get the HP TouchPad, an unmitigated disaster of a product that not only sold terribly, but also completely torpedoed the webOS mobile device platform.

The TouchPad was such a failure that less than two months after launch, HP announced it would discontinue all webOS devices — phones and tablets included — and slashed the price of the TouchPad from $499 down to a measly $99 for the 16GB model. Only then did it actually start moving off shelves, and the company made another production run in order to use up components it had left over. By 2012, the TouchPad was a faded memory, and in 2013, HP sold all of its webOS assets to LG, which would utilize them for its TV line. webOS for phones and tablets was officially dead as we knew it, and we can blame the TouchPad for its demise. —Dan Seifert

24. Juicero

Juicero

Juicero promised the world juice sold in a pouch. Not a juice box, how dare you, but a pouch of fresh fruits and vegetables sealed into a QR code-verified pouch that required a $700 machine counterpart to squeeze the pouch and release the sweet, sweet juice. The dream seemed real enough — like Keurig but for juice, got it. But then, investors and Bloomberg discovered that the machine, the lynchpin of the entire Juicero operation, wasn’t even needed. People could squeeze their juice packs by hand. By hand! The company shut down shortly after the damning news.

At least the company offered to refund people for their machine, but wow, juice pouches, not juice boxes, and a machine to squeeze them all funded by venture capitalists. We should have seen this failure coming. —Ashley Carman

23. Steam Machines

Gallery Photo: Steam Controller and Steam Machine press pictures

Valve Corporation

In 2012, The Verge exclusively revealed that Valve was building a game console. I predicted it would be a Linux-based PC. Gabe Newell himself confirmed our reporting, and we excitedly wrote “How Valve’s Steam Box will reinvent the game console as you know it.” I still believe it could have played out that way.

But while Valve managed to build an extremely impressive console-sized gaming PC and an intriguing controller to go with it, the company’s overall plan relied on a wide array of partners to do the heavy lifting, and Valve didn’t have enough carrots or sticks to keep them on track. The Steam Machines finally launched in 2014 with a laughable, confusing array of computers, some far more expensive than a console, and they only supported a fraction of the games in Steam’s catalog. Valve’s utter reliance on game developers meant that even games that had been ported to Linux wouldn’t necessarily work on SteamOS. And unlike with the new VR-exclusive Half-Life: Alyx, Valve was unwilling to pledge any games exclusively to the new paradigm.

In the end, Valve’s partners decided to ship Windows instead, or in addition to SteamOS, if they didn’t cancel their console-esque computers altogether. Valve quietly hid the Steam Machine section of its store last year and put the Steam Controller, the last remaining piece of its failed initiative, on $5 fire sale this November. —Sean Hollister

22. Nintendo’s Wii U

Gallery Photo: Nintendo Wii U hands-on pictures

The best thing you can say about the Wii U is that had it not flamed out so remarkably, we wouldn’t have the Switch. Nintendo’s Wii successor was a disastrous product on almost every level, from its low-quality touchscreen controller to its bafflingly slow software and its confusing, derivative name. Most damningly of all, Nintendo quickly ran out of ideas for how to make use of its own hardware. The Wii U library includes some of Nintendo’s best games ever, from Super Mario 3D World per Mario Kart 8 per Breath of the Wild, but almost all of them could be played on the GamePad controller without any dual-screen functionality. While it was nice to be able to play some great games around the house, it made for a convoluted waste of hardware.

“Shouldn’t the GamePad just be its own, truly portable system?” wondered everyone. Thankfully, Nintendo agreed in the end. The Wii U became Nintendo’s worst-selling home console of the modern era with just 13.56 million sales worldwide, and the Switch eclipsed it with less than a year on the market. —Sam Byford

21. Dieselgate

Photo by Anthony Dias / The Verge

The biggest automotive scandal of the decade started when a group of West Virginia University researchers stumbled across some abnormalities in an emissions tests of a Volkswagen Jetta and Passat. Since then, almost everyone important at VW has been charged in the so-called Dieselgate. The whole scheme was laughably criminal: VW engineers installed defeat devices — pieces of code labelled “acoustic condition” — designed to help the company’s diesel vehicles trick regulators into thinking they emitted less pollution than they actually did.

VW has paid more than $30 billion in fines since getting caught and has vowed to spend billions more in an effort to become a leader in electric vehicles. In other words, that cloud of diesel smog may have a silver lining to it. —Andrew Hawkins

20. Windows RT

Windows RT started off life dazed and confused, with a ridiculous name that meant nothing to anyone. It powered Microsoft’s first Surface RT tablet, and it had a desktop mode that looked like regular Windows. Except it wasn’t regular Windows, as you couldn’t install all your favorite desktop apps — something that Microsoft didn’t bother to explain to buyers or even its own Microsoft Store employees. If you weren’t confused enough already, the Surface RT was also painfully slow and lacked tablet apps. The Surface RT wound up bombing so hard that Microsoft wrote off $900 million in tablets it couldn’t sell. Microsoft thought everyone would want a Surface RT, but it turned out that everyone actually wanted real Windows. —Tom Warren

19. GoPro Karma

GoPro Karma and stabilizer grip in photos

Photo by Sean O’Kane / The Verge

Some things you never forget, and for me, one of those things is that GoPro recalled its first drone on the night of the 2016 election. Yeah, sure, maybe that was just coincidental timing — after all, the drones were literally falling out of the sky thanks to a faulty battery latch design, so something had to be done. But if there was ever a time to drop some bad news, I’m guessing using the most-watched (and most controversial) election as cover would have been a pretty easy call.

Karma was an okay drone, especially if viewed purely as a literal vehicle for GoPro’s excellent cameras (which is how the company always tried to market it). But it lacked the sorts of advanced features that DJI developed on its way to full-on dominance of the drone market, so it’s no surprise that Karma never really took hold. That said, Karma’s demise is also a good example of how failure can be a good thing for a company. GoPro announced the Karma at a time when the company’s product lineup was at its most bloated. When it failed, it helped push GoPro to refocus its efforts on what it’s truly good at: making (basically) one really damn good action camera. —Sean O’Kane

18. BlackBerry

BlackBerry Priv

At the start of the decade, BlackBerry was on top of the world. Even as the iPhone turned five, BlackBerry-owner Research in Motion had record subscribers and its iconic PDA-style cell phones were still the must-have gadgets of teenagers, business executives, and celebrities alike. But within months of its all-time subscriber high of more than 80 million in the summer of 2012, everything started to unravel. The iPhone 4S had been released the year prior, and Apple’s iOS was adding new features at a rapid clip, while Google’s Android operating system started catching on globally.

Instead of focusing on its strengths, BlackBerry instead released an alarming and inexplicable series of misguided products. From the PlayBook tablet that shipped without an email client to the disastrous BlackBerry 10 OS, the company released one embarrassing flop after another in pretty much every product category imaginable. Even when BlackBerry went back to basics, like with the physical keyboard on the Android-powered Priv, the company realized far too late in the game that it was never going to catch up to Apple and Google. The BlackBerry brand is best known now as a footnote in the history of mobile computing. —Nick Statt

17. Hoverboards

Swagway Swagtron

When so-called “hoverboards” first became a fad in 2015 — with teens, tweens, even full-grown adults zipping down the streets like floating statues while barely moving faster than if they’d just walked — the ridicule was already strong. Where was the Back to the Future levitation we’d been promised? Why would we embrace the WALL-E future where humans are lazy bums? But it quickly developed into full-blown schadenfreude when it turned out the shoddily made contraptions had a tendency to literally burst into flames. Whether it was fear, humiliation, or simply the arrival of more practical electric scooters, it feels like hoverboards fizzled fast: I frequently see them on deep discount online, but rarely in person. —Sean Hollister

16. Faraday Future

Faraday Future was at one point the most hyped EV startup in the world. It hired away top talent from the biggest tech and automotive companies by liberally spending its billionaire founder’s money, and at the same time, insisted on overwhelming secrecy. That combination fueled so much speculation about the startup’s intentions that, at one point, it was thought Faraday Future was a front for Apple’s own secretive car project. Many believed it would take on Tesla, or perhaps even take it down.

Yeah, nope. Come The Verge has documented in great detail over the last three years, Faraday Future is now more well-known for rampant mismanagement, sketchy financial dealings, and ceaseless drama. The company does still exist, but it has teetered on the brink for more than two years now, all without shipping one single car. And even if Faraday Future ever does put its gaudy, fast, screen-laden electric SUV on the road, the majority of people who worked on the car have already left the company. —Sean O’Kane

15. Fyre Festival

Image: Fyre Festival LLC

Every generation gets the scam it deserves; remember Enron? Or how about the original Ponzi scheme, perpetrated by one Charles Ponzi? What about Fyre Festival?

Si. You remember Fyre Festival. As far as grifts go, it was very, very good — at least to watch from a distance. The year was 2017: Billy McFarland made up an expensive festival with the washed rapper Ja Rule, didn’t plan anything, got a whole lot of people to pay for the privilege, and then spent the money on himself and influencers to promote the charade. When attendees got to the island and started tweeting pictures of their accommodations (FEMA tents, sad cheese sandwiches), an immediate wave of schadenfreude washed over the ‘net. By and large, the people who got scammed were the kind of people who have money, at least in a conspicuous, Instagrammy way.

It was, in other words, a flop. McFarland got six years. (Despite being something of a co-founder, Ja Rule got off scot free.) The saga spawned a pair of documentaries, a countless number of blogs, and kicked off a rising wave of interest in grifters that’s continued to this day. We’re post-Fyre in so many ways — especially in how we talk about scams now. But at the end of the day / decade, what should be very clear is how much we still enjoy a good scam. Provided we’re not caught up in it. —Bijan Stephen

14. Apple Maps

Apple Maps

Tired of defaulting to its competitor, Google, for its mapping services, Apple decided to launch its own version in 2012 alongside iOS 6. It was an ambitious feat given how much of the mapping market Google already had, and it turned out, well, utterly embarrassing for Apple. Apple Maps was buggy, lacked public transit information, and in some areas and countries, offered literally nothing but blank voids or misplaced landmarks. The fumble eventually lead to the firings of multiple Apple executives who led its Maps project, and the company would spend the next decade proving to everyone it could build an actual competitor to Google Maps.

Seven years later, Apple Maps has been rebuilt from the ground up. Yet as of September 2019, detailed transit directions are only offered in 10 cities globally while Google has sent Street View expeditions to space. Good luck catching up with that. —Natt Garun

13. Microsoft Kin

Microsoft

Before Windows Phone, there were the Microsoft Kin — the “social phones” that the company infamously discontinued just six weeks after they went on sale in May 2010 because they were that particularly annoying combination of terrible e expensive. The Kin One and Kin Two were supposed to be the second coming of the popular T-Mobile Sidekick — whose creator, Danger, was snapped up by Microsoft for an estimated $500 million to work on this specific project — and featured a unique interface that put social networking feed front and center and let you drag and drop items to share with friends.

But they also featured a hilariously untenable monthly price tag of $30 per month for a Verizon data plan, on top of your phone plan. They launched without support for Twitter replies or retweets, or YouTube, and without microSD storage even though SanDisk had announced that specific feature. Word was that forces within Microsoft had sabotaged the project in favor of the upcoming Windows Phone. That makes sense, considering Microsoft knew full well that focus groups hated it. The company wound up writing off the Kin to the tune of at least $240 million, not counting what it paid for Danger. —Sean Hollister

12. Coolest Cooler

Coolest Cooler

Coolest Cooler started as one of the highest funded Kickstarter projects ever — raising over $13 million in 2014 for a cooler with a built in party speaker and blender lid. It closed off the decade with its maker, Coolest, shutting down after only delivering two-thirds of the 60,000 coolers it had promised to backers. (Not cool.)

In between, the company made a number of missteps, like angering people by selling the product on Amazon before sending them to backers first, and offering backers the option of “expedited shipping”, for an extra $97. Coolest blamed the increase in Chinese tariffs for its ultimate demise, but the wild saga of its failed Kickstarter stands an emblematic symbol of the risks of crowdfunding. —Dami Lee

11. MoviePass

Graphic by William Joel / The Verge

MoviePass seemed too good to be true, because it was. It was glorious while it lasted, but offering people the chance to watch one movie a day in theaters, for the low price of $9.99 a month, was clearly an unsustainable business model. MoviePass was hoping that people wouldn’t actually take them up on their offer,but subscribers were doing that and Di Più — people were using their passes as an excuse to use theater bathrooms, or get their parking validated.

Throughout the course of its tumultuous existence, the company ran into a number of disasters, like exposing its customers’ credit card numbers online, forcibly re-enrolling customers even after they’d cancelled their service, and having to shut down the app for several weeks to make updates. Though MoviePass finally perished recently, it inspired theater chains to offer their own, better-run subscription services. AMC Stubs and Regal Unlimited are two of the major ones, and moviegoers have MoviePass to thank for changing the theater experience forever. —Dami Lee

10. Apple’s butterfly Keyboard

Boy did Apple get it wrong with its “butterfly” keyboard, first introduced in the 2015 12-inch MacBook and eventually used on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. The butterfly keyboard is often held up as the peak (or more accurately, nadir) of Apple’s preference to emphasize form over function, as it was specifically designed to allow for thinner laptop bodies. But in doing so, Apple reduced the travel of the keys to a scant 1mm, which many found unpleasant under their fingers, and the keyboard was significantly louder to type on compared to prior MacBook models or other laptops.

But those were just the tip of the failberg for the butterfly keyboard. Once the butterfly keyboard showed up in 2016’s redesigned MacBook Pro, it didn’t take long for owners to complain about sticking keys that would either not work at all or would type two letters at a time. In typical Apple fashion, the company’s initial response was to deny the problem and instructed owners to use canned air to blow out any dust or debris that might be causing the keys to stick. Those that brought their computers to a Genius Bar were often met with high repair bills and long wait times, as the only way to “fix” the keyboard was to replace it entirely.

Apple eventually released four generations of the butterfly keyboard, each one slightly modified to try to improve reliability, and in 2018 it introduced an extended warranty program that provided four years of repair coverage from the purchase date. In late 2019, Apple finally released a new 16-inch MacBook Pro that returned to the scissor switch design that has longer key travel, less noise, and better reliability, though as of this publish, the company continues to sell the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro that still use the ill-fated butterfly keyboard. Dan Seifert

9. The concept of privacy

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Back in 2010, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg caused a minor uproar by suggesting that privacy was passé, but insisted he’d been misconstrued. And yes, the US government had implemented a sweeping wiretapping program in the wake of 9/11 — but its legal violations were supposedly in the past. The following decade, unfortunately, didn’t bear these reassurances out. We soon learned the NSA was conscripting phone and internet companies to spy on the entire country. Our lives were monitored through smartphones, home surveillance equipment, online DNA databases, and everyone from credit card companies to the DMV selling records of our behavior. People still care about privacy — but it’s harder than ever to come by. —Adi Robertson

8. Google’s messaging strategy

google hangouts edited

Which messaging apps? Take your pick, there have been so many. But the grandaddy of all of Google’s messaging flops in the last decade has to be Google Hangouts. Not because it was itself a terrible product — but because it did a bad job replacing a beloved one and then was left to twist in the winds of Google’s ever-changing corporate priorities and restructurings. It withered and died, converted into a haphazard and little-used Slack competitor that was quickly and efficiently overshadowed by Microsoft Teams. Then Google invested in Allo but didn’t really try and it bombed too. Then Google just gave up: cell phone carriers now control the future of Google’s messaging apps. Guess how well that’s going. —Dieter Bohn

7. 3D TV

Mitsubishu

Coming off the enormous success that was 2009’s Avatar, 3D TV was supposed to bring a new level of immersion to the way people viewed movies in their living room. But unlike in theaters, where 3D screenings are still fairly common, the effort to bring that same experience home failed miserably. No one wanted to wear goofy 3D glasses during downtime on their couch. And the screen sizes of most TVs don’t showcase 3D in the same way content popping out of a giant movie theater screen can. TV companies continued to back 3D for several years, and there was a decent selection of 3D Blu-rays to choose from. But people just never took to it, and you can only force a feature on people for so long. By the latter half of the 2010s, the industry gave up on the dream and moved toward HDR and other picture enhancements that don’t require glasses. —Chris Welch

6. Fire Phone

One of the most incredible facts about the last decade is that Jeff Bezos has had more success sending rockets into space than creating an Amazon smartphone. The Fire Phone, as it was called, was a truly tremendous flop of a product. Amazon took a nearly $200 million hit, which led to one of its worst financial quarters in history.

The Fire Phone failed in large part because it just felt half-baked. It ran truly awful software, was loaded with gimmicks, and perhaps most egregiously, it didn’t do enough to hide its ultimate purpose of becoming a vehicle for goosing Amazon sales. This was all the more remarkable because Bezos allegedly micro-managed the project from its inception. The man may have built a multibillion-dollar empire that will one day literally let him leave Earth, but that will never change the fact that his company’s smartphone was so bad that Amazon couldn’t even give them away. —Sean O’Kane

5. Google Glass

Google Glass debuted with skydivers. Yes, Google co-founder Sergey Brin stormed the stage during a Google event at Moscone Center in 2012 to bring viewers a livestream of skydivers wearing Google Glass, who wore the glasses while they landed on top of the convention center. These connected glasses would change the world was the conceit. And they could have, until they freaked people out so much that the entire device failed to ever take off. People wearing the glasses became “glassholes;” Robert Scoble alarmingly posed with them in the shower; and concerned citizens worried about the privacy implications of a camera staring at them at any moment. Since it stopped shipping to consumers in 2015, Snapchat resurrected the idea of a camera in glasses with its Spectacles and dodged the fate of Google Glass. Meanwhile, Google kept its Glass dream alive with enterprise versions, but Google Glass’ shadow still hangs over every AR headset targeted at consumers. Maybe the world just isn’t ready. —Ashley Carman

4. Windows Phone

Nokia

Microsoft shipped Windows Phone with a giant party celebrating the impending death of the iPhone. Oops. Despite its flashy tile-based UI, Windows Phone wasn’t the phone OS to save us from our phones as Microsoft promised.

Instead, the company spent years trying in vain to convince developers to create apps for Windows Phone, and destroying Nokia in the process — first spending $7.2 billion to acquire Nokia’s phone business, then writing off the entire purchase as a failed experiment, cutting thousands of jobs and wasting at least an additional billion along the way. Mistakes were certainly made, especially when Ballmer laughed at the iPhone for lacking a physical keyboard. Guess who’s laughing now?

Bill Gates called Microsoft’s lack of leadership in the smartphone era his “greatest mistake ever,” and Windows Phone let the world watch that mistake play out as a slow-motion train wreck. —Tom Warren

3. Theranos

Photo: Drew Kelly / Sundance Institute

Once valued at $9 billion and seemingly poised to revolutionize medicine with a breakthrough blood test so easy you could do it at the drugstore, Theranos went out of business in 2018 after The Wall Street Journal exposed that the company’s proprietary blood test didn’t actually work — and that CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes had tricked VCs, corporate executives, and customers by using standard lab blood tests instead of the product she was selling. It appears to have been a giant scam. Holmes was later indicted for fraud, and earlier this year, her lawyers said she hadn’t paid them in months.

Theranos was a dark failure and a harbinger of things to come as other highly valued startups couldn’t fulfill their promises to investors. —Ashley Carman

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 7

note 7 in a puddle

James Bareham / The Verge

When Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 first hit the review cycle on August 17, 2016, the reviewers went nuts over how wonderful it was — including, we have to admit, ours. “Galaxy Note 7 reviews have hit the internet this week and the consensus among them is that it might be the best designed smartphone ever,” we gushed. That was before the first phone exploded. Along with part of Samsung’s reputation.

By September 1st, there had been reports of at least 35 phones bursting into flames. Samsung issued a humble and apologetic statement in which the company announced it was recalling the Note 7 and issuing replacement devices. Okay, fine — except they promptly also began catching fire, including at least one on a plane, which caused the TSA to ban all Note 7s. Samsung was in all the headlines, but definitely not in a good way.

Eventually, instead of digging its own grave, Samsung dug one for the Note 7: it recalled all the phones and sent out a software update that made existing devices useless. The company’s decision to finally own its exploding phones and make good by replacing them with different models was probably what saved the company’s rep back in 2016. Now all it has to do is live down this year’s weird folding phone fail as well. —Barbara Krasnoff

1. Ajit Pai

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Testifies Before House Appropriations Committee

Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Net neutrality was one of the great success stories of this decade until one man killed it. In 2015, Americans reclaimed the public utility that built the 21st century, protecting it from the greed of monopolistic gatekeepers that had spent vast resources capturing federal regulators. The Open Internet Order established strong net neutrality rules that would have kept companies like Verizon and Comcast in check for years to come. Then came President Trump, and his new FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai.

Pai spent more of his tenure as FCC chairman trying to score points with right-wing media than crafting sensible public policy. His undoing of net neutrality was capricious, irrational, and unpopular. Pai ignored the millions of Americans who demanded net neutrality in favor of a small set of powerful interests, including Verizon, which he once collected a paycheck from.

Sometimes public policy failures are opaque layered with confusing complexities and unintended consequences. But in this case, the failure was clear. It wasn’t a poorly-written bill or bad timing. It was simply the result of regressive behavior from a public servant who would rather please internet service providers than serve the public. —TC Sottek



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