Every company is always trying to develop something that will make the human life better, easier, more convenient and also fun. But sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don’t.
Here are some of the products that were hyped but couldn’t make it through the market or even if they made it to the market they weren’t successful.
1. Google Glass
All of you might have heard about Google Glass. Google Glass was an optical head-mounted display or in simple words, it was a glass which had a display and which could do some things that Jarvis did in ‘Iron Man’.
Google Glass was developed by X, an R&D facility and a subsidiary of Alphabet. It was first publically announced in April 2012. In 2013 Google gave the Glass prototype to interested potential users. And it was available to the public by May 2014.
Google Glass was capable of doing many things like recording video, and also a display that would to things that a smartwatch does nowadays, some of the features are using native Google apps like Google Maps, Google Now, Gmail, G+ and also some 3rd party apps like Evernote, Foursquare, OpenTable, CNN news alert. Google also announced that notifications from Android Wear will be sent to the glass. Also, it can be activated by voice commands.
It was an amazing piece of tech but somehow it couldn’t survive in this tech world let’s see what lead to the failure of Google Glass.
The main issue with which it was criticised was the privacy concern, people say that recording video in public without the permission was against ethics. There was a controversy that would cause security problems and violate privacy rights. Some companies in the US also posted anti-google glass signs in their buildings. Also, some countries like Russia and Ukraine have a ban on the use of spy gadgets that could capture pictures or record videos. Wearing Glass all day means exposure of Wi-Fi signals to the brain directly which was also a reason behind the failure of the glass.
Google Glass got a very little progress even after two years of its release. This lead to a confusion whether it was a complete product or it was still in its developing stage. The Google Glass has two basic functions: to quickly capture images and to have a feed of useful information from the internet a glance away. What are the most practical daily uses for these features? None. According to an article from business2community, the engineers behind the making of Google Glass were not sure about the purpose of google glass.
Due to all the criticisms and issues related to the glass, Google on 15th January 2015 announced that it will stop producing Google Glass.
Today when you visit the website of Google Glass it only says this “Thanks for exploring with us”. But seems like it was not a good exploration for the glass.
Reports say that Google has not completely shut down the project and is expected to launch a better version of Google Glass in 2017.
2. Project Ara
Project Ara was a modular smartphone project under development by Advanced Technology and Projects team within Motorola Mobility. But then Google bought Motorola. The main aim of this project was to create different hardware modules for the processor, display, battery and camera and the frame to which these modules were to be attached. Thus aiming to make the device upgradable to hardware changes and make it last longer. A nearly working prototype of Ara was launched at Google I/O 2014, but the prototype froze while booting. At Google I/O 2016 they showed the “developer edition” of Ara.
Google announced to launch developer version of Ara in the fourth quarter of 2016 but reports from Reuters say that the manufacturing of frame was cancelled. An article from VentureBeat states, “The pace and scale of contracting that we did all of a sudden really slowed down [after the acquisition],” said one source. Also the project lost two of its leader, which lead to slow the face of the project but Ara got enthusiasm back in 2015 after a little fall-back but then Google created a parent company Alphabet to split most of Google’s wild bets, like internet balloons and smart thermostats, into separate companies, but ATAP(Advanced Technology and Projects group) stayed with Google. And again the leader of Ara was not seen and there was a leadership vacuum and the whole team was left alone.
Due to lack of leadership and transferring of powers of ownership from Motorola to Google, somewhere in all of these Project Ara couldn’t achieve the goal it was started for. Finally, the end of Project Ara was announced on 2nd September 2015.
Dave Hakkens from Phonebloks says, “The politically correct answer is that they are doing a big cleanup in all their hardware products. Slimming down projects to reorganise the company’s structure.”
3. Samsung Youm Foldable Display
Samsung at Consumer Electronic Show 2013 in Las Vegas showed a prototype of the flexible display screen with the brand name ‘Youm’. Here is the video from CES 2013 showing the prototype.
Article from The Verge says that it was not a phone it was just a touch display as it lacked Operating System, Camera and pretty much everything a phone has.
Another article from DroidLife said that the prototype was 5 inch OLED display and had a resolution of 720p that roll up and can be retraced.
Also at CES 2014 sources say that Samsung again showed up the bendable prototype to VIP Attendees. At an investor event in November 2014 Samsung Display, VP Lee Chang-hoon revealed more plans on Flexible display.
- Samsung Executive promised to launch the device in the last quarter of 2015 but why didn’t it make it? It’s tough to use a touch screen if it bends away from your finger. Flexible OLED screens have been demonstrated for years, but the OLED chemicals are extremely sensitive to oxygen, so they need to be completely sealed off from the air. Volume production of flexible displays that remain airtight has so far not been achieved. Samsung’s screens aren’t yet flexible enough to fold, just bend.
4. Microsoft Zune
Microsoft’s Zune was launched in November 2006. The world’s largest software company believed that it could compete with the Apple iPod, which had been on the market since 2001 and dominated the multimedia player and music download business around the world. Apple had sold well over 100 million iPods when the Zune was launched. Microsoft was able to get the four largest music labels to sign licensing agreements with the company.
The first gen Zune device was made by Microsoft in close cooperation with Toshiba some of its features were appreciated but it was made a joke by tech reviewers because of its bulky size and colour. CNET said that “First generation Microsoft Zune was a high-profile underdog alternative to Apple’s iPod”.
Second generation Zune was developed by Flextronics and it introduced touch sensitive pad of the shape of squircle. The new Zune also rivalled the Apple iPod in terms of performance and build but as a flagship device, it was obsolete before even it came in the hands of customers.
Third generation Zune devices were made by XNA in 2008 and it allowed developers to create a game for the Zune device. In the summer of 2009, nearly two years after the debut of the iPod touch, the Zune HD arrived. It was thin and well-designed and felt solid as a tank in your hand. It had impressive NVIDIA Tegra-powered guts. And a multitouch display to go with a solid, if not quite amazing, web browser. But where were the apps? With Apple iPod Touch available in the market which was domination the portable music industry due to which Zune couldn’t increase its sales. Apple iPod was having a simple design and ability to run apps which attracted more public than Zune.
Microsoft was trying hard to make Zune stay in the market by partnering with United Airlines in 2010 by offering in-flight audio, also making Zune services available to play on a web browser. The ability to buy songs over the internet from Zune Marketplace was also introduced to the Zune lineup. To promote this Microsoft partnered with Wayport to allow Zune devices to access its network across 10000 hotspots including McDonald stores also.
On March 15, 2011, Microsoft shut down the R&D of new Zune devices and software while the existing models will be still available in the market. And at last in October 2011 Microsoft completely shut down the production of Zune and discontinued the product Zune.
5. Nintendo Virtual Boy
On August 21, 1995, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy in North America. The stilt-legged tabletop gaming console, which offered a unique red stereoscopic 3D display, attempted to ride a wave of popular interest in virtual reality. It was a risky, innovative gamble for Nintendo that didn’t pay off, leaving many to wonder why it existed in the first place.
Development of the Virtual Boy lasted four years and began originally under the project name of VR32. It also built a factory in China to be used exclusively for Virtual Boy manufacturing. Over the course of development, the console technology was down-scaled due to high costs and health concerns. Furthermore, an increasing amount of company resources were being re-allocated to Nintendo 64 development. The console was pushed to market in an unfinished state in 1995 to focus on Nintendo 64 development.
The Virtual Boy was panned by critics and was a commercial failure. Its failure has been cited as due to its high price, monochrome display, the 3D images produced were only hues of red and black instead of full-colour graphics, lack of true portability, health concerns, and low-quality games. Its negative reception was unaffected by continued price drops. 3D technology in video game consoles re-emerged in later years to more success, including in Nintendo’s own 3DS handheld console.
Read more on the details of Nintendo Virtual Boy.
6. Microsoft SPOT
When did you know came to know about smartwatches? I guess when Android Wear and Apple Watch game into the market. But it was actually Microsoft who first launched a smartwatch back in 2004. Tissot was one of the manufacturers of Microsoft SPOT.
It was launched at a time when the first generation of smartphones was just starting to gain traction amongst the general population, the watch was supposed to offer information at a glance where other devices would have required more immersion and interaction. The SPOT Watch had a monochrome 90×126 pixel screen. This was combined with the small screen size which meant the watch could display only a very limited amount of information on its screen.
The price was also an issue. At launch, SPOT Watch models ranged up to $300, a steep price to pay for something that wasn’t able to do anything contemporary smartphones couldn’t do. It was also quite bulky, complaints raised about its size and poor fit compared to conventional watches. The relatively short battery life also proved problematic. It was advertised as being able to operate for three days on a full charge, but that was highly dependent on the amount and type of usage the watch was put through. Some users found that duration simply inadequate, and the necessity of having to regularly charge the watch too inconvenient. Finally, there was the data network that SPOT smart watches operated on. Instead of opting for standardised wireless communications protocols.
Finally, in 2008 Microsoft ended the production of SPOT Watches.