Global TV Tech Buzz: Technology Turkeys

With Thanksgiving this weekend, families are gathering around the horn of plenty for a feast to celebrate the harvest season. This week Tech Buzz gets into the spirit with a look at some of the biggest tech turkeys of recent memory:

While the iPad has been a huge success for Apple, legions of others have tried and failed to crack the market. Two of the biggest failures on this list belong to RIM and HP.

HP pulled the plug on their TouchPad just 7 weeks after launch in the summer of 2011. The company spent $1.2B on the WebOS platform and then pulled the plug to focus on other divisions instead of chasing Apple. The TouchPad price was dropped to $99 and it immediately became a best seller, momentarily giving HP a 17% tablet marketshare.

RIM’s Playbook has been a massive disaster too. The buttonless interface was innovative, but it lacked some key features out of the box namely email. It has been nearly 2 years since the original Playbook was unveiled, and version 2 is still stuck behind the BlackBerry 10 operating system delays. Even with price discounting, the device hasn’t caught any traction. RIM’s window to salvage the entire company is closing quickly, and this failure is just one on a very long list of reasons.

As high definition moved to the home, two competing file formats went head-to-head to become the industry standard. HD DVD and BluRay each had their backers but movie studios weren’t keen on producing content in two formats.

When this battle was last fought between Beta and VHS, the victory was predicted by the the porn industry. This time, however, porn was an early backer of HD DVD, a strategy that didn’t pay off.

In the end BluRay won the coin flip when Toshiba pulled out of HD-DVD in 2008, soon followed by WalMart‘s retreat from the format. But has it been a victory worth winning? Netflix has virtually killed the physical media home movie market.

I’m guessing you have no idea what this is. Apple unveiled Ping in 2010 as a social network for music. It was meant to help people discover new music, but with no inherent plug-in to other social networks, it couldn’t gain traction. Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to,” Steve Jobs told Kara Swisher at All Things D. So there was no synergy and Ping was just another social network. Ping’s plug was pulled last week.

How bad are Apple Maps? Tim Cook issued an apology a week after launch, admitted the product wasn’t ready for prime time and actually recommended people use the web based maps from Google, Nokia, and Bing on their iPhones. The CEO of Apple actually recommended users switch to Google. Steve Jobs is definitely dead.

This is a turkey on our list because of the promise the device was given at it’s unveiling. It was hailed in 2001 to “be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy,” by inventor Dean Kamen. Instead it’s become a punchline for Mall Cops. If you have ever ridden a Segway, you will sing it’s praises. It is a fun machine, and a great way to get around. Numerous tour operators offer Segway tours of old cities, and it’s a perfect tourist tool. For meter maids, mall cops, and others who have to work a beat it’s an easy way to get around – just not the revolutionary society changer it was promised to be.

How bad was Windows Vista? They had to include as part of the operating system, a function that allowed users to revert back to Windows XP. The reviews came fast and swift that the much-delayed OS was too slow, too hard to manage, and one to be avoided. The Vista debacle seemed to dovetail right along the rise of Apple with the iPod, iPhone and it’s culture of cool. Mac sales could look at Vista as one of the reasons it took off.

The next few weeks will prove interesting for Microsoft, Windows 8 will be released in a few weeks and it promises a complete overhaul of how we interact with the desktop.

Just as everyone is now taking shots at the iPhone and iPad, the iPod was a target of imitators years earlier. Microsoft was late to the music player party when, in November 2006, it unveiled the Zune some 5 years after Apple gave birth to iPod. Bogged down with DRM, and an inability to interface with iTunes, Zune could never get going. Even an all you can eat subscription model that loaded the Zune with millions of songs couldn’t save it and it was killed this past summer.

Honorable Mentions to Google Wave, Motorola Xoom, Windows Phone

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