Dead Products' Society: 10 Technologies Laid To Rest In 20111:15 PM EST Thu. Dec. 01, 2011
From defunct tablets to scuttled software, here’s a look at 10 major products that were put out to pasture in 2011 by companies such as HP, Google and Cisco.
This is the big one. The HP TouchPad is more than just a failed attempt to make an iPad killer (let's face it – there are plenty of those out there). It's also a symbol of HP's lost year -- a chaotic and confusing period that saw unwelcomed strategic shifts, questionable decisions, and some big management changes.
HP made the shocking announcement in August that it would discontinue the TouchPad, less than two months after the eagerly-awaited and heavily-hyped WebOS tablet was launched. The TouchPad went on a fire sale, and the tablet sold so well (at heavily discounted prices, of course) that HP announced the TouchPad would see "one last run" of production to meet demand, leading to speculation that the device wouldn't be killed off after all.
But the TouchPad was cancelled, along with all other WebOS mobile devices. And now the future of the WebOS platform, which HP received after paying $1.2 billion for last year, is looking pretty bleak.
When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009, one of the assets of the deal was Sun's OpenOffice.org software. Adding the open-source office suite to Oracle's already-rich software portfolio looked like a win-win scenario at first. But OpenOffice.org fell to the wayside under Oracle's ownership, which led to community developers splitting off from OpenOffice.org and creating their own spin-off suite, LibreOffice, and development group, called The Document Foundation, in 2010.
With Oracle's lack of support evident and a competing product on hand in LibreOffice, Oracle made the predictable decision to stop commercial development of OpenOffice.org . While OpenOffice.org isn't totally dead – Oracle submitted the code to the Apache Software Foundation for future open source projects – the commercial product is finished.
The software giant pitched the Zune digital media player in 2006 as an iPod killer, and even though the device earned positive reviews, Microsoft was far too late to the party to catch up with Apple's dominant market position.
While rumors of the Zune's demise had been swirling for some time, despite Microsoft's repeated denials, the company announced in October that it would cease production of all Zune hardware. Microsoft will continue to support the Zune software platform for Windows Phone devices, but the Zune player experiment proves that even the mighty Microsoft can't launch a product five years late and hope to supplant the market leader.
Just one of Google's many cancelled products this year, Wave was indicative of the growing pains the company is experiencing as it tries to expand beyond its dominant Internet search presence. Wave was an innovative product -- a real-time collaboration platform that appeared to combine instant messaging, e-mail and social media in one product.
But Wave's problem was that it seemed to offer so much that users didn't know exactly what to use it for, and Google failed to effectively communicate the value of the product. The company also failed to tie Wave together with other products like Google Apps to form a cohesive ecosystem. As a result, Wave crashed; Google announced last month that all Wave development had stopped and the product code would be handed over to the Apache Software Foundation (joining Oracle's OpenOffice.Org).
Google's ill-fated social networking experiment was pegged as the search giant's answer to Facebook and Twitter, but a clunky roll out of the service, highlighted by a lack of privacy settings, marred Google Buzz from the start.
Less than two weeks after Buzz launched, Google was hit with a class action lawsuit over privacy concerns. More trouble followed Google as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint over privacy concerns. Google eventually scuttled Buzz to focus on Google+, the company's latest social networking attempt.
When Cisco announced in 2009 that it would pay nearly $600 million for Pure Digital, many, including CRN, asked why Cisco was buying the Flip camera maker?
At the time, the networking giant was exploring "adjacencies" and aggressively expanding into new markets like television set-top boxes and other consumer-focused areas. Cisco hoped that Flip, a market leading brand in the digital camcorder market, would help take the company's consumer business to new heights.
That didn't happen. In fact, pretty much the opposite happened. Cisco spread itself too thin and became unfocused, which required CEO John Chambers to undertake a painful restructuring and workforce reduction to improve profitability. And one of the first casualties of that restructuring was Flip; Cisco decided to shut down the Flip product line rather than sell the technology or perhaps spin the business off.
Cisco has made a major collaboration push in recent years, but one effort that didn't make the cut for the networking giant was Cisco Mail. The hosted e-mail product was first introduced in 2009, and the company believed Cisco Mail would be a viable competitor to other corporate e-mail platforms like Google Gmail, IBM's Lotus Notes, and other cloud-based offerings.
While Cisco's hosted e-mail offering received positive feedback, the company said the interest level wasn't high enough to move forward. "Customer feedback indicates that email is a mature and commoditized communications tool for them, not a strategic collaboration investment area," the company wrote on its Cisco Mail Web site.
As a result, Cisco Mail was discontinued in February.
In early 2010, Intel and Nokia teamed up to create an open-source mobile operating system, dubbed MeeGo, that could compete with another open-source mobile OS, called Android.
But many things changed since that time. First, the fast-growing Android platform gained even more market share. Then, Nokia struck an alliance with Microsoft to support Windows Phone 7, ditching MeeGo. While Intel claimed it would continue to support the OS for its Atom-based mobile devices, the chip maker finally threw in the towel this fall and officially dropped MeeGo.
Intel hasn't completely given up on its open-source mobile OS strategy -- the chip maker threw its support behind a new platform called Tizen, joining the Linux Foundation, LiMo Foundation and other vendors such as Samsung. Maybe the second effort will pay off for Intel -- but we'll keep a spot open on next year's Dead Products Society list just in case.
Released in the summer of 2010, Dell's first foray into the tablet market, the Dell Streak 5, was an odd product. At 5 inches, the touchscreen device doubled as both an extremely small Android-based tablet PC as well as an oversized smartphone. Dell, apparently, was trying to kill two birds with one stone.
But the company ended up missing on both. The Dell Streak 5 suffered from an obvious identity problem (smartphone? or tablet?) as well as a price tag that was too close to full-sized tablets. About a year after it launched, the Dell Streak 5 was officially discontinued. Dell hasn't given up on tablets completely; the company still offers the larger Dell Streak 7 and has rolled out a Dell Streak 10 in China. But the 5 has flamed out.
Computer peripheral maker Logitech made a big bet on Google TV. Hoping get a first-mover advantage in Google's smart TV technology, Logitech introduced the its Revue in 2010, hoping the next-generation set-top box with Internet video support would be a big hit.
It wasn't. Logitech expected the Revue to be a big seller for the holiday season last year, but the product bombed. The Revue's failure was one of several miscues that caused Logitech President and CEO Gerald Quindlen to step down in July. In the end, the Revue cost Logitech more than $100 million in operating profits, leading to the company shutting down the Revue for good. Acting Logitech President and CEO Guerrino De Luca recently described the company's Google TV experiment "a big mistake" that "cost us dearly." While De Luca said he still believes in Google TV, he said Logitech bet too much on the technology with the idea that the market would take off overnight – which it obviously didn't.