Tech That Never Took Off: 10 Great Ideas That Ultimately Failed

It's tough out there in the tech world. As CES wrapped up in Las Vegas yesterday, there were some clear winners and not just a few losers for the future of tech. But, even the predictions of the many can be wrong. Remember (the Nexus Q?) Exactly.
We collected 10 of the most-hyped gadgets and services from the last five years — from iTunes Ping to Twitter's flat-lining music app — that haven't performed as hotly as expected. That's not to say all of them are incapable of being revived. (The Microsoft Kin might be dead and buried, but there's hope for the Ouya.) As of right now, however, they certainly aren't winning the market.
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Click through to see what made the ignominious cut. And, sorry in advance if you own any of them.
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Photo: Courtesy of Apple.
iTunes Ping

Apple's attempt to join its music-store juggernaut iTunes with a social network wasn't entirely ill-conceived. Users and interest for a new way to share music were both there. Even Lady Gaga's endorsement got things off to a good start, with about a million users using Ping at its launch. It quickly turned into spam central, however, with fake-account holders posting shady links all over the network. Ultimately, Apple decided to kill Ping in 2012 and rereleased a new version of iTunes with Facebook and Twitter integration.
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Photo: Courtesy of HD DVD.
HD DVDs

HD DVD went the way of the LaserDisc, MiniDisc, Betamax, and other victims of the ongoing media-format wars. It was supposed to replace standard DVDs, in the same way that HD TVs took over. The problem: Blu-Ray. Both formats had advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately it was alliances by tech and media companies to back Blu-Ray that put the nail in HD DVD's coffin, which was sealed in 2008.
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Photo: Courtesy of LG.
3-D TV

While 3-D TV has certainly not gone away, it's also never really caught on. With a limited amount of programming available, headache-inducing glasses, and a generally high cost for the hardware, 3-D TVs were initially snapped up by early adopter types. But, the mass market didn't follow in the way that manufacturers had hoped. The next wave may be with autostereoscopic screens (glasses-free 3-D), but the technology still needs to catch up before we expect to see it in homes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Acer.
Netbooks

You can't really blame the manufacturers for the failure of netbooks. After all, they thought they were introducing the affordable lightweight alternative to a typical laptop that was more of a way to connect to the Internet than to do any real computing. Little did they know that Steve Jobs would introduce the iPad in 2010, only a couple years after the first netbook models were introduced. Other companies quickly saw the appeal of the tablet computer and began working on their own, abandoning the netbook as the needless intermediary device between computer and tablet.
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Photo: Courtesy of Microsoft.
Microsoft Kin

The Kin was basically DOA. Microsoft's mobile phone, aimed at social-media-savvy teens and 20somethings, was hyped for months as an iPhone killer before it debuted. It had barely any features, though: no GPS, no app store or third-party apps, no calendar, and no messaging platform. Verizon halted its sales of the device only two months after launch. Microsoft went back to the drawing board and relaunched a cheaper Kin late in 2010, but all models were finally killed in 2011 due to poor sales.
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Photo: Courtesy of Microsoft.
Microsoft Zune

Apple's longtime rival understandably wanted to compete the iPod, which birthed both a new generation of devices and the mobile era for Apple. Microsoft's Zune, however, never even came close. It was launched in 2006, five years after the iPod was introduced. Microsoft tried to differentiate its approach, too, by making deals with music labels, including preloaded music and video, and focusing on the social aspects of sharing music. Still, that never managed to boost sales high enough to compete with the iPod, and Microsoft retired the media player in 2011.
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Photo: Courtesy of Google.
Google Buzz

Google's had some great wins, but also some spectacular misses. First came Google Wave, and nobody had any idea what they were supposed to do with it. Then there was Google Buzz, the company's first social network. It was plagued from the get-go by creepy algorithms that made users automatically follow one another and features that revealed potentially sensitive information, such as automatically publishing your exact location whenever you posted something from a mobile device. After several lawsuits and a boatload of criticism, Google shuttered Buzz in 2011.
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Photo: Courtesy of Microsoft.
Windows Phone

It was supposed to be an iPhone killer, and yet, the Windows Phone has never gained the market share it hoped for. The Windows Phone 7 was a terrific flop, with one especially thoughtful report declaring, "Our research shows that for many years, poor sales of Windows-based phones stem from a deep and stable lack of consumer interest for the product." Still, things are looking up with Windows Phone 8, which has overtaken BlackBerry for the first time and catching up with Android's rate of growth. Big-name apps like Vine and Spotify are now available on the phone, and Microsoft is reportedly in talks with Sony about producing a Windows Phone 8 handset this year.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ouya.
Ouya

Ouya was going to stick it to the corporate puppet-masters of the video game market by creating an indie console and a culture of openness, allowing its users to also be developers. It gained massive interest online, pulling in a staggering $8.5 million in Kickstarter funds. When it finally shipped, however, the reception was lukewarm. Reviewers complained about the construction of the controllers, poor graphics and interface, and general bugginess. Sales of both the consoles and the games were surprisingly high for a new platform at first, but have since stagnated. Still, all is not lost in the indie game-console world, as Steam took CES by storm.
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Photo: Courtesy of Twitter.
Twitter Music

It launched with a lot of fanfare earlier this year, but Twitter Music never really made a splash. The idea was to introduce Twitter users to new acts and to help them share their musical interests with their followers. It was kept separate from Twitter proper, though, and failed to gain interest with the masses. While still alive, it's barely kicking; rumors have swirled for months that Twitter will soon shut down the program and have a rethink on its music strategy.
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