Technology has a knack for moving forward by leaps and bounds. At the start of the 21st century a flip phone with an outward caller ID display was the top of the line. In 2007 Apple introduced the one of the first smartphones, the iPhone. Now, smartphones with big, bright screens and virtual keyboards have made flip phones look like ancient fossils of a bygone era.
While some technological leaps are successful, others are flops that force us to revisit technological movements before adapting and growing. Some of the world’s biggest tech companies are responsible for tech flops, while others fall somewhat at our own feet for the decisions we’ve made. The following are three big technology stumbles we’ve seen grow from on the other side:
Software, Hardware developers reaching too far
It can be hard for companies to sit on the sidelines when they see a competitor cashing in on the latest trend, but sometimes waiting on the sidelines is better than losing millions with a failed project. Apple Inc. has long been hailed as a brilliant developer of hardware, with its most recent examples being the iPhone and iPad. Apple’s forays into competing with software giants like Microsoft have been much less successful for Apple though.
What Apple learned was that it should focus on its impressive array of hardware and continue to improve those offerings. Thanks to that clear focus, we now have the iPhone 4S and a third generation iPad. Apple is the clear leader in the smartphone market and dominates the tablet market it created with the iPad.
Google is also a good example. We’re all familiar with Google’s Android OS on competing smartphones and of course, Google.com. The company’s attempts to challenge Apple in the hardware department however were much less successful. In an attempt to counter the iPhone, Google tried its hands at hardware by producing the Nexus One smartphone. The Nexus One was a colossal flop selling just 135,000 devices before being axed within months of its release.
The lesson was learned though, and Google dug deep to keep improving their Android OS to challenge Apple’s iOS, providing a platform for smartphones looking to challenge the iPhone. Android OS is now the main challenger to the iPhone and has matched the Apple device in sales and market share.
3D technology, it sounds like a great entertainment experience, doesn’t it? In the 21st century the technology became increasingly popular in Hollywood with more and more movies hitting theaters in 3D. So it was only natural that people would want this at home right?
Wrong. 3D televisions were introduced in 2010 but were dead in the water as soon as they hit the marketplace. The main problem for 3D television was the cumbersome and less than attractive glasses required in order to enjoy the technology in your own home. Worse yet, there was the cost of the set itself, around $4,000 on average, and the expense of purchasing extra glasses for individuals to watch in your home. Extra glasses cost around $100 a piece, just to watch television.
Like the clever businesses they are, tech giants adjusted appropriately. Some shifted focus to the new LED technology and perfected the super crisp, high resolution technology. Others worked on the cumbersome glasses associated with 3D TVs, creating less expensive and more stylish glasses for in-home 3D viewing.
Lastly, there was the flop of social networking and online privacy. Social networking is dominated by Facebook with some 500 million members worldwide, and everyday millions type out their every thought and opinion online while conversing with friends over the social networking site. Unfortunately, Facebook has suffered a number of privacy lapses in recent years including one incident that saw private messages displayed on public pages.
Social networking sites and users alike learned a critical lesson here. As users we’ve learned, by in large, to think twice before sending our thoughts and opinions onto Internet. For social networking sites, two lessons were learned. First, they learned to keep a closer eye on security controls and fewer lapses have occurred since 2010. Second, social networks learned to keep users in the loop on security measures and give them more control over their own security measures.
Technology is a great thing, and continuing advancements bring joy and ease to our lives. Every leap forward comes with a few missteps along the way however. The good companies learn from them and grow; the bad ones pay a price.
==== About the Author ====
Guest post contributed by Daniel Kimball, for Dell.com. Daniel has worked in the PC business for more than 20 years. He writes extensively about computers, laptops for personal use, web browsers and general technology topics. He’s basically a self confessed tech geek.