3 Biggest Disappointments in Tech of 2010

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Lots of great stuff happened in the tech world in 2010, but for every success like the iPad, Instagr.am and Roku, there was also a major disappointment along the way. The bigger the hype, the greater the disappointment, of course, so this list features the top three products and events in 2010 that, in my view, were the biggest letdowns.

Google Closes Wave

It’s no secret that Wave never caught on with the masses, even though it was among the most hyped products of 2009 and 2010. The fact that the team needed 1 hour and 20 minutes just to explain the concept at the introduction in early 2009 should have made a few alarm bells ring.

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Most people never understood why they should use Wave and what they could do with it. While I always had great hopes for it (and even used it for live blogging at one point), in the end I had to concede that it was just too complicated and different for most people. Instead of giving the Wave team a chance to succeed and hone its product, though, Google decided to shut it down just a few months after opening it up for general use. Google always insisted that the Wave protocol and ecosystem was what it was really interested in, so maybe we’ll see some action on that front in the future.

Wave’s lead developer Lars Rasmussen is now at Facebook and the rest of the team is working on other projects. Some remnants of Wave are now available in Google Shared Spaces, but it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a return of Wave as a fully featured communications platform. Shame.

Google Buzz Doesn’t Catch On

Google launched Buzz, its latest and greatest social initiative in early February and immediately got lots of bad press thanks to major privacy issues that Google’s should have noticed long before it launched it. While Buzz looked like it could recapture some of FriendFeed‘s greatness (after all, it looks and works almost exactly like FriendFeed did before Facebook bought it and its developers moved on to bigger and better things), it’s mostly a wasteland today. Even though Google pushed it into millions of Gmail inboxes, it’s hard to find any real interactions on Buzz today. Instead of going to Buzz, most people just share their links and thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

Sadly, Google never quite figured out how to move Buzz to the next level. While I don’t think the company will abandon it the way it dropped Wave like a hot potato, it remains to be seen for how long Buzz will remain in Gmail. Maybe Google’s next social initiative can breathe new life into Buzz, but I highly doubt it at this point.

Apple’s Ping Fizzles

Apple isn’t known for getting “social” right, but just like Google pushed Buzz into millions of inboxes, Apple baked Ping right into iTunes, the world’s most popular (though not always loved) music management software. Still, after botching the launch by not asking Facebook if it was okay to use its API to connect millions of iTunes users and promptly having to shut that system down, Ping never quite recovered. Without the Facebook integration, users had to hunt their friends down by their email addresses and few people ever bothered to do so.

Not being able to share songs that were already in your library didn’t make it any more useful. For something that bills itself as a “social network for music,” Ping just isn’t social enough.

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In its latest version, Ping now makes it easier to share songs from your existing library and you can now import your Twitter friends, share playlists and tweet your “likes” out to the world. Still, even with these new features, NPR rightly called Ping one of the “worst ideas of 2010” and I couldn’t agree more.

When was the last time you even looked at Ping?

What’s On Your List?

So that’s my list for 2010? What’s on your list? What were the apps and services that disappointed you the most? Flipboard, which looks cool but isn’t that useful? The iPad, because it’s just a giant iPhone? Windows Phone? Android tablets?

Let us know in the comments?

Frederic Lardinois founded SiliconFilter in 2011. Before starting this site, he wrote about 1,500 articles for ReadWriteWeb. His areas of interest are consumer web and mobile apps, as well as Internet-connected devices like cars, smart sensors and toasters. You can reach him at [email protected]

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