Sometimes new ideas do not correspond to the current scientific and technological progress, as a result of which many very ambitious projects remain unrealized. For example, Microsoft promoted the concept of tablets and smartwatches long before the advent of iPad and Apple Watch, but the market was not technically ready for such innovations, and Steve's attempt Ballmer to go down in the history of the mobile industry was unsuccessful.
Other promising developments did not gain much popularity for more banal reasons – because of high competition from existing products, mistakes of marketers, or because of the conservatism of users who do not want to switch to new devices that are unusual for them.
General Motors EV1
Immortalized in the film 'Who Killed the Electric Car', the General Motors EV1 is based on a 1990 concept for electric vehicles. It went on sale in 1996, but production was phased out after just three years.
One of the reasons was the cancellation of tougher laws, which led to the release of GM EV1. More specifically, according to these same laws, companies were supposed to sell cars with zero emissions in California (and this is, for a minute, the third largest state). Of course, the automakers rebelled, hired the best lawyers and got the tough new rules abolished.
Meanwhile, General Motors realized that electric cars had become a huge money pit for them. As a result, the unprofitable and at that time useless program was mothballed in 2002, and electric cars that were not sold and returned by customers were compressed.
Nintendo Power Glove and Virtual Boy
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PS VR – they all literally stand on the shoulders of Mario: although devices for consuming content in virtual reality began to appear only in recent years, back in 1989 Nintendo introduced the Power Glove and VR controller -Glasses Virtual Boy in 1995.
Power Glove did not get much success – at least because only 2 games were created for this platform, and sales did not even reach 100,000 units in the United States (on the other hand, given such a small number of games, one hundred thousand is not so bad result). In addition to the small number of titles, the commercial failure of the devices was due to the too high cost, limited edition and unassuming design.
In 99% of cases, entire armies of specialists have been fighting for years to create revolutionary technologies with huge costs for research and testing of new products, and sometimes it is different: in 1985, engineer Apple Bill Atkinson took a light drug in a park near his at home and 'saw' a project of a system similar to the Internet in its present form. Bill immediately began work on this project, calling it HyperCard. As a result, HyperCard was presented at the MacWorld'87 summer conference. The essence of this software was to create a unique communication platform that allows you to develop programs without programming skills, work with multimedia content and various documents.
In practice, the HyperCard was a card that could contain text, graphics, or interactive elements. One of the main functions of these elements was the transition to other cards, which, in turn, allowed the transition to other cards. With a structure similar to the current Network, HyperCard did not provide access to the global community, that is, it was not possible to share information with other users. A new software product Apple was distributed free of charge with every Mac. Despite all its shortcomings, Atkinson's development became very popular and won the hearts of millions of customers, but HyperCard never found a specific target user. Perhaps because of this, or perhaps because the company saw HyperCard as a competitor to its own software, such an ambitious project was eventually closed. However, it cannot be denied that HyperCard has had a huge impact on the Internet that we use today.
This is another attempt Apple to get ahead of their time and give users what they didn't really need at that time. More than a decade before iPad, Newton appeared, providing some decent processing power in a relatively portable form factor. According to some analysts, this device was even able to significantly reduce Mac sales.
At the time it was an excellent device, but it was too expensive, and its main feature – handwriting recognition – did not work as well as it was shown in the advertisement, it is not surprising that sales were, to put it mildly, very weak. When Steve Jobs took over as CEO in 1997 Apple, Newton was one of the first products to be 'killed' by the returning CEO.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Microsoft had 2 devices that the market was not ready for. Let's start with the clock. 11 years before the release of Apple Watch, Redmondians presented their smartwatch Microsoft SPOT, but two years later, wearable electronics from Microsoft were discontinued.
The problems of this device were elementary – a combination of price, lack of performance and a dubious decision to create a proprietary FM radio network instead of using existing mobile communication technologies.
Quite often, the cause of failure Microsoft is the banal overpricing of your own products before they appear on sale. This was the case with the aforementioned watch, but the tablet did not hit the market at all. The first mention Microsoft Courier dates back to 2008, and in 2010 the project was closed.
It would seem that a promising device with a good design and extensive functionality was doomed to success. Why did Microsoft 'put in reverse gear'? As it later became known, the stumbling block was the disagreement within the corporation. In a nutshell, when Bill Gates learned that the Courier would not have the proprietary Office software (accounting for a significant share of the profits Microsoft), he stopped developing the dual-screen tablet. On the other hand, it cannot be said that Microsoft forgot about the tablet market – the latest versions Windows were created with an eye on these devices.
In 99% of cases Apple he collects all the laurels for the invention of a modern smartphone, but in the same 99% everyone forgets about Palm Pre. It was an excellent rival to the Apple device: the webOS operating system had a stylish design and high speed, and the smartphone itself had both a touch screen and a physical keyboard. It was also the world's first wireless charging smartphone!
The device was often compared to the iPhone 3GS, and at first even skeptical journalists liked it. However, over time, the Palm Pre began to experience hardware problems due to poor assembly – a fragile display, faulty headphone jacks, broken keys. Because of this, at the end of 2009, sales dropped sharply, the number of third-party application developers decreased (by that time, the competitive iPhone 3GS had more than 100 thousand applications). Then Palm began to release updates to the operating system less and less, and those that came out differed only in minor changes.
Introduced in 1981, the Xerox 8010 (also known as the Xerox Star) is the defining step that defined the look of all modern PCs. This computer had a graphical interface, a two-button mouse, made it possible to edit documents in real time (See-What-What-You-Do Concept) and connected to the Network via Ethernet.
But the price tag was appropriate: at the start of sales, Xerox Star cost $ 16,500, which in terms of today's exchange rate would be about 43 thousand! The company clearly took the wrong course, showing other giants – primarily Apple and Microsoft – how not to do it, they learned the lesson, thanks to which they are still developing operating systems today. all based on the same Xerox interface.
Sony's world famous robot dog was marketed as an entertainment robot and sold from 1999 to 2006, after which it was inducted into the Carnegie Mellon University Hall of Fame as 'the most sophisticated product ever offered in the consumer robot market'.
Sony looked into the future, but, unfortunately, for a company experiencing significant financial difficulties, this was not enough: the robot dog was too difficult to manufacture, which made Sony Aibo an unprofitable robot from the beginning. Not the least role was played by the rather high cost – over the 7 years of its existence, Aibo sold only 150,000 pieces.
The company stopped supporting the device entirely in 2014 when the last official repair center for Aibo was closed, but Sony's robotic dog repair and refurbishment business is thriving in Japan as many Japanese treat Aibo like a living pet.
And the article ends with the brainchild of Soviet engineers – the first Soviet laptop 'Electronics MS-1504'. The device appeared in 1991, and by today's standards it is difficult to call it a laptop – the device had far from the best ergonomics, a small screen with a resolution of 640 × 200 pixels and at the same time weighed 4.5 kg (with batteries). Technical characteristics of the MS-1504 included 16 bit processor KR1834VM86, 640 KB of RAM, 2 floppy drives 3.5 “and a built-in 3.5” floppy disk for data storage.
Why didn't this device 'take off'? Yes, it was created in our country, but it was too inconvenient and with outdated components, and it was easier for enthusiasts of that time to get better quality options from abroad than to put up with these shortcomings.
Сегодня практически все неудачи производителей цифровой техники случаются либо из-за попытки сэкономить на производстве, либо из-за попытки сэкономить на R&D с целью поскорее выпустить новое устройство в продажу. In a word, if 20-30 years ago engineers did not have the opportunity to implement this or that functionality (fast Internet with wide coverage, high-performance hardware), then only they themselves are to blame for the failures of modern vendors.