Biggest Tech Failures of The Last 10+ Years

There are two surefire ways to immortalize your name in history: succeed in your stride toward greatness or, as many tech firms did in 2011, try out the faceplant.

Fresh in our memory are failed products like Blackberry PlayBook and HP’s TouchPad, PlayStation Network getting hacked, Microsoft’s Kin smartphones being taken out of circulation after just 48 days, AMD’s FX relaunch and Duke Nukem Forever. Those and a few others have served as inspiration for us to look back and revisit some of the biggest flops of the new millennium, which many people refer to as Microsoft’s worst OS ever.

Backing off plans to make Windows 98 the final OS before switching to the NT build, Microsoft shipped two more 9x-based platforms: Windows 98 SE (April ’99) and Windows Me (September ’00). The former was a newer version of Win98, while the latter was a strange interim release that came shortly after the venerable Windows 2000. I was shaky and had fewer features than the 98 and 2k, making it a hard sell and a terrible OS experience. Box.

With radically new features including a modem and a VMU memory card, the Dreamcast was successful when it was launched in 1998 and 1999. Sadly, this momentum quickly stalled with intense competition from the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, which, among other advantages, used DVD games instead of a proprietary format. Some two years later, a cracked Sega ceased production of its innovative console.

microsoft tablet pc

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates introduced the tablet PC in 2001 as the next major evolution of the personal computer. Microsoft’s vision was to offer a Windows XP-based slate or convertible laptop that included pen input, handwriting, and voice recognition functionality. Needless to say, it didn’t work very well and didn’t sell as a result either. The tablet PC was too bulky, the input was not intuitive, and the software lacked refinement, even today.

nokia n-gauge

In 2003, Nokia combined a lackluster gaming platform with a cumbersome cellphone and set its crosshairs on the Game Boy Advance. The N-Gauge’s vertical screen was tight, swapping games meant draining the battery and its cellphone was oriented sideways. Perhaps even more discouraging, it had fewer games than Nintendo’s handheld, while costing more than twice that of $300. In its first weeks, the device was sold 100 to 1 by the GBA.


Streaming is the present and future of video, but for the time being if you want to watch proper high-resolution media, you’ll have to bet your bets on the next generation of formats: Blu-ray or HD-DVD. Eventually, the former came out on top and HD-DVD quickly fell into oblivion (launched in 2006, died in 2008), leaving behind nearly a million obsolete players, including the popular Xbox 360 add-on unit.


Ultra-mobile PCs saw a few different iterations, from Sony’s sexy but impractical VAIO U to the equally impressive but still weird OQO UMPCs. Trumpeted as the next generation of pocketable Windows devices, UMPCs never gained mainstream adoption—not least because of their use of Vista. A few years later, the iPhone will prove that the smartphone is the real future of mobile.

palm folio

Palm had a mini-notebook in development for a few months before the Folio was cancelled. It had a lot in common with the first commercially successful netbook (Asus EE): small footprint, low price, as well as decent battery life and connectivity. On the other hand, the folio’s pending doom was written on the wall. For example, it would have relied entirely on a Treo smartphone to function (a la the BlackBerry PlayBook, which means a total failure). Despite those shortcomings, we believe Pam would have missed out big if she had taken her short-term project further. Netbooks were widely successful, with Asus selling hundreds of thousands of units in no time.

Windows Vista

After repeated setbacks, Windows Vista finally launched with a confusing array of six versions during the slow PC sales month of January. Ironically, part of the final delay was used to “crank up” Vista’s security, and tighter security became one of critics’ main complaints. There were also several software incompatibilities, various performance issues (gaming/file transfer/battery life), and it failed to deliver the promised features like WinFS.

DRM on PC Games

DRM has been cooking up for years but 2008 brought with it several controversial examples – most notably Spore, which used a modified version of SecuROM for online authentication and limited users to three installs. After being slammed with thousands of one-star Amazon reviews and two class-action suits, EA released a Securome-free copy on Steam in December ’08, but not before Spore became the most pirated game of the year.

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