2007 Top Ten: Techs That Flopped

Not everything goes as planned in the world of communications. And, while we look ahead to opportunities in 2008, it's also fun to look back at some of the slips and spills of 2007. Here's our list of technology flops from the past year:

10. Tablet PCs
Two of the biggest cellphone makers, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Palm Inc. , tried to break into this market and ended up falling flat on their faces. Palm ditched its Foleo device only months after initially promoting it as a groundbreaking new product. (See Palm Cans Foleo.)

Nokia, meanwhile, in what some analysts called a sign of weakness, tried to jumpstart sales of its high-end business phones by going around the traditional distribution channels of cellphone carriers and selling them directly to consumers. (See Nokia Tries to Unlock US Market.)

In both cases, tablet PCs were a bitter pill to swallow.

9. Apple TV
This set-top box was unveiled in January by Steve Jobs during the same presentation as the iPhone. But, unlike the iPhone, we've hardly heard from the Apple TV since. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) hasn't released any data on how many units it has sold, and, when pressed for that information by an analyst during an earnings call this year, CFO David Oppenheimer replied that they do not disclose those figures.

Funny, though, how the company is never shy to share how many computers and iPods it has sold. Apple also never holds back on how much it markets its products, and we hardly ever see any advertising anymore for the Apple TV. Business Week reported this year that the profit margins for the Apple TV are coming in at around 20 percent -- a far cry from Apple's usual benchmark of 50 percent.

So Apple clearly deserves credit for defining a new category of devices here, but we don't think this one's a hit. Not this year, anyway.

8. Ooma
ooma Inc. is a VOIP service that takes aim at consumers who are concerned about lowering their phone bills. So, for the penny pincher, it offers a $400 device (soon to be $600) with the benefit being that you don't pay for any calls. We'll pause and let that sink in. (See Ooma Takes Aim With VOIP Device.)

Ooma says that at this time, they "are not breaking out their units sold metrics." There's probably not a lot to break out. One of the things it is relying on for success is the ability to sell units on a large scale so that it can eliminate paying local phone companies call termination fees. Again, they get points for being innovative, but this little ditty definitely didn't top the charts in 2007. (See 2007 Top Ten 20! Bad Company Names.)

7. Italian soccer
A little off topic, but what the heck? Much has been made over the epidemic of flopping that has overtaken the European soccer scene in recent years. The issue was front and center during the 2006 World Cup when it seemed players were hitting the turf wracked with pain after replays showed little or no contact with an opposing player.

Identifying the source of the problem is difficult, but I work with a lot of English soccer nuts who insist it was those "bloody Italians who started it," so we're going to go with that and lay the blame square on their hairy shoulders.

6. Unidirectional OpenCable Receiver (OCUR)
The idea: allow PCs with cablecard slots to display digital cable video including premium content like HBO. Sounds kinda cool. But there has been no real uptake for the product so far, and the reviews have been less than stellar. The result has been a cable service call nightmare -- and calling your cable company wasn't much fun in the first place, right? (See Sony HD-PC Slots in CableCARD .)

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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:50:28 PM
re: 2007 Top Ten: Techs That Flopped Note the "rebuttal" noted here:

It smacks of Apple cultism, but the guy may have a point.
tsat 12/5/2012 | 3:50:27 PM
re: 2007 Top Ten: Techs That Flopped
Apple TV really needs a cable card slot for it go anywhere. But even then, their software is a long ways from Tivo. Apple does know how to make a slick UI, lets see if they really want to invest in Apple TV's future by putting some of those good development resources that made the iPhone on it.

burgerandchips 12/5/2012 | 2:56:54 PM
re: 2007 Top Ten: Techs That Flopped You never fail you only learn!

he he. See you in 2008.
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