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The Top Six Doomed Technologies

by bradiger   May 22, 2009 at 10:00AM  |  Views: 918

There’s no doubt that we’re living in the golden age of technology. In an era where innovation occurs at an exponential rate, and the buzz around culture’s latest and greatest can quickly become a deafening roar, it can be difficult to discern the cream from the crap. But some technologies just aren’t long for this world -- be it through fatal flaws or simply the process of evolution. Either way, these six technologies have been headed to the recycling bin since day one.

6. The Kindle


Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Kindle is an e-book reader sold by Amazon which allows you to buy digital books from Amazon, and read them then. So to clarify: I’m supposed to give Amazon almost $500 for a device which can then be used to buy digital books from Amazon?  What a sweet deal! I’ve been looking for another device to add to my daily bag ‘o tech gear, which will now include a MP3 player, a laptop, a cell phone…and a Kindle!

Or, I could just spend less than half of that on a 3G iPhone, then grab the Stanza program from the iTunes App Store (which is free) and start downloading digital books straight to my phone -- all while basically eliminating the need for those other devices in the process. Or, even more ironically, I could just get the Kindle app for the iPhone.

I mean, for five hundred bones, I could buy a pretty decent laptop or netbook which has about ten trillion times more functionality than a Kindle – including the ability to, you know, download and display text. And, at ten bucks a pop, the e-books aren’t really a bargain, either.

You really have to wonder what Amazon is thinking with this thing.

5. Satellite Radio


Source: Lee Celano/Getty Images

Satellite radio services have been around since the early part of this decade, starting with two major players, XM Radio and Sirius. With the steady decline in the quality of programming in the terrestrial radio sphere for the last several decades,  the concept of satellite sounds awesome: hundreds of channels, with CD-quality sound, no censorship, and options that touch on nearly every popular genre today. But satellite radio faces two major obstacles.

First, it's not free, and when you try to combine "radio" and "subscription fee" into the same sentence, in causes most people's minds to reel. Honestly, that's probably a legitimate reaction -- radio service has been free since radio broadcasting starts, so it's going to be a tough sell to convince people they should suddenly start paying the listen to music in their cars, regardless of the quality of service.

Secondly, MP3 players, and specifically Apple's iPod, began to pick up major steam around the same time, not only offering people whatever music they wanted in their car (be it through an AUX jack or a tape adaptor, etc), but with an iPod, you can listen to what you want, where you want, whenever you want. When all is said and done, satellite radio is still a one way conversation.

Not surprisingly, satellite radio has had some trouble gaining traction, and as result, XM Radio and Sirius decided to merge last year, after getting permission from their overlords at the Federal Communications Commission. Unfortunately, that really wasn't enough. Since satellite radio basically put all its chips into the automotive market, the recent economic downturn, as well as the resulting obliteration of auto sales, have many now considering the nation's only satellite radio broadcaster, who is already over $3 billion in debt, to be utterly doomed

Well, look at the bright side: That clunky little receiver will make a great paper weight.

4. 3D Television


Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

So, last year, you'd finally saved up money and courage required, and you went out and you dropped an absurd amount of cash on a new HDTV. Well, the television manufactures would like to thank you by announcing it's already obsolete. That's right, companies like Mitsubishi, Sony, and Panasonic are convinced that you'll be so enamored by the idea of donning some goofy looking 3D glasses (make sure you've got enough for the whole family!) when you plop down to watch American Idol that you'll run right out and replace that "last gen" HDTV with a "3D Ready" one that supports these new standards.

Though content is limited (how many 3D DVDs have you seen for sale recently?) and the expense is high, the prospect of shelling out extra dough to literally give myself a headache is hard to resist. And speaking of content -- not only do old movies have to be remastered frame by frame to utilize this 3D technology, but only content shot specifically for 3D actually looks right.

Though the tech has been around for literally decades now, there's a reason why 3D technology has never really gotten a foothold outside of amusement park rides: It's still really nothing more than a novelty.