10 technologies that disappointed in 2012

We take a look at the products that did not live up to their hype and fell short of expectations

Sure, 2012 saw its share of innovation and technological breakthroughs. But not every technology or product lives up to the hype they generate when they’re first announced. Here are 10 technologies that fell short of expectations in 2012.

The Ultrabook

In the pre-CES hype around this time last year, Ultrabook was the buzzword. And, at the time, it seemed justified – Intel had sunk $300 million into marketing for the ultra-thin laptops, and IHS iSuppli predicted 22 million devices would be sold by the end of 2012. Well, it’s the end of 2012, and iSuppli has updated its figures: only 10.3 million shipped this year. For 2013, iSuppli also reduced its sales prediction for Ultrabooks, from 61 million to 44 million.

Near-field communications

Near-field communications (NFC) has been highly touted for years, but 2012 was supposed to be the year it went mainstream. Smartphone penetration continued its rapid growth, and NFC was widely expected to be a new feature for Apple’s iPhone 5. Then Apple introduced its own barcode-based mobile payment app, Passbook, and snubbed NFC on the iPhone 5 altogether. Google Wallet still uses NFC, but the snub from Apple was a step backwards for NFC’s long-awaited introduction to the mainstream.

RFID

Similarly to NFC, RFID has long been hailed as an innovative technology. But for all the potential advantages in the product and sales lifecycle, the business world can’t seem to get past the perceived risks and difficulty of implementing the technology.

Social gaming/Zynga

Nothing quite portrays the rise and fall of social gaming’s popularity like the rapidly fluctuating stock price of Zynga, the company behind such massive social gaming apps as Words with Friends and FarmVille. From its over-achieving early stock price of $14.50 in March to its current price of $2.56, Zynga has been forced to lay off employees as it tries to stay afloat long enough to find the true value of a once-promising market.

Playstation Vita

The future was bright for the Vita last December, when the device sold 325,000 units after just a few days in the Japanese market. However, the Vita has lacked staying power. Last month, the Vita reached its all-time low in weekly sales, with just over 4,000 sales in Japan. By comparison, its predecessor, the Sony PSP, sold more than 12,000 units in the same week.

Siri

Upon its introduction in late 2011, Siri had a lot of potential and a bunch of celebrity friends. But as Siri continued to have trouble understanding its users’ voices, particularly those with British or Boston accents, its reputation was diminished. The frustration would culminate in a class-action lawsuit against Apple claiming false advertising of Siri’s functionality.

Apple Maps

Siri’s struggles would soon be overshadowed by a more obvious Apple blunder. With iOS 6, Apple could finally kick Google Maps off its home screen and replace it with its own Maps app. The only problem was that Apple’s Maps app didn’t really work, and became particularly detrimental for Australian users who had gotten stranded in the desert on account of a Siri glitch. Apple CEO Tim Cook formally apologised for the app, and even encouraged users to use other GPS apps.

Nokia Lumia 900

The winner of the Best Smartphone award at the 2012 CES, the Lumia 900 was a sign that Microsoft actually stood a serious chance in the smartphone market. Then Microsoft announced in June that the Lumia 900 would not be compatible with Windows Phone 8 when it released in October, and suddenly no one had any reason to buy it anymore. More importantly, those who had already bought it were forced to either buy a Lumia 920 or, to Microsoft’s disdain, one of the many other smartphones available.

Airtime

Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t remember Airtime; apparently only 10,000 people used it as of October 2012. But when Napster co-founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning launched their Chatroulette-inspired video chat app for Facebook, they had far higher aspirations, inviting celebrities to help show off how famous people use video chat. However, privacy concerns and the mere fact that the Chatroulette fad had expired years before its release made for a disappointing year for the new venture.

Facebook

More business disappointment than anything else, Facebook’s revenue-generating shortcomings were revealed when it went public earlier this year. If Facebook doesn’t retain its dominant position in the social media world, 2012 will be remembered as the year that The Social Network began to lose steam.

  • The Ultrabook
  • Near-field communications
  • RFID
  • Social gaming/Zynga
  • Playstation Vita
  • Siri
  • Apple Maps
  • Nokia Lumia 900
  • Airtime
  • Facebook
  • Play
  • Play
  • Backward
  • Forward

Facebook

More business disappointment than anything else, Facebook’s revenue-generating shortcomings were revealed when it went public earlier this year. If Facebook doesn’t retain its dominant position in the social media world, 2012 will be remembered as the year that The Social Network began to lose steam.

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