The other day I found a story about the top ten high tech busts of the past decade. A few surprised me. On the list was YouTube.com, Microsoft’s Zune music player, Microsoft’s Vista operating system, Sirius/XM satellite radio, Gateway Computer, and the Segway device. Oh, and the Iridium satellite telephone service, that once cost $5 per minute.
But I can’t help but think the author, Douglas McIntyre, is wrong. Segway sales, for example, were up fifty percent in 2008. While the public may have balked at the high price tag of the mobility device when it first came out, tourism entrepreneurs and police are using them across the world. They’re even working on a tiny Segway car, so I don’t think Dean Kamen is done yet.
YouTube, of course is ubiquitous and some day soon Google will find the most efficient way to make money from topics like Mary Louise Parker’s nipples, which the actress says she really wishes she didn’t expose on her television show ‘Weeds, ‘ to be immortalized on a million hard drives. I met people from Google’s advertising division at a show who said that using custom YouTube channels was a key to helping destinations like Las Vegas market themselves. With hundreds of millions of monthly users, how can this not some day pull an Amazon and become a big money maker. Remember how long it took that company to make a profit?
Satellite radio…well I can see that one did arrive with great promise. But the problem here was that they paid Howard Stern half a billion and didn’t expect new car sales to fall off a cliff. I think something that’s free for decades like over-the-air radio is damn hard to charge money for especially during a severe recession.
Gateway? When I owned Computer Cleaners, these boxes were the ones we’d see more than others, they were truly crappy systems and the story said their downfall was that they didn’t get into making laptops fast enough. HD-DVD was another victim, since there was only room for one high-def format and like the great Beta/VHS debate, one winner that is Blu Tooth.