DEMO 09: after the hits, here's 5 misses

TechRadar has been at the DEMO 09 event at Palm Desert, California this week, where start-ups and established firms gather to show off new products and technologies that they hope we'll all get excited about.

There's been some pretty exciting stuff shown already, as we revealed in 10 new apps and gadgets you'll want to get hold of and 10 cutting-edge apps you've never heard of.

But not all the new launches at DEMO are destined to succeed: from another quick-start Linux to voicemail advertising, here are five that we think will sink without a trace.

1. Want fast boot? Get Windows 7

Xandros is launching yet another quick-start operating system based on Linux; like Phoenix HyperSpace you can install Presto on any PC and add extra applications beyond the Firefox/Skype/IM combo that's in Splashtop systems like Asus Express Gate and Voodoo IOS.

Unlike other quick-start options, it gives you full access to your usual files and folders - which other systems block for security. Xandros is betting that Windows users are impatient enough to want to dual-boot into Linux and use Linux applications - but that didn't work out so well for Linux-based netbooks which are comprehensively outsold by Windows models (and the return rate for Linux netbooks is dramatically higher than for Windows, too).

It turns out most people do still want the operating system and applications they already know and with dramatic improvements in boot time in Windows 7, you'll be able to get that more quickly, too.

2. Kutano: a lawsuit waiting to happen

Want to complain about getting terrible service from an airline or a hotel or a web site? Don't want to do it on your own blog or on a travel review site or Facebook or Twitter?

Kutano hopes you'll install a plug-in and leave a comment on a panel that pops up next to any web page on that topic. We're not convinced many people will bother to sign up to leave complaints along with random strangers, and what happens when the first libellous comments show up?

Kutano will also sell competitive advertising, which should have big brands rushing to block the service. When sites like Dell Hell can have so much impact, do we need a new way to complain?

3. Co-blogging: because you can't wait until you post to get comments

Your blog is where you get to have your say; that comment filed at the bottom is where your friends get to chime in. Same with your Facebook page and your wall. Question and answer, opinion and comment; a conversational style that goes back to Socrates and beyond.

Or you could stop halfway through and ask a friend to finish it. GagaPost is a fairly basic blogging system that lets you co-write posts and pin comments to specific words in the post, making for an exercise in co-ordination with your co-authors and comments you have to hover over to see.

4. Private video chat: now whatever would people use that for?

Vokle has a fabulous slogan ('unmute conversation on the internet') and a beautiful animation showing how communication takes us from the caveman discovering fire to the business man so busy he has to videoconference back to his happy family from his hotel room.

But the service this advertises is thumbnail videos of people talking to their webcam and sharing images and video clips: you can join a group room or set up a private one-on-one chat. We don't want to think what the webcam is likely to be pointing at in some of those private conversations...

5. Nice idea, shame about the implementation

The idea of telling companies what offers and discounts you want and actually getting them, instead of filling out your profile in exchange for a standard email newsletter is a great one in principle. But Loyal2Me is a disappointing implementation; although you can choose what products and services you're interested in, the VoiceTouch service just phones you up with adverts you have to respond to straight away.



Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.