12 high technologies that failed - and why


Well, of course. The format wars ended abruptly at the 2008 CES in Las Vegas. Blu-ray won hands-down, although HD DVD even now, is still apparently more popular in the US.

In 2007, some had claimed HD DVD was the superior optical format. However, a closer look at the specs reveals the truth: the Blu-ray compression ratio is actually 50:1 compared to a much lower rate for HD DVD. BD discs hold more data, and the stream rate is higher as well (48Mbps).

According to Enderle, Sony "effectively bought Time Warner's loyalty and took the market." Still, Enderle says Blu-Ray is not a profitable format yet, and high-def digital downloads are catching up quickly.

8. SNIF tags/GPS collars for dogs

As early as last year, the idea of using a GPS collar for your dog made sense. SNIF tags, which report back on your pet's whereabouts, would help reduce the number of lost animals.

Enderle says the concept was hampered by high costs, short battery life and complexity, but that it could come back in 5-7 years.

IT analyst King says the main problem with GPS collars is that family pets usually find their way home eventually, unless they have been purposefully abandoned by careless owners.

9. 3D shopping/virtual storefronts

Ecommerce is a major hit - one 'virtual store' at a .com address now matches the sales of many physical stores.

However, the concept of 3D shopping never caught on, partly due to the fact that web shoppers are often looking for the best deal and aren't interested in being bombarded by slow-loading graphics.

"3D shopping assumed that online shopping needed to reflect real world interactions. Instead, consumers willingly traded human interactions for convenience and aggressive pricing," says King. Some still believe in it, though.

10. Personal transport device

The sad fact of the personal transport device - in other words, the Segway - is that we are not all riding them to work, touring the town, and playing Frisbee at the beach - probably while crashing into each other. Enderle says the alternatives are better: scooters, bicycles and even skateboards.

11. Video goggles

Video goggles usually appear in trendy car commercials as the device of the future, but rarely actually become a legitimate tech concept with end-users.

Once again, we have trouble perceiving two worlds at once and even the most expensive goggles cause mild nausea.

"Costs are dropping but I have yet to see something that most would accept and I've tried some advanced $20K products," says Enderle.

Even Nvidia's recent attempt with its 3D Vision kit has been met with a muted response.

12. Light-emitted keyboards

If video goggles fail because our human perceptions of video have a hard time understanding two discrete worlds, then light-emitted and roll-up flexible keyboards have a similar "physical world" limitation – we tend to need visceral feedback as we type.

Interestingly, your typing speed is faster on the iPhone when the device provides a click-click audio accompaniment.

"Touchscreen keyboards have generally been more successful when they have added the sound of keys clicking," says King.