8 gadget screw-ups of the decade

4. 3G video calling, 2005

The poor old mobile networks, fresh from being ripped-off by the UK government to the tune of £22bn in its "sale" of the 3G spectrum, hit on a great way to recoup costs - massively expensive video calls!

Suddenly every new mobile came with two cameras, your usual one on the back, plus a low-res one on the front so you could video talk to people like you're on the set of Space 1999.

3G video calling

Did anyone ever make a video call in the end? We think the Queen may have made one once, during a state visit to Nokia's HQ, but that was about it.

3. Audio CD DRM, 2005

One of the most spectacular failures of DRM was Sony BMG's attempt to make us install software audio players on our computers should we want to play our legitimately-purchased new disc on a PC.

The problem was, us tech-savvy music lovers automatically ripped every CD we bought, believing having a digital copy to be an undeniable right that came alongside the purchase.

CD drm

Sony pulled it, recalled the infected discs, and in the end, the affront of being told you couldn't play a CD on your computer without first installing a piece of software only served to speed up the demise of the physical CD.

2. Nokia N-Gage, 2003

Not only was N-Gage a large slice of disappointment, it even spawned a monstrously successful internet "meme" laughing at the thing - sidetalking. Oh, the fun we had with bananas, shoes and TV remote controls back in 2003.


Talking into the side of your N-Gage was humiliating enough, but it was having to open the battery compartment and remove the battery to switch games that caused most people to label N-Gage a poorly-thought out piece of kit no one wanted.

It had a version of Tomb Raider for it, but then so did the Sega Saturn. But we're in the wrong decade for that one.

1. HD DVD, 2006

We could argue for hours over the need for a high-def movie format - so the introduction of two of the bloody things, well before most people in the UK even had an HDTV, was extremely bizarre.

A polite meeting between both camps beforehand could surely have saved millions of pounds and the thousands of eggs that ended on the faces of everyone involved in the HD DVD vs Blu-Ray format war.

HD dvd

In the end, the death of HD DVD was pronounced by Warner Brothers, which announced its intention to go Blu-ray-only on 4 January 2008. HD DVD then publicly collapsed in the space of a few weeks, as other film studios followed suit in dropping support. Toshiba joined the Blu-ray brigade shortly after.