Updated: December 31, 2019 11:41:12 am
In many ways, 2019 was a defining year in technology. Throughout the year, we saw a number of devices and technologies that made an impact on consumers’ lives. This year, we also lost some products and platforms that were discontinued permanently. Some were launched with massive hype, only to wind up as disappointments. Others were lost on their way, even before their official launch due to technical issues.
Here is a list of tech products that died in 2019:
Google Daydream View
The ill-fated Google Daydream VR is no more. Following the launch of the Pixel 4 this October, Google silently delisted the DaydreamVR headset from the Play Store, making it clear that consumers weren’t interested in the product. Google giving up on its Daydream VR shows that are no takers for the virtual reality headsets powered by smartphones. Daydream, and similar headsets from Samsung, featured less advanced functionalities, and its discontinuation is a clear example of how the tech industry sometimes overestimates the demand for some products. Another phone-based VR headset, Samsung Gear VR, was also discontinued this year.
Red Hydrogen One
Many thought the Red Hydrogen One would revolutionise the smartphone market with a “holographic” display and a camera capable of recording in 3D format. Unfortunately, it never quite managed to deliver on its promise. It was super heavy, the holographic display was bad, no accessories for expansion pins, and the specs were outdated. The phone originally sold for $1300. In a surprise announcement in October, Jim Jannard, founder of California-based Red, cancelled the project altogether and retired from the industry.
Google Chromecast Audio
Google first launched the Chromecast Audio as a way to bring music streaming to speakers with in-line connectivity in 2015. The device looked like the Chromecast, but lacked a built-in HDMI port, and worked with audio apps. But as wireless speakers start gaining in popularity, the relevance for Chromecast Audio ceased, and Google discontinued the device in January.
The $250 Sleepbuds were designed to help users to fall asleep faster and longer. It was quite an innovative product when launched, considering that they were paired with a phone but still couldn’t play music, like other pairs of headphones. But Bose discontinued the product due to battery issues that can’t be fixed. While the Sleepbuds earphones are no longer sold, and Bose is offering existing users a full refund till December 31, 2019, or until the end of the product’s two-year warranty.
Google Clips was envisioned as a camera that uses AI to automatically capture and record footage of special moments that users might have missed. The camera, however, failed to impress consumers and critics alike. Its $250 price also worked against the camera’s success. Google discontinued the camera in October, but those who bought the Clips will continue to receive updates until 2021.
Microsoft Cortana app
Unable to take on Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, Microsoft decided to kill the Cortana app. Starting January 31, 2020, the Cortana app won’t be available in most countries. The end of the Cortana app doesn’t mean the voice assistant is going away, though some elements will be included in Microsoft 365 and Outlook. Nevertheless, Cortana is dead anyway for most users – except for corporate customers.
Google Hire was another high-profile product that the Silicon Valley giant killed this year. It was essentially an applicant tracking system to help SMEs and mid-sized businesses. Integrated with Google’s GSuite (Gmail/Calendar), it allowed you to search for applicants, schedule interviews, and provide feedback about potential hires. The reason for killing the product is unclear, though Google in a blog post said shutting down Hire was a “difficult decision.”
The AirPower was first teased at the iPhone X event in 2017. It was designed to charge three Qi-enabled devices, including the iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously. At the time of launch, Apple said the revolutionary wireless charging pad would be released next year. However, the company provided no concrete details for those who were eyeing to buy the AirPower. But months of delay, Apple in March, announced that it will no longer release the AirPower as the device fell short of the company’s “high standards,” and cancelled the project.
Bragi’s wireless headphone business
Bragi will always be remembered for introducing the first truly wireless earbuds in the market. The ambitious start-up was once bullish on the growing market for wireless earbuds, but due to intense competition, Bragi left the wearables space. In an interview with TechCrunch in March, the company confirmed that it had sold its hardware business to an unknown entity in March. Bragi now focuses on AI, software and patent licenses.
iTunes for Mac
After 18 long years, Apple pulled the plug on iTunes, which revolutionised the way people buy music. With macOS 10.5 Catalina, iTunes is no longer available as a standalone app. Instead, iTunes has been broken up into three apps- Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. For many, it was the end of iTunes. Announced in 2001, the iTunes app allowed users to download music legally when illegal music was rampant.
Samsung Blu-ray players
It’s the end of the road for Samsung’s Blu-ray players. Earlier this year, Samsung announced that it would no longer manufacture Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray players. This was expected- after all, the company last released a new Blu-ray player in 2017. In the era of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, most consumers probably don’t care about Blu-ray players anymore. Samsung is not alone discontinuing Blu-ray players, though. Last year, Oppo also discontinued Blu-ray players.
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