Gadget Flops of the Decade: Modo (2000)
A symbol of the fin-de-millennium dotcom tech boom, this IDEO-designed, tooth-shaped handheld provided up-to-the-minute reviews, news, entertainment listings, horoscopes, and going-out-guides on its LCD screen to hipsters in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Essentially a Time Out in hardware form, the city-guide-cum-pager fell victim to the dotcom-bust-related financial troubles of its venture-capitalist funders. Modo was emblematic of the lavish spending and hype bestowed on many new product launches of the previous decade’s era, and may well be remembered as having the shortest life of any hyped gadget, launching in August 2000 with a fabulous New York City party and clever ad campaign, but closing down a mere two months later in October 2000 the day before it was set to go live in Los Angeles.
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Modo preview video by Scout Electromedia (2000) from dens on Vimeo.

Gadget Flops of the Decade: DVD-Audio and SACD (2000)
These multi-channel audiophile compact disc formats were created to take advantage of the 5.1 surround-sound systems that increasingly found their way into high-def, media-and-game lovin’ consumers’ homes (and cars). Both formats are still around, but a modest number of releases, along with the difficulty of actually finding discs in stores to buy, means they still haven’t quite taken off with music lovers--even after ten years!
Gadget Flops of the Decade: Pepper Pad (2003)
Easily mistaken for a universal remote, the Pepper Pad was really just a Linux-based mobile computer with a unique feature: a split QWERTY keyboard that was purported to make it easy to operate from non-traditional work spaces (like poolside or in your favorite armchair). As with many a failed handheld Internet device from the past ten years, the portable device had built-in WiFi, and was clearly aimed at media-hungry consumers with its stereo speakers, big 7-inch LCD screen, Bluetooth, SD card slot, and composite video connection. It never caught on with consumers, though, partially because of its $800 price tag (the same price as some small laptops). The third iteration of the device, the Pepper Pad 3, is still on sale on Amazon, but the original manufacturer, Pepper Computer, shut down its website (and tech support) in September of this year.
Gadget Flops of the Decade: Nokia N-Gage (2003)
The idea of a global online handheld gaming was ahead of its time, but Nokia’s cell-phone-cum-portable-gaming system never got close to knocking the Nintendo Game Boy off its throne. Expensive ($600) and awkward (game buttons were tough to hit and you had to hold the device on its side to make phone calls), the N-Gage sold poorly (about one third of expected sales, according to Reuters) and died a slow death until the last game for the platform was released in 2006. Though relaunched as a gaming service for Nokia phones in 2008, the N-Gage brand is once again on its last legs, as Nokia in October announced it will close down the service for good in 2010. Runner-up: Gizmondo, a GPS- and GPRS-enabled gaming system that only lasted a year from February 2005-March 2006, when it was discontinued after parent company Tiger Telematics went out of business in an epic meltdown.
Gadget Flops of the Decade: MSN Direct SPOT Wristwatches (2004)
It seemed like a great idea at the time: Smart watches with changeable, location-specific, info-displays that could give Dick Tracy’s time piece a run for its money. Manufacturers as illustrious as Tissot and Suunto, and as trendy as Fossil and Swatch jumped aboard with SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) models that displayed up-to-the-minute updates on everything from the time and the weather to horoscopes, sports scores and stock quotes. And they were stylish too. Did the rise of the smartphone spell SPOT's demise? Hard to say, but Microsoft announced in October that it's phasing out its support for the device. Although the MSN Direct feeds still blast info onto existing SPOT devices, the service will be discontinued in January 2012.
Gadget Flops of the Decade: Palm LifeDrive (2005)
Designed to be a sleek and compact PDA-on-steroids, Palm’s WiFi-and-Bluetooth-enabled ‘Mobile Manager’ could handle your email, documents, pictures, and music, as well as let you surf the Web. It also had a built-in 4-gigabyte (GB) hard drive--which sounded like a lot of space a mere five years ago. Unfortunately, the LifeDrive came out just as 3G-and-WiFi-enabled smartphones with much more memory came to market. Considering the LifeDrive’s $500 price tag, it just couldn’t stand up to the similarly-priced, but more full-featured, iPhone, and was discontinued in 2007.
Photo by re-ality
Gadget Flops of the Decade: Oqo (2005)
This powerful handheld PC had built-in 3G capability for high-speed online access over cell phone networks, a processor fast enough to run most Windows programs smoothly and quickly, and it was only slightly bigger than a smartphone. It won about a dozen design and innovation awards too. But this paperback-sized ultra mobile PC (UMPC)--in many ways a high-end precursor to today’s budget-minded netbooks (and more pricey ‘smartbooks’)--couldn’t get enough people to shell out the hefty price tag of $3,000. Oqo went out of business in April 2009.
Gadget Flops of the Decade: HD-DVD (2006)
Launched by Toshiba in 2006, HD-DVD was meant to be the high-def successor to regular DVDs. A battle for next-gen HD format dominance versus the Sony-backed Blu-ray erupted at once. Toshiba's format looked like the winner early on, thanks to being first to market with actual (and affordable) HD-DVD players and HD-DVD discs. And the format had many early proponents, including exclusive deals with studios such as Warner Bros., HBO, and Universal. Even Microsoft offered an HD-DVD add-on for its Xbox 360. But when Warner Bros. announced at CES 2008 that it would drop the format in favor of rival format Blu-ray, the HD-DVD camp had to call it quits. One month later, Toshiba announced that it would no longer support the format. This past summer, Toshiba released its first Blu-ray player.
Gadget Flops of the Decade: Sony Mylo (2006)
The Sony Mylo Internet device fell victim to the same threats as all the other Internet devices on the market--namely, better and more affordable smartphones. Sure, the sexy WiFi-enabled handheld had a user-friendly slide out QWERTY keyboard, a 3.5-inch LCD touch screen, and online chat (AIM, Google Talk, and Yahoo! Messenger) capability--not to mention Skype for free Internet phone calls. But even free phone calls couldn't compete with the iPhone app store. For $300, it should have at least played some PSP games (see PSP Go, in many ways the Mylo’s successor).
Gadget Flops of the Decade: Apple TV (2007)
While not as big of a flop as some of the other dud devices of the decade, the Apple TV hasn’t been as wildly successful--neither financially nor in terms of mindshare--as Apple’s other iconic products of the decade (everything from the iPhone to the iMac and the Nano). The device lets you rent and buy TV shows and movies off of iTunes, as well as stream your PC’s photos, music, and other media on any TV in the house. But it’s sadly lacking in non-iTunes options other than YouTube, something that makes it a hampered choice when compared with broader offerings on Windows 7 PCs, Xbox 360, Tivo, Boxee, and even plain old Macs. But things may be looking up for the flat-little-media-extender-from-Cupertino (a dead ringer for the MacMini, looks-wise). Apple doesn’t give out sales figures for the Apple TV, but earlier this year it reported that sales had tripled over the previous year. And with a few tweaks to the product, Apple could easily resurrect this one for the 10s.

Gadget Flops of the Decade: 10 Devices That Didn't Survive the Aughties

There were plenty of game-changing, must-have gadgets that sold like hotcakes during the aughties—iPhone, Nintendo Wii, HDTVs. But for every runaway success, there were several duds. Some of these flops deserved to fail—they were just too expensive or badly designed. But other innovations were sadly ahead of their time and died the painful death of bad marketing, management, or interface. The jury is still out on some aughties-era flops, like Apple TV, but most of these devices R.I.P. for good reason. Here’s a quick look at some of the past decade’s more notable gadget losers. –TOM SAMILJAN

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