Humans are list-making animals. At no time is that impulse more prevalent than December, when we set ourselves the task of churning out year-end retrospectives. In the tech universe, those lists generally call out the best products, the splashiest debuts, and the most promising technologies of the year (see, for instance, PCWorld’s own “100 Best Products of 2011"). But there are tech losers each year, too--products, concepts, and services that kick the proverbial bucket. Some, like the vile Rustock botnet (taken down in March), we were glad to see go.
Other tech demises evoke genuine regret: good products lost in the ferocious market of 2011, tech initiatives that grew too expensive to retain their sponsor’s funding, even well-engineered gear that simply never caught on with the public. Herewith, my respects to 10 tech goners that we at PCWorld are truly going to miss.
Google Knol: Entry number three for Google in this year’s Tech Senescence Stakes, Knol had big plans--namely, to challenge Wikipedia. Intended to be a user-written encyclopedia, Knol coulda been a contender if it had launched in, say, 2001 instead of 2007. But with so many of the world’s content experts already doing their charity work for Wikipedia, Knol lacked enough fleshed-out articles to be taken seriously. Google’s blog post on the subject notes that as of May 1, 2012, “knols won’t be viewable.” Fortunately, Knol won’t be forgotten completely. Wikipedia has an article on it.