31 December 2014

10 Tech Toys That Died This Year and 5 Predictions for 2015

Certain tech toys and consumer goods will invariably fall by the wayside as the years pass. Here we take a look at ten tech items which bit the dust in 2014, as well as predictions for five more gadgets whose time draws near.
iPod Classic
Apple unveiled the new iPhone and the Apple Watch in September, and at the same time quietly retired the classic iPod. Although iPod sales have slumped in the last few years, the iconic music player still maintains a devoted following among music listeners due to its high storage capacity. This is a fond farewell to the device which singlehandedly turned around the fortunes of then-flagging Apple.
You may not remember Orkut, but Google's earliest attempt at tapping into the social media market made waves abroad. Orkut was well received in Brazil, even outperforming Facebook until 2011. Despite the network's success in certain markets, Google decided to kill Orkut in 2014 in hopes of boosting interest in their primary social networking venture, Google+.
Flappy Bird
Flappy Bird became an overnight sensation in the Android games market. In fact, the game's rapid and overwhelming rise was the primary factor leading to its demise, as Flappy Bird's Vietnam-based creator Dong Nguyen pulled the game from the market declaring "I can't take this anymore." Though another version of the game later appeared as Flappy Bird Family, the quick implosion of Flappy Bird drew almost as much attention as the game itself.
Xbox Entertainment Studios
For nearly two years, speculation surrounded the direction of Microsoft's Xbox Entertainment Studios: many believed that the company would try to break into the original content market like Netflix or Amazon. However, with the arrival of new CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft decided to move in a new direction and killed the studio project, cutting 18,000 jobs in the process.
MSN Messenger
Microsoft first announced its intent to pull the plug on its instant messaging service back in 2012 following the company's acquisition of Skype, but it wasn't until 2014 that the deed was finally done. Though the real relevance of MSN Messenger in the contemporary world of social media faded, many users might have felt a tinge of nostalgic sadness recalling all of those late-night conversations back in high school.
Macworld Magazine
Just like any major tech company from Microsoft to Nintendo, Apple has its own legion of devotees, as well as a publication catering to them: Macworld. Although Macworld ended its 30-year print run in 2014, fans can be reassured that the publication will live on in a digital-only format.
Facebook Poke
After Facebook failed to acquire up-and-coming photo messenger Snapchat, the social network introduced its own clone of the mobile app called Poke. However, after Poke's troubled launch and general lack of interest among users, Facebook killed the app last spring.
Nokia X
New CEO Satya Nadella brought a host of changes to Microsoft this year. Besides dramatically scaling down the company's workforce, Nadella also announced an end to the Nokia X line of Android-based phones. Perhaps realizing that competing in the high-end phone market against titans like the Samsung Galaxy line is an uphill battle, Microsoft explained their decision as a move to focus on producing more affordable phones in the future.
Windows XP
After a nearly 13-year lifespan, Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP this past April. While most have moved on to one of XP's successors (Vista, Windows 7 or the troubled and buggy Windows 8), XP's focus on stability over flair earned it continued fan appreciation right up until the final moments.
Justin.TV was a favorite for illegal content streams – everything from classic TV series and movies to fresh and current entertainment. Justin.TV's popularity gradually began to wane with the introduction of the Twitch, an offshoot streaming site that began to gain steam in the gaming community before eventually overshadowing its parent site. By the time Amazon acquired Twitch late last summer, Justin.TV was already a thing of the past.
Gaming Consoles
Okay, so current-gen consoles like the PS4 won't suddenly vanish in the next 12 months, but don't be surprised to hear talk in 2015 that Sony and Microsoft are pulling out of the console industry. The line between contemporary gaming consoles and computers is already so blurred, we have effectively reached the point at which the two are indistinguishable. What we are likely to see in next-gen gaming, rather than another batch of traditional consoles, is the gaming console and the home computer finally merged into one all-encompassing device.
Cable / Satellite TV
Younger people are not nearly as attached to cable and satellite service as older generations: in fact, it's actually rather unusual to walk into a millennial's home and find cable service. With the ever-expanding reach of services such as Netflix and Hulu, the time is rapidly approaching when cable and satellite providers will need to either revise their service model or accept their place in history.
Landline Phones
Many households have already given up the landline, and with the omnipresence of cell phones, it's not hard to understand why. These days a landline is mostly redundant, something which people only hang on to because it’s bundled with their cable and internet service. However, given the rapid decline in cable usage, the landline telephone will soon have little incentive to attract users.
Ten years ago, a GPS like Garmin or Tomtom was considered cutting edge technology, one likely to set you back several hundred dollars. The rise of the smartphone with integrated GPS technology made the dedicated GPS computer largely obsolete. Now it is only a matter of time before these forgotten gadgets make their final exit.
Digital Cameras
While there will certainly still be a place for D-SLR cameras for years to come, the basic consumer level digital camera represents another casualty of the smartphone revolution. In 2004 a 2-megapixel digital camera could run you well over $100. Now a camera several times more powerful comes standard on your phone.