Ask HN: Which great products didnt succeed?

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19592697

Google Wave.

At work we use Slack, Email, Google Docs, etc. We’re never quite happy with how things work – what should be email vs Slack, at what point should a a Slack conversation become an email conversation to be visible to more people, when should that turn into a doc for a more formal review process, etc. We’re trialling Notion for some things and it’s good. What should be a Wiki?

Whenever we have any of these discussions, I always feel like we’re circling around what Wave once was, and potentially could have been. It wasn’t fully polished, but so many of the fundamental concepts were there. If it had stuck I think communication in companies would be much better than it is now.

I agree! I think the reason Wave failed was due to poor marketing. I never truly understood what it was until it had already been killed off. I’ll admit it was a hard sell when you boot into a blank page that looks like a word processor.

It was sadly ahead of its time and was probably pitched to the wrong audience from the start. Rather than trying to explain why Wave is better than email and chat to the internet at large, they probably should have pitched it as a business productivity tool. Oh, well. Hindsight is 20/20.

> I think the reason Wave failed was due to poor marketing. I never truly understood what it was until it had already been killed off.

I wonder why Google didn’t put a Wave section into Gmail, or a “take your email conversation to Wave” button for inter-Gmail conversations.

because that would have required a single product person, and Google have none.

Google only have failed engineers turned product manager. they live and die by some random metrics. the gmail PM would never accept anything there that reduced time spent (or some other random, disconnected from reality, success metric) by a second!

I used Wave for handling projects with a remote team and it was fantastic once you got used to it.

We began project specs in ‘instant messaging ‘ type mode, and then back and fleshed out that conversation, editing the original posts to become full fledged documents. It was seamless.

Browser performance was a dog, bug I’m sure that could have been worked on.

Loved the ecosystem of apps and bots that was developing

This is the first response I’ve read that has any legitimacy to it.

They were way too early to market. Supposedly their compensation is or was structured to reward shipping new products/features to an extreme degree. I wonder how things might have turned out if they “shipped” it internally first, and iterated on it a few more times before putting it in the hands of the public.

Pebble smart-watches. I had them from the original kickstarter, and eventually had a Pebble Time Round which I loved. Whilst I now would never buy a smartwatch, I think that theirs were by far the best. Slimline, with a great UI, and nice functionality, and also not locked into either mobile ecosystem.

I’m not entirely sure what caused their death, but my personal view is that they tried to become too big, and I don’t think the wearables market is really that valuable. They could have remained a small house which maintained a great product for a segment of the market that really appreciated it. I’m sure that’s a simplistic view, and definitely ill-informed since I wasn’t on the inside.

I still think they are far better than the Apple Watch or any of the Android Wear devices I’ve seen.

Rolex is a luxury brand, it’s no surprise something else sells more. It’s like being surprised BMW sells more than Bentley.

The watch market must be pretty small these days considering everyone has the time on their smartphone…

The only people I see wearing watches are business people who wear suits to work or work outdoors (people in the military). That’s only a small percentage of people with a ~$100 product.

I see people of all kinds with Apple Watches all the time, some of them with the higher-end models. Even prompted a few conversations with strangers about the series, bands and faces.

I’d actually bet that phones will be supplanted by a combination of smartwatch + smartglasses in the future.

If you have ever detachedly watched a crowd of people holding out these slabs in their hands and craning their necks over them, you might agree that it looks rather archaic and is begging to be put out of fashion.

I had a Kickstarter Edition pebble. It was terrible, both in hardware and software. After a few months it developed an issue when the contents of the display disappeared, and I had to physically press the display to see something (googling this it seemed I wasn’t the only one with this problem). It also supported running only 1 watch app at a time, which meant if I had a timer running and I got an SMS which took focus, the timer stopped. I would have thought that running a timer on a watch would be basic functionality…

> my personal view is that they tried to become too big, and I don’t think the wearables market is really that valuable

I think you’re spot on here. They had a perfectly viable 20-30 person company going in a nice stable little niche, and then the smartwatch hype cycle reached its peak and VCs threw a ton of cash at them along with a mandate to become the Next Big Thing. And so they hired way too many new people, churned out too many new models, and collapsed when the market just wasn’t there.

Everything needing to become a unicorn today is killing a ton of good products and services. It’s apparently impossible to just be a successful small business for a few decades in the tech industry.

Indeed. You see it here a lot, someone will be sneering at a business with $10 million annual turnover and 20 staff and calling it a “lifestyle business”, as if owning a double-digit percentage of such a business is not an excellent outcome by any sane standards.

Venture capital might be the only way to fund a moonshot-style startup but it seems to be the kiss of death for already-established, already-profitable businesses.

Moonshots would be cool if they were actually aiming at the Moon, not just churning out websites only incrementally different from other websites. I do wonder how much this churn contributes to the West not being able to do any actual moonshots.

Smartwatches are not “moonshots”. They shouldn’t be treated as such. They could be a component of one, though, and society would benefit from components being economically stable, instead of imploding after few years. Pebble was arguably the sanest smartwatch design out there – long battery life, power-efficient screens, hackable[0]. Because they suddenly wanted to get too big too fast, the world today does not have any smartwatch of comparable quality and utility.

[0] – not just in terms of writing watch faces; people did try to use them as medical devices[1], and they even had a protocol for attaching custom hardware that didn’t go anywhere, but probably would if the company was still around

[1] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5018102/

I still wear my Pebble every day and am not looking forward to the day when it conks out.

The thing that blows me away is no one has really swooped in to replace it. I got a Pebble because I wanted an always-on screen with high battery life (I charge mine roughly once every 5 days), and I have no idea where I’m going to find one when the time comes.

I’m still getting by with my Pebble Time Steel, and I’ve been watching (no pun intended) Fitbit’s releases to see if they’re yet up to snuff. It looks like the most recent revision of their smartwatches would work OK for me (and add HR sensor). Don’t know if they’ll be sufficiently reliable, since this has been a weak spot for Fitbit in years past.

If I’m able to eke out another 2-3 years, I might get an Apple Watch, which would presumably have 3-4 day battery life by then.

The versa is a good option, its the one that reminds me of the pebble the most.

Nothing has gotten to the size of my my pebble time round though

I’ve got the Suunto 9 smartwatch, it has always on display and battery usually lasts around 7 to 9 days.

I use my Pebble Time Steel every day and will continue to use it until it dies. I tried a few different smartwatches and, for me, nothing comes close to the battery life, always-on display and hardware buttons combo.

For my purposes, it is a productivity boost to have calendar, slack etc. notifications and be able to mute everything by holding a button.

At the time there were no other options in the niche, and it fitted well with what some of us wanted: huge battery life, few features that worked well, lightweight, robust… cheap! Meanwhile Samsung, Garmin etc. went after Apple looking for features at the cost of everything else.

Today there is a myriad of competitors; when pebble.com went down, I bought one with 45 day battery life and otherwise the same features as a Pebble HR+ at the same price, plus GPS. There’s third party apps for a few bucks.

I do miss the always-on display and its clarity, but not dealing with the slow and buggy software and lack of sync or ability to export the data. And I have more confidence in Xiaomi being around in a few years, not that it matters with Google Fit, MyFitnessPal and local CSV backups.

My wife loves the crap out of her several Pebbles, and she didn’t even get them until after the acquisition and shutdown plans were announced. She still gets speech-to-text thanks to rebble. If there were something comparable still being manufactured, I’m sure she would jump on it in a heartbeat.

This is a really sweet idea. A lot of the software looks like it hasn’t been updated for over 6 months though.

I bought a Time Round on clearance just after they got bought out – £80. Fantastic little watch.

XMPP. The entire chat landscape is a damn travesty right now. First Facebook disappeared behind it’s own walls, then google… I really miss the days where I could use one client to chat with all my contacts. I honestly think Im in contact with less people now because everyone dropped support for open protocols.

Xmpp is a disaster, I have otp enabled and all too often messages are delivered to the wrong machine, but encrypted with a different key, so it is pure garbage and lost forever.

That is on the off chance that the message is actually delivered.

Trying to get omemo up and running, but some clients (pidgin) have next to no support for it, while others only support it, and it seems it is only supported on ejabberd as of very recently, with documentation on how to enable it consisting of a comment line in a config file.

I am not inclined to positively review a chat protocol that frequently fails to deliver messages.

While I agree with your pain points, I would not say XMPP that the protocol isn’t any good.

– Pidgin: Just take a look at their bug tracker. You will not have any problems finding tickets requesting essential features which are 6 years and older (e.g. Message Archive Management). So unless the Pidgin devs get some done I would not use their client (Gajim is a much better alternative, especially since the 1.0 release last year).

– ejabberd OMEMO: Actually, I don’t know what the ejabberd devs were thinking when they changed their default config to disable OMEMO. They told something about having a hard time tracking down issues with OMEMO enabled. Well, kinda makes sense from a developers perspective, but given the fact that OMEMO is end-to-end encryption, I wonder what they were expecting. Nevertheless, disabling OMEMO by default on the server is just a stupid idea.

– message delivery: I had problems with that too, but ultimately it was just a problem with some ejabberd setting (I think it was mod_stream_mgmt: resend_on_timeout: if_offline) [1].

[1] https://docs.ejabberd.im/admin/configuration/#mod-stream-mgm…

> Xmpp is a disaster, I have otp enabled and all too often messages are delivered to the wrong machine, but encrypted with a different key, so it is pure garbage and lost forever.

What part of XMPP is doing that? I think you’re talking about a bug in an implementation of XMPP not the protocol itself. Its like saying you go to an address and get the wrong website. Hard to blame an issue like that on HTTP rather than a server or a client that implements it.

You mean OTR? 1. OTR is some old hack and not really usable 2. OTR has nothing to do with XMPP at all

OMEMO only really needs XEP-0163, the thing which also gives you avatars and such, supported nearly anywhere. There is some problem that you can’t access the key of someone who did not add you yet to the contact list on older implementations [1] but that does not make it unusable.

> I am not inclined to positively review a chat protocol that frequently fails to deliver messages.

XMPP delivers, if you encrypt them with the wrong key it can do nothing about.

[1] https://gultsch.de/omemo_by_default.html

I have prosody running on my Debian stable server, conversations on mobile/android and gajim on PC (Debian stable). Omemo works perfectly, no missed messages, no encryption problems. It just works.
Different story a few years ago. The XMPP ecosystem improved a lot.

I love XMPP. I self-host a prosody server for a group of gopher and public access Linux server users. It’s a niche market!

Ubuntu’s Unity desktop.

People really hated it because (IMHO) it had a really rocky launch. Ubuntu replaced a very usable GNOME 2.x desktop with an alpha-quality replacement. And Canonical was riding high from having “won” the Linux for desktop game and was pushing their weight around, giving the impression that they were ignoring the feedback from their users.

Unity wasn’t without its missteps. But it matured quite nicely and I now prefer it to other desktop paradigms. Windows especially. It feels a bit stuck, like Microsoft thinks it reached peak desktop design in 1994. 😉

Now that Ubuntu has ditched Unity, I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve been holding on running Ubuntu 16.04, but it’s getting to be a burden. I don’t like GNOME 3. I’m still not sure what to do. I might give Pop!_OS a decent kicking of the tires. I know that’s still GNOME 3, but their take on it is the closest I’ve seen it get to tolerable.

Isn’t it still possible to install and use Unity? I thought it just lost Canonical’s support and the spot as the default DE. I wouldn’t pick a distro just for the DE it comes with.

The best feature of recent years was when Google started showing you information from your emails on the Android smart home screen (swiping to the left). It was brilliant: have a flight tomorrow? It would show you the information, including gate information which is never on boarding passes anymore. It would show you package tracking info. Estimated traffic coming back from work today. Weather. It had really everything I wanted to know about the next couple days, pulled together in one place. It actually felt like the “virtual assistant” we were promised.

It completely disappeared a year or two and was replaced by a crappy news feed that is so poorly displayed you often can’t even read the entire headline. Please tell me Google just his this feature and it still exists.

Chevy Volt. I wouldn’t necessarily say it wasn’t successful, but GM is killing it, and to me the irony is that I think it is a much better option for 90% of people than an all-electric vehicle.

Yes, all-electric is the future, but right now being able to be on battery 95% of the time, but never having range anxiety because I can always get gas when needed, is wonderful. I can go on long trips and never worry about having to pre-plan where I will charge up. Also, I didn’t have to do any special electrical work because I can get a full 40 mile charge overnight on 12 amps.

I think it’s really a great car and due to the electric motor it’s fun to drive for someone who doesn’t generally like driving.

Love my ‘11 Volt, averages 62mpg, including several road trips. Super smooth to drive and nearly zero maintenance; I’ll never go back to a combustion drive train or gears if I can help it.

Idk that puts it too close to Prius territory for me. I’d expect the mileage to be a lot higher!

It really depends heavily on your driving habits. Mine had a lifetime mpg of 220, because I was able to do all of my commutes on the battery.

I bought one. It had terrible battery that gave me less and less range on every charge. Resale value was non existent. Piece of garbage.

To each their own I guess. I bought a 2015 Volt used and have owned it for nearly a year and a half and it’s the best car I’ve owned. I consistently get 40-42 miles a charge.

Google Reader. I still think RSS was a better way of aggregating news than many alternatives of today, all wrapped up in a solid and practical interface.

“I still think RSS was a better way”

“I still think RSS is a better way”, fixed that for you.

Steinberger guitars. They were brilliant to play, they were incredibly lightweight, they were near-indestructible, they could stay in tune for weeks, but they were just too weird to be anything more than a fad. It didn’t help that Ned Steinberger had questionable business skills, they never really got manufacturing costs under control, but the basic design was utterly brilliant.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steinberger

As a guitarist that has a few traditional guitars…. I really want to add a headless guitar made out if modern materials (i e. not wood) to my lineup soon!

I own several. I’d trust any gear used by Allan Holdsworth. Not that it will help sound like him! I’m digging the recent explosion of headless guitars, Strandberg et al. I started playing on a Strat-shaped body so anything different throws me off. Even the bridge position on a Les Paul type body spooks me.

I guess one of the reasons headless/compact guitars don’t go outside of the niche of progressive/fusion circles is that it just doesn’t have the “cool” factor or traditional bodies. Imagine Duane Allman with a Streinberger, or Clapton, Page etc. Just seems out of place I guess.

WebOS.

When I used it, I saw it as a blend between Android and iOS.

It had the beauty, polish, and responsiveness that I loved on iPhones, but had the developer options and open community that Android had. It was a great product, and it’s a shame that now we really only have two choices for smartphone operating system, WebOS being neither.

>responsiveness

No, this one isn’t true. Performance was one of the biggest problems of webOS. WebOS user forums were full of posts complaining about that. UI built with HTML and JavaScript rendered by Webkit1 was way too much for 2000s hardware to handle.

I’ve never heard someone refer to a website’s “responsive” design as it’s “responsiveness”. That’s almost always in regards to performance.

I always felt that for a product called webOS, Palm had one of the worst mobile browsers. The big missing feature I remember was lack of support for downloadable fonts. I don’t remember the Touchpad itself being particularly polished (although the corded charger itself is supposed to be very high quality). Some of the touch stuff was pretty slick (the rubber band effect in particular), but a lot of it was pretty infuriating for me to use.

The mobile OS I miss is the most is the last iteration of BlackBerry. Although Palm had the upper hand in developer/user relations, I think that BlackBerry really got the UX right.

WebOS had so much potential. Unfortunately the performance was never there. There are still devices out there with WebOS powered interfaces, I believe LG borrowed bits and parts of it for pseudo smart TV/Projectors. Even the most recent ones, on hardware that should be more than capable, just don’t feel responsive.

OTOH, maybe it wasn’t that great. There’s a lot of kiosks, car head units, set top boxes, etc out there just running extremely stripped down versions of linux or android, just for webkit. It’s extremely popular in embedded circles when it comes time to put a ui on a touch screen. (for commercial products, not hobbyists)

So many great things about modern smartphones came from webOS — the card metaphor, universal search, swipeable notifications. The way they integrated third-party services into the OS was so seamless; I still miss the messaging app that combined texts and conversations from other services into one thread per contact.

WebOS is the Snapcaht of operating systems (course Snapchat still lives, but doesn’t get anywhere near the reward of all it pioneered).

I recently helped a friend wall mount a new smart TV and when the boot animation displayed WebOS, it made me incredibly disappointed about how far it had fallen.

Notion Ink Adam Tablet [1] Pixel Qi Display [2]

Altogether not a truly great tablet, but I loved the idea of the Pixel Qi display. Normal colored LCD when being used indoors with backlight enabled. But outdoors in the bright sun, the colors faded away and it became some e-paper like reflective display. That way you could use it for watching movies in the dark and reading books on the beach 😉

Sadly the tablet had a lot of other flaws and the colors of the LCD weren’t as good as the AMOLEDs we are used to today, but every time I see one of those ebook readers with b/w display I wonder why the Pixel Qi displays didn’t make it.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_tablet

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel_Qi

I was actually googling them this past week to see what happened to that company and the guy who started it. Looks like he’s doing a computer vision AI company.
But I remember seeing the first Notion Ink tablet ages ago at some online coverage for CES and thinking it was the coolest thing out at the time. A shame it had so many production issues. Even the second iteration had a clean design and a cool screen on the spine of the device.

IMHO, Pixel Qi should have gone full-bore e-ink replacement. They’re color was always embarrassing. But, in black and white mode it was wonderful. Super crisp, 60fps and low power.

Google Inbox. And I don’t “find my favorite Inbox features in Gmail”. If you can’t tell I’m still bitter about it 🙁

Just curious, which features are you bitter about?

I was a long-time Inbox user and was dreading the day I’d have to switch back to Gmail. But now that I’ve done it, I’ve found that I don’t really miss Inbox at all.

Personally it’s the bundles and pinning. The bundles just worked more consistently than Gmail’s tabs and made it feels fast (and safe!) to quickly archive a bunch of promo emails you weren’t currently interested in.

Stars can be made to work like pinned e-mails, sort of, but it not consistent across the mobile app and the website and the UX just feels unresponsive in comparison. Pinned emails were much better separated than starred emails are today.

I think a bonus aspect was just design. Inbox didn’t have to support as much legacy as Gmail and its design ended up being really sleek. Inbox overall just felt faster than using Gmail.

Trip bundles, pinning, mail previews. Inbox was much cleaner than Gmail. Gmail also feels slower than Inbox – spinners on startup.

And other UX issues: seeing previews of images right in the email list, font/UI makes it harder to find things vs Inbox. Inbox was a much nicer UI/UX.

Ads are annoying but I would have been fine with ads if it was integrated in Inbox.

And look, I understand that it doesn’t make sense to invest in/maintain two heavily used email clients. But the most infuriating thing is the trip bundles. That was my most used feature and such a distinguishing aspect of Inbox that it’s almost insulting that Google would tell me I can “find my favorite features in Gmail” when it’s blatantly not there.

I would pay to still use Inbox.

Apart from what’s already been mentioned (bundles, general UI, speed etc), the killer feature for me was how Reminders were integrated into the email itself. When an email came in that I couldn’t quickly resolve and move on, I’d write the short ToDo to myself about what I specifically need to do.

Back in Gmail I go to my flagged/starred emails and I know I’m supposed to do something about the email, but many times I’ve forgotten what what specific action was, so I open up the email, read through it and realize that I for some reason or other won’t take the action right now. Having to ”rediscover” actions in emails is such a waste of time. With Inbox there would be clear ToDos written, so I could easily scan a list of emails and pick the right one to take action on.

Also very useful with emails containing many actions within, but only one or a few are left unresolved, or an email with useful links for future reading, so easy to specify what in the email I should focus on and thus ignore the rest.

RIP Inbox. Miss you dearly.

For me, it was the way purchases and travel info were displayed.

Right before the shutdown I’ve booked a fight and hotel for a conference in June and it was showing as a big card in inbox. After the gmail switch there is nothing displayed, I have to go hunting for confirmation emails. So sad to see inbox go.

Same here: I was struggling to find the confirmation to show the hotel at the desk a few days ago while in Inbox it was immediately clear.

I miss snoozing emails right from notifications on Android a lot. With Gmail I need to open the app to snooze more than two hours.

Inbox: drag&drop a screenshot, then make it an attachment. Gmail: save it as an image in a folder, then select the attachments and browse to the file.

Not OP. My only issue with the Gmail app is the ads that sneak in.

Using Spark for Android and it seems to be scratching the itch so far

I miss the inbox UX & UI in particular.

Gmail seems slow and cluttered by comparison.

Like Google+ that shuttered just days ago. I loved the Lisp and Raspberry Pi communities there. It was surprisingly productive, and probably entirely because of the features (and missing features) that scared people away from even trying it.

It’s so good and I already miss it so much I’m kinda considering attempting to clone it. At least the features I particularly liked anyway.

Email enhancement products need an offbeat name like Superhuman, not a noun every email program already has (inbox). Seeing it in the App Store, how would I know I don’t already have it?

I am bitter as well. It is the first shutter by Google that was annoying for me. I wish they at least open sourced it.

BeOS, a modern operating system that supported SMP, preemptive multitasking, and a journaling file system waaaaay before Windows 95 was even released.

So what? Windows 95 was terrible. It was just prettier than what came before it, and had a pre-existing library of software that would work with it (i.e. every MSDOS app).

You say those like they aren’t both extremely important things. Windows 95 was the inflection point where desktop personal computers became “accessible” and coincided (despite their detour into MSN) with the commercialization of Internet in a way that bootstrapped our modern world. The computing world of 2019 isn’t perfect, of course, but don’t take it for granted 🙂

The release was after Windows 95, but I thought they had those modern OS features already working long before that?

PS vita. Powerful handheld. Dual analog sticks. Great hardware. Lots of good games but it could never compete with the smart phones. 3DS didn’t do too well either as compared to DS. I don’t think we’ll see a dedicated handheld gaming device any time soon. I’m sad because I don’t really enjoy playing games on my mobile phone.

> I don’t think we’ll see a dedicated handheld gaming device any time soon.

What about the Nintendo Switch?

I use mine 90% handheld and it works wonderfully as a portable console. There’s nothing hybrid about the portable experience, it’s just an extra option that you can safely ignore.

There’s also rumors of a Switch Mini coming.

I think the earlier comment is just saying that it’s not a dedicated handheld in the sense that you can only use something as a handheld. A major feature is that it can do more than just be a handheld device.

It could absolutely get smaller in the next gen – I think to keep it cheap, relatively powerful and have acceptable battery life is the main reasons it’s as large as it is.

Nokia N9 and its OS: Meego. Imho this was in so many aspects “UX just done right”.

Everything worked in harmony on the N9. Even the slightly curved screen worked together with the swipe-based interface. It’d be brilliant on an all-screen phone like an iPhone X (so would its successor Sailfish for that matter). No buttons to emulate.

I wrote a post about the alarm clock[1] a while ago, which I feel is pretty indicative of the thought that went into each feature.

Too bad about the rare bug that never got fixed that could show a received SMS under the wrong contact. Or the bug (which did finally get fixed by the community) where if you received an SMS with emoji in it, it would silently just never show the whole message at all!

[1] http://nition.momentstudio.co.nz/2014/08/the-nokia-n9-alarm-…

I miss not having a new Nexus every year given that Pixel lineup has neither lived up to be a worthy contender for the iPhone nor has it managed to appeal to the Nexus audience.

Second to that is probably the void that Sunrise, Carousel and Rdio have left out. I still haven’t worthy replacements to all of them.

Google glass.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Glass

A pure ingenious effort to turn humans into cyborg by adding the 4th dimension of computing to their lives in a non intrusive and seamless way. I can never understand why google couldn’t make it popular given that wearable tech like watches and fitness band is catching up so quickly.

What I specifically remember about Google Glass is endless reports of people getting assaulted for wearing them because people were thought they were being recorded.

Random people hate being watched, or at least they hate knowing they are being watched by another person.

That being said, like someone else mentioned, Glass and AR-type products are very successful as productivity boosters in people who assemble products. We use Pupil Labs’ glasses at our business to do gaze tracking. There’s a lot of good use cases for this technology, but it’s not cheap and it’s pretty specific at this time.

Google Glass is actively produced and successful in the enterprise space. The consumer market wasn’t the ideal demographic, but it pivoted and continued development.

Wearing another pair of glasses is pretty intrusive. The value added (if any) by Google Glass clearly wasn’t enough over the phone for how much more intrusive it was.

Android touchscreen phones with physical slide-out qwerty (though I would have preferred Colemak ;)) keyboards like the Sony Xperia Mini Pro. So much quicker and more comfortable to touch-type on (ironic, no? :)), I barely ever made any typos.

Rdio. Music Streaming service. Not sure what happened after they closed up shop but the UI was beautiful and they had great performance.

Venture backed, took a big bet on Vdio that the market didn’t care for, probably couldn’t meet growth goals compared to their burn.

After Rdio was cancelled, I never bothered to sign up for another streaming service. I, too, miss their beautiful UI.

I really miss Rdio! Just disagree on the performance a bit.

The UI was fluid, but their network performance would take a hit from how their API had been designed: every action on the app would trigger a large JSON payload download (and sometimes upload).

It definitely felt nicer than Spotify.

I was sad when I had to switch to Spotify. Rdio was clean. Even today I don’t understand Spotify.

Rdio also had an amazing recommendation engine from Echo Nest. Even though that company got bought by Spotify it took them a long time after the acquisition before they had decent recommendations.

Something I’ve been trying recently is the Spotify progressive web app.

Pros:
Snappier to use, faster to open, never see the “Updating spotify” interstitial.

Cons:
Spotify quits when I cmd-q Chrome, completely different UI layout to the thick client, doesn’t understand the OS-level media control keys.

Whyd, an audio platform for unfindable records.

Closed and recovered as OSS by the former dev of the company as « OpenWhyd », and still accessible for free on a server, but he’s getting tired.

Sega Dreamcast. All Sony had to say was “PS2 is coming next year” and everyone stopped listening to what they could get today.

Even if they hadn’t, the PS2 is one of the greatest consoles of all time. It would have been a difficult competitor to go against.

It could have held it’s own technologically, except that SEGA were complete dumbshits and their console supported burned CDRs out of the box. That was a coup de grace.

I had a friend with a Dreamcast he had to mod it to play CDRs as the Dreamcast had a different CD format to hold more info. They had to reduce the CD to fit in a 700M CDR. Most games didn’t use the full CD.

Google mod chips some time they had them for the Playstation and XBox to use CDRs.

Agreed. Although the PS2 was fantastic in its own right, the Dreamcast was way ahead of its time (especially with network connectivity) and wasn’t given a fair shake.

Sony tried to do the same in 2005 when Microsoft released the XBox 360, only they kept pushing back the release date. Thankfully their E3 2006 press conference was such a flop that in a bit of karmic justice it forced them to stop resting on their laurels and compete for marketshare again.

There was precedent. Sony destroyed the SEGA Saturn’s USA launch by simply walking up to the microphone at E3 in 1995 by saying just one word: $299.

Saturn’s launch was destroyed by a sudden release with too few retailers onboard. E3 was just a byproduct of that.

The Sun Ray was ahead of its time. After Oracle bought and killed it, “the cloud” kicked up and is exactly what the Sun Rays were built for in the first place. Oops!

From the original NCD X-terminal to the current Citrix-based smart terminals there’s definitely something compelling about putting the compute elsewhere and displaying graphics locally. Nvidia have to be very worried about Google’s Project Stream because of the cloud model: someone aggregating compute and render resources means net selling less than when each person has their own.

It also means far less opportunity to exfiltrate data. There would be no Snowden if he had a dumb terminal that refused to mount storage USB devices, for example. I’m kinda surprised the intelligence community didn’t go all in on dumb displays for that reason alone.

That’s going to happen to Nvidia anyway. They must be blind if they can’t see that. Even today a very small percentage of gamers are using Nvidia chips, as most games are played on mobile. This is why desktop gaming hardware is getting more expensive every year, as it’s becoming more and more of a niche market.

What was the advantage of these over doing the same with Linux and PC hardware? The Sun Ray looked slick but like everything Sun made was ridiculously overpriced and slower than commodity PC gear.

I don’t see the advantage of thin clients over network booted thick clients anyway. It’s way more performant and more economical to execute client software on the client CPU.

Wasn’t there a Microsft Surface Table at one point? What ever happened to that? I had always imagined that was going to be the Microsoft-Tron crossover I always wanted.