Technologies that were simultaneously hits and misses in 2007

by David Spark on December 19, 2007

What always amazes me about technology is that the winners every year show their flaws. Many of us that just write that off to development or the “it’s in beta” philosophy, but often these failures are not in technology, but just individuals making really bad decisions. For my last show in 2007, I thought I’d review those technologies that were simultaneously winners AND losers in 2007.

Listen to the Spark Minute. John Scott and David Spark from Green 960 in San Francisco, CA talk about 2007’s simultaneous winners and losers in technology (Run time: 6:53).

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WINNERI’ve written about Facebook multiple times before and I’m completely addicted to it. I’ve got 563 friends on it that are truly people I know. I can’t say I can maintain close relationships with all those people, but Facebook allows me to touch base with all of them using its microblogging tool. Simple actions like changing my status allow me to alert friends to significant changes in my life such as my recent engagement.

LOSER – I’m currently going through social networking fatigue. While I am a member of LinkedIn, MySpace, and Friendster, the only social network that I actively use is Facebook. Mostly because it’s the only one that offers a dialogue of my friends and colleagues lives. But even with that, I’m tired of the invites to all the pointless applications like zombie attacks, vampire bites, and food fights. It’s just a colossal waste of my time. I don’t want to be rude to my friends, but then at the same time I’m annoyed by their requests and in some way I think it actually taints the friendship or business relationship. I’m trying to maximize my quality Facebook time, and engaging in these simple games that have the meteoric popularity and staying power of a pet rock is not something I wish to do.

Repurposed video on the Web

WINNER – While user generated content is cool, I prefer to watch professionally produced programming online and on demand. I’ve seen entire series of shows plus movies online. Sometimes studios and networks post their own shows for viewing on their sites, for pay on iTunes, or on demand viewing on Netflix. It’s an additional distribution channel that’s close to costless and results in additional revenue. In cases where the studios don’t post their own content, viewers take control and post the video on their own.

LOSER – Viewers aren’t supposed to be posting the studios’ content. The studios should do it, but they’re so locked into a chain of licensing deals that it isn’t a simple process of encoding the video and posting it online–which has been the solution for viewers and as a result viewers have been responding by consuming the illegally posted content. Audience behavior has proven to the studios that there is a market for their content repurposed online. The problem is they can’t get all the lawyers and deal makers to agree fast enough to get the stuff online. Instead, the lawyers expend their effort going after the people posting the content. If they would just get the content online, they wouldn’t have to worry about going after people illegally posting it.

Microsoft Vista

WINNER – They finally released it!

LOSER – Microsoft’s most delayed and most hyped operating system lost its brand value every year the delay continued. In addition, this was one of the worst marketing campaigns Microsoft has ever done. The WOW campaign? I don’t need WOW, I need to know if it can do something that my old operating system can’t do. And honestly, I don’t know what the WOW is. This operating system has been such a massive flop that people are actually requesting new computers with Microsoft’s old operating system, Windows XP. That’s a testament to how great XP is and how crappy Vista is. I think this could be a first in the computer world that a significant percentage of people are requesting an older operating system. I’m hoping Microsoft won’t stop making the two operating systems available on new computers because I truly fear having to get a new computer with Vista on it. I went over to set up a friend’s brand new computer with Vista and I was shocked at how long a brand new computer took to boot up plus how slow it was in general.

Microblogging (Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, and the microblogging feature in Facebook)

WINNER – Stay in touch with hundreds if not thousands of people with simple updates. They can be minor such as, “I’m going to the party now” to bigger announcements like the one I just made, “I’m engaged.” It’s a quick way to touch base with friends so you’ll have some context of what’s been going on each other’s lives since you saw each other last. Allows you to maintain many relationships simply.

LOSER – Some people become addicted and they flood the stream with their own microblog entries. If I have one friend that posts 20 times a day, that will push all the entries of my other friends. In addition, people have to think hard about what it is exactly they want to share. Who really needs to know you’re eating a ham sandwich?

Google Maps’ Street View

WINNER – Gee whiz cool. Let me check out my place. Let me send a link of my place so my friends can see where I live.

LOSER – I use Google Maps every single day, yet I never look at the Street View feature. It’s only a fun feature to see ONCE. In addition, it would have been nice that you told us you were going to be driving around the city in a van with a dozen cameras on top. I would have picked out a nice outfit to wear.


WINNER – So hotly anticipated and it delivered. This was the first mobile device with character that people truly loved. People don’t often use that word to describe their devices.

LOSER – Version one released with an endless array of software flaws such as a crappy keyboard for data entry and no copy and paste function. Plus, Steve Jobs angered early adopters with a quick $200 price cut for late adopters and only appeased early adopters with a $100 coupon to buy more Apple stuff. Jobs doesn’t support the hacking community. Firmware updates turned hacked iPhones into iBricks.

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