Your Votes Tallied: The Biggest Tech Flop of All Time
Our readers have spoken. Additional comments ranged from 'Where's Y2k?' to 'I can't believe you nominated Dreamcast!' to 'What constitutes a flop, anyway?'
Computerworld - Computerworld.com recently presented a feature called Don't Believe the Hype: The 21 Biggest Technology Flops by David Haskin. In the story, we took a stroll down memory lane, fondly remembering 21 overpromoted products and technologies that just plain failed to live up to their hype. At the end, we asked our readers to vote to choose one of them as the biggest flop of all, or to write in their own candidates. We also invited readers to agree or disagree with our picks in the article's comments area.
The reader response was overwhelming. We received more than 30,000 votes in our admittedly unscientific poll, plus nearly 300 reader comments ranging from kudos for a fun read to reminders of flops we overlooked to scathing remarks questioning our intelligence. Several heated discussions emerged around which products, technologies and events should or shouldn't have been included in our list, whether the judging criteria were fair, and what exactly constitutes a flop.
Here we present the winners of our poll, along with the comments that best sum up the extremely interesting back and forth among our readers. Responses have been edited for grammar, spelling and length.
And the winner is...
It's official: For Computerworld readers, no other product or technology comes close to Microsoft Bob for sheer floppiness. The second place pick, dot-bombs, received 1,000 fewer votes than Bob.
As of this writing, here's how the top five results stack up (note that these results will likely have changed by the time you read this):
- 1st place: Microsoft Bob, with 4,924 votes (16% of the total)
- 2nd place: Dot-bombs, 3,870 votes (12%)
- 3rd place: The paperless office, 2,828 votes (9%)
- 4th place: DIVX, 2,704 votes (8%)
- 5th place: Iridium, 2,615 votes (8%)
For complete, up-to-the-minute results, see the voting page.
As for our reader comments, they tended to fall into four major categories:
- Hey, you forgot these!
- These are not flops!
- What were you thinking?
- Final thoughts on success and failure.
Hey, you forgot these!
Several readers suggested products, technologies and events that should have been included in our initial list. We've outlined the most popular here.
Other suggestions included Sony Betamax, MicroChannel Architecture (MCA), Digital Compact Cassette (DCC), Nintendo Virtual Boy, Windows ME (some people nominated every version of Windows), bubble memory, Token Ring, Cue Cat, Philips CD-i, RCA SelectaVision, the virtual office, Web 2.0, General Magic, MSN, IBM PS/2, ISDN, e-voting machines, NGage, artificial intelligence and many more.
Perhaps the most vitriolic debate swirled around whether the Year 2000 (Y2k) bug should have been included in our list. This was the very first reader comment to the story:
The responses came fast and furiously.
Indeed, that's exactly why we didn't include Y2k in our list of flops. If not for the Herculean efforts of IT pros around the world, Y2k would have been devastating. Yet the debate goes on.
I was probably treated like every other IT professional on January 2nd. I was blamed for wasting money because nothing happened on January 1st. When I explained that nothing happened because management spent the money to make sure we wouldn't be affected by the Y2k bug, my argument seemed to fall on deaf ears. I guess it's just human nature to expect to get something for your money. When the goal is to not get something, the concept is too novel for most people.
Some of our readers, while conceding that Y2k would have been disastrous if not properly attended to, argued for its inclusion in the tech flops list anyway.
Clinton has a point. Still, we stand by our decision to leave Y2k off the list. For more of Computerworld's take on Y2k, see IT's Finest Hour by Editor in Chief Don Tennant.
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