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The top 10 tech ‘fails’ of 2013
Doug Gross, CNN
8:46 AM EST, Sat December 28, 2013
HealthCare.gov rollout —
The Affordable Care Act has been a hallmark of President Barack Obama's time in the White House. But it sure didn't get off to a smooth start when the website used to access the plan stalled in its crucial opening days. What was initially thought to be sluggishness due to heavy traffic turned out to be dozens of bugs that took nearly two months to fix. Heavy hitters from Silicon Valley were brought in for a "tech surge" -- raising the question of why they weren't involved from the beginning.
Twitter Music —
There's a thing called Twitter Music. Don't feel bad if you didn't notice -- you're not alone. Announced with fanfare on "Good Morning America" in April, the service suggests bands you might like based on who you follow. But it never gained traction on a Web seemingly happy with its Pandoras and Spotifys. A promised Android version never followed the iOS rollout, and reports in recent months say it could be scrapped any day.
BlackBerry's free fall continues —
The once-mighty BlackBerry seems to make this list every year now. In 2013, the Canadian company hit a sobering milestone when its once-dominant devices accounted for less than 1% of the smartphone market. Plans to sell the company fell through, 4,500 layoffs were announced in September and CEO Thorsten Heins was shown the door in November. Not a good year.
BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images/File
Surface struggles —
It felt like Microsoft was on to something: a hybrid that paired the form of a tablet with the keyboard and souped-up specs of a laptop. But the Surface has, thus far, failed to put a scare in the iPad. This summer, Microsoft had to take a nearly $1 billion write-off because of unsold Surface tablets. Don't count them out yet, though: Second-generation Surface tablets are out and getting improved marks from reviewers.
Reddit names wrong guys —
Crowdsourcing solutions to all sorts of problems has been an increasingly valuable Web tactic. But sometimes it goes the other way. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings in April, well-intentioned Reddit users pored through video, photos and other documents in trying to identify the attackers. What they did instead was surface the names and images of several innocent people who were put under intense and unfair scrutiny. The site noticed. When a similar subreddit sprang up in September to help find the Washington Navy Yard shooter, Reddit quickly shut it down.
Yahoo e-mail —
The big headline was a massive outage in December that denied millions of users access to Yahoo e-mail for nearly a week. But many already weren't happy with the two overhauls that Yahoo mail had gotten earlier in 2013. CEO Marissa Mayer has made improving e-mail one of the keys to righting the ship at Yahoo. But, so far, the efforts have pretty much just served to annoy and inconvenience the users they already have.
Facebook's 'phone' —
Rumors of a "Facebook phone" had swirled for a couple of years when, in April, the company rolled out Facebook Home. It wasn't a phone but a suite of apps that turned Google's Android operating system into a more Facebook-centric experience. Users didn't really see a need for it. The HTC First, the first (and probably only) phone pre-loaded with Home, sold so poorly that the company slashed its price from $99 to $1 in less than a month. Several other Android phones can be modified for Facebook Home, but there have been few takers. (Side note: We still love Chat Heads).
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Smartwatches -- too soon? —
Wearable tech was a big story in 2013 and smartwatches were at the forefront, with offerings from Samsung and Sony joining smaller players like Kickstarter sensation Pebble. The problem? Nobody really likes them yet. We'll call this one an "incomplete." While first-generation smart watches don't do all that much, there's hope that future offerings (included a rumored one from Apple) make the technology more useful.
Web hoaxes —
From fake Twitter feuds to less-than-truthful sob stories, 2013 had more than its fair share of viral Web stories that turned out to be fakes. Whether it's all of us being gullible suckers, a business model that rewards websites for speed over accuracy, or a combination of both, pranksters and hoax-peddlers had their way with us again and again this year.