In Memoriam: The Tech We Lost in 2014
By Evan Dashevsky, PC Magazine, 20 December 2014.
By Evan Dashevsky, PC Magazine, 20 December 2014.
Yiddish author and playwright Sholem Aleichem once wrote "Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, [and] a tragedy for the poor." Indeed. Each person is but a spectator to the parade of people and things marching into their lives and out again - until the day when we all must finally march off with them.
This is the way of all things. And so it is for consumer technology.
We invest much time energy into heralding the birth of new technologies here at PC Mag, but it is also important to take a moment to consider the technology that has reached the end of its product cycle, sometimes far too soon.
It is true that outmoded technology must always make way for the more advanced and more efficient, but what value is the unexamined (tech) life? What value, I ask?!
Here we present a brief remembrance of 17 technologies which will not be joining us in 2015. We have included some gadgets and services that you may not have even been aware of when they were around, while others were - at one point - keystones of our evolving digital culture.
It may be very easy to see this article as a mourning of fallen technologies, but we should instead think of it as a celebration of how they all enriched our lives! We owe them that much!
1. iPod Classic (2001-2014)
As soon as Apple quietly killed off the clickwheel'd iPod Classic (formerly just "the iPod"), the gadget went on to become a super hot collector's item. It's kinda crazy to think that the device that heralded the mobile revolution of the not-so-distant past is now considered "vintage."
2. Microsoft Office Clip Art Library (1996-2014)
Ever since Microsoft Word added a default clip art library in the mid-1990s, living room graphic designers around the world have used this treasure trove of cartoon depictions of balloons, pencils, and kites to add a bit of pizazz to their documents.
But alas, Microsoft announced earlier this year that it was killing off the clip art image library in Office.com. Instead, users will have to use Bing's image search function to punch up their PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets.
3. Windows XP (2001-2014)
If you are still running Windows XP on your computer, you really need to stop doing that. Besides the fact that the operating system is a comparatively ancient 13 years old, Windows dropped support for it back in April, meaning that you will be left vulnerable to an Internet full of digital evil-doers.
4. Calling Moviefone (1989-2014)
After a quarter-century of dutiful automated service, Moviefone killed its iconic 777-FILM movie-time service back in February. But for those who still need info about their favourite movies and TV shows in a familiar setting, the Moviefone mobile app is still alive and well.
5. Aereo (2012-2014)
Following a lengthy legal battle, streaming service Aereo was finally murdered by the Supreme Court of the United States in June. Officially, the company is reorganizing in Chapter 11, but we can probably just mark them down in the "deceased" column. Even if the Aereo brand name lives on, it will be a vastly different service than the Aereo we've known and been perplexed by all these many years.
6. PSP (2004-2014)
Arguably, no mobile gaming platform took greater advantage of the new generation of mobile technology than the PlayStation Portable (PSP). But 10 years and more than 80 million units later, it's finally time for the PSP to meet that big obsolete tech heap in the sky. Perhaps the next-gen PlayStation Vita will live as long and bountiful a life - if it can refrain from misleading its customers.
7. Orkut (2004-2014)
I was only slightly aware of Orkut's existence. I'd probably only come across the name during the occasional deep dive into Google's "other products section," at which time I would ask myself "what the hell is Orkut?"
Well, as it turned out, Orkut was a decade-old social networking experiment that really only took off in Brazil. While few were probably even aware of its existence, Google decided to pull the plug on the service in September. If you were one of the Brazilian teenagers who contributed time, energy, and content to Orkut over the years, Google promises the content will be preserved in an online archive for all eternity. And that's kind of a nice thought if you think about it.
8. TrueCrypt (2004-2014)
TrueCrypt - Edward Snowden's alleged encrypting technology of choice - took a header into the virtual crypt earlier this year. Back in May, the service was abruptly shut down by its unknown creators for somewhat vague reasons. Users who tried to access the site were simply greeted by a prompt, which read "WARNING: Using TrustCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues."
9. MSN Messenger aka 'Windows Live Messenger' (1999-2014)
Along with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger (later re-branded Windows Live Messenger) helped America become acquainted with the fine art of minimalist instant message speak. While AIM is still plugging along, Windows decided to put its still-popular Messenger service out to pasture back in March and replace it with another Microsoft communication brand: Skype.
10. Sony VAIO (1996-2014)
Sony announced in February that it was quitting the laptop/desktop game to concentrate on tablets. I can speak from experience that the company's high-end-ish line of VAIO products were pretty decent. However, they were somewhat out of place in a market that always seems to be racing towards smaller and cheaper.
If you are a dedicated VAIO aficionado, there may still be some hope: The brand has been spun off as an independent entity and will continue to be available in Japan. So, there is a chance that somewhere down the line, it will be reintroduced to foreign markets.
11. TwitPic (2008-2014)
Facing a challenge to its trademark, this Twitter-centric photo service decided to shut its doors in September. If you're worried about the fate of all those images you've posted to the service over the years, Twitter has agreed to take over the TwitPic domain and host them "for the time being."
12. Facebook Gifts (2012-2014)
Did you ever get a gift from that special someone that they purchased on Facebook? Well, neither did many other people. Less than two years after launching the virtual marketplace, Facebook decided to shut it down.
13. Silk Road 2.0 (2013-2014)
Did anyone really think that would last?
14. Nokia Mobile Phones (1984-2014)
After Microsoft acquired Nokia for a cool $7.2 billion back in 2013, the company decided back in October that it would dump the iconic Nokia name from its devices and rebrand its new division as "Microsoft Lumia."
15. Redbox Instant (2012-2014)
I wasn't really aware of this Netflix rival, a joint venture between Redbox and Verizon. Oh, well, now it's dead. But don't worry, your parents can still use the physical Redbox kiosks.
16. Qik aka 'Skype Qik' (2007-2014)
Like the aforementioned MSN Messenger, video messaging service Qik was rolled into its parent company Skype. Didn't save your videos stored on the service? Well then I have sad news for you: these videos too have passed into the great technological beyond with the rest of the Qik ecosystem. All things are transitory.
17. Plasma HDTVs (1999-2014)
Plasma HDTVs had a nice long run, but now they are effectively platform wormfood. LG was one of the two remaining pillars of plasma screens in the market after Panasonic shut down production in 2013. But with LG leaving plasma in 2014, that leaves on Samsung in the plasma game. And as PCMag's Will Greenwald wrote in October, "a single HDTV manufacturer can't keep an entire panel technology afloat, [so] it's likely Samsung will drop plasma entirely in 2015."
[Source: PC Magazine. Edited.]