Ahead of Its Time: 9 Tech Products That Were Too Early to Market

By on October 11, 2013, 12:01 AM

Every now and again, someone comes up with a revolutionary idea for a product or service and brings it to market. Just as often, however, the supporting technology isn’t there, consumers aren’t ready to embrace it, or management mishandles how to properly launch such a product. Whatever the reason, some ideas just aren't meant to take root, no matter how groundbreaking, ultimately falling victim to bad timing.

Finding the good in a failed product can be difficult at the time but in hindsight, it’s those same products that often serve as precursors to existing technology. In this article, we will be profiling nine such ideas that were conceived and brought to market well before their time. While some weren’t exactly failures, most were – and all are responsible for playing a role in current devices or services that make our lives more comfortable and enjoyable.

Read the complete article.




User Comments: 29

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St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Nice write-up.

psycros psycros said:

The Treo was fantastic in most respects - it was my first real smartphone. However, I soon traded it for a Nokia because of Palm's unfortunate decision to use slick, rounded metal buttons. It made typing and navigating on that particular Treo a maddening experience.

Guest said:

Is it sad that I used or had over half of those things and had at least heard of all the rest?

Guest said:

Add the UMPC and it's ilk into that list. I still want a Vaio UX - maybe Sony could release a new version...

Guest said:

I was surprised to see VCR Plus+ (we called it G-Code here in Australia). Was a great little invention back in the day, I didn't use it myself because didn't have a VCR that had it. I even remember the local TV guide always included the G-Code for each program. I definitely would of used it, if had access to it.

Guest said:

Google Glass soon to join the list.

slamscaper slamscaper said:

"I love the power glove. It's so bad..."

AnilD AnilD said:

The Treo was pretty successful product and the reason Palm bought Handspring back in the day. There were plenty of apps and it was a very useful gadget beyond the phone. However I don't argue with it being on the list. Palm should have evolved the Treo and arrived to near iPhone-level smartphones before anyone else. The story would have been way, way different.

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

Lol, some of these I actually own as an avid game collector.

Powerglove is exactly as described, its funny to use, I have gotten a lot of entertainment figuring out how the thing works time and time again.

Virtual Boy, wow that was a headache in a box, I do like some of the game, I own every one for it from the American side and some are actually quite fun. Teleroboxer is actually an amazing game that I love on it, but I get a headache trying to play through it.

Guest said:

This article is a reminder that innovation does happen, but only a small amount becomes successful. When I see articles condemning companies for not being innovative, I have to laugh. You have to launch innovative products at the right time, and hope you are also LUCKY.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

The Treo was fantastic in most respects - it was my first real smartphone. However, I soon traded it for a Nokia because of Palm's unfortunate decision to use slick, rounded metal buttons. It made typing and navigating on that particular Treo a maddening experience.

I remember the Treo. I also remember it was frightfully expensive. I'm surprised Handspring didn't sue Apple for copying them then claiming to be the first smartphone maker. That said they may have attempted to do so but Apple probably dissuaded them by sending in the muscle complete with cement shoes.

Guest said:

Personally, I had webTV and met multiple users online that had webTV. I don't consider it a failure....

Guest said:

The Treo wasn't released before it's time. That and the Blackberry were very successful. I still have a Treo in a drawer here. VCR+ was also pretty popular.

The power glove just wasn't very good along with that horrible 3D system. Smart watches stink now too and are unlikely to have a time. The problem with WebTV was the resolution of the TVs.

Quantum Link and AOL were the first social large networks and they certainly weren't before their time. It was really when AOL went unlimited time that it took off.

Guest said:

Power glove sucked to play with but it made you feel like a badass with it on.

Timonius Timonius said:

I remember the Sega Channel. Had lots of fun with my family with that one.

Guest said:

Surprised to not see Apple's Newton on the list.

Draconian said:

You could probably fill this list with Microsoft products alone. No mention of the Microsoft tablet that appeared in the mid 90's.

JC713 JC713 said:

The Nintendo Virtual Boy was pretty cool. Too bad it was too cool for that time xD.

mlauzon said:

Two problems with the article:

1) Sega Channel on-demand gaming service

1a) Videotron in Canada had a gaming service through their cable box in '89/90...which predates Sega Channel by a few years.

2) Palm Treo smartphone

2a) The smartphone has been around since '94, so Palm didn't create the smartphone market either!

avoidz avoidz said:

It makes one feel old when there's a description of a VCR's function :|

mlauzon said:

It makes one feel old when there's a description of a VCR's function :|

You feel old, I'm almost 40, I didn't even know what a VCR was until sometime in '84, the group home I lived in got one then, although earlier that year my primary worker brought in a Beta machine and that was the first & last time I ever saw one of those!

mlauzon said:

Okay, you've got two years on me!

mailpup mailpup said:

You feel old, I'm almost 40...
Isn't that the same as avoidz?

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Two problems with the article:

1) Sega Channel on-demand gaming service

1a) Videotron in Canada had a gaming service through their cable box in '89/90...which predates Sega Channel by a few years.

2) Palm Treo smartphone

2a) The smartphone has been around since '94, so Palm didn't create the smartphone market either!

Thanks for the feedback. Do note however that we didn't intend to catch the very first glimpse of a current successful technology or trend, for example see how we chose the Palm Treo instead of Apple's Newton. Evidently it's a subjective list, but we tried to include products that we thought were way cool at the time and showed promise, some were even successful, but none have continued to live as they've been replaced by better timed, more modern and polished counterparts of present time.

mlauzon said:

Thanks for the feedback. Do note however that we didn't intend to catch the very first glimpse of a current successful technology or trend, for example see how we chose the Palm Treo instead of Apple's Newton. Evidently it's a subjective list, but we tried to include products that we thought were way cool at the time and showed promise, some were even successful, but none have continued to live as they've been replaced by better timed, more modern and polished counterparts of present time.

Apple's Newton wasn't the first PDA -- now known as a tablet as far as I'm concerned -- that distinction would go to Psion's Organizer II.

The first smartphone was IBM's Simon.

1 person liked this | GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

The Nintendo Virtual Boy was pretty cool. Too bad it was too cool for that time xD.

Yea, I know right!

To be honest, its quite cool, I mean the games look pretty good once you focus them in (Even though they are in red and black) and the controller actually honestly feels pretty natural which I find odd because by looking at it, I would think the opposite. Its fun to play and I show it around from time to time at conventions of club meetings/events as a joke and to let people try it. It actually lasted a bit longer in Japan and had a few more games though most of the Japanese only games that were not released in America are considered rare-Extremely rare and cost a fortune.

Other than giving you a headache and having to sit at a desk to play, I think it would have been a cool device had they actually thought about the comfort of the player playing the device. That to me is the biggest issue right there with it.

xband411 xband411 said:

Cool tidbit: Some of the guys who created Xband went on to create Web TV. They later sold the rights for Web TV to Microsoft and made a pretty penny.

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