Internet Appliances, Web TV Called 'Tech Flops'
Dec 30, 2003
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Internet appliances were named one of the "Eight Biggest Tech Flops" in a list released by Ziff Davis Media. Jim Louderback, web site editor-in-chief for the company, which runs the technology sites PCMag.com and eWeek.com, along with print magazines such as PC Magazine and eWEEK, compiled the list, which claims to name "the industry's biggest catastrophes and biggest consumer technology calamities of all time." The list says that because PC component have plunged during what is calling the "Internet Appliance Heyday," a full PC ends up costing just a few dollars more than what it says are the truncated appliances. Moreover, the list also says that Americans are conditioned to want more and more features even if they never use them "so a computer that just surfs the Internet seems woefully inadequate compared to a PC that could play games, balance your checkbook, edit movies, and let you write the great American novel," the list states. 3Com's Audrey, the I-opener from Netpliance, and Sony's eVilla, which shipped for less than 2 months, were noted as famous Internet terminal flops. WebTV, a type of Internet appliance that uses a TV, instead of a monitor, to display web pages, also made the list of "flops." It said that WebTV was "initially popular with the tech-averse when it shipped in 1996," but then Microsoft bought the company for $425 million in 1997.

"But when sales stalled at around a million users, someone woke up and realized that low-resolution TVs are lousy at displaying emails and web pages," Mr. Louderback states in the list. He says that Microsoft has since renamed WebTV MSN TV, but that hasn't helped.

"If you're reading this on a WebTV - or an MSN TV -- I'm sorry for calling your kid ugly, but get yourself a real computer. You'll like it a whole lot better."

The other tech flops named to the list were the PCjr, the Go, Magic Cap, Bob, Iomega Clik! Drive, and Data Play.

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