This year gave us some of our favorite tech yet, but it wasn’t good news for all.
As with every year, companies went out of business, apps shut down and tech toys disappeared from store shelves for good. From VCRs and Pebble to Vine and Vessel and Meerkat, 2016 gave us plenty of tech fatalities.
Let’s take a minute to remember all the tech we lost this year.
Okay, yeah, technically the 3.5mm jack is still around, but Apple’s “courageous” decision to jettison the venerable audio port from the iPhone 7 is already inspiring other manufacturers (HTC and Motorola among them) to do the same. Its days are definitely numbered.
The vision of a wireless future in which headphones no longer tether us to our devices, providing audio connections that are crystal-clear and reliable is compelling. But in the present, it’s hard to see this cordless nirvana through all the dongles.
Vine’s death came as no surprise to the community of creators who for a long time called it their creative home. But many were still disappointed when Twitter announced plans to axe the video app it acquired in 2013. In its heyday, many big name digital influencers rose to fame thanks to Vine. A handful of Vine stars even lived on the same floor of a building in Hollywood, on Vine Street (yes, really). However, Twitter recently said it plans to keep Vine alive (kind of) with a pared-down Vine Camera app. -Saba Hamedy
For a brief moment, Samsung was unstoppable. The company launched its Galaxy Note7 to glowing reviews. Mashable even called it the best smartphone on the planet before rescinding its Mashable Choice award. The Note7 had everything you could want in a beautiful, premium phone, including a headphone jack. But the ambitious phone, aimed at taking down Apple’s iPhone 7, literally went up in flames almost as fast as it rocketed to the top.
Defective batteries and an extremely ambitious design with tight tolerances are believed to be the causes for the Note7’s death. Though we’ll never know if the Note7 would have turned the tide in Android’s favor, here’s to hoping Samsung learned some valuable lessons and the Note 8 is a safer phone for all. -Raymond Wong
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If you’ve never had to handle a VCR tape before, you’re…maybe not missing out. In July, Japan’s Funai Electric, the world’s last surviving VCR maker, wound down its production of the dated video cassette recording format 40 years after the first VCR was made.
Funai, which started making VCRs 30 years ago, used to sell tens of millions of the devices at the format’s peak, but could only move 750,000 last year. VCRs were a hallmark of home recording, allowing people to tape what was airing on TV. In the ’90s, it’s been estimated that 95 percent of U.S. homes had one. -Victoria Ho
Oh Vessel, we hardly knew thee. In 2015, Hulu founder Jason Kilar had planned a big launch for his new platform Vessel at VidCon, in hopes of luring the same young viewers who watch YouTube every day. The idea was simple: Feature videos from a variety of Internet personalities, media companies and musicians and make them available exclusively through subscriptions for $2.99 per month. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work. After a little over a year, telecommunications giant Verizon announced it is acquiring Vessel’s product and technology, but not the actual streaming service. -SH
Sorry, Android enthusiasts, it looks like there will never be another Nexus-branded phone. Launched back in 2010 with the Nexus One, the brand that was once synonymous with Google and Android is no more. With the launch of the Pixel phones this year, Google made it clear it no longer wants to share the spotlight with its hardware partners. -KB
After a disappointing last couple of years, GoPro was poised to rebound in 2016 with its two flagship Hero 5 action cameras and the long-awaited Karma drone. Following a delay, GoPro finally revealed the Karma at a splashy global launch event, showing off its foldable design and detachable hand stabilizer. Two weeks after its launch, reports of Karma drones losing power and falling out of the sky prompted GoPro to recall all 2,500 shipped drones, effectively killing hopes of competing with DJI’s considerably smaller foldable drone, the Mavic Pro. Better luck next year, GoPro. -RW
When everyone’s in the live video game, only the fittest can survive. Meerkat was one of the first to enter the space, and although it won headlines and celebrity users when it first emerged in 2015, it could not hold up once Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram rolled out their own live streaming platforms.
After a “pivot” or two, the app was removed from the App Store in September. The social media heavyweights are pushing real-time video hard, with Facebook paying media like CNN and Buzzfeed (and Mashable) to use its platform. But is there enough consumer appetite to go around? That’s unclear, as Meerkat discovered the hard way. But don’t feel too bad for the founders . They’ve parlayed that Meerkat hype into a new social video app, Houseparty. –Ariel Bogle
As if 2016 weren’t difficult enough for the media world, news junkies lost two of the best apps for breaking news alerts: NYT Now, the Newspaper of Record’s real time news app and NBC’s Breaking News. Both apps closed this year after a multiyear run. –KB
The once mighty Yahoo was forced to deal with an uncomfortable truth this year: Its so-called “core” business — consumer apps and media properties — was almost worthless due to declining ad revenue. Once CEO Marissa Mayer’s plan to spin off the company’s valuable Alibaba stock was scrapped, there was little choice but to sell Yahoo to the highest bidder.
That turned out to be Verizon, which acquired the business for $4.83 billion, ending the company’s 22-year stretch as an independent company. The deal still isn’t final, and there’s a chance Verizon could still back out, but Yahoo as an independent entity is finished. -KB
The watch that “kickstarted” the smartwatch craze is no more. What started out as a simple idea turned into a movement and eventually became the poster boy for Kickstarter.
Despite launching a new generation of smartwatches this July and holding the record for three of the four most funded Kickstarter projects of all time, Pebble’s days were numbered as the company struggled to stay afloat. Fitbit ended up scooping it up , but even that company wasn’t interested in Pebble’s hardware.