Perhaps this will be the decade where everything in Back to the Future becomes a reality. But before we get excited about the technological possibilities of the 2020s, we should take a moment to pay our respects to the technology that didn't pan out long-term in the 2010s.
From forgotten technologies to old model cell phones to instant messaging services, there is a lot of technology that didn’t make the cut.
Point and Shoot Cameras
Once upon a time, phones and cameras were separate technologies — at least the high-quality ones. Do you remember going on trips and having to hold onto both your camera and phone? Point and shoot cameras gave even amateur photographers expert skills.
Technology like the auto setting and the ability to delete bad pictures made taking photos much easier. However, with the popularity of smartphones, there is no longer a need for these cameras because phones have them built-in.
Yahoo Messenger was originally Yahoo Chat, a public chat room, until 2012 when it was renamed Yahoo Messenger. It was an accompaniment to the Yahoo Mail. You needed a Yahoo ID to use the IM service that could also be used for other Yahoo services.
Other features of the IM service included file sharing, the ability to make phone calls, voicemail and user avatars. The platform could even be customized with different themes, but declining numbers made the service end in 2017.
Later renamed Windows Live Messenger, MSN Messenger was Microsoft's successful attempt to cash in on the popularity of IM services, which were very common at the time. It could also transfer files and gave users emoticons.
It hit its peak around 2009, after which the rise of smartphones and social media made the service redundant. Microsoft discontinued the messaging service in 2014. It has been replaced with Skype, which continues to have the same messaging system.
This app and video hosting service was created in 2012 as a video version of Twitter. It featured six-second clips of people doing everything from skits to pranks to singing. By gaining popularity on the app, musical artists like Shawn Mendes were able to secure record deals.
A whole new generation of viral hits and stars rose up through the platform. However, Vine could not compete with other media apps like Facebook and Instagram. On October 27, 2016, it was shut down.
DVDs, an abbreviation for digital video disc or digital versatile disc, were very popular once upon a time. They quickly replaced VCR tapes on the shelves of rental stores but ultimately faced stiff competition from online movie downloads and streaming services.
They got an upgrade in the form of blu-ray technology, but now both are slowly fading away into history. They may not be totally extinct yet, but they are definitely on the endangered technology list.
Ah, internet explorer. One of the OG internet browsers. It came into existence in 1995 and was the default browser on all Microsoft Windows devices, making its usage nearly universal.
However, it couldn't keep up with browsers by newer companies like Google, so it was officially dropped in 2016. It has now been fully replaced by Microsoft Edge. This new web browser has struggled with popularity as well, but it claims to be better for using Netflix and seems to be able to deliver better battery performance.
Google Plus was Google's fourth attempt at creating a successful social network (the first was Google Buzz, followed by Google Friend Connect and then Orkut). Nonetheless, Google hoped to finally make waves in the social networking game when the platform came out in 2011.
It looked promising. More than 300 million people had a Google Plus account, but people only used theirs to access other integrated social networking sites like Youtube. It was only in 2019 that the company finally pulled the plug and discontinued the Google Plus service.
Windows Phones first came into being in 2010 with Windows Phone 7. Since then, Windows has tried to keep up with the times, but with the rise of other smartphone companies, sales have started to decline.
Despite several incarnations of the phone being made, updates for all phones were suspended on December 10, 2019. They had a long run, but Microsoft was unable to keep up with competitors like Apple and Android.
The idea of 3-D TVs started when the 3-D movie Avatar became a huge hit. However, while having a TV with 3-D capabilities in your home sounded awesome, the idea didn't pan out.
The first speed bump was that new flatscreen TVs had just come out, so people weren't prepared to go out and buy yet another one. Then there were all sorts of issues with the glasses that were supposed to be worn when watching 3-D TV, and it was unclear how to make live television compatible with the technology.
Replaceable Batteries on Smartphones
Initially, this was a great idea. You could be out and about with no charger and instantly have a phone with a full battery. However, phone technology got too complex for this kind of battery to work. It simply wasn’t a good enough reason to compromise on other features, such as water and dust resistance.
Moreover, removable batteries made it impossible to design phones smaller than they already were. Because of all of these complications, replaceable batteries on smartphones are now a thing of the past.
Portable Media Players
These devices were once a revolutionary product. By making it possible to entertain anyone at any time anywhere, family road trips became easier and waits at the DMV slightly less painful.
However, there was bound to be a new technology that bested the portable media player, and as with so many technologies of the era, it was the smartphone. They added streaming and online downloads to the mix, and all while including a dozen other uses as well.
Kickass Torrents (KAT)
This pirating website caused a lot of trouble for artists, but it was awesome for people who were able to download content for free. It’s estimated that around one billion dollars worth of pirated content was downloaded from this site.
The site was eventually shut down when the suspected owner of the site, Artem Vaulin, was arrested at an airport in Poland in 2016. Vaulin allegedly made millions of dollars from ad revenue on the website that at one point was the sixty-ninth most popular site on the planet.
140 Character Limit on Twitter
After its launch, the 140 character limit was a much talked about part of the app. It wasn’t until 2017 that the character limit was doubled to 280 characters. Funnily enough, most tweets (roughly 88 percent) are still less than 140 characters.
It's probably just the thought of having a longer character limit that makes composing a thought into a tweet easier. Nonetheless, no one is rallying for the return of the 140 character limit. Now the old Twitter rule is a joke of the past.
The latest BlackBerry design came out in 2018, but it may very well be the last. BlackBerry phones were huge in 2011, with sales of more than 50 million units. Since then, however, they’ve failed to innovate and offer new features for customers.
The entirety of 2019 passed with no new version of the BlackBerry phone was released. It’s funny that if anyone had said 10 years ago that BlackBerry phones would go out of style, people would have thought they’d gone mad.
As mentioned previously, Google was the creator of this once popular social networking service. Orkut was named after a Google employee: Orkut Büyükkökten. It was especially popular in India and other Asian countries as well as Brazil, as it was one of the first social networking sites in those parts of the world.
Most of its users were ages 18 to 30, which made it the largest platform for young people at the time. Orkut was eventually shut down in 2014 because it couldn't keep up with rival services like Facebook.
CRT Desktop Monitors
The first computer to use a CRT desktop monitor was the U.S. military’s SAGE in the 1950s. Initially, computers were only for data processing, but in the 80s, they started to be designed for entertainment, too. Lots of people remember spending their childhoods playing computer games on a huge, chunky CRT desktop monitor.
The age of the huge desktop monitor has now passed. Now there are slim LCD designs and laptops, so there is no need for big monitors anymore. Who else took apart their old CRT desktop and made it into a space station?
Youtube Gaming App
The Youtube gaming app was launched in an attempt to show gamers live and recorded game streaming videos without other Youtube content getting in the way. It was designed specifically with gamers on Youtube in mind. However, it just became a confusing system that didn't pan out.
You can still view its gaming content back on regular Youtube. While it was a failure as an app, at least the content it spawned is still being enjoyed for the people it was made for.
CD Players in Cars
Before people were passing the aux cord in cars, they insisted on playing their favorite CDs. However, the ability to play CDs in cars at all is becoming rarer and rarer. It can be difficult for older people who prefer to have a physical copy of their music.
However, with declining CD sales, it’s clear that new models of cars need to focus on the ability to use music streaming services in the car instead to stay competitive in today’s world.
Apple iPod Shuffle
This music player debuted in October of 2005 as the Apple version of an MP3 player. It was the first iPod to use flash memory and allowed people to listen to music with convenience and style.
Then came the iPhone. As with so many gadgets, iPods of all kinds were suddenly no longer necessary when a phone could perform the same function. While the iPod Touch has risen to take its place, there’s no doubt that it must now compete with ordinary smartphones.
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)
If you had a BlackBerry device in the early 2000s, you definitely had this messaging service. It provided many users with their first taste of instant messaging capability on a phone rather than a computer. computers right on your phone.
The biggest issue it raised was when they added the read message function. It marked messages seen by their recipient with an "R," and not everyone liked the idea. The anxiety that came with the other person knowing you had seen the message wasn't fun for everyone. It was discontinued in 2019.
Media Player Classic
Media Player Classic was a free video player for Windows users. It was similar to Windows Media Player but had way more features, like a built-in DVD player. It was remastered as Media Player Classic Home Cinema Edition in 2008, which was designed for use in a home cinema.
It was not the most glamorous interface, but it got the job done. Although updates ceased to be developed in 2017, it is still downloadable on Windows 10. Since then, however, better video players with even more features have made it irrelevant.
Youtube Messages was created to let people chat and share Youtube videos more easily. However, it never got the traction it needed to become popular. Moreover, it also got Youtube in more hot water over inappropriate messaging. Youtube was already in trouble for showing inappropriate content to children.
However, kids used Youtube messaging as a way to get around parental controls and the need to give out a phone number if they didn't have one, and many were crushed when the service was discontinued. Now Youtube messaging is a thing of the past and communication is only through comments.
In 2016, VR was all the rage, and big companies were taking huge strides to be a part of the new technology. With a (kind of expensive) eyemask-slash-headset contraption, you were transported into another world where you could see everything in 360-degree views.
The hype over this technology led to the idea of VR movies, but the idea wasn't all that practical. If you’re shooting in 360 degrees, where are you going to hide the lighting and audio crew? Traditional movies are made the way they are because the director guides you through the story.
In 2016, Apple announced that they would no longer be making new iPhones with headphone jacks. The announcement was met with a lot of upset users, as not everyone was on board with using Bluetooth headphones all the time.
While Apple continues to produce an adapter that can be plugged into the charging unit to use wired headphones, if your phone battery is dying, then you have to choose one or the other. To continue developing slimmer iPhone designs, there has to be a compromise in features.
AOL Instant Messenger
One of the first instant messaging systems to exist, AOL Instant Messenger was super popular in the late 90s and early 2000s. It was the first taste of the connections we can make today with smartphones. The "Away Messages" were the OG tweets and status updates.
It was initially a built-in part of AOL desktops but then relaunched as a separate app in 1997. However, it never managed to move to cell phones in later years and couldn't compete with other messaging services that made the jump, so on December 15, 2017, the service ended.
Although tablets were popular when they first came out, they have since had declining sales. This is even worse for android tablets because of a few reasons. First, unlike android phones, there are not a lot of options in the tablet department. Second, they are terrible at updating the systems.
Finally, the primary use of tablets is to play mobile games, yet Apple tablets are often better for that sort of thing. Android tablets don't have much going for them moving forward, so they will continue to decline in sales.
If you ever want to guarantee that you get lost, use Apple Maps. Since its release, the app has had significant problems directing users to their destinations. Directions frequently lead to rivers, dead-end road, and in one notable instance, the runway of Dulles Airport.
Apple is currently working on developing a new version of the app that is supposed to be accessible throughout the world by the end of 2020, but it’s going to be hard to beat Google Maps software. Only time will tell if Apple can fix all of their errors.
Blockbuster had a rocky life as a company. Its net income rose and dropped dramatically again and again in the 90s and early 2000s.
Eventually, it was pushed into obsolescence by the emergence of streaming services and the ability to purchase or rent movies online. The speed of its disappearance was shocking, but just as DVDs are slowly fading into history, the stores that once rented them are already a thing of the past.
Nokia and Motorola were once serious contenders in the cell phone industry. Feature phones came with slide-out keyboards and flip abilities which made them fun to fiddle around with. While not entirely dead, declining sales and cheap prices for smartphones suggest they won't survive this decade.
With more features and greater functionality, feature phones just can’t compete with modern smartphones. While they continue to have some benefits for low-income users, falling smartphone prices suggest it’s only a matter of time before they’re gone completely.
Once the frequent stars of Vine videos, hoverboards are not so popular anymore. Perhaps they fell into decline because when you google "hoverboards," the first results that come back are things like "do hoverboards still catch fire?"
There was a mechanical issue in some hoverboard designs that caused them to overheat and explode, sometimes even causing burns. People have now moved on to the next thing. Motorized scooters and skateboards are pretty popular these days, but only time will tell if they survive the next decade.