The world never changes quite the way you expect. But at The Verge, we've had a front-row seat while technology has permeated every aspect of our lives over the past decade. Some of the resulting moments -- and gadgets -- arguably defined the decade and the world we live in now. But others we ate up with popcorn in hand, marveling at just how incredibly hard they flopped. This is the decade we learned that crowdfunded gadgets can be utter disasters, even if they don't outright steal your hard-earned cash. It's the decade of wearables, tablets, drones and burning batteries, and of ridiculous valuations for companies that were really good at hiding how little they actually had to offer. Here are 84 things that died hard, often hilariously, to bring us where we are today. Everyone was confused by Google's Nexus Q when it debuted in 2012, including The Verge -- which is probably why the bowling ball of a media streamer crashed and burned before it even came to market.
The rise of e-commerce over the last 10 years or so has forced retailers to adapt to the changes demanded by consumers. E-commerce growth continues to accelerate and outpace growth in the brick-and-mortar channel, and online sales accounted for almost 20% of total US sales this holiday season, based on preliminary estimates. In addition, department stores have offered discounts and promotions as a key tool to drive demand and bring consumers into stores. Over time, this strategy can dilute a store's brand and leave stores looking picked through. Also, it trains consumers to wait for discounts instead of buying products at full price. There has been a significant number of store closures in the last few years, and we expect that to accelerate in 2017 and in the following few years. As the department store channel shrinks, and more brands fight for less space, we think brands will need to be more creative, flexible and diversified in their approaches. One way brands can disrupt the more traditional wholesale channel without taking on the significant real estate risk that comes with opening their own stores is to open pop-up stores. With pop-ups, brands have complete creative control of the brand experience and how their messaging is communicated to consumers. They can tell the story they want to tell and explain in their own voice what the brand stands for. In some cases, brands use pop-ups more as an advertising tool than as a place to transact commerce. These kinds of pop-ups usually offer some kind of special experience to draw consumers into the store. Pop-ups can also be set up in locations other than malls, allowing brands to reach their target customers where they are. Retailers and brands can also use pop-ups to test the waters in the most expensive shopping areas, often at discounted rents, while landlords can use the temporary stores to show off the space to prospective long-term tenants. Mall operators are receptive to pop-ups, as they bring something new and unique to consumers. Real estate firm Related Companies has used pop-up shops at the Time Warner Center in New York City to provide a fresh feel and add variety for consumers.
In mythology unicorns are skittish things, and in business they appear little easier to pin down. EP Vantage has compiled a list of private start-up companies in the healthcare arena that are widely considered to be worth more than $1bn; notably it features very few makers of human therapeutics. Instead these unicorns are involved in cutting-edge computational research such as artificial intelligence, sequencing or virtual reality, or are in risky, unproven areas. It is plausible that one of the reasons they have not been bought is because no acquirer knows where to put them (see table below). Those that are in the business of developing human therapeutics are working in the as-yet unproven field of mRNA - Moderna Therapeutics and Curevac.
The social change-driven organization Games for Change is expanding from video games into virtual reality with the VR for Change Summit at its annual Games for Change Festival this year, featuring VR projects that impact the way we learn and shape the way we view the world. The VR for Change Summit is focusing entirely on virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality projects. The Games for Change Festival is happening July 31 to Aug. 2 at the New School in New York City. Susanna Pollack, president of Games for Change, said that while the organization has included some VR games in the past, the recent development of VR and its potential for positive social change led Games for Change to take a deeper look at VR this year. "We feel that Games for Change is very well-positioned to help develop this community in the same way that we have in the games community," Pollack said.
Evolution inevitably involves the creation of new problems, and the big tech stories of the year show that this goes for IT just like anything else. While the internet has brought the world closer together, it also paved the way for fake news and new forms of espionage. The rise of AI has humans worried about being replaced. Chip makers are consolidating and scrambling to retool to meet the demands of virtual reality and the internet of things. And while Apple removed legacy ports on its new devices, a lot of users are grumbling about needing adapters for their favorite headphones and other peripherals.