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 venue for this year's annual developer's conference, Shoreline Amphitheater, is not only bigger than past event spaces, it's also located smack-dab in the middle of the Silicon Valley, wedged right in between NASA Ames and Google's own headquarters in Mountain View. But it's not just the venue that's changed. At this year's I/O, Google will present itself as a branch of its parent company, Alphabet, rather than its own all-encompassing entity. And while there may be plenty of sessions devoted to Android development across phones, the living room, and auto, they'll sit alongside other workshops covering Google's peripheral projects. Indeed, the focus on virtual reality looks to be intense.
Technology doesn't just change the world -- it runs it. In 2016, the algorithms, networks and slabs of glass and metal that make up today's digital tools had a direct impact on our lives in some very unexpected ways. From Facebook's fake news problem to the Galaxy Note7 literally exploding, that impact wasn't always for the good, but there were also signs of hope thanks to the promise of virtual reality and driverless cars. Apple's annual iPhone launch always hits the mobile world like a shiny glass meteor, but the new iPhone 7 had an aftershock that will be felt for years: the removal of the headphone jack. Despite being a near-universal standard used in devices worldwide, the eminently functional 3.5mm jack couldn't survive Apple's determination to shape the future -- one where audio is wireless.
Today at the Frankfurt motor show, one of the biggest and most prestigious motor shows in the world, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, spoke before German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Now what is Facebook and most importantly, Sheryl Sandberg doing at an automotive industry event? The obvious answer that comes to mind when one relates Facebook and the car industry is the billions of advertising dollars the industry spends on marketing and advertising. However, that does not seem to be Facebook's game plan, as highlighted by Sheryl and shown at their pavilion. Facebook seems to have a strategy of leveraging its capabilities in social marketing, AR & VR and interestingly, who would have thought of it, leveraging its advanced AI and deep learning capabilities to support the development of autonomous vehicles.
The maverick of personal computing is looking for its next big thing in spaces like healthcare, AR, and autonomous cars, all while keeping its lead in consumer hardware. With an uphill battle in AI, slowing growth in smartphones, and its fingers in so many pies, can Apple reinvent itself for a third time? Get the detailed analysis on Apple's trove of patents, acquisitions, earnings calls, recent product releases, and organizational structure. In many ways, Apple remains a company made in the image of Steve Jobs: iconoclastic and fiercely product focused. But today, Apple is at a crossroads. Under CEO Tim Cook, Apple's ability to seize on emerging technology raises many new questions. Looking for the next wave, Apple is clearly expanding into augmented reality and wearables with the Apple Watch and AirPods wireless headphones. Apple's HomePod speaker system is poised to expand Siri's footprint into the home and serve as a competitor to Amazon's blockbuster Echo device and accompanying virtual assistant Alexa. But the next "big one" -- a success and growth driver on the scale of the iPhone -- has not yet been determined. Will it be augmented reality, auto, wearables? Apple is famously secretive, and a cloud of hearsay and gossip surrounds the company's every move. Apple is believed to be working on augmented reality headsets, connected car software, transformative healthcare devices and apps, as well as smart home tech, and new machine learning applications. We dug through Apple's trove of patents, acquisitions, earnings calls, recent product releases, and organizational structure for concrete hints at how the company will approach its next self-reinvention. Given Apple's size and prominence, we won't be covering every aspect of its business or rehashing old news. There's strong evidence Apple is once again actively "cannibalizing itself," putting massive resources behind consumer tech that will render its own iPhone obsolete.