From Aereo to 'Tor routers': The tech that died in 2014

Not all tech is created equally. Even when products or services meet their demise, they’re not even killed off equally. Here’s what we saw the end of this year.
By Zack Whittaker, Contributor
1 of 10 Aereo

Aereo goes off the air — for good

After a lengthy battle with US broadcasters and cable companies, Aereo lost its battle to live at the Supreme Court.

The New York, NY-based tech company that allowed subscribers to grab over-the-air TV signals to stream on Internet-connected devices caused headaches for the broadcasters, who weren’t paid any fees, but who ultimately saw the successful demise of the company.

After the company said it’s “not dead yet,” it filed for Chapter 11 protection against bankruptcy, meeting the end of the road for the two-year-old company. 

2 of 10 CNET

Google’s bungled barge in San Francisco Bay

Google’s barges met their unceremonious end when they were simply discontinued and dismantled, designated to live out their days as twisting masses in the scrap heap.

The search giant’s vessels, first discovered in the San Francisco Bay by sister-site CNET, were meant to be an “interactive space where people can learn about new technology,” the company finally acknowledged months after the construction began. 

But, after the Coast Guard found the multi-million dollar barges to be a fire hazard, they were sent floating into the sunset.

3 of 10 CNET

Samsung’s Tizen operating system delayed (and then some)

Flagged as one of the biggest potential takers of Android’s crown, Samsung’s new mobile operating system Tizen has barely seen the light of day yet.  

Designed to be the Korean giant’s high-end smartphone platform, it would go on to eventually replace the company’s reliance on Android. After years of development, the software only made it to Samsung’s smart watch range — and, if estimates are to be believed, sales have not been as strong as expected.

Though Tizen isn’t dead, it’s been relegated to something it was never meant to be.

4 of 10 Anonabox/Kickstarter

Anonabox “Tor” anonymizing router failed before it took off

Imagine a small box that plugged into your router that anonymized all of your Internet traffic. For a while it was a thing — at least, it was “said” to be a thing. That is, until it was found to be not as the owner advertised, and likely little more than a moderately pricey paperweight.

After raising more than $600,000 in crowdsourced donations on Kickstarter, the project’s page was suspended after facing mounting backlash from Reddit users. Some said outright that the project’s maker, August Germar, had made “false claims.” 

It was probably the first (and only) project of the year killed by an angry online mob — though, the idea lives in the hearts and minds of the privacy-conscious.

5 of 10 TrueCrypt/SourceForge

TrueCrypt “no longer secure,” and swiftly discontinued

One of the most respected drive encryption software products on the market, TrueCrypt quit earlier this year with no warning — worst of all, there was no explanation.

In a post on the site’s project page, what was believed to be the developers themselves warned of “unfixed security issues,” which had social media rife in speculation. What issues? In the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures, paranoia was at its highest. Had the National Security Agency managed to slip in a backdoor?

Even now, nobody seems to know and speculation continues. What’s clear though is that the software is no longer maintained and is officially “discontinued.” In a software sense, it’s a goner.

6 of 10 CNET

Apple’s iPod Classic snuffed in place of touchscreens

It wasn’t just the original iPod (even if it had gone through a few feature changes through its various generations), it was the last of the iPods to have the famed “clickwheel.”

It also wasn’t a grand affair. Apple, after more than a decade, quietly said goodbye to the long-loved product. Debuted in October 2001, it began to take shape through offshoots and integrated technologies, eventually replaced by the iPhone. 

The iPod, which stood alongside the iPhone and iPad as its own business division, will no longer be broken out as part of Apple’s fiscal earnings.

7 of 10 Microsoft

Windows Live (MSN) Messenger bows out in its last market

It was a slow, slow decline over the years, but with Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype, the software giant had no real need for Windows Live Messenger (formerly “MSN Messenger”).

It came in two parts. First came the merging of Messenger with Skype by the end of 2013, which Microsoft acquired in 2011 for $8.5 billion. But the final death knell would land in the hands of China. The world’s largest country by population would see the service’s retirement earlier this year after more than a decade’s worth of service to the Generation Y.

8 of 10 NASA/YouTube

Antares rocket self-destructs after launch

In late October, an unmanned rocket supplied by Orbital Sciences Corp. launched and blew on its launch pad in Virginia. It was one of the more spectacular affairs in space history this year — nobody was injured or killed in the incident.

The Antares rocket carried supplies for the International Space Station (ISS), but six seconds after launch, the rocket self-destructed — a sequence that occurs when there’s the anticipation of a much larger problem later on.

But it could still be the death of a contract or two, as SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk called the Antares rocket a “joke” two years before it exploded on launch.

9 of 10 CNET

Google+ took an inside hit it won’t recover from

The search giant’s social network. What does it do?  “I f**ked up,” said former Google employee Chris Messina in a Medium post, who spent the best part of three years creating Google+, “so has Google,” he said.

Google+ has faced heavy criticism over the past three years since it’s been in action. It had a massive growth spurt — more than half a billion users since 2011, partly in thanks to various pushes from other Google services. Since then it’s been dogged with controversies and policy reversals.

If the guy who helped build the social network thinks Google “f**ked up” by not making it for any particular reason, you can bet its demise is already set in stone. It’s just a matter of time before the search-turned-social giant pulls the plug.

10 of 10 Microsoft

After a long time coming, Windows XP retires

After more than a decade, Microsoft’s oldest (and perhaps most faithful) OS was peacefully retired in April. The trouble was that many companies were still using the aging operating system because of legacy apps and other reasons. Despite its retirement, it hasn’t gone far — nor will it any time soon. According to one survey, as many as one-third of respondents would stick with Windows XP. But, most have already moved on. Its April retirement date was met with warm words and fond memories.

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