Little Tech That Could

Or more appropriately
“Little Tech That Could, Had It Been Given A Chance”

The problem with being a tech-head is that occasionally you nibble on something that you think is going to be huge, it has the potential to be an out of the box success but it suffers one fatal flaw, you believe it is better than the company does.

There are plenty of examples of this and I’ve been the unknowing sucker on many a time and I’ll probably wear that badge a few more hundred times in my lifetime. I picked the wrong format in the great format war of 2008 (granted I believe that HD downloaded content will be the big winner, but I digress). It isn’t as if it is one particular company that kills off things that could’ve been huge, there are many things like my example below that have suffered the “yeah we made it and well we like it but not enough to really get out advertise it and I don’t think we are really going to put any more money into it either”.

A few years ago when we lived in Metro Detroit I picked up my first SPOT watch, (Smart Personal Objects Technology), and it came from the big M out of Redmond. The concept was that the device (a watch in this case) could receive information via FM radio waves. You could have up to date weather, traffic, news, etc. The watches were big and bulky (that’s one reason I liked them) and you had to recharge them, you had to subscribe to the company’s MSN Direct service but most watches came with a free year to get you hooked on the service and then it is a fee after. The problem is that watch manufactures were on board but Microsoft really wasn’t. The coverage is limited to larger metro areas with the promise at the time that it would expand until there was country wide coverage, easy enough since everywhere gets FM signals and all they’d have to do is piggyback on existing FM towers. Well I moved from Metro Detroit and canceled my service because where I was moving to didn’t have coverage, I remember distinctly the customer service rep saying “that area is planned coverage in the next year” in an attempt to get me to stay on, but I still cancelled and sold that watch.

Last week I was in a Brookstone outlet and what did my eye spy? This beautiful Abacus SPOT watch that originally sold for $180 for $29.99. Now I realized that the fact that it was less than $30 and the fact that all of the original SPOT watch makers had left the game and Microsoft had moved onto MSN Direct powered coffee makers and GPS receivers that I would most likely just be getting a plain old digital watch that had awful battery life and had to be recharged avery 4 days but sitting in the bottom of the box was also a free year of MSN Direct. So I ponied up my $30 and came home charged and activated the watch only to discover that the fact that my area was planned to get coverage two years ago it still hadn’t and that absolutely nothing had changed in the 3+ years since I last used it. I do get SPOT-ty (HAHAHA, get it SPOT…yeah, didn’t think so) coverage in my neck of the woods and it only took two days for it completely register but I have to say that it still has so much potential, even in the days of fully connected cell phones, this watch could’ve been huge…if only the company would have stood behind it and supported it the way that it should’ve been. I’m glad a spent the $30, it is a great watch, but I don’t think I’ll hop on the renewal bus.

But this got me thinking about the other old technology that I still have that could have been huge and it hit me, there has to be others who have some tech they thought was going to be huge and I wondered what others got suckered into, I mean were early adopters to products that just never lived up there potential.