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USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham blows up the biggest tech bombs of 2017.
LOS ANGELES — Looking back at 2017’s tech products that bombed, none of these misses was more glaring than some wild video sunglasses that didn’t exactly snap with consumers.
The cute $129 video sunglasses called Spectacles from Snapchat parent Snap were initially hard to get. Then Snap put them on sale nationally in February and the broader based of national consumers showed little interest in the product, leaving a backlog of thousands of unsold glasses, and a $40 million write-down from Snap.
Our annual list of the biggest bombs of the year continues:
A Wi-Fi enabled juicer with a sky-high price tag of $400 didn’t make a lot of sense to consumers, especially when it required a subscription to buy proprietary Juicero bags of fruit to turn into juice. Another blow against this product was the discovery that squeezing the bags with your raw hands worked just as well as turning on the juicer. After raising $120 million from such tech giants as Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and seeing anemic sales, the company shut down in September.
Voice-activated computing is one of the hottest trends of the year, led by Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. Samsung tried to join the party with Bixby. But it got a delayed start, and then when released, it received bad reviews. The Verge called Bixby “structural bloated” software, while Ars Technica called it “unfinished and annoying.”
Samsung refers to Bixby as a “smarter way to use your phone,” but as USA TODAY Tech writer Ed Baig pointed out in his initial review, while Bixby could make phone calls and open the phone’s rear-facing camera for a selfie, it couldn’t do basics like answer trivia questions –How tall the Eiffel tower? — or functions like currency conversions.
For a time, many of us listened to Bluetooth speakers or wore fitness trackers from Jawbone, then one day in July, the company stopped making products with no directions to all those consumers who’ve made purchases over the years. As of Monday, the website has still yet to offer updates to consumers. Now that’s a bomb!
Google Pixel Buds
They’re cute, and the twist is that they can translate languages in real time. Sounds cool, right? But there’s this one little flaw. They won’t stay in the ear. Our favorite review summed it up: Pixel Buds? More like Pixel Duds.
Shortly after the Pixel Buds went on sale in November, Apple’s Air Pods, similar Bluetooth wireless earbuds for Apple devices, soon became virtually sold out at Apple stores and other retailers. As of this writing, they won’t be available until Jan. 8. Of course the Air Pods have a key difference from the Pixel Buds. They stay in your ear — at least most of the time.
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham, @jeffersongraham