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Vaporware - the Tech That Never Was 192

Posted by Zonk
from the beautiful-vapour-hanging-in-the-air dept.
An anonymous reader writes "CNet has published an incredibly detailed look at the most critical examples of vaporware ever seen in the tech sector. We're familiar with Wired's yearly round-ups, but this decades-long retrospective look at the most promising of all technologies that never saw the light of day, holds some fascinating technology I've never even heard of, including the wonderfully-named three-dimensional atomic holographic optical data storage nanotechnology. 'Continual delays, setbacks and excuses are the calling cards of a product that becomes vapourware. Windows Vista ran the risk of joining the club, and the terrific multiplayer first-person shooter Team Fortress 2 was in production for almost a decade before it was released in 2007. Devoted TF fans feared it would become a distinguished entrant in the who's who of vapourware. You might say Google Mail is in the running, having been in beta since 2004.'"
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Vaporware - the Tech That Never Was

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  • Google Mail (Score:4, Interesting)

    by omeomi (675045) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:47AM (#22739136) Homepage
    Nah, not Google Mail. Google's just redefined the meaning of beta...
    • by esocid (946821)
      Exactly. If both Hotmail and Yahoo mail have taken design cues from Gmail, I doubt that Gmail is on its way out. My first choice of commercial email handlers is Gmail, then hotmail for a standard throw-away email.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        I was about to make fun of you for having Hotmail in the number 2 position, but now that I think about it, Yahoo mail has gone to seed lately whereas Hotmail has improved.

        Crazy.
    • Re:Google Mail (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Thelasko (1196535) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:04AM (#22739316) Journal
      Gmail made a brilliant move by always calling their service a beta release. This way, when your email never arrives, or your personal information gets stolen, it's not their fault... it's just a beta release! Google can always argue that if you want reliable and secure communications, you should use a service that is a final release.

      Disclaimer for Google fans: I'm not saying Gmail is not stable or reliable, just stating one possible business strategy.
      • by Brigadier (12956)

        I disagree.

        I think perhaps they may just not have met there design goals. Everyone complains about companies releasing untested software which intern cripple production. Here it is possible that they want a final tested roll out before releasing the product. I've used gmail for teh past few years and typically four times a year they add some feature. I'm sure once they have realized a final feature set and tested it on a google scale (millions of users) then they will finalize it. However if you want an e-m
        • I've used gmail for teh past few years and typically four times a year they add some feature. I'm sure once they have realized a final feature set and tested it on a google scale (millions of users) then they will finalize it.
          If it's not feature complete, then it's alpha software. Beta is when it has all the features, but bugs still remain.
           
          • by ckaminski (82854)
            No, that's a release candidate.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by nacturation (646836)

              No, that's a release candidate.
              Sorry, you're mistaken. [wikipedia.org]

              Beta: Beta level software generally includes all features, but may also include known issues and bugs of a less serious variety.
              Release Candidate: The term release candidate refers to a version with potential to be a final product, ready to release unless fatal bugs emerge.
               
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Dogtanian (588974)

                Sorry, you're mistaken.

                Sorry, you're mistaken if you think that a relatively uncited Wikipedia article constitutes authoritative and infallible proof of anything.

                What "official" backing (in any sense of the word) do those definitions have? They're not cited, so beyond the fact that there is at best *perhaps* some consensus (possibly temporary)- or perhaps none- between the most recent WP editors on that article (who might just be ill-informed nerds with too much time on their hands), this doesn't mean anything.

                Really, I like

          • by knarfling (735361) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:07PM (#22741588) Journal
            While not an "official" definition, this has always worked for me.

            Alpha Release - Unfinished software submitted for Internal testing. In other words, the bugs are going to be so bad that only people who have signed non-disclosure agreements are allowed to see them. Alpha is code-speak for "It doesn't work."

            Beta Release - Unfinished software submitted to torture those outside the company. In other words, the bugs are ones we can either cover up, or actually admit to. Beta is code-speak for "It STILL doesn't work."
        • by Thelasko (1196535)
          Sooner or later you have to decide to freeze the design, fix the bugs, and release the product. Any new features can wait until version 2.0.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            just because it's not open source, doesn't mean they can't use the "release early, release often" method.

            for MS, CA, oracle, etc. to release a major version of their products, it's a pain. pressing CDs/DVDs, shipping them, retraing tech support, etc. now, for google, it's as easy as FTPing the new code to a server, that's why "release early, release often" works for GOOG, and not for the others.

            and since it's in perpetual beta, they don't even have to bother with support. they're not obligated to give suppo
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Creepy (93888)
      for that matter, I don't think it's even their oldest beta -
      the former froogle, now renamed google products [google.com]), predates it by a year or so. I believe froogle entered beta around Christmas 2002 or 2003. Some google labs [google.com] stuff (non-beta testing and ideas area) is even older.
    • paranoia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dj245 (732906) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:46AM (#22739792) Homepage
      Call me paranoid, but calling most of their products "beta" seems to me like an sneaky way of avoiding any sort of liability whatsoever for any problems that might arise. I'm not saying Google *should* be liable, but I think these beta tags have more to do with legal reasons than technical ones.
  • by romonster (940984) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:48AM (#22739140)

    You might say Google Mail is in the running, having been in beta since 2004
    According to this Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] (or, more specifically, its sources), Google Mail has 10s of millions of users. I'd hardly call that Vaporware.
    • by gilesjuk (604902) <.ku.oc.nez. .ta. .senoj.selig.> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:05AM (#22739318)
      Indeed, being out there and being in beta isn't Vaporware. The term typically means it has been announced by a company's marketing department despite no work having been done on it.

      Usually it's a way of confusing the consumer into sitting on the fence.

      So for example people is about to buy an mp3 player from (for example) Creative, so Microsoft then announces a super improved Zune which probably hasn't even been designed yet. The design team knock up a nice 3D representation in a graphics application and release it.
    • by MrShaggy (683273)
      I think it was meant to be funny.
  • Old vaporware (Score:4, Informative)

    by russotto (537200) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:49AM (#22739156) Journal
    1) Commercial fusion power production
    2) Practical flying car
    3) Oil from shale and other low grade sources (promised to be viable at $40-$50/bbl)
    4) Household robots (or robot overlords, take your pick)
    5) Cure for common cold
    • by jandrese (485)
      I'd say #3 is probably already in the works, but it takes time for people to get the production going with stuff like that. The price of oil has skyrocketed so fast that new producers have not had a chance to get started yet. Also, there are some of them that are a bit gun shy from when they tried this in the 80s and lost their shirt when the price of oil collapsed. Although I don't see how yet, it is certainly possible that the price of oil could go back down in a couple of years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
        It will absolutely go back down. That's just supply and demand.

        The thing people miss on supply and demand is that demand isn't any more a constant than supply. As the supply shrinks, price soars, and demand drops. People find alternatives...They drive less, carpool more. In the 80's everyone dumped their gas guzzing american cars for more fuel efficient imports. The decrease in demand drove the price back down.

        Then in the 90's along comes the SUV craze, so everyone goes back to buying gas guzzlers. Now we'r
      • by robertjw (728654)
        The increased price of oil should make this more viable. It may not have worked out at $40 a barrel, but right now if they can produce it at $80 a barrel it would be a marketable source. It's tough referring to some of this as vaporware - most of them are good ideas, but economics and technology haven't quite caught up with them yet.
        • Re:Old vaporware (Score:4, Insightful)

          by russotto (537200) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:05PM (#22739986) Journal

          The increased price of oil should make this more viable. It may not have worked out at $40 a barrel, but right now if they can produce it at $80 a barrel it would be a marketable source. It's tough referring to some of this as vaporware - most of them are good ideas, but economics and technology haven't quite caught up with them yet.


          But that has been claimed about these technologies for decades. Commercial fusion is always 20 years off. Oil shale production needs oil at $40-$50 barrel. When these points are reached, either the goalposts are moved or LOOK, OVER THERE, A DISTRACTION. Hence, vaporware.

          And I wouldn't consider the Roomba to be a household robot. It's hard automation, much like a dishwasher. The fact that it moves doesn't change that. A robot which could do the dishes or laundry without special help (e.g. RFID dishes), that's more along the lines of what I'm thinking of.
          • by robertjw (728654)

            But that has been claimed about these technologies for decades. Commercial fusion is always 20 years off. Oil shale production needs oil at $40-$50 barrel. When these points are reached, either the goalposts are moved or LOOK, OVER THERE, A DISTRACTION. Hence, vaporware.

            Maybe, but what's decades when it comes to technology like this. I remember watching the original Star Trek when I was a kid and thinking how crazy the idea of a handheld communicator was. Now I've got two very similar devices sitting on the desk in front of me. I can't call space, but probably only because I don't have the number for the ISS. Some of these ideas may never be viable, but some are just waiting on the right conditions. You have to remember, we only recently reached a high for oil in

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Paul Carver (4555)

              A Roomba is a long way from a dishwasher. I agree, not full AI, but it's constantly getting closer. There is continual research into AI and robotics. Eventually this will result in more sophisticated home machines... or skynet. Unless some hard limitations are met in terms of processing power or manufacturing that makes intelligent robots impossible/not cost effective to build, it will happen.

              I agree. My dishwasher is 100% reliable and always does exactly what it's supposed to do. My Roomba is completely worthless. I couldn't find a single room in the house that it can cope with. It is completely unable to deal with area rugs or cords (lamp cords or computer cables). Its drop sensors usually prevented it from driving completely over the edge of a step, but it would just perch precariously on the edge of a step without backing away. Running an old fashioned upright vacuum cleaner is just much le

              • by robertjw (728654)

                I agree. My dishwasher is 100% reliable and always does exactly what it's supposed to do. My Roomba is completely worthless.


                Fair enough. I don't have one, so I can't comment on the quality of the product, but there are a lot of people out there (like you) that have bought one. It may be worthless, but seems like a fairly successful product, and proof that more development into home robotics is a worthwhile endeavor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gnick (1211984)

      4) Household robots
      Depending on how picky you are about you definition of 'household robots", there are a number of them [wikipedia.org] commercially available. (Note: I would have linked to irobots's web page, but it appears to be experiencing difficulty. Perhaps one of their business robots washed the server...)
    • I dunno about #4.

      I have a Roomba. Every day when I come home my carpets in my flat are clean.

      My ONLY interaction with Roomba is emptying the bin twice a week and cleaning the brushes twice a month. Probably 1 hour a month, total.

      Sure, it's not exactly Rosie, but it's certainly a robot.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)
      3, 4 and 5 are doing OK.

      Oil Sands:

      http://www.energy.gov.ab.ca/OurBusiness/oilsands.asp [gov.ab.ca]

      (not a huge amount of output, but it has every appearance of being 'viable', it just isn't productive enough to satisfy demand so much that prices actually drop)

      Roomba is a hit.

      There are vaccines for the common cold. They aren't perfect, but they are either well marketed enough or effective enough that millions of people get them. If it's the marketing, they are vaporware, if they work, they aren't.
    • by MrNaz (730548) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:14PM (#22740114) Homepage
      There is already a cure for the common cold. It was invented a while ago, they called it the "immune system". Not sure if it's still in beta though. I believe some l33t hax0r known only as AIDS has found an exploit, but requires root access in order to penetrate the system's perimeter. At the moment, the best defence is from a company called "Durex", who manufacture a patch for your hardware.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:44PM (#22742114)

        There is already a cure for the common cold. It was invented a while ago, they called it the "immune system". Not sure if it's still in beta though. I believe some l33t hax0r known only as AIDS has found an exploit, but requires root access in order to penetrate the system's perimeter. At the moment, the best defence is from a company called "Durex", who manufacture a patch for your hardware.

        Must... resist... making jokes... about... back doors...

    • by Alioth (221270)
      Well, the Roomba might qualify for (4), but the cure for the common cold has been well known for decades: eat the hottest vindaloo curry you can find.
    • by t0rkm3 (666910)
      Ummm Bitumen reclamation is in production all over Canada right now. ConocoPhillips and PetroCanada do a ton of work with it.

    • Re:Old vaporware (Score:4, Informative)

      by kesuki (321456) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:27PM (#22741902) Journal
      number 3 is being beaten out by 'tar sand' production see, shale oil, isn't oil at all(it's kerogen), while most tar sands ARE oil. Heavy crude oil, still costly to process, so much so that they burn their own tar sand to produce the electricity (and steam) to refine the tar sand into oil, synthetic oil, or petroleum products. but Canada and Venezuela are the two largest tar sand producers (although America, russia, and the middle east also have large tar sand deposits) the only commercial use in the US is for road paving material.

      Most of Canada's oil production is from heavy crude, and they are the number one exporter to the united states by volume of oil. so while people debate in the US about if Utah's tar sands are usable to make oil, we buy from Canada who've been doing this for years now, in fact they use a super large dump truck, the largest ever built, so large it needs cameras for the operator to see anything in front, behind or around him! Each tire is thirteen feet tall and weigh four tonnes each. They need to be replaced after approximately 35,000 miles; at a cost of $25,000.00 a piece.
  • How many (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelz (611260) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:54AM (#22739202)
    times does C-net need to run the same story per year? It seems whenever they remember something else they come out with a new list (like once per month).
    • by T-Bone-T (1048702)
      I found it more interesting that the number of comments varies from page to page. Some of the comments disappear when you go to the next page and spring back to life on the page after.
    • by Kamokazi (1080091)
      Whenever they need a few thousand extra page impressions by spanning a half-page article over eleven pages.
  • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:57AM (#22739230) Homepage
    Why do people say GMail is vaporware?

    I mean, you can use it. You've been able to use it for years. It's on the web, it's easily accessible, it wouldn't surprise me if it's used by millions of people.

    Google's calling it "beta" because they don't think it's worthy of a non-beta release. That's [i]all it means[/i]. Google has higher standards for "non-beta" than other companies do, apparently - they're still adding major features and I suspect that's at least partially related to its beta status.

    Why does it mean so much to have it not be called beta anymore? Because, I mean, if that one word really causes you so much mental anguish, I bet I could provide a Greasemonkey script to get rid of it.

    Google's decided it's not finished. I'm willing to defer to their judgement. Honestly, it's a nice change from "feature-complete 1.0 software" that crashes every five minutes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lilomar (1072448)
      Thank you for saving me from having to type out that post.
    • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
      Speaking of Greasemonkey, I really need to come up with a Greasemonkey script to convert VBcode into HTML on Slashdot. I swear I make that mistake in every third comment.

      Sheesh.
      • by LMacG (118321)
        Or you could use the Preview button.
        • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
          Honestly, I've done that and still managed to miss it before. I don't really expect to make mistakes with markup that simple (and, due to spending most of my posting time on a VB board, I expect to be able to edit my posts also - something I truly wish Slashdot had.)

          An unfortunate set of cross-site reflexes. So it goes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014)
      Personally, I don't think it has anything to do with standards, higher or otherwise.

      I think it has been in "beta" so long, that if it were ever announced to be "released", people would expect something new and whizzy, which completely destroys the point of distinguishing "beta software" from "release software". However its questionable whether these categories have much value any longer.

      The reason the beta doesn't come off is that there isn't any such thing as released software anymore. In the early days,
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by teleriddler (904253)
      Actually I think the main reason Google calls most of it non feature complete software "beta" is for legal terms. Our company does the same thing. If we call it beta, we have legal language that severely limits what a client can demand and receive from both product performance and compensation should anything perform incorrectly. Chalk this one up to the lawyers. --TR
    • by doti (966971)
      Too bad the imap support is shitty.

      Otherwise, it's a good email tool, and certainly the best webmail out there.

      And yes, it is used by millions.
  • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:58AM (#22739234) Journal
    I don't know about anyone else, but when I were but a young'un, I remember being told by various techie fortune tellers that when I grew up GAMES would be completely virtual reality based complete with headsets/central-nervous-system connections, and nothing like the cutting edge 8-bit bitmaps bouncing across the screen with cheesy 2 tone music of the day.

    I still remember the huge disappointment at trying my first VR system in some crappy French arcade years after that...instead of bouncing bitmaps, it was no more than maybe 20 untextured polygons being rendered before my eyes on a headset big & heavy enough to crush a small mammal. Yeah ok, so I could look around, but at a glorious 15 FPS I got sick after about 2 minutes and probably would've come face-to-face with my breakfast for the 2nd time that day had the credit not have run out due to the fact I didn't know what the I was supposed to be doing (bitch slapping the "evil plain-red polygon" with the mechanical wand one presumed).

    My question really is; has has gaming tech progressed any further in this area? Rare is the occasion I see anything remotely VR anywhere now, (apparently, even the French have given up on it - a sure sign it's a shit idea), and yet still I would love to fulfil my childhood dreams of running care-free through a futuristic sci-fi world with a Big Fuckoff LaserGun (tm)....in a virtual reality, not in my bedroom.
    • by 2nd Post! (213333)
      The Nintendo Wii is the closest thing I can think of to VR, today, that is commercial in nature.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by argStyopa (232550)
      "has has gaming tech progressed any further in this area? "

      Depends by what you specifically mean by 'progressed'.

      Has gaming graphically improved? Hell yes. Look at the current tech demos for Age of Conan - particularly someone swimming in the water - and you'll be impressed. And this isn't some specifically rendered scene in a single player game. This is an open-activity world meant for hundreds and thousands of simultaneous players.

      Has gaming developed substantially better tools in terms of multiple pe
    • I don't know about anyone else, but when I were but a young'un, I remember being told by various techie fortune tellers that when I grew up GAMES would be completely virtual reality based complete with headsets/central-nervous-system connections...
      Well that's the problem right there. You simply haven't grown up, and now all of gaming technology has been held back by it. Thanks a lot.
       
    • by merreborn (853723)

      remember being told by various techie fortune tellers that when I grew up GAMES would be completely virtual reality based complete with headsets... My question really is; has has gaming tech progressed any further in this area?

      Doing anything interesting requires big, expensive hardware. Having lived in Sillicon Valley for years, I've had the chance to see a couple of groups show off their VR technology.

      In the mid/late nineties, Sun had a room they called "Portal" in one of their main buildings. It had pro

  • by davidwr (791652)
    move along
  • by davejenkins (99111) <slashdot@dave[ ]kins.com ['jen' in gap]> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:02AM (#22739286) Homepage
    Politicians make their living off of the same vapourware every election-- and for some inexplicable reason, the masses keep buying into it. How about a short list?
    1. Balanced Budget
    2. Peace in our time
    3. Raise education standards
    4. Economic security

    At first glance, this may seem off-topic, but I would submit that vapourware is inevitable to anyone who is asking for money/power and promises to give you something later. Companies release press 'early' (vapourware) in the hopes of bouying their stock price or raising VC money; politicians promise the moon to get campaign contributions (VC money). Same thing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cbart387 (1192883)

      Companies release press 'early' (vapourware) in the hopes of bouying their stock price or raising VC money; politicians promise the moon to get campaign contributions (VC money).

      I agree totally with your post. However, I would like to add one other thing. I believe companies also announce products so that the consumer doesn't buy their competitor product (and get inundated) even before it's released. For example, Levono 'leaked' their X300 [gizmodo.com]. Yeah, you're telling me that wasn't calculated.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I would like to add one other thing. I believe companies also announce products so that the consumer doesn't buy their competitor product (and get inundated) even before it's released. For example, Levono 'leaked' their X300. Yeah, you're telling me that wasn't calculated.

        This goes way, way back. IBM, ever the hardball player in the mainframe arena, announced the System 360 and OS/360 before it was even on the drawing boards, as a same-week response to CDC's announcement of one of the Cray-designed CDC 6000 series computers. IBM didn't deliver until well over a year after announcement. Practices such as these helped precipitate the decade of litigation known as "IBM vs the BUNCH (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, CDC and Honeywell)" although it was the BUNCH who went after IBM fo

      • Universally accessible health care
      • Space exploration
      • Lower pollution
    • Well...
      2 is in Conflect with 4
      1 is in Conflect with 3

      Peace and Economic Security cant both happen because there are a limited amount of resources available. If you have World Peace we will have a problem with Econimic security because all resources will be shared to a point where we will not have enough to properly survive (not very secure) Of if we obtain Economic Security We will need to make sure that we the Haves are stronger then the Have Nots who will rebel against us.

      The biggest cry that keeps our bu
      • I would say that most, if not all, of the rest of the industrialized world would argue that we could have a better educational system in this country, and still balance our budget. How many countries with better public education than the US have budgets that are as severely out of whack as ours? How many G8 countries have had to continually raise their debt ceilings, and borrow more money every year, throwing their budgets further into the red?

        • Yea I kinda needed to streach on that part. But unfortunatly in America we see education tied directly with spending. There are ways to improve education without extra spending, and still teachers get more money for their job and students get better educated. The problem is everyone is pointing to everyone else and not themselfs.

          The main problem with education in America is not the other is ourselfs and our culture.
          Many parents teach their kids that school isn't important. Or the kid is Smart so he thinks
    • by srussell (39342) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:23PM (#22740230) Homepage Journal

      Politicians make their living off of the same vapourware every election-- and for some inexplicable reason, the masses keep buying into it. How about a short list?
      Well, some of these things have been achieved. They just aren't perpetual.

      1. Balanced Budget
      Done, during the Clinton administration. Subsequently undone.

      2. Peace in our time
      We've had presidencies during which the US hasn't been in any open conflict with any other country. But this really depends on what you mean by "peace." Are we at peace if, somewhere in the country, some guy is beating his wife? Are we at peace if we're not at war with anybody, but somebody, somewhere, is? Are we at peace if we have an embargo on some other country?

      3. Raise education standards
      You could argue that the US is more educated than it ever has been. More people have advanced degrees than ever have, and more poor people have degrees. Public K12 education certainly hasn't been improving overall in a long while, but again, it depends on what standards you're measuring -- what's your definition of education standards?

      4. Economic security
      The last time that happened was when social security was instituted. I don't even know what this would look like -- everybody gets a guaranteed minimum wage? Everybody is guaranteed a job? The stock market only goes up? What?

      --- SER

    • 1. Balanced Budget

      Been there, done that.

      ...laura, proudly Canadian

  • Next Photo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tsa (15680) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:03AM (#22739302) Homepage
    Do they really think I'm going to press the 'Next Photo' button 11 times?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LMacG (118321)
      I think we can fill in step 3 . . .

      1. Set up vaguely geek-related article on multiple pages,

      2. Make sure each page is full of pay-per-impression ads,

      3. Post to Slashdot,

      4. PROFIT!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:05AM (#22739328)
    A large company can use vaporware as a strategy to fight smaller companies. Back in the 1980s, my brother's company was well on the way to producing a killer (for the day) graphics application. Lotus (iirc) announced that they were releasing the same thing in a couple of months. My brother's company quit working on the project because they didn't feel they could compete with Lotus. The Lotus app did not materialize in a month. It didn't materialize in a year even. My brother's product would have been first to market if it had been continued.

    It's a good strategy. Tell a lie to scare everyone else off. Take your sweet time producing an app into a competition free market.
  • by jgrind (1255790) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:13AM (#22739398)
    Surely a "dukenukemforever" tag is required for this post.
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:13AM (#22739406) Homepage
    Here's my list of most significant vapor promises that never got delivered:

    1) Nuclear Fusion power plants
    2) Room-temperature Superconductor
    3) Human exploration/Colonization of interplanetary space
    4) Faster-than-light space travel
    5) Humanlike AI
    6) World Peace

    If we could get any of these delivered, it'd be really nice. But I'm not holding my breath.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dorix (414150)
      Since when has FTL space travel ever been "promised"?
    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:26AM (#22739548)

      1) Nuclear Fusion power plants
      2) Room-temperature Superconductor
      3) Human exploration/Colonization of interplanetary space
      4) Faster-than-light space travel
      5) Humanlike AI
      6) World Peace
      7) Hot, smart, horny bisexual women totally turned on by the brainpower of nerd-studs. *sigh* Heinlein, how could you have steered us so wrong?
      • 7) Hot, smart, horny bisexual women totally turned on by the brainpower of nerd-studs.
        I know a few (and married one). Unfortunately, they tend to also be on the crazy side.
      • by Pope (17780)
        Hot, smart, horny, bisexual, red-headed women totally turned on by the brainpower of nerd-studs.

        Now *that* is Heinlein!
    • by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:26AM (#22739556) Homepage

      The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is clearly the most significant vapor promise that never got delivered. The marketing organization has been promoting it for almost two thousand years and they still haven't delivered.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Spleen (9387)
        I always laugh when I hear this. As a child I was taught that Jesus was born (1st coming) and then was crucified. He was then resurrected (2nd coming) before ascending into heaven.

        Does only a resurrection count as a "coming"? Seems to me they are either promoting something that has already happened, or should be promoting the 3rd coming.
      • by fyoder (857358)

        The marketing organization has been promoting it for almost two thousand years and they still haven't delivered.

        And yet, people are still buying. That's some marketing organization.

      • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @01:19PM (#22740928) Journal
        Pfft, if you think that's bad vapourware: The Jews had been waiting for their messiah long before Jesus was even born. As far as I know, they still haven't gotten it. But presumably it's gonna happen real soon now, as soon as God irons out the last couple of bugs ;)

        (And no, Jesus wasn't it, since he didn't actually do what the Jews' messiah was supposed to do. Then again, I guess it wouldn't be the first time when the actual released product doesn't even resemble what the marketing hype told you to expect;)
    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      It only qualifies as vaporware if someone says "I have it" but can not actually deliver it. Just because something is technologically or politically far away doesn't mean it's vaporware. In medieval times someone could have made a list like this:

      1) machines allowing humans to fly
      2) power transferred over copper wires
      3) instantaneous voice communication to other continents
      4) machines which can add, subtract and multiply
      5) settling new continents
      6) peace in Europe

  • The only one I really liked in the list was the Digital Film, I wish I came up with it... But most of them are doomed to failure. Such as the printed Paper Storage...
    Most Printers can do 1200 DPI Printing so lets assume that we can print crip color dots (perhaps with solid ink printers) on a 8.5x11 paper you han hold 134,640,000 dots per page. So except for storing it in binary we can store the data in Base 5. Lets assume At best they can mix a few colors to make each dot one Byte. Still that is only 128.4
  • by szyzyg (7313) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:27AM (#22739568)
    I feel some small grain of sympathy for Q-Trax having to deal with the record labels, but there are quite a few free, legal services that let you listen to any music you want, on demand, they all managed to get licenses figured out. It's one things to launch with limited content, it's another to arrange a million dollar launch party before the deals have been signed.
    At the time I equated the Q-Trax experience to Mr Wensleydale's cheese emporium in the famous monty python sketch.
    http://snm.imeem.com/blogs/2008/01/30/oF1HiZ3f/monty_python_vs_qtrax [imeem.com]
    (slashdot won't let me post it since it ends up with too few characters per line....)
  • Whenever I hear of vaporware tech, I can't help but think of this [somethingawful.com].
  • E-Film... (Score:3, Informative)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <<slashdot> <at> <worf.net>> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:47AM (#22739802)
    Funny, but that wasn't a vaporware product... the actual device shown may have been, but before dSLRs, people could acquire "digital backs" for their SLR cameras to turn them into digital cameras. So the technology isn't new, innovative, or even vaporware. While everyone was raving over "point and shoot" digital cameras, the serious guys wanted something for their SLRs.

    It was just that it easily cost around $10,000, so not many could afford them.

    Then dSLRs came onto the market and that ended that reign. And these days, they're well within the reach of amateur photographers, costing not much more than a high-end point and shoot...
    • by Archon-X (264195)
      Actually, digital backs are massive business, but typically in the medium/large formats.
      A hasselblad digital back for your MF will set you back a cool $25k, starting price.
    • by ckaminski (82854)
      But those were, AFAIK, only available for medium and large format cameras, like Mamiya and Hasselblad, not standard 35mm cameras like your Pentax or Minolta.

      The article makes fun of the resolution and image carrying capacity of these devices, but fails to reflect on the fact that the removable storage of the time was measured in megabytes and the dSLR it champions, the D1, was a 2.7 MP camera.

      The death of "silicon film" was the variety of different sizes they'd have to make the thing to work with all camera
  • And here I thought three-dimensional atomic holographic optical data storage nanotechnology was practically a house-hold term. I'm shocked to hear it's vapourwear, shocked.
  • Vaporware? (Score:5, Funny)

    by atlastiamborn (1252206) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:20PM (#22740202)
    Pah! Just you wait until they release Vaporware 2.0, that shit will blow your socks off.
  • Hearing the term vaporware brings to mind duke nuke forever, flying cars, rocket packs, death rays, immortality drugs, cures for any disease, fusion, zero point/vacuum energy, quantum/DNA computers, electric cars, and AI.

    Those fields and a few others I just ignore all PR news until there are products that I can buy from Walmart or Target.
  • How could you ever forget about AtomChip's [atomchip.com] Nanomicronics?
  • I think C net might be missing the point of the "rainbow storage" idea...or maybe the inventor doesn't see the possibilities himself. If you haven't read the article, this is a technology that encodes data and stores it as colored geometric shapes on paper, or other printable medium. I don't think that "rainbow" storage is going to replace more conventional data storage...but I think there might be a real use for this: archival data storage. By "archival" I mean, "can still be read 1,000 years from today".

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