Rest in Pieces: Tech we lost in 2016

From big brands to small computers

2016 will go down in legend, or infamy, as a year when the world said goodbye to many huge cultural and political figures. If you look on any social network when word comes out of another celeb death, you’d swear that it’s the fault of the year itself.

Aside from the celebrity passings, this was also a year where a lot of technology companies and devices left us. Household names and old favourites, all passing into a tech twilight where their memories are cherished, but what they could actually do was superseded by something newer and shinier.

Here are some of the big tech deaths from 2016:

 

VCR

It’s hard to believe, but the last VCR tape player was made just this July, by Japanese company Funai Electric. VCRs were the gateway drug to a life interested in tech for a lot of us, so we have to be extremely thankful to the humble tape. Unfortunately, it went the way of most physical media, being replaced by a more convenient format, in this case DVDs and Blu Rays.

 

BlackBerry

While it’s not completely dead, BlackBerry has licensed out their name meaning they will no longer be making their own hardware. It’s a sad conclusion for the Canadian company that was once the absolute dominant power in smartphones and handheld tech, but they just couldn’t compete when the iPhone and Android devices appeared in the market. BlackBerry the company still exists and provides software for TCL, the Chinese manufacturer who’ll now make BlackBerry-branded handsets.

 

Vine

The six second video sharing app was a novelty when it first arrived on the scene in 2013, before quickly becoming a legitimate little social network of its own. That was before Twitter bought it and never really figured out what to do with it. Vine is now a casualty of Twitter’s management and financial turmoil, with the service being shut down in January and rebranded into a plain old camera app called Vine Camera. Shame, really.

 

Motorola

Another former giant of the mobile space that met an undignified end. After being bought, perhaps saved, by Google, Motorola has sold off again to Lenovo, who have quietly gutted the brand and will now make phones under the name of “Moto by Lenovo”. It’s probably the saddest end for any of the tech icons on this list, as Motorola had a chance to be back in the game under Google, but a mixture of wrong steps and little care caused Motorola to slide further into its inevitable decline.

 

MacBook Air

If Apple had any clear strategy for the Mac line, the MacBook Air would still be there as a relatively inexpensive entry model updated with modern parts. But no, they’ve decided to discontinue the line. It became clear this was happening after the notebook didn’t get an update at Apple’s Mac event earlier this year. It was a fine machine, with impressive thinness that was actually part of its allure, so now we mourn another fallen device.

 

Hoverboards

Ok, we know, they weren’t actually hoverboards, more of a self-balancing, handle-less scooter. None the less, they were everywhere at the end of 2015, and one of the big Christmas presents that year. Time passed though, and we soon found out that a lot of the so-called hoverboards had severe battery issues that in some cases caused them to explode. Large scale recalls condemned this techie toy to die out in 2016, like so many other good ideas.