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2007's 13 biggest technology flops

Hyped products that were unlucky for some

These much-hyped products and services from the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Facebook turned out to be lemons of the bitterest kind.

From iPhones that turned into iBricks, through broadband connections that were 'up to' no good to underwhelming operating-system updates, 2007 was full of disappointments. We surveyed the landscape and polled some old friends to come up with the 15 products, companies, and industries that left the most sour taste in our mouths.

From last to first, here's our list of the year's 13 biggest losers. Read 'em and weep.

PC Advisor staff contributed to this feature

#13. Screwed up to the max: Municipal WiMax

It sounded like a great idea: big cities would offer wide-area wireless internet access as part of their infrastructure, the same as roads, traffic lights... and sewers. A cheap, fast net connection anywhere within the ringroad, 24/7. What's not to love?

US cities blazed a trail of this net bonanza. Then public and private WiMax ventures started dropping like flies. Sprint and Clearwire called off their plans to build a nationwide WiMax network in the US, after Sprint CEO Gary "bet the company on WiMax" Forsee got canned in October 2006.

Then early in 2007 EarthLink bailed on its offer to foot the bill for a Wi-Fi network in San Francisco.

WiMaxCitywide WiMax remains a pipe dream

Similar city-funded projects have bought the farm in Chicago; Milwaukee; and Anchorage, Alaska. Even Silicon Valley - arguably the most net-centric community this side of Mars - has had a hard time getting its WiMax plans off the ground. The big reason? Cost. Unwiring the whole valley would cost an estimated $200 million, or $133K a square mile. SV geeks can always park their cars near the Googleplex in Mountain View, whose wireless network covers 12 square miles.

As for the rest of the US, well, they can hope and pray that the search titans win the FCC auction for the 700MHz wireless spectrum in January, and then decide to open their network to the world.

Does Google have to do everything? And even then, that's not going to help British geeks toiling away in the Thames valley. So much for WiMax.

#12. Web 2.0 woe: social networks

Memo to Badoo, Bebo, Catster, Dogster, Facebook, Faceparty, Flickr, Flixster, Hi5, Hyves, Imbee, Imeem, MySpace, Mixi, Pizco, Pownce, Takkle, Twitter, Virb, Vox, Xanga, Xing, Zoomr... and the 3,245,687 other social networks clamouring for our limited attention spans: we got it.

Making connections between friends is cool. Sharing photos and videos, even cooler. But it's all so... 2006. Haven't you got anything new to show us?

Here's a safe bet: Two years from now, 90 percent of these networks will be gone and their founders will be back working at Starbucks. I'll have a double mocha frappucino, please.

NEXT PAGE: feeling insecure and singing the wrong Zune > >

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