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TG Daily Top-10: Technology disappointments of 2006

Final thoughts

I am certain that there will be many readers who will not agree with all our choices of disappointing technologies for 2006. You may have been completely happy with some of the products mentioned and could have added a bunch more instead.

While I maintain that the contestants mentioned have serious flaws, they are merely a high-profile selection of dozens or hundreds more that we have seen in 2006. Depending on your priorities, you may have chosen a completely different Top-10. However, no matter which ten products, technologies or companies you would choose, they are likely to share a key similarity.

They often originate in corporations that control a dominating market share in one or more market segments and they typically ignore customer needs.

History tells us that, if you keep ignoring your customers, sooner or later there will be someone who will be listening and will be taking over your business. In more recent times, it happened to Intel's microprocessors (which missed the trend towards lower power consumption), to the once big search engines of Yahoo and MSN (which underestimated Google) or to Dell (which neglected its customer service offering).

The Microsoft Zune and the UMPC are too new to fall into this category, but they are great examples how much the needs of a potential customer were left out of consideration when the product was designed. The iPod and the IE7 aren't responding fast enough to changing customer needs; draft 802.11n, DRM and HDTV are industry-wide efforts that monetarize on the confusion of customers; Viiv and Live! are creating a greater expectation than they should and Sony probably needs a break to rethink vast parts of its products and businesses.

While most of those things will sort out themselves, broadband is just a sad story with the least hope for improvement: It's the segment with the least amount of competitive pressure and innovation. There's need for dramatic change but as long as we have a few happy companies that can afford to ignore customer needs and are able to increase their market share by buying their competitors, it's unlikely that you will see faster and more capable broadband pipes - at an affordable price - anytime soon.

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