Have an obsession with computers
The most spectacular false prognoses in IT history
Vacuum cleaners run on atomic drives, five computers are enough for the whole world, a giant that has been declared dead, is in the best of health and the fall of the Internet - we present you the strangest and most spectacular false prophecies in the history of technology.
People have always predicted the future. At important technology fairs such as CES, IAA or IFA (in non-Corona times) analysts and self-appointed experts outdo each other in forecasts for the future. At the moment, especially environmentalists, politicians and traffic experts are booming when it comes to predicting a golden future for electric cars (test of the Audi e-tron and test of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range Performance). But whether we will really all be driving around in electric cars in a few years' time. Or whether the fuel cell / hydrogen car will not catch on after all? Let's wait and see ...
IT giants are also happy to comment on the further development of our technology. Many of these predictions are quickly forgotten. But a few predictions achieve classic status - especially if they were completely wrong. We bring a selection of the most spectacular false prognoses. Have fun smiling.
Apple is doomed
Apple is doomed to die - this or something similar was expressed a long time ago by exaggerated analysts after Apple made less profit and less sales than the year before for the first time in many years in the spring of 2016. But even then we had our doubts whether this prediction would come true. Apple won't go under anytime soon, we were sure of that. Since the death of Steve Jobs, the company has been trying to compensate for its lack of innovation in hardware with new business areas such as Apple TV Plus, AppleArcade or credit cards and Apple Pay. After initial weaknesses and an unfortunate model policy like the golden Apple Watch, the Apple Watch is now a successful model.
2010: Nobody will talk about Facebook in five to six years
The journalist Martin Thür published two remarkable quotes from the self-proclaimed “trend and future researcher” Matthias Horx on his Twitter channel.
The screenshot with the Facebook quote is obviously from derstandard.at. Horx ‘assessment that no one would be talking about Facebook in five to six years comes from July 9, 2010. This prognosis was demonstrably not true.
On March 2, 2001, the same futurologist also predicted: "The Internet will not become a mass medium". Well, judge this prediction for yourself ...
Of course, Horx defends itself against criticism of the reliability of its forecasts: They are out of context.
Microsoft giants acted particularly often as failed oracles
"$ 500?" chuckled the then Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer after Apple boss Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone in 2007. “This is the most expensive phone in the world. And it doesn't appeal to business users at all because it doesn't have a keyboard. So it's not a particularly good mail machine ”.
Well, we all know what happened after that. The iPhone, which Ballmer says is not at all suitable for professional users, has become the status symbol for business users in general. Anyone who had previously owned a Palm or Windows Mobile phone threw the old part in the corner and asked their company for an iPhone. And the private users? They stood in line in front of the Apple stores. And should now buy the new iPhone SE with enthusiasm. Windows Mobile aka Windows Phone from Microsoft, on the other hand, has long been dead.
"The Internet, like a spectacular supernova, will go down in catastrophic collapse in 1996" . This obviously wrong prediction comes from Robert Metcalfe, the founder of 3Com and inventor of the Ethernet connection, which is the standard for cable-based networks today.
"I think there is a market for maybe five computers in the world." This is what Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, predicted in the war year 1943. And then it was IBM, of all people, who helped the PC as we know it to break through and made it a mass product. On the contrary, desktop computers are still holding their own against the competition from smartphones and tablets. If you have to work really hard and a lot on your computer, buy a PC or a notebook. Neither iOS nor Android change that.
“This phone has too many weaknesses to be seriously considered for communication”. Internal memo from Western Union from 1876. Today, smartphones are the most widely used IT device - even if Microsoft cannot benefit from this boom. Even the business of the chip giant Intel, which buried its Atom processor division a long time ago, is suffering from this. Because Android and iOS get along quite well without Intel processors.
"A computer like the ENIAC still has 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons. But the computers of the future will only have 1,000 vacuum tubes and maybe only 1.5 tons". This tantalizing prophecy was made by Popular Mechanics in March 1949. With this predicted weight, notebooks would hardly have been a success. But, as is well known, things turned out differently.
"There's no reason everyone should have a home computer" claimed Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corp. in 1977. Well, Olsen is not completely wrong, sometimes a tablet is enough.
“In five years, the tablet will be the most popular form of PC in the US”. The sentence doesn't even sound too wrong. If, yes, if it hadn't been told by Bill Gates in 2002. At that time Microsoft tried to enforce its idea of a tablet PC with pen control. And it failed miserably - the Windows tablet PC was cumbersome to use and utterly unsexy. How to do it right was demonstrated in 2010 by Steve Jobs and Apple with the intuitive iPad. It is not enough to have a good idea, you have to implement it well.
"The subscription model for buying music has failed" Steve Jobs said on December 3, 2003. Well, the iTunes Store also took a few years to really boom. But now Apple not only sells apps, music and films via iTunes or the App Store, but has even launched its own payment system called Apple Pay. And for a long time Apple has even offered its own music streaming service, Apple Music.
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