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BLOG: When bad tech ideas don't fail

Mike Elgan | June 11, 2012
The world of technology and startups generates some amazingly brilliant ideas. But it also produces some amazingly bad ones. If only they would fail earlier, faster and more often.

Silicon Valley talks a lot about failure -- about how it's important for young entrepreneurs to "fail early, fail fast and fail often" so they can quickly learn from experience and do better next time.

It's a nice thought. But sometimes bad ideas don't fail. They get press attention, funding and even praise from the tech echo chamber, even though they really should be universally, immediately and vigorously slapped down.

Here's a roundup of my favorite bad technology ideas that won't go away.


iPoo is a social network for people sitting on the toilet. The idea is that since you're sitting there anyway, you might as well "check in" and interact with others currently undergoing the same ordeal. iPoo is an app for iOS and Android. According to the site, iPoo lets you "Write messages, draw graffiti, earn points and badges [and] see what others are posting." Is this really desirable?


Food delivery is nothing new. But one company has a new way to do it. TacoCopter intends to deliver Mexican food in Silicon Valley via helicopter drones. Never mind that it's dangerous, illegal and unlikely to work. The idea is that you use a smartphone to order your food. Your location is then beamed to the restaurant, where a fleet of self-navigating drones are waiting. One of the drones will grab your bag of tacos and deliver it to you. It finds you, essentially, on Google Maps. A mock-up screenshot on the website shows a screen informing the customer that "your tacos are on their way to you" and to "please stay stationary." Yeah, good luck with that one, guys.


They say that the peer-to-peer, chat-with-a-random-stranger site Chatroulette failed because too many users (who can remain anonymous while using) exposed the wrong body parts on camera, which drove away respectable and/or female users. Chatroulette has decayed into a site for men who are looking women to chat with, but who never find them because only men use the site. Airtime hopes to avoid the depressing sleaze of Chatroulette by leveraging Facebook. Airtime (created by Napster co-founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning) is supposed to mine your Facebook profile to connect you with strangers who share your interests. If you don't like what you see, you can press "Next" to try the next person. But, really, who wants to sit there and be connected one-on-one to a random stranger? Especially since we now have Google+, and it has become a great place for connecting with interesting strangers in a far less creepy and in-your-face way. Once you've tried Airtime, the appeal fades fast for everyone except those who form a pathological addiction to it. Next!


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