Every year, we see favorite apps, buzzworthy startups, and ideas that never quite got off the ground meet their demise and quietly exit stage left. We had advance warning of some of the 2019 shutdowns—pour one out for Google+, Inbox, and Flickr’s hefty scoop of free storage—but a number of other companies and products said farewell in 2019. Let’s take a look back.
Chariot Shuttle Service: In 2016, Ford Smart Mobility acquired San Francisco crowdsourced shuttle app Chariot. But after 3 million rides in the US and UK, Chariot announced in January that it would cease all operations by March, blaming shifting “wants and needs of customers and cities”—like the rise of scooters.
(Google Chromecast Audio)
Google Chromecast Audio: First released in September 2015, Chromecast Audio plugged into your speaker or sound system’s aux input via a 3.5mm audio jack to make it wireless. But with the release of more and more wireless speakers, the need for Chromecast Audio diminished and Google discontinued it in January.
Norton Core: The Norton Core was a stylish router packed with security and parental control features to protect every device in your home, from PC to smart fridge. But good looks couldn’t save this gadget; Symantec confirmed earlier this year that it was “discontinuing the hardware production of Norton Core.”
Westworld Mobile Game: In 2018, Bethesda Softworks sued Warner Bros. Interactive and Behaviour Interactive, arguing that its Westworld mobile game ripped off Fallout Shelter. The two sides settled later that year in a deal that required the end of the Westworld game, which disappeared in March.
Wii Shop: With customers shifting to the Nintendo eShop on Switch and 3DS, the Nintendo Wii Shop, which dated back to 2006, said its farewell on Jan. 30.
Amazon Dash Buttons: Amazon first introduced the Dash Button in 2015, a day before the April Fool’s holiday, but the product was no joke. The concept was designed to streamline the online-buying process by allowing you to restock favorite products from brands like Gatorade, Tide, or Gillette with one press of a Wi-Fi-connected button. But with the rise of Alexa and our phones and Amazon apps always in reach, separate buttons for single products became less useful and Amazon killed them. They live on as “virtual buttons,” however.
Coinhive: The notorious cryptocurrency mining service popular among hackers shut down in February because it was no longer “economically viable,” in part because the cryptocurrency market had tanked. The developers behind Monero also tweaked the virtual currency’s protocol, making it harder to mine.
(Amazon Dash Button)
Facebook Moments: This standalone service grouped images on your phone based on when they were taken and, using facial-recognition software, which friends were in them. You could then tell the app to sync those pictures with specific friends, and hoped they did the same. Not enough people used Facebook Moments, however, and it was shut down.
Razer Game Store: Gaming hardware maker Razer tried its hand at software in 2018 with the Razer Game Store, which offered discounts on games that buyers then accessed on Steam, Uplay, and Origin. But as Slashgear points out, the store was redundant and deals not particularly noteworthy as time went on. Razer wised up and shut down the store.
Samsung Blu-ray Players: Samsung confirmed in Feburary that it would no longer release new Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray player models in the US. No reason was provided, but as Mashable notes, Samsung devices did not support Dolby Vision, not to mention decreased consumer interest in purchasing physical DVDs.
Apple AirPower: Apple announced AirPower in the fall of 2017 alongside the iPhone X. “The new Apple-designed AirPower mat, coming in 2018, can charge iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously,” the company said at the time. But after several delays, Apple in March “concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and…cancelled the project.”
Bragi’s Headphone Business: We found the Bragi Dash true wireless headphones to be an “innovative product on multiple levels,” but it’s not easy to succeed in hardware, so Bragi in March sold off its hardware business to focus on AI, software, and patent licenses.
Facebook Creators App: In the frenzied “pivot to video” years, Facebook launched a Creators app intended to help wannabe influencers reach a larger audience on the social networking site. Two years later, Facebook quietly shut it down and directed people to Creator Studio.
Google Spotlight Stories: Remember when VR storytelling was going to be the next big thing? Some studios are still trying their best, but Google threw in the towel on its Spotlight Studios earlier this year. This summer, it also axed Google Jump, an open-source model that seamlessly stitched content together with remote computing power to bring VR video creation to the masses.
Intel Compute Card: Intel announced Compute Cards in 2017 as a way to tap into the smart devices market. Small and thin, the products contained most elements of a full computer—including the CPU, memory, storage and wireless connectivity—for $150 to $500. But while “we continue to believe modular computing is a market where there are many opportunities for innovation,” Intel decided in February not to develop new Compute Card products moving forward.
Adobe Shockwave: Not a particularly surprising move, but as of April 9, Adobe discontinued Shockwave and pulled the Shockwave player for Windows.
Anki: Anki, which made cute AI-powered robots like the Vector, laid off its staff and shut down after failing to secure enough funding. “A significant financial deal at a late stage fell through with a strategic investor and we were not able to reach an agreement,” the company said.
Google Fiber in Louisville, Kentucky: In 2010, cities around the country jockeyed to become the first Google Fiber city, with Kansas City emerging victorious. Over the years, Google has brought its gigabit internet service to a number of US cities, but providing super-fast fiber internet service isn’t cheap, and rivals moved quickly to top the search giant’s offering. Google Fiber is still kicking, but not in Louisville, where Googe Fiber shut down in April due to buildout difficulties, among other challenges.
Laundroid: A machine that folds your laundry? Sign me up! Wait, it costs $16,000? Okay, maybe I can fold my own clothes. In a nutshell, that was the predicament faced by Japan’s Laundroid. A cool idea the company couldn’t quite get off the ground.
Microsoft EBook Store: Microsoft removed the books category from the Microsoft Store in April and axed the ability to read purchased ebooks in July.
Stringify: After a 2017 acquisition by Comcast, Stringify—which allowed for automated tasks—annnounced plans to shut down. “As our focus increasingly shifts to developing new connected-home experiences at Comcast, we made a strategic decision to step back from developing the app,” Stringify said in an email to users.
Toshiba-Branded Laptops: In 2018, Toshiba sold its PC business unit to Sharp, the Japanese display maker, which is owned by Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn. Sharp exited the PC business in 2010, but now it’s back selling Toshiba PCs. Just don’t call them that; they’ve been rebranded as Dynabooks.
Yotaphone: Over the years, a number of niche smartphone makers have tried to shake up the mobile space, and Yotaphone’s approach was a dual-screen device that featured a traditional touch screen on one side and an E Ink display on the other. But the Russia-based company, mired by a lawsuit, went belly up this year.
BBM Consumer: BlackBerry Messenger shut down for good on May 31, and with it a part of the history of early mobile messaging. Emtek, the Indonesian company that partnered with BlackBerry in 2016, cited the difficulty of attracting new users. “We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date,” Emtek said. “The technology industry however, is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on.”
Instagram Direct: This standalone app first emerged in 2013 as a way for Instagram users to share photos privately with friends. But with DM functionality in the main app, Instagram Direct was redundant and not particularly popular, prompting Instagram to kill it off earlier this year.
Microsoft Band Apps and Services: Microsoft ditched its Band fitness trackers in 2016, but it made things really final in 2019 by axing the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health Dashboard apps and services. As The Verge notes, those still hanging on to their Band gadgets could continue using them, but they’d turn into bricks with a reset after May 31.
Texture: Billed as the “Netflix for magazines,” Texture was acquired by Apple in 2016. But when Cupertino launched its own subscription news service, Apple News+, it meant the end for the standalone Texture app.
Works With Nest: Among Google’s various I/O announcements this year was the revelation that Works With Nest would meet its demise, meaning that a number of smart home devices connected via Nest would stop working. The move, Google said, was intended to unify “our efforts around third-party connected home devices under a single platform”—Works with Google Assistant. But people were pissed.
Custom Google Pixel Cases: Another thing that died at I/O? The My Case program, which printed your own design on Google Pixel phone cases. Instead, all Pixel phones now have the option of a knitted fabric case in varying colors.
Amazon Restaurants: Amazon launched its restaurant delivery service in 2015 for Amazon Prime members starting in Seattle. The service then expanded to more than 20 cities across the country including New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., as well as overseas. But last year, the company shut down Amazon Restaurants in the UK following reports that it was also slashing jobs at the service’s US division. This year, it shut down for good.
Amazon Spark: Amazon Spark debuted in 2017 as a Pinterest-like shopping social network that let you follow specific categories and people (and buy things, of course). But it quietly folded this year after failing to gain any traction.
Google-Branded Tablets: Google confirmed this summer that it would no longer produce standalone tablets (like the Nexus 7, pictured) and would instead focus on notebooks. “Hey, it’s true…Google’s HARDWARE team will be solely focused on building laptops moving forward, but make no mistake, Android & Chrome OS teams are 100 percent committed for the long-run on working with our partners on tablets for all segments of the market (consumer, enterprise, edu),” Google’s head of devices, Rick Osterloh, said at the time.
Ouya Online Store: Ouya arrived on the scene in 2012 as a crowdfunded, Android-powered gaming console for a mere $99. It raised $8.5 million on Kickstarter, and attracted the interest from a whole legion of third-party developers. But reviews were brutal, and software assets were sold to Razer in 2015. In June, Razer pulled the plug on Ouya’s online store, which hosted games for the console.
Cloud Locker Ultraviolet: In the era before video-streaming services, Ultraviolet allowed people to store a digital copy of any DVD they purchased in a cloud locker, which was accessible via Ultraviolet-branded devices. Since 2011, 30 million users stored over 300 million movies and TV shows on the service, but as DVD sales dipped and streaming services soared, Ultraviolet saw the writing on the wall and shut down on July 31.
Spotify Artist Upload Program: For about a year, Spotify tested a feature that let independent artists upload their music directly to Spotify. But in a bid not to anger the music labels and distributors with which it works, however, Spotify announced it would end the program. “Over the past year, we’ve vastly improved our work with distribution partners to ensure metadata quality, protect artists from infringement, provide their users with instant access to Spotify for Artists, and more,” it said.
Microsoft Internet Games: Redmond in July announced that those still using Windows XP, Windows ME, and Windows 7 would soon no longer be able to fire up a few classic games available on the OSes: Backgammon, Checkers, Spades, Hearts, Reversi, and MSN Go. “The time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences,” Microsoft said at the time. Support for Windows XP and ME ended on July 31, while Windows 7 users have until Jan. 22, 2020 to get in a few more games.
Dessert-Themed Versions of Android: With the launch of every major new version of Android, we got a dessert-themed name to accompany the version number, from Android Cupcake to Android Pie. However, for Android Q there is no tasty treat naming convention anymore; Google took a page from Microsoft, and named its newest mobile OS Android 10.
Android statues in Mountain View (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Google Trips: This app, which arrived in 2016, was billed as a personalized tour guide in your pocket. But no one wanted yet another Google app; it shut down this year, and much of its functionality was eventually moved over to Maps and Search.
Google Voice ‘Get Voicemail Via Message’: Google Voice has long allowed users to forward voicemail transcripts to your phone’s text message app. But in a bid to battle robocallers, mobile carriers had started blocking the automated feature, so Google decided to shut it down.
Facebook Group Stories: Facebook has tried to make Stories happen to no avail, and this year it gave up on Group Stories, which let admins and page owners add Stories that disappeared after 24 hours, a la Snapchat.
Google Hire: Google Hire, a recruiting app for small and mid-sized businesses, integrated with G Suite apps like Gmail and Google Calendar, and promised to help you “identify talent, build strong candidate relationships, and efficiently manage the interview process end-to-end.” But “While Hire has been successful, we’re focusing our resources on other products in the Google Cloud portfolio,” according to Google, which shut down Hire on Sept. 1.
iTunes on Mac: macOS Catalina removed iTunes from the Mac and split it up into three separate apps: Music, Podcasts, and TV. Though it was billed as the end of iTunes, the much-maligned piece of software lives on in Windows, for now.
Jeremy Renner’s app: Some of you might not know who Jeremy Renner is, but even if you do, you might not be aware that the actor had an app dedicated entirely to himself. Well, he did, and it was shut down this year, but not because no one cared. In fact, things got a little too active over on the old JR app, where “fans” figured out how to impersonate Renner and post inappropriate content in his name. Renner wasn’t having it and killed the app altogether.
MoviePass: Surprising no one, MoviePass couldn’t hack it. The company had a turbulent 2018 and 2019 before it shut down on Sept. 14. The idea was a great one—pay a flat fee to see as many movies as you could handle in a month. It sounded too good to be true, and it was. After changing its service plans, blacking out popular movies, and trying a few other schemes in a bid to recoup losses, MoviePass ran out of money.
YouTube Messages: Two years ago, Google added direct messages to YouTube. But discourse in YouTube DMs were apparently about as high-brow as the site’s comments section, so YouTube “decided to discontinue YouTube’s native direct messaging feature while we focus on improving public conversations.”
Bose Sleepbuds: Sleepbuds were intended to help light sleepers get some consistent rest throughout the night. But Bose discontinued them for inconsistent battery performance it couldn’t fix. They’re no longer available for purchase, and Bose is offering existing users a full refund through December 31, 2019, or until the end of the product’s two-year warranty.
Dyson’s Electric Car: Sir James Dyson says his company’s automotive team developed “a fantastic car,” but it simply wasn’t commercially viable, so Dyson shut down the program.
Google Clips: Google Clips used AI to automatically capture the things around you, but in practice, this small camera felt like a bad robotic event photographer, and Google canned it this year.
Google Daydream VR: Citing lack of adoption, Google this year discontinued the Daydream VR headset. The company made the announcement after revealing the Pixel 4 smartphone will launch without support for the Daydream VR platform. Samsung’s Gear VR also appears to be on the chopping block, which does not bode well for smartphone-based VR.
Intel Kaby Lake-G processors: Intel quietly discontinued its Kaby Lake-G processors, which were born from a rare team-up between the chip maker and rival AMD. Intel indicated to PCMag that it was phasing out the Kaby Lake-G line in favor of its 10th generation Ice Lake Intel Core processors. Shipments will officially end on July 31, 2020.
Kindle Matchbook: Kindle Matchbook allowed authors to offer a Kindle version of their work at a greatly reduced price (or even for free) to customers who purchased a print edition. Amazon did not elaborate on why Matchbook shut down, but the program ended on Oct. 31.
(RED Hydrogen Phone)
RED Hydrogen Phone: Jim Jannard, founder of cinematography camera maker RED, announced his retirement in October, and with it the end of Hydrogen. The Hydrogen One launched last year as a much-hyped Android smartphone that critics, including PCMag, ultimately dismissed as an underwhelming product.
Sony PlayStation Vue: Sony will shut down PlayStation Vue on Jan. 30, 2020, after it was unable to compete in the video-streaming game. “Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected. Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business,” said Sony Deputy President John Kodera.
Yahoo Groups: Another once-popular service that has declined in the social-networking era, Yahoo Groups is being shut down by parent company Verizon. Content will be deleted, and Yahoo Groups will live on only as an email list people can use to message each other. After archivists complained about not having enough time to download content, Verizon pushed the deletion date from Dec. 15 to Jan. 31, so there’s still time to recover your old-school chats.
Amazon Free Samples: Earlier this year, Amazon started using machine learning to predict what shoppers might want in the future and send them free samples of those goods. Free stuff is cool, but the program was a litle creepy for some, and Amazon decided to retire it.
Cortana App: Microsoft announced last month that it’ll pull the Cortana app from the App Store and Google Play on January 31, 2020. Not all countries will lose Cortana immediately, however. The digital assistant tried competing with Siri on iOS and Google Assistant on Android, but Cortana failed to gain traction. Now, it’ll transition to a built-in feature on Microsoft’s other products.
(Microsoft Cortana app)
Google Cloud Print: This service let you print items to remote devices; send a document to your office printer on your commute, for example, or print something on your home printer while at work. But it will no longer be available come Dec. 31. Google recommends embracing native printing (CUPS); “When you add a printer, it automatically appears in your users’ list of printers and they can start printing without any further setup,” it says.
Insignia Connect: A number of big box stores sell their own versions of popular electronics, and Best Buy offered Insignia smart home devices, until this year. Sorry, no more WiFi Smart Plug and Smart Plug with metering, WiFi Smart Light Switch, Wi-Fi Camera, or WiFi Convertible Freezer/Fridge.
Juno App: Available in New York City, Juno was marketed as a driver-friendly alternative to Uber and Lyft, but it couldn’t compete amid what it called burdensome city regulations.
Coolest Cooler: Once the most funded Kickstarter project in history (as of 2014), the Coolest Cooler—a cooler full of gadgets like a blender, wireless speaker, and USB for charging devices—turned out to be mediocre at best. By 2016, Coolest was out of money and couldn’t ship all its orders, a saga that continued through 2018. This year, it finally gave up the ghost.
Netflix on Old-School Media Streamers: As of Dec. 1, Netflix will no longer stream to some of the oldest Roku devices or Samsung and Vizio TVs due to Microsoft’s PlayReady DRM. The technology protects streams against piracy. However, the oldest Roku devices (Roku SD, Roku HD, Roku HD-XR, Roku XD, and Roku XDS) and some old Samsung and Vizio TVs aren’t capable of using it. Instead, they rely on Windows Media DRM, which Netflix continued to support until now.
Video Game Rentals and Purchases Via Redbox: For those who relied on Redbox kiosks for video game rentals, the company confirmed to The Verge that it has ended video game rentals and will no longer sell games by year’s end to focus on movies.
Steam Controller: In a bid to get rid of its Steam Controller stock, Valve sold it at a 90 percent discount during the Steam Autumn Sale. Unfortunately, it sold too many of them, and had to issue refunds to the unlucky latecomers. Valve is no longer producing the Steam Controller so that’s all she wrote.
Windows 10 Mobile Support: Bill Gates blames the failure of Windows Mobile on the DOJ’s antitrust suit. But whatever the reason, it was never able to compete against iOS and Android, and faded into the rearview as Microsoft shifted its priorities. It will finally say goodbye next month.