Spectacular flameouts and products that simply ran out of gas litter the road to the mobile future we're all traveling
The mobile technologies that came to the end of their road this year
RIM BlackBerry PlayBook
7-inch Android tablets
WebOS, the TouchPad, and the Pre and Pixi
Sony Tablet S
See another InfoWorld slideshow: From Android to iOS, where Google inspired Apple
A browser in a box: That's what a Chromebook -- a laptop running Google's Chrome OS -- is. Questions arose as soon as Google unveiled its Chromebook plans last December as to whether a browser-only computer could work, but Google promised to make offline versions of key apps such as Google Docs so that users could continue to work even when offline. It then got Acer and Samsung to build Chromebooks and begin selling them in July. But Google has yet to take offline versions of its key apps, and customers didn't see the point of buying a laptop that could run only the Chrome browser when for the same price they could get an iPad or Windows laptop.
The kind way to put it is that the Chromebook is a major flop, with buyers ignoring it and analysts puzzled as to its purpose. Perhaps it'll be killed as Google continues the housecleaning launched by CEO Larry Page earlier this year of its zillion throw-it-against-the-wall projects. Or perhaps Google's vision of a cloud-only world will come true one day and the Chromebook concept will prevail. But if it does, my bet is it will happen on a Mac OS/iOS hybrid or Windows 8 device. The Chromebook will be at best a broken-down vehicle early on that road.