By Doug Gross
(CNN) — “Fail fast.” It’s a mantra you hear in the tech-startup world — a reminder to chase your dreams even if you need to pick up the pieces and start from scratch every now and then.
Of course, some failures work out better than others.
This year saw its share of technology-driven missteps. Some were rare slip-ups by usually reliable tech titans. Others were folks who crashed the world stage via the Internet’s powerful echo chamber, got lambasted for their efforts, then disappeared to presumably never be heard from again.
Among them all, it wasn’t hard to fill the top spot on this year’s list of “tech fails.”
There are lots of arguments for and against the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law that has opened access to insurance for millions of Americans. But there’s no debating that the rollout of its website, where millions of people would presumably sign up for care under the act, was a disaster.
Some painted it as a stark contrast between the nimble, flexible world of Silicon Valley startups and the unwieldy snarl of Washington bureacracy. Regardless, the glitch-filled launch gave critics of the plan plenty of ammunition at a time when supporters would have preferred to be extolling the virtues of the health care plan.
Of course, the full-time techies weren’t perfect this year, either.
After unveiling its successful video app, Vine, Twitter launched an uncharacteristic clunker in Twitter Music, a streaming tool that nobody seemed to notice.
Once-mighty BlackBerry watched its dwindling relevance erode to almost zero in 2013, while Microsoft learned that taking on the iPad isn’t easy as its Surface tablet struggled to find an audience.
Yahoo’s tinkering with its e-mail service frustrated users — although not as much as a handful of major outages. And Facebook learned that being the world’s most popular social network doesn’t mean people want a smartphone that’s been reskinned with Facebook features.
Smartwatches were part of one of the year’s top tech stories, the emergence of wearable technology. But by the end of 2013, none of the devices had lived up to all the hype. Perhaps spoiled by the capabilities of their smartphones and tablets, many users felt the connected watches just don’t do very much … yet.
And it wouldn’t be a year in the digital age without people using their Web access in regrettable, embarrassing and sometimes just plain stupid ways.
Be it overzealous crime-fighters on Reddit, restaurant owners ranting on Facebook or the rest of us leaping at the chance to believe, and share, phony stories, there were plenty instances of people posting first and thinking later.
Take a look at our Top 10 Tech Fails of 2013 and let us know in the comments if there are any you think we missed.
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