BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Go ahead, put an Apple (AAPL) iPad, Microsoft (MSFT) Kinect, Sony (SNE) PlayStation Move or Panasonic (PC) 3D television and glasses on your wish list this holiday season. The tech world reserves the right to mock you for it later.
It doesn't care that roughly 8 million iPads have been sold already and retailers including Target (TGT), Wal-Mart (WMT) and Verizon (VZ) Wireless stores are tripping over themselves to keep the tablet on shelves. It cackles at commercials for Best Buy (BBY) and Toys R Us that push Microsoft's motion-control device for the Xbox 360 and show rhythm-deprived families playing out of step with Viacom's (VIA.B) Dance Central -- despite the Playstation Move motion controller's role in September's video game accessory sales spike. It snickers at Samsung and Panasonic's support of the home 3D format and pairs of shutter glasses that cost $100 to $200 a pop, mostly because it's been through this all before.
Apple knows all too well that hype is no match for history, especially after its $100 million Newton platform for its MessagePad devices bombed in the 1990s and is known only as the cool-but-unpopular ancestor to the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Microsoft and Sony likely took notes from a pre-Wii Nintendo's punishing history of video game peripherals that reached rock bottom with the Power Glove back in 1989. As for 3-D, bad films from Creature From The Black Lagoon to this year's Clash of the Titans retread are a steady reminder that they're the rule to Avatar's exception.
But the modern consumer's too savvy to blindly believe the hype anymore, right? Besides, didn't skeptics bury the e-reader as a flop before the Kindle kick-started the market three years ago? Perhaps, but more than 1 million consumers also bought Toshiba's HD-DVD players around the same time before that particular product was discontinued in early 2008. It's hard to tell which gadgets and their free-spending fanbases technology will be laughing at in five years, but we know which ideas still get more chuckles than use today. Here are just six of many once-hot technologies that never lived up to the hype:
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