Failure to Launch: the Biggest Tech Rumors and False Promises of 2018

December 11, 2018

By Conor White

Every year as if on rotation, tech rumors soar ー but many promises fail to launch.

As part of our 2018 Cheddar Awards, we're honoring the tech innovations that never materialized, and the rumors that caused our hopes to rise, then fall almost as quickly.

Lyft's Silent Cars

Lyft had some hoping they'd never have to speak to another human being again ー not even their driver. Back in July, the ridesharing company's head of autonomous driving revealed the company had been experimenting with a "zen mode," which would allow riders to request that their driver remain totally silent. The feature never launched, which is either good or bad news, depending on your people skills.

Spotify Device

In February, Spotify ($SPOT) led some users to believe it was ready to release some new hardware. Several customers reported they received an offer for a new device that would accompany a $12.99 per month subscription plan. A photo even surfaced at one point, depicting a circular dongle for cars. While this device is still nowhere to be found, Spotify registered with the FCC in June, a key step to getting devices approved for use in the U.S. We'll call this one half a rumor.

AirPods 2.0

As always, plenty of rumors flew about Apple. One of the most talked about was a new version of the giant's highly-successful AirPods. But two years after the cordless headphones were first released, we still don't have AirPods 2.0. Several reports also pointed to a new iPhone SE, the last "small" iPhone left. But Apple continued to move in the other direction, revealing the iPhone XS Max back in September, the biggest iPhone yet.

No More Twitter Likes?

Social media didn't like this one. The Telegraph reported in late October Twitter would be getting rid of the "like" button in an effort to improve communication. The rumor got so much attention, Twitter eventually had to release a statement saying it had no immediate plans to make the change. That tweet racked up nearly 4,000 likes, by the way.

HQ2

No subject sparked more rumors than Amazon's yearlong search for HQ2. Almost 250 cities submitted applications, while internet sleuths scavenged any detail they could find to predict where the company would land. Some clues turned out to be dead ends ー AT&T was supposedly moving out of an Atlanta skyscraper to make room for Amazon ($AMZN) ー but others were prescient, like an article on an Arlington, Va.-centric website getting tons of traffic directly from IP addresses inside Amazon's Seattle headquarters. Of course, Amazon wound up stunning almost everyone by picking two areas that needed its business the least: Arlington, Va., and Long Island City in Queens, New York.

2019 will no doubt bring plenty of newsworthy rumors, but remember: when you're trying to assess the validity of a rumor, recall that Amazon built a microwave you could talk to in 2018. So anything is possible.

Find all the 2018 Cheddar Awards here.