It’s time to say goodbye to the startups and Web products 2012 was not so good to

closedIt’s almost a new year, and that means we can all look back at the various missteps and mistakes we’ve made and hope for better outcomes in 2013 – and of course, the same goes for the tech world.

While the victories of 2012 are many, there are more than a few startups and digital products that have seen better days. Consider this our farewell to apps, features, trends, and websites for whom the bell tolled this past year.


Talk about hype. When Color first arrived on the scene in 2011, to say it was buzzed about is to put it extremely, extremely lightly. The app was the first of its kind, the first mass-consumer facing product that put ambient, flexible, location-based social networks on the map. As you moved, so did your social graph. It was also photo-focused, and this intersection naturally brought all sorts of privacy concerns along with it. 

Still, the inherent security problems weren’t what doomed Color. Its early $41 million fundraising round meant everyone was paying attention to the startup. And its incredibly vague, disorienting, and altogether too-new social networking scheme meant it became one of those apps everyone downloaded, used for a week, and promptly forgot about.

After a series of ill-fated pivots (Color for Facebook! Color as a native app!), reports began popping up that claimed the startup’s days are numbered (although Color denies this). Still, according to rumors, it wouldn’t exactly be a sad story: The patents awarded to Color could end up awarding the original team and its investors a pretty penny.


The app that turned Foursquare into something… well, honestly, a little more useful, had to shut its doors this summer when it ran out of funds. The team was a passionate one, led by CEO and co-founder Rene Pinnell. During SXSW last spring, he said Forecast wanted to tackle “big, hairy problems” associated with event and location apps. But as even a behemoth like Foursquare struggles to realize its own purpose and utility, it makes all too much sense that those built as accessories to this ecosystem will find a labyrinth of obstacles as well.


Speaking of obstacles and location, SoLoMo easily makes the list. Now this isn’t to say that SoLoMo (or Social-Local-Mobile, if you’re just now hearing this term… and if you are, I’m very, very jealous of you) is dead – it just means that 2012 was not its year.

Just in time for SXSW 2012, it seemed like SoLoMo apps were nearing ubiquity. Highlight had a splashy launch, Glancee was stealing some attention (and has since been acquired by Facebook), and dark horses like Kismet and Sonar were also getting plenty of name recognition.

And then SXSW came and went, and so did the media’s hyper-focus on SoLoMo. Sure, Facebook issued (and then pulled) its own location-based friend finding feature, and plenty of apps still launch location-social features, but this purely ambient social networking thing just isn’t quite happening yet. Maybe 2013 will be kinder.


This year, everyone’s favorite apartment-finding application felt the wrath of the API wars when Craigslist decided to pull its data from the site. The ensuing drama between Craigslist, Padmapper, and 3taps (the company that provided Padmapper with the data Craigslist wouldn’t) played out for us all to see. But eventually Craigslist won (and users lost because, let’s face it, pretty much everyone loved Padmapper). While the site is still up and running, it’s doing so without the many, many listings that made our apartment hunts easier. 


Digg founder Kevin Rose’s Oink was never much of a hit, but it was a fairly useful little app for ratings. The location-based Oink allowed you to rate specifics about locations – not just the food, but the decor, the bathrooms, the lighting, etc. But Oink’s existence was short-lived; the team shut down when Google brought Rose on board as a part of its Google Ventures effort. Now, Rose and the rest of his accelerator team from Milk are helping Google find startups to invest in.

Twitter developers

2012 was not so kind to Twitter developers. Early in the year, Twitter warned that it would start restricting its API. Until then, the company had made no public qualms about recreating products for its proprietary app that third parties had built before. But there was some writing on the wall.

Still, when Twitter laid down the hammer and officially announced who would and wouldn’t be impacted by its new regulations, it became clear the implications were further reaching than most thought. More than a few third party apps have felt the wrath of Twitter’s increasingly closed approach, including Tweetbot, Tweetro, and Others are watching how things in the Twitter ecosystem develop with caution before they pour their efforts into a platform that will only weasel them out.

The Daily 

The Daily was supposed to signal a new era of journalism, a way to bridge the gap between analog and digital consumption. Unfortunately, it failed. And late in 2012, the News Corp-backed, iPad-only newspaper decided to close up shop. “From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation. Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term,” Rupert Murdoch said earlier this month. The Daily, we hardly knew ye.


We had to say goodbye to our believed free, Web-based photo editor Picnik this year when Google decided to shutter it. Google took a handful of Picnik’s more popular features over to Google+ for in-app photo manipulation and editing. But for those who liked to use the online app on its own, those days came to an end back in April. Luckily, former Picnik developers quickly picked up the pieces and created PicMonkey, an impressive Web-based editor. Unfortunately, all those premium features just recently became paid-for, and in order to use some of PicMonkey’s best capabilities, you’ll have to pay $5 a month.


The anti-Google, Scroogle, had to close shop this past February. The privacy-first search engine was constantly being subjected to DDOS attacks, which its creator Daniel Brandt attributed to an agenda hackers had to shut his site down. “ is gone forever,” Brandt wrote at the time. “Even if all my DDoS problems had never started in December, Scroogle was already getting squeezed from Google’s throttling, and was already dying. It might have lasted another six months if I hadn’t lost seven servers from DDoS, but that’s about all.”

Of course, after Bing’s holiday shopping campaign this season, the term Scroogle has been neatly co-opted.

Social Media

Dine and dash(board): Make a Yelp reservation from your car’s control panel

Already in the car, but can't decide where to eat? Yelp Reservations can now be added to some dashboard touchscreens. Yelp Reservations searches for restaurants within 25 miles of the vehicle's location.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."
Social Media

Pinterest brings followed content front and center with full-width Pin format

Want to see Pinterest recommendations, or just Pins from followed users? Now Pinners can choose with a Pinterest Following feed update. The secondary feed eliminates recommendation and is (almost) chronological.
Smart Home

Facebook's Alexa-enabled video-calling devices begin shipping

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.
Social Media

Vine fans, your favorite video-looping app is coming back as Byte

Vine fans were left disappointed in 2017 when its owner, Twitter, pulled the plug on the video-looping app. But now one of its co-founders has promised that a new version of the app, called Byte, is coming soon.

Social media use increases depression and anxiety, experiment shows

A study has shown for the first time a causal link between social media use and lower rates of well-being. Students who limited their social media usage to 30 minutes a day showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."