When Internet appliances began taking hold around the turn of the 21st century, the concept of a consumer device that offered simplified access
to Internet services sounded promising. (Not to one of my PCWorld colleagues, however, who called them "boat anchors" when they were introduced
and who correctly predicted their quick demise.)
Unfortunately for the appliances' makers -- including 3Com with its well-designed Ergo Audrey shown here -- the movement fell flat on its face.
Users figured out that they could stick with their old-fashioned PCs for surfing the Internet and save the $500 to $1,000 that an Internet appliance
Audrey died on June 1,
2001, in the wake of the dot-com crash, as did most of its competitors. The winner in this category so far? Probably Apple's iPad, introduced nine years