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The Two Worst Technology Predictions of 2014

Unwrapping a Google Glass this Christmas? Bitcoins putting your children through college?

Part of a series about the worst predictions of the year.

Speculating about what new gizmos and gadgets will be released by companies like Apple and Samsung has become an entire cottage industry, but that doesn't mean they are immune to some awful guesses. Here are two.

"Google Glass becomes the must-have tech gadget of the year." 

Adam Peck

2014 was supposed to be the year of wearables. Fitness trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone’s Up were all the rage last holiday season, and forecasters were giddy about a slew of new entries into the marketplace.

Perhaps no product better exemplified this enthusiasm than Google Glass, the futuristic, $1,500 heads-up device that sits on a user’s head like a pair of eyeglasses. Google unveiled prototypes of the device years ago, but after streamlining the design and beginning limited production runs, it seemed like Glass was set for a big year.

So much so that The Washington Post predicted in January that it would become the “must-have tech gadget of the year.”

“It’s a safe bet that if Google Glass is cool enough for the runway models of DVF and the fashion spreads of Vogue, it’s also cool enough for the mainstream tech consumer who’s looking to move beyond the smartphone,” wrote Dominic Basulto.

That may have been the last time anyone used “Google Glass” and “cool” in the same sentence.

2014 was an endless stream of stories about restaurants turning away people wearing Glass, creepshots of commuters appearing online, and even bar fights over the device. The Google Glass backlash became so strong that it spawned its own word: Glasshole. 

Meanwhile, despite a few one-day online sales of the Glass, Google has yet to put it into mass production and developers are already starting to abandon the platform.

Bitcoin will end 2014 trading above $1000. Or $2000. Or $4000. Or $10,000!

Adam Peck

Those predictions seemed almost conservative in the first few weeks of 2014. The value of one bitcoin had surged to over $1200 in late 2013 before ending the year trading at around $750. In January, the price would approach $1000 again, but then the floor gave way.

By December of this year, bitcoin’s value had fallen to just over $300, leading Bloomberg to anoint it as the worst performing currency of the year, out-sucking the Russian ruble and Ukrainian hryvnia.

This year saw the collapse of Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, which fessed up to losing track of more than $450 million worth of user’s bitcoins before filing for bankruptcy. Charlie Shrem, the CEO of another large bitcoin exchange, was arrested for money laundering. And China, which had been home to more than half of the world’s bitcoin trading, imposed new regulations on the currency that dragged down the entire global market.

Still, thanks to some high-profile partnerships, Bitcoin hasn’t vanished completely. And at $319 (as of Thursday), it is actually outperforming some of the more bearish predictions from bitcoin skeptics.