Say Goodbye to These 3 Products in 2015
2015 is still young, but already we've had a few notable products get put on the chopping block. Here are three you won't be able to obtain now or in the very near future.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Many thought we'd never see the end of this famous piece of software, Microsoft's (MSFT) long-standing Internet browser.
With the latest overhaul of its iconic Windows operating system, the company will haul away Internet Explorer as its operating system's default e-surfing tool. In its place will be a new product, code-named "Project Spartan."
In contrast to Explorer -- which only seemed to evolve its feature set when rivals like Mozilla's Firefox or Google's (GOOG) (GOOGL) Chrome added functionality -- Spartan will boast numerous ahead-of-its-time features.
These include mark-up tools that will allow users to directly annotate pages, and tight integration with the company's popular "digital personal assistant" Cortana.
Microsoft promises a fast browsing experience with Spartan. If this is true, it will come as a relief to a great many Web surfers. Internet Explorer was never a particularly beloved product, not least because its design left it relatively more open to malicious hacking.
In spite of its demise, Internet Explorer is still some time away from disappearing entirely. The company says it will still be available as a non-default option in Windows 10 for those who don't want to make the technological leap to Spartan or are simply feeling nostalgic.
The new operating system is slated to be released later this year.
The Wall Street Journal Sunday
Between hardcore financial professionals and those completely disinterested in the pursuit of money lies a casual audience happy to read light business news and feature stories.
At least, that was the thinking behind The Wall Street Journal Sunday, a Rest Day version of the business world's newspaper of record currently owned by News Corp (NWSA). Launched in 1999, it was distributed as a supplement in the Sunday editions of the Journal's partner newspapers.
It obviously reached that happy-medium audience: At the peak of its success it was included in 84 of those publications, which collectively were distributed to almost 11 million homes.
It managed to hang in there for quite a while, but life has been a struggle for hard-copy newspapers competing for advertising dollars with online media in the digital age.
The Wall Street Journal Sunday just couldn't make it. At the time of its demise this past February, the product's presence had shrunk to 67 papers and just over 6 million homes.
The once-per-week supplement wasn't the only Journal spinoff getting the ax: Around the same time its end was announced, the paper also pulled the plug on its Wall Street Journal Radio Network.
Those who want a side of the Journal with their Sunday brunch don't have to despair, though: A weekend edition is published and distributed every Saturday.
Taco Bell's Waffle Taco
Is it possible to get rich packing several great breakfast staples into a single Tex-Mex fast-food item? Yum Brands (YUM) obviously believed so. Early last year its Tex-Mex chain Taco Bell entered the breakfast segment, in an attempt to grab some of the business dominated by McDonald's (MCD).
One signature product in the company's early-morning efforts was the Waffle Taco, featuring the namesake breakfast carb encasing scrambled eggs and cheese, plus your choice of sausage or bacon.
Overall, Taco Bell breakfast was a hit. The restaurant chain reported year-over-year comparable-store sales growth of 6 percent in its latest quarter, which was due in no small measure to its morning offerings.
However, judging by the company's emphasis on the success of another breakfast item, the A.M. Crunchwrap, sales of the Waffle Taco were comparatively weak. So without much fanfare last month, the company swapped it out for a new offering.
Well, maybe "tweaked it" would be the more appropriate description. Filling its slot is the Biscuit Taco, with a choice of fillings including eggs, sausage, deep-fried chicken, and jalapeno honey sauce. Holding this agglomeration in place is -- yes -- a flat biscuit folded into a taco shape.
The company surely hopes the new item will help crank its breakfast segment's earnings even higher. We'll see how much of an impact biscuit aficionados will make on that ambition.
Motley Fool contributor Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google (A and C shares) and McDonald's, and owns shares of Google (A and C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out The Motley Fool's free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.