Why the next big thing often isn'tNewsBy Dennis Schaal | October 15, 2009Share This article was originally published on Sometimes I have to calm myself down and reel myself in.I was thinking about that in the days following stories I wrote about how Google Sidewiki could be a sideshow for review sites and Why TechCrunch is wrong about Google Sidewiki.Will consumers really take advantage of the ability to comment about a publishers' website in a side window visible only to fellow Sidewiki users?I have to admit that I haven't opened Sidewiki, which sits in my Google Toolbar, since I wrote those posts. It takes an extra step and who has the time.In 2005, I wrote about Portaga, which was enabling travel bookings through Microsoft Outlook via a Web services link to Sabre.Here's an excerpt from the story:Don Dodge, a senior technology official for emerging businesses at Microsoft, noted that 400 million people use Microsoft Outlook e-mail daily, so Portaga has navigated a roadblock that stymies many start-ups, namely getting the application in front of users in a familiar setting."In the technology business, we spend a lot of time looking for the next big thing," said Dodge, pointing to the Portaga Travel Manager as being in that category.I remember e-mailing then-Travelocity CEO Michelle Peluso around that time, asking her if the OTAs were losing sleep over Portaga displacing them. I could have sworn I heard her yawn when she e-mailed back that they weren't.I haven't heard a peep from Portaga since circa 2006-2007.TripWare, which launched in June, also is attempting to get traction through travel bookings in Microsoft Outlook.I wish TripWare all the best, and hope it will be successful.Start-ups often fail because their management was clueless, their funding was inadequate, or for a bunch of other reasons. Perhaps Portaga had a great idea and TripWare will take it to the next level. We'll see.When the post-mortems about failed companies are written, it is their ideas that were important.Right idea. Wrong time, perhaps.There are loads of examples. If you have any, please share below in the comments.So, I am not ready to annoint Google Sidewiki as the TripAdvisor bulldozer.Then there's Android and Google Wave.I hear they could be the next big things.