Published December 13, 2010
The year 2010 was filled with big technology success stories: Apple's iPad, Microsoft's Kinect, and Facebook's 500 millionth user. But the path to glory was paved with blunders, missteps and head-scratchers, too. Here's my list of the year's technology duds -- in the hopes that we can learn from our mistakes.
Microsoft's Kin Phone
There was no bigger blunder this year than Microsoft's Kin. From the outset, the Kin Phone never made sense and it's almost remarkable that executives let it hit the market. After all, Windows Phone 7 was almost fully baked and just waiting in the wings.
The Kin, a so-called feature phone, had almost no features save a great social sharing website devoted to capturing a day in your life through text messages, photos and status updates. Its advertising was geared toward teens -- and yet the phone had none of the features teens care about, including video sharing and apps. It's no wonder the plug was yanked on the project just six weeks after the launch. But that Kin website sure was pretty.
Sorry Blockbuster, you couldn't save yourself by offering overpriced Reese's Pieces and Skittles at your checkout counter, all while trying to distract me from the $4.99 I was about to shell out for a movie rental. If I sound angry, I am: I don't know why it took so long for Blockbuster to file for bankruptcy in a world where $1 gets you a movie rental from Red Box or all the movies I want with a streaming Netflix subscription. Your failure to see the writing on the wall -- and to reinvent yourself in time -- earns you a place on this list.
In the social-media department, Facebook took big punches over privacy this year, while Apple got a shellacking for Ping. It sounded like a great idea, a social-media experience built around music. Unless, of course, that experience is built into a downloadable piece of software called iTunes.
Ping violates the basic rule of social networks, sharing; and sharing doesn't work when you've walled yourself off from the place people do most of it ... the Internet, and Facebook especially.
Flip Slide HD
The company that launched the mini-camcorder revolution with its Flip line-up of cameras dropped the ball with its clunky Flip Slide HD. It features a large, white, clunky body with a slide-out screen. It's as if design and functionality never talked to each other, never found out what the other was doing.
The screen awkwardly slides out for better viewing of your videos. To play them with the screen flipped up, you can either tap the touch-screen or use the weird slide strip underneath it. But to switch to another video you get only the choice of using the slide strip. It makes no sense and it just gets worse from there. I hated this thing.
Google's Nexus One
I loved the Nexus, on the other hand -- I really did. It was the first phone that struck me as a viable alternative to the iPhone 3GS. But alas, beautiful hardware and design are no match for poor market strategy.
Google took a chance on a crazy plan to sidestep the wireless carriers with a contract-free phone by selling it on the front page of the ever popular Google.com. But the company didn't think things through. Those wireless carriers they sidestepped were actively promoting Google's own Android operating system on other phones. After a few months Google announced that it was pulling the plug on the Nexus One.