Almost every major electronics manufacturer has screwed up at one time or another. Sometimes strange devices were released in a hurry, and sometimes engineers did not have enough time to test their new designs.
Some interesting devices never went on sale at all due to problems with production or too long a development process.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest failures in the smartphone market in the last 20 years.
1. Microsoft KIN. Incomprehensible gadget for young people
In 2010, Microsoft decided to release a budget line of smartphones specifically for social network users. Emphasis was placed on Twitter, Facebook and myspaceand the target audience was men and women from 15 to 30 years old.
The main feature of the new device was the ability to instantly share content on popular social networks. It’s strange, because most smartphones of that time already coped with this task perfectly.
Microsoft stubbornly stood its ground, releasing a gadget that did not even support all the chips of the declared social networks and did not have any support for other popular communication platforms. No third party apps or games have been released for this device.
The device was developed jointly with the company Sharp, which eventually was engaged in the production of gadgets. Apart from the slightly odd positioning gadgets KIN One and KIN Two had a number of engineering limitations.
Firstlydevices were developed on the basis of a chip nVidia Tegra the first generation, the players were equipped with the same processor Zune HD. The gadget, when connected to a computer, was recognized as a portable player, and the user had to fiddle with the selection of drivers for a long time in order to have access to the phone functions of the device.
Secondly, a GPS module was installed on the device, but it was not available in navigation applications. The only purpose of the block is to apply geotags to the photos and videos taken.
Thirdly, the smartphone is equipped with a capacitive 2.6-inch TFT screen with a resolution of 240×320 pixels. The matrix had poor color reproduction and contrast, which made it impossible to work with the device outdoors.
Fourththe gadget was too actively imposing a cloud service on users Kin Studio. The device now and then offered to send a photo, video or some other data there.
As a result, the company managed to sell less than 10 thousand smartphones KIN in the US, and outside the “states” sales have not begun.
What failed in Microsoft KIN: unsuccessful positioning and model development at the design stage led to the appearance of a strange gadget with a bunch of flaws.
Buyers did not see any advantages in this smartphone and simply ignored it.
2. Project Ara. Phone-constructor that can be upgraded
In 2011, Google acquired several modular smartphone patents from a startup modu. Two years later, designers and engineers developed a prototype of a modular device, which was based on a steel frame with slots for expansion modules of a predetermined format.
So the user could purchase an inexpensive device, and then expand its capabilities through purchased add-ons. It was planned that the basis and software will be created by specialists from Google, and an open hardware platform will attract third-party developers for expansion modules.
The modules, as conceived by the creators, could add to the smartphone a more powerful camera, an external speaker, a module for wireless communication, GPS, a reinforced battery, and other features that would not have been originally in the platform. In addition, the user could change the broken module for a new one himself instead of giving the gadget to a service center.
At the first stage, the company wanted to release three sizes: compact no larger than iPhone 5/5s, medium with a display diagonal of up to 4.7″, and enlarged with a screen size of more than 5.5″. To begin with, it was planned to provide a kit for developers so that they could launch the release of replacement components.
They decided to show one of the first working prototypes to the public at the Google I / O 2014 event. Unfortunately, the gadget is stuck on the loading stage:
After such a failure, the release of the core set for developers was postponed first to 2015, and then moved to 2016. As a result, the development was frozen, and the employees were disbanded to other divisions of Google.
An interesting project could not be brought to mind in such a large and technological company as Google. According to rumors, some top managers could not agree on a vision for the future of a modular smartphone, and engineers did not receive a clear guideline for the project being developed.
As a result, the modular smartphone remained an interesting idea on paper, adding to the “cemetery” of the company’s promising ideas.
What failed in Project Ara: hovering at the presentation of the prototype. The Android operating system without a modular smartphone suffers from a lot of segmentation. Developers do not have time to update software for all existing gadget models and hardware.
If a modular gadget with third-party components were added to this, everything would be very bad at the OS level. Perhaps the project freeze saved the company from an even greater collapse after the unsuccessful launch of Project Ara.
3. Vertu Constellation. Luxury smartphone with outdated stuffing
Company Vertu was formed in the late 90s as a branch of Nokia to produce expensive branded phone models. At first, the division felt good, the demand for devices was excellent. Already in the early 2000s, Vertu handsets were known all over the world, premium phones emphasized the status of the owner and his condition.
In those days, phones and smartphones had rather modest functionality, the difference between the Vertu filling and technological flagships was minimal, and this suited owners with status.
Technology did not stand still, the smartphone market began to develop rapidly, and in addition Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone and smart mobile devices began to increase power instantly. New models of flagships with improved hardware and dozens of new features were released every year. Some of the innovations were “hardware”, and some – software.
Vertu simply did not have time to take a technological filling, develop a stylish design for it and manually manufacture several thousand pipes. By the time they entered the market, status gadgets had rather outdated stuffing, and from the software chips there were only wallpapers and shells for Android for an amateur.
As a result, expensive premium phones looked attractive only externally, and any average smartphone, of which there were a dozen in the lineup of each manufacturer, could bypass them in terms of the insides.
Vertu began to gradually reduce production, and by 2017 it completely closed all divisions in England (status models were assembled there) and fired most of the staff. The brand was not buried, first they tried to resurrect it in China, and then a Turkish-Cypriot company bought all the rights to the brand and presented a smartphone a few months later Vertu Constellation.
At a price from €5000 the gadget did not keep up with the fashion trends of the market. The model was too thick and heavy due to the presence of sapphire glass and steel. The design with the outlines of the letter “V” has long been fed up, and the filling lagged behind the market flagships for a year and a half.
The worst thing is that from all the cracks of the branded shell climbed material design by Google. Icons for many applications, dialog boxes, system menus and a switch in a flat style with bright elements and a gradient were knocked out of the Vertu style.
The Vertu Constellation sold poorly, with average ratings from analysts and reviewers. He actually buried the famous brand. Vertu still exists, but its devices are in demand only in some Asian countries.
What failed in Vertu Constellation: the gadget did not correspond to the time in terms of hardware, appearance and software stuffing. The developers could not keep a single style and release a fairly functional device.
At that time, it was necessary not to try to create your own smartphone on outdated hardware, but to take ready-made gadgets and make them more expensive. As, for example, they did it in caviar.
4. Facebook phone. Budget toy from Zuckerberg
With the growing popularity of smartphones in the company Facebook also decided to release their own gadget. Fortunately, they did not develop the operating system, relying on the popularity of Android.
The hardware was developed by HTC and by the time of release the device had rather mediocre characteristics. After the presentation of the smartphone HTC First In the spring of 2013, many analysts suggested that HTC was simply getting rid of obsolete components in this way.
It turned out to be an unremarkable budget gadget with a weak processor, a mediocre camera and a faceless design.
The only difference between Zuckerberg’s smartphone and competitors’ devices was the shell Facebook Home, which made the main bet on communication in the social network of the same name. The main screen of the gadget primarily displayed a news feed, photos of friends and new messages. Only after studying Facebook news did the user get access to the gadget’s desktop with application icons.
Fortunately, it was possible to turn off the shell and use pure Android, which deprived the gadget of at least some Facebook affiliation.
According to various sources, it was sold from 10 to 20 thousand devices HTC first. Authoritative publications in the United States called it the main technological failure of the year. Smartphone sold for $99then gave for only $1 with operator contracts, and a few months after the release, they were completely removed from sales.
What failed in Facebook Phone/HTC First: the gadget turned out to be faceless and could not attract buyers. The appearance and hardware were mediocre, and the software shell was frankly an amateur.
5. BlackBerry Storm. Trying to keep up with the iPhone that killed RIM
Company R.I.M. (Research In Motion) did quite well in the smartphone market in the 2000s. The Canadian brand has established itself well, releasing functional pagers in the late 90s, and already in the 21st century switched to the production of smartphones for the business segment.
The key feature of the gadgets was a convenient QWERTY keyboard and system shortcuts tied to it. Before the popularization of touch displays, use gadgets blackberry It was many times more convenient than other phones with a conventional numeric keypad. Users were able to quickly write messages and e-mails, work comfortably in the browser, and could customize hotkeys to suit their needs.
There were times when RIM was called the fastest growing company in the world. For 10 years, Canadians managed to sell 50 million BlackBerry smartphones and become the second most popular smartphone brand in the world after Nokia (For comparison, by 2010, before the start of sales of the iPhone 4, Apple sold more than 50 million smartphones, releasing only three models in three years).
Everything changed after the presentation of the first iPhone in 2007. Steve Jobs personally criticized the physical keyboard under the display of modern smartphones, which does not change and constantly takes up space on the front panel of gadgets. Instead, iOS offered a more convenient virtual analogue of QWERTY keys with a number of useful features.
Positions RIM began to gradually deteriorate. While the Canadians were fighting for the attention of top managers and major directors, the Cupertinos were successfully selling iPhones to their subordinates.
The company realized that the future of smartphones lies in large touch displays, and release the first model under the influence of the market – BlackBerry Storm. It was the first RIM smartphone model without a physical keyboard, and it was met with very mixed reviews.
The ergonomics of the BlackBerry Storm left much to be desired, users who lost their convenient shortcuts on QWERTY keys were forced to look for new ways to perform already familiar actions. It took a long time to get used to and relearn to control such a device, and most importantly, the speed of entering information and typing dropped sharply.
The developers simply could not create a convenient operating system, which would be well adapted for finger control. All standard applications, in direct comparison, lost to their counterparts from iOS, and at that time the App Store already existed for the iPhone with thousands of additional games and programs that expanded the capabilities of the gadget.
Sales of the device were not bad, but the company had to replace most of the devices of the first batches due to problems with the screens.
RIM continued to experiment further, releasing smartphones with touch screens, making hybrid sliders and fancy all-in-ones. However, we all know how it all ended. The fall of the company began not even after the start of sales of the first iPhone. RIM’s slump came when BlackBerry lost its identity and began to emulate Apple’s smartphones.
What failed in the BlackBerry Storm: the RIM smartphone was not initially ready to abandon the QWERTY keyboard. This concerned both insufficiently developed software and long-term habits of brand users.
Attempts to fight with sensory devices in their field did not lead to anything good, and the time spent distracted developers from developing their operating system. As a result, I had to move to Android and capitulate to competitors.
6. Freedom 251. Smartphone for every Indian for $4
At the beginning of 2016, an Indian company Ringing Bells announced the appearance of the most affordable smartphone in the world Freedom 251 by price $4. Interestingly, they founded Ringing Bells just a few months before the big announcement, which was known all over the planet.
For this amount, users were offered a budget, but quite a solid set of features. The 4-inch compact smartphone had a pair of cameras (main and front), a quad-core processor and 1 GB of RAM. The device was running Android 5.1 Lollipop. The appearance was similar to the once popular in the country iPhone 4.
Ringing Bells promised to provide an affordable gadget with Internet access for every resident of India. For several months of a successful advertising campaign, we managed to collect a large number of pre-orders worth $120,000.
The release of the smartphone was repeatedly postponed, the first batch of gadgets was slowly reduced from the original 2.5 million pieces before 10 and even 5 thousand devices. After six months of regular apologies and transfers, the head of the company Goel Mohit (Mohit Goel) even turned to the Indian government with a request to support the project financially and invest in the production of Freedom 251 about US$7.4 million.
It was planned to return the funds through the sale of service packages and services to smartphone buyers.
The Indian government refused to support, and later it turned out that the Freedom 251 was a complete copy of the smartphone Adcom Icon 4, which cost about $50 to produce. So Ringing Bells planned to cover a hole in the budget and purchase a batch of devices for the first buyers.
The Freedom 251 idea was officially recognized as a scam, and a criminal case was opened against the head of the company. He managed to avoid serious punishment, and tens of thousands of buyers who believed in the idea lost exactly $4 each.
It is noteworthy that Goel Mohit was subsequently prosecuted for extortion (2018) and for a major dried fruit scam (2021), which once again characterizes the former head of Ringing Bells and partially explains the failed smartphone story.
What was wrong with Freedom 251: the very idea of releasing an ultra-budget smartphone, the production of which cost 10 times more than the retail price, was a utopia.
7. Galaxy Note 7. Is the ability to explode a bug or a feature?
The main failure in the line of Samsung smartphones was the Note 7 phablet model, which was presented at the end of the summer of 2016.
The top flagship was good in everything, in all respects bypassed those that had been sold for a long time iPhone 6s/6s Plusand could still compete on equal terms with iPhone 7/7 Plus, before the announcement of which he entered the market. It was the rush to develop and the desire to appear on the market before a direct competitor that played a cruel joke with Samsung representatives.
Sudden problems with the battery led to the fire of the device, and in some cases the gadget could simply explode.
Curiously enough, the cause of the failure differed between batches of the Galaxy Note 7. This indicates that the company was aware of the defect and tried in every possible way to eliminate it after the start of sales of an explosive device.
So the first Galaxy Note 7 models exploded due to miscalculated battery design. The defect led to deformation of the battery during heating, short circuit of the electrodes and further ignition. The second batch was devoid of such a flaw, but did not pass due testing before production. As a result, another defect in the power controller led to a fire and explosion.
It even got to the point that many airlines urged passengers to refuse to use the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone during flights.
After a series of cases with the ignition of the model, the president of the company Koh Dong Jin (Koh Dong Jin) publicly apologized for such a miscalculation of the developers. This dealt a serious blow to the image of Samsung, the company’s capitalization fell by $22 billion.
Representatives of the South Korean brand had to seriously spend money on damages and the recall of other problematic devices.
What failed in the Galaxy Note 7: he just exploded.
8. Red Hydrogen One. Indestructible phone with a holographic screen
Leading manufacturer of digital film cameras Red in 2017, she decided to release a smartphone of her own design. The announcement of the model took place in the spring of 2017, the start of sales was shifted to the beginning of 2018, and then moved to the second half of the year.
As a result, at the autumn presentation, Red representatives showed a shock-resistant smartphone made of premium materials with a slightly strange design for its time. The gadget was controlled by the processor Snapdragon 835which managed to get very old in two years of development and a pretty good camera.
The main feature of Hydrogen One was the holographic screen. The matrix supported playback of not the most popular format H4B, which allowed to see a three-dimensional picture without additional devices (glasses). It was possible to shoot and view such content only on Hydrogen One smartphones.
Some game makers added 3D support to their apps, and a separate utility from smartphone developers searched the web for captured videos to view in holographic mode.
The base version was sold at a price $1295and the advanced model in a reinforced titanium case cost $1600. Modest sales and the departure of the founder of the project from the company influenced the rapid curtailment of gadget production.
What failed in Red Hydrogen One: the company released a rather strange smartphone with an unattractive key chip. Buyers didn’t appreciate this innovation for the sake of innovation, and didn’t shell out a hefty sum for premium case materials alone.
9 Galaxy Fold. Only works with film on screen
The most recent and recent failure in the smartphone market was with Samsung. The failure occurred with the first modification of a flexible smartphone company Galaxy Fold.
The company decided to release a rather niche premium device, which would be at the very peak of technological development. The main feature of the model was a flexible display with a folding design.
In a couple of seconds, a device from a plump brick turned into a medium-sized tablet with a bright frameless display. Most of the questions from analysts and journalists arose at the bend of the flexible matrix, but the problem disappeared elsewhere.
After only a few days of use, many journalists and reviewers complained about the failed display. The cause of the failure was not a flexible design, but the upper protective layer of the matrix, which many mistook for a protective shipping film. After its removal, the screen did not have sufficient strength, which led to its breakage.
It’s funny that the company did not warn about the importance of the protective film on the screen and did not forbid removing it after passing the gadgets to the test. The negative effect was enhanced by small debris and dust that got inside the folding mechanism.
As a result, all test samples of the first batch were recalled, and the release of the model was postponed for six months to eliminate the identified shortcomings.
Fortunately, the developers managed to quickly eliminate the problematic issues and the final modification of the gadget was devoid of the problems described above.
What failed in the Galaxy Fold: the company took care of proper testing of the Galaxy Fold folding mechanism. For this, special robots were used, which opened and closed the folding case of the model 200 thousand times.
The problem turned out to be that the machines applied a uniform force over the entire area of the case, and in real operation the user opened the lid with uneven pressure.
Other than that, no one could foresee problems with debris getting into the hinge and removing the protective film on the display.
10. Energizer Power Max P18K Pop. Charges over 9 hours
The American battery maker decided to jump into the smartphone market in early 2019.
At the MWC 2019 technology fair, the company’s booth contained not only new batteries, accumulators and chargers, but also a prototype of a future long-lived smartphone with a strange name “Power Max P18K Pop“.
The gadget seemed to be “stretched” onto a huge Power Bank with a capacity of 18,000 mAh. The entire area of the front panel was given over to a 6.2-inch screen with a resolution of 2280 × 1080 pixels. The front camera received a retractable mechanism and, in an inactive state, was hidden inside the case.
The dimensions of the model were 153×74.8×18mm. What struck me the most was the thickness of the gadget and its weight. By the way, the official figure has not been announced.
The manufacturer claimed that the gadget could work 50 days in standby mode and up to 90 hours of talk time. In addition, Power Max P18K Pop could charge other smartphones, tablets and even laptops. The gadget itself was charged from a complete power supply for a little more than 9 hours.
The approximate price of the device was $682.
Fortunately, Energizer decided to test user interest in the gadget and raise funds for production in the form of prepayment on a crowdfunding platform. indiegogo. During the month of activity of the application, only 11 people agreed to finance the smartphone. So Power Max P18K Pop put together pathetic $15 thousandwhich was less than 1% of the amount needed for production.
The project was curtailed, and the developers promised to continue to study the market and improve their gadget. First of all, its size.
What failed in Power Max P18K Pop: Nobody needed a Power Bank with a built-in smartphone (11 people don’t count with Indiegogo). Users preferred more compact dimensions to greater autonomy and did not support Energizer’s huge brick gadget.
Bonus! Escobar Fold 1/2. A smartphone from the brother of a Colombian drug lord
These smartphones were “released” by a company owned by the brother of a Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Escobar Inc. was registered back in the mid-80s for the withdrawal of large sums of money outside of Colombia.
The company did not conduct any special activity all these years, but it appeared in a number of major scandals. Escobar Inc. lawyers have been involved in litigation Netflix (demanded compensation for unauthorized use of content in the series Narcos) and Ilan Musk (it was claimed that he stole and patented the idea of the Escobar family).
Besides Escobar Inc. in 2016, journalists were accused of helping Donald Trump in the US elections. The head of the company later raised funds in an attempt to impeach the president of America.
All this did not stop Escobar Inc. at the end of 2019 (on the day of the 26th anniversary of the death of Pablo Escobar) to announce a smartphone of its own production Escobar Fold 1.
The gadget, outwardly and in terms of characteristics, strikingly resembled the recently released Galaxy Fold from Samsung, but at the same time it cost almost four times cheaper and was sold only by pre-order.
A year later, the company repeated the trick and introduced Escobar Fold 2, accompanying the appearance of the model with a powerful advertising campaign. The device was actively promoted in social networks, and models participated in advertising Playboy.
And again, the model completely copied Samsung Galaxy Fold 2.
Some popular bloggers in the US even received samples for review, but the most inquisitive ones were quick to expose the substitution. Under the guise of an Escobar smartphone, there was a real Samsung gadget, carelessly sealed with films.
As a result, Escobar Inc. for the second time, we managed to raise enough funds for pre-ordering a new model from those who wanted to get a Samsung foldable smartphone at a discount. Of course, there were no deliveries and retail sales of the model.
These are the strange and unusual gadgets produced by various electronics manufacturers in recent years. Each device was unique in its own way, but at the same time had serious flaws or engineering miscalculations. Sometimes devices did not even reach the shelves of stores or end consumers.
Bending, exploding, freezing and other gadgets with fails.
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