For every year that ends, even in the world of technology, there is a string of budgets and lists of good intentions that peep out from websites, among the thoughts entrusted to the exponential echo of social networks and in the scent of the ink poured on pieces of crumpled paper stuck to refrigerators around the world. And for every list of good intentions worthy of respect, there is a heap of disregard that awaits you at the gate.
Here then the good intentions take the form of categorical imperatives not to fail to avoid getting stuck in the same routine of the decade that (almost) was. And the balance sheets become real pitiless cross sections of what has been.
And the world of technology, of these pitiless cross-sections, is full of them. Perhaps because it is one of the areas par excellence in which we experiment, dare and always try to be one-step ahead. Sometimes ending up making colossal (and global) holes in the water.
So here is a list of what we think are the 10 most sensational flops of the decade in the world of technology, of which we have nevertheless appreciated talent, courage and orientation towards innovation.
10. Zuckerberg’s smartphone
The beginning of this decade was literally “Facebook-centric”. The social network has gained unprecedented popularity and billions of users, becoming an integral part of the lives of people who, until recently, used the right smartphone to make calls and their own computer to send emails and book low-cost air flights. Facebook has imposed itself and has created new languages, new ways of living and sharing life. A success and a power capable of giving to the head. And perhaps it was this heady triumph that provided Zuckerberg with the audacity to launch a smartphone with a dedicated Facebook button. In partnership with HTC and without, it must be said, a launch with sensational tones, three Status smartphones were released, Salsa and HTC First, an Android with a personalized Facebook home. What did we learn?
9. Google smartwatches
Google has skewered a sequence of successful products. And others a little less. This is the case of the company’s ambitions regarding smartwatches. After feeding dozens of them with Android Wear before and Wear OS after without really producing one capable of fighting the Cupertino giant, in 2016 Google withdrew from an agreement to launch a Pixel smartwatch created with LG. Motorola and Asus have quit the platform for years.
Now Google seems to want to take the bull by the horns, after paying millions to Fossil for its mysterious smartwatch technology and 2 billion to FitBit. In order not to frustrate investments, the real challenge is to launch a smartwatch that can undermine Apple from the zero minute of the launch.
The parable of the hoverboards reminds a little of that of the meteors: bright and shiny for a moment and then quickly closed forever in oblivion.
In 2015, hoverboards were the object to have: back to the future children, youngsters and nostalgic adults darted through the streets above what, in concrete terms, is little more than a board with wheels. With a 99% drop chance. A few manufacturing defects and the appearance of much more efficient means for smart mobility were enough to make the faint spark of one of the least useful technologies of the last 10 years succumb.
7. Android tablets
Not that Google hasn’t tried – and tried and tried again. Since 2011 with Motorola Xoom – high price, clumsy software and a few really convincing apps – then with Samsung Nexus 10 and Asus Nexus 7. But the gap with the solutions offered by Apple has never narrowed. Not even with Nexus 9, Pixel C and Pixel Slate.
Not even the Amazon and Microsoft solutions do much better. In short, a wedding that just does not have to do.
6. The Antennagate
It’s quite rare to see Apple making mistakes globally, but when it does, it tends to do it in a big way. An example above all: the Antennagate, the great sin of the iPhone 4 that simply lost signal if held in the hand. Jobs, at the time, put the 90 load on it, suggesting to a user “don’t keep the phone that way”. It was a bloodbath and a real earthquake in the world of technology, which saw Apple first try to solve the error with a software update capable of correcting a bar display problem, and then admit the production defect by offering free cases to who had purchased the iPhone 4.
5. 3D televisions
Announced as a revolutionary new entertainment system that would pervade every living room, 3D screens have taken the cinemas of the planet by storm, much less the evenings on the sofa. Nobody, basically, wants to stay indoors in overalls and 3D glasses. Also because the size of a common TV does not guarantee the same experience as the cinema screen.
4. Fire Phone
Incredible to say: Jeff Bezos has been more successful in launching rockets into space than in creating a convincing Amazon smartphone. The Fire Phone caused a $ 200 million backlash and never convinced: it had poorly designed software and did nothing to hide its nature as a device designed almost exclusively to further inflate Amazon’s sales.
3. Windows Phone
Despite the triumphant tones with which Microsoft launched the Windows Phone, decreeing according to him the virtual death of the competition, the giant had to spend the following years trying to convince the developers to create apps for the operating system. In the process, after an expense of 7.2 billion and the cancellation of thousands of jobs, the destruction of Nokia was also decreed.
2. The Google Glass
Google Glass was the writer’s dream. Cloaked in an aura of mystery first, of infinite possibilities then and of great disappointment in the end, the Google Glass should have changed the world. And they would have done it if only the same concept that animated these amazing glasses had not frightened the general public. In an era in which privacy would soon become a hot topic, having a camera constantly aimed at it soon seemed to be version 4.0 of a Dante group. There was something futuristic, as far as I am concerned, around Google Glass and perhaps the world was not yet ready.
We have a whole new decade to find out. Meanwhile, the Google Glass have reinvented themselves as an Enterprise project.
1. Zuckerberg, Facebook and dancer privacy
Much we have written and hope to write less and less. But there is no doubt that the last few years have represented a nice thorn in the side for Facebook and for its brilliant creator.
The beginnings of the two thousand are far away and the lesson of the last decade is clear: with privacy and data, you can no longer play.
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