The 4 Biggest Tech Disappointments of 2011
Last year was a successful year for a number of companies. Apple successfully launched a new iPad and iPhone, both of which sold like hot cakes. Google launched Google+ , a social network we’re all glad to be a part of and Skyrim lived up to the hype (and at times surpassed it).
Not everyone had a great 2011 though, and for some companies the sun never seemed to shine. Plans slipped through nail-bitten fingers and products that were meant to innovate, excite and ultimately sell… well – didn’t. Let’s see who’s hoping for a cheerier 2012!
HP TouchPad Scrapped, webOS Under-Appreciated
HP’s TouchPad could have shaken-up the tablet market, but alas – it died a cheap, firesale death. The TouchPad came preloaded with an operating system called webOS, providing a real alternative to iOS and Android in the portable computing market.
Tablet sales never really took off, however, and the TouchPad entered a firesale which elevated its status to the second-most popular consumer tablet in the US and many other territories. Simply put, webOS and the TouchPad are more successful than any Android tablet to date, but still considered a failure.
Thankfully the operating system has now been open-sourced so there is at least some hope left for those interested in the promising portable operating system.
BlackBerry PlayBook Still Waiting For The Basics
Running the fairly obscure QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS operating system, RIM’s PlayBook crashed into stores in April minus a couple of obvious features consumers expect from an expensive tablet device.
The PlayBook landed without native email and calendar support, instead requiring BlackBerry Bridge in order to sync with a BlackBerry phone to view email and appointments (which was initially blocked by AT&T due to tethering restrictions). Amazingly, 8 months later and there is still no support for native email or calendar on the device, with the update now due in February.
Ongoing slow sales, a loss-inducing $199 price reduction and RIM’s continuing loss of ground in the smartphone market coupled with the announcement of no new phones until later next year puts the company’s future in a precarious position going into 2012.
Fusion Garage, Grid 10 & GridOS Do A JooJoo
When a mysterious new company called TabCo started hyping a new tablet device earlier this year, the campaign went viral sparking debate over who it could be. When it emerged that the company was Fusion Garage, creators of the infamous failed JooJoo tablet, brows furrowed and eyebrows raised around the globe.
But the Grid 10 looked pretty good, and was by far the most daring outing for the Android kernel yet. Running the innovative GridOS operating system, users were not presented with the usual Android homescreen, dozens of widgets and a huge clock but a never-ending grid on which to arrange their icons by group.
Whether this appeals to you or not is entirely subjective, but that’s not the “disappointment” here. Fusion Garage went somewhat quiet for a period of months and after taking orders and aiming for an October US release, the Grid 10s took a while to arrive. Customers looking for replacements for faulty units have been told that the company is “facing issues” and both the law firm and PR firm representing Fusion Garage have dumped them.
The tablet also has none of the usual Google apps you’d expect from an Android tablet, and thus no official Google app store either. Engadget described the tablet as “crude and clunky” whereas the Wall Street Journal remarked that it was “hobbled with bugs”.
SOPA & PIPA Loom
The Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act were introduced to US congress only a few months ago and have been kicking up a storm ever since. The legislation is designed to make it easier for the authorities to shut down websites that are known to be infringing copyright, but also makes streaming copyrighted material an offense with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
The bill has been criticized for its ineffective nature (those websites could simply spring straight back up under a different domain or I.P. address) and the fact that this is outright censorship on the Internet.
Many of the big online players are displeased, and it’s easy to see why. Sites like Facebook and YouTube would require careful policing of new uploads or they would indeed run the risk of being shut down for hosting copyrighted content. Put simply, this is not the way to tackle the issue of online piracy, and the 37,000 domains that were withdrawn from GoDaddy (previously a supporter of SOPA) are an indication of the Internet’s anxiety surrounding the matter.
So there we have 2011 in four disappointing chunks. Who will be the Fusion Garage of 2012? Which promising yet eventually sub-par tablet will disappoint this year? Will we ever see another webOS device? Let’s cross our fingers and hope this year is as disappointing as the last!