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INQ's top 10 worst products of 2010

Offensive in all manner of ways
Tue Dec 21 2010, 15:26
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WE PRESENT TO YOU The INQUIRER's prestigous selection of products that we think were some of the worst of 2010.

10. Ipad
Launched without 3G and with ports missing that would get most mobile devices laughed at, the Ipad is proof that marketing and the power of brands are king even when dealing with an allegedly educated market like early adopters.

Admittedly the success of the Ipad has sparked the beginning of a whole new segment in the computing market, but as a product The INQUIRER declares it one of the worst of 2010.

With an unproven Apple processor inside, the Ipad's storage was declared rather meagre on launch and the absence of USB ports simply baffled everyone. And worst of all there's no Flash acceleration, so video playback is restricted to Apple's Quicktime and MPEG4 codecs.

With the Ipad the latest shiny toy to offer Jobs' walled garden of delights, The INQUIRER awaits Ipad 2 and whatever 'improvements' will have been made for reinforcing that garden wall.

9. 'Kin what?
Like a naff Jesus Christ Microsoft's two Kin phones, One and Two, were declared dead and then more recently appeared on a US e-tailer's website, apparently having been resurrected.

With a marketing campaign that would see the Kin sacrificed but never declared a messiah, an April launch was followed by a July that saw evidence that Microsoft had sold a whopping 500 handsets.

To remind you how misguided the Kin phones were, they were sort of rounded off squares with a slide out keypad, had only a 600MHz chip, were only 2G and the Kin One had only 240x320 screen resolution, and yet the Vole launched them this year. And in a year that saw the widespread adoption of the touchscreen.

Despite this, the Kin phones were no doubt seen by the Vole's leadership as successful as Google's Nexus One, which was never going to be repeated. One wonders if Microsoft will sort of repeat the Kin experience with Windows Phone 7.

8. Symbian phones
Winding up the very foundation that had sustained an operating system might suggest to some that something had gone horribly wrong and with the Symbian OS they wouldn't be too wrong.

Nokia has been the Google of the mobile handset market for donkeys years but now it's perceived as losing substantial ground as users change to smartphones and buy everything but Nokia.

When two substantial handset manufacturers, Samsung and Sony Ericcson, drop your OS, as they did, the world takes note. And Sony Ericsson has dumped Symbian in favour of Google's Android OS.

While Nokia has launched Symbian^3 for its latest products, the N8 and the C6-01, the Finnish phone maker might have already missed the boat.

Nokia cited the state of its relationship with its Symbian developers as a reason for the massive Symbian re-organisation. The lack of apps for Symbian in comparison with Android and IOS and the need to catch up is going to hamper Nokia for some time to come.

7. Hotmail update
The worst update in the history of updates is quite a moniker and Microsoft's update, or should we say migration, for its Hotmail users stopped people from even sending email, which seems to be quite a fundamental part of a free cloud based email service.

Plummeting to earth in August, the so-called update saw Microsoft admit that a script executed by Hotmail caused browsers to run slowly. This was due to "running Messenger on the web in combination with a few other variables". Alas, we'll never know what the other variables were, perhaps it was just Hotmail?

If the reasons for the problems weren't laughable enough then the Vole's excuses for its appalling new service would make any coder cry. Screen contrast being too high was one and browsers being too old was another, despite the Vole's claims that the nine year old Internet Explorer 6 was adequate.

6. Facebook Places
You might think that a firm that walks a very precarious privacy tightrope would avoid launching location aware features. But you'd be wrong if that firm is Facebook.

Facebook, which bats away privacy complaints like a cow's tail does flies, chose to launch its Places applications last summer. True to form it left the responsibility of turning it off to its users.

The problem is that settings are accused of being hard to pin down, hard to follow and hard to use. People don't really use Facebook's privacy controls, they ride them.

However, alerting the social networking population of your every movement, apparently, is easy.

5. Buzz? Buzz off
Google Buzz, the early social networking attempt from the Internet search firm, was a failure that was doomed from the start. Buzz was thrust onto users without their consent and set about exposing their contacts like a monkey tearing up a leather bound address book.

Complaints were flung at the firm from a number of individuals concerned that their details had been exposed, while privacy groups added their muscle to the criticism.

Probably the least welcome Buzz memory at Google's headquarters comes from the cheque stub for an $8.5 million class action privacy payout. Which tells you all you really need to know about the application.

4. Apple's rubber band
Think of Apple and think of bands and you think of the Beatles, at least you used too. Since the rubber band became the saviour of the Apple Iphone 4 that connection could be lost - if you will excuse the pun.

The Iphone 4 was released with the sort of fanfare that accompanies a royal baby. But it soon became apparent that something was not quite right with it, and that something was a pretty fundamental part of its operations.

Iphone 4, you see, does not like being held and the only way it could stand this contact was with a rubber band barrier. Steve Jobs called this a bumper, and we suspect that the humble piece of plastic contributed to salvaging bumper sales at the fruit themed firm this year.

3. HP Palm Pre 2
If HP wants to concoct a recipe for disaster then it will do well to beat the Palm Pre 2. The first HP product to sport Palm's superb WebOS was laden with aged hardware and a design that had stagnated for two years.

HP must have felt the uninspiring hardware was not enough of a challenge, opting to launch the device in France while the country was beset with riots. Not surprisingly, that decision well and truly buried any chance of success that the Palm Pre 2 ever had.

The Palm Pre 2 disappoints not just because of what it is but what it could have been. It represents the worst type of product, one that has been rushed out in order to meet the Christmas sales.

2. 3D televisions
Desperate to flog televisions, manufacturers dreamt up a new marketing slogan to replace 'high definition' and sell televisions. It resulted in 3D televisions, the re-birth of watching television wearing naff spectacles.

It's hard to see why 3D television didn't take off in 2010. After all, buying an expensive screen, wearing cumbersome shutter glasses and a lack of quality content should have left punters clamouring to get a 3D telly. Thankfully sanity prevailed and consumers are holding fire on 3D tellies.

A testament to the four-sighted vision of television manufacturers are the growing number of announcements regarding the development of glasses-less 3D televisions. Within a year of 3D tellies pitching up, manufacturers have realised that ditching the glasses will help to make 3D televisions slightly more palatable.

However until original content is available, purchasing a 3D television represents buying into marketing hype rather than reality.

1. Microsoft Windows Phone 7
For Microsoft, Windows Phone 7 (WP7) is the final chance for the firm that still dominates the PC desktop operating system market to have a presence in the growing smartphone market. So it was disappointing to see Microsoft copy Apple instead of going its own way with WP7.

Microsoft's announcement that it would spend $400 million on advertising WP7 should have been the first hint that things weren't quite up to scratch. But it all started well enough. The Vole enlisted Samsung, HTC and LG to produce high quality, even desirable, mobile phones. But once into WP7, it is hard to see why anyone would choose it over Apple's IOS or Google's Android.

Surprisingly, Microsoft's considerable effort in creating WP7 wasn't a total disaster. The operating system is close to or even level with its competitors, but that's where the problem lies. Where Microsoft could have innovated, it decided to copy, resulting in few unique, stand out features to entice Iphone and Android users over to the Vole's flagship smartphone.

That Microsoft has been unwilling to disclose WP7 sales figures has led many to believe that despite a worldwide launch supported by many mobile operators, the Vole has failed in its bid to claw back marketshare. It should serve as a reminder to all companies that, even with Microsoft's considerable resources, just copying competitors isn't enough to win sales. µ

 

 

 

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