5 of the worst

November 11, 2014 : TECHFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

5 of the worst

Generally speaking, phones are pretty straightforward. Initially, consumers just wanted a handset that would let them make calls and send messages as quickly and easily as possible, while over time, this has evolved to include being able to get online and play games. At all times, however, functionality remains key: if a product is easy to use, it's generally a hit with consumers. But if it's cumbersome and hard to navigate, it's almost certainly destined to flop.

Notably, some of the biggest names have made major mistakes in phone design, often losing huge amounts of money on products they had hoped would be top sellers.

Here, in no particular order, are five of the biggest mobile phone flops.

Nokia N-Gage

Looking more like a Star Trek communicator than a serious mobile phone, the N-Gage was Nokia's attempt to cash in on the burgeoning mobile gaming market.

While the aim was admirable – after all, Nintendo was enjoying strong sales of its Game Boy Advance portable console – the execution was not. Serious gamers were seriously unimpressed with the controls, arguing they were nowhere near intuitive enough, while users who just wanted to make a phone call or send a text found the buttons bulky and awkward. What's more, despite its size, the N-Gage was equipped with a relatively tiny screen, making gaming and surfing the internet difficult.

Unsurprisingly, by failing to engage gamers, the N-Gage was labelled a flop almost straight away and even several re-vamps couldn't save the device, causing it to be completely discontinued in 2010.

Motorola Razr 2 Ferrari Special Edition

Consumers the world over may be happy to splash out on new handsets every 12 months or so, but that doesn't mean they're willing to spend good money on bad gimmicks. And that's just what this 'limited edition' phone was; a standard Razr handset in fancy wrapping.

The normal Razr was one of the most popular devices of the pre-smartphone era, with its sharp, stylish lines. So who can blame Motorola for trying to milk as much out of it as possible? Unfortunately, its tie-in with Ferrari is the perfect example of how not to do branding. 

Sure, buyers were treated to a couple of extra wallpapers for their flip screen, alongside a few bonus ringtones. Plus, of course, the handset was subtly decorated with the logo of the world's most famous luxury sports car manufacturer. But all of this came at a very high price, however, and with little else to interest them, all but a few die-hard Ferrari fans chose to steer well clear.

Motorola Rokr E1

If the Rokr E1 had been released back in the year 2000, Motorola could have been on to a winner. The trouble was, it was launched in 2005, literally days before Apple released its iPod Nano.

As such, the prospect of splashing out on a pricey handset whose biggest selling point was being able to store a whole 50 songs at a time was hardly appealing to anyone who was serious about their music.

To make matters worse for Motorola, it had also signed a big-money deal with Apple, allowing them to equip the handset with in-built iTunes. Seeing potential new customers buy an iPod Nano instead must have been especially galling and no doubt reason enough to ditch the phone after just a few months.

Nokia 7280

In business, sometimes gambles pay and sometimes they don't. In the case of the 7280, Nokia certainly took a big one, choosing to almost completely reinvent the wheel.

So, out went a standard numeric keypad and in came a rotary dial instead, allowing the designers to make the handset resemble a hi-tech lipstick tube. The problem was that, while dialling a number was intuitive and easy, composing a text using the rotary dial was long-winded and frustrating.

Reviewers and tech commentators were happy to credit Nokia's willingness to take a risk, particularly after the spectacular failure of its N-Gage. Consumers, however, weren't so forgiving, opting for functionality over form and consigning the 7280 to the dustbin of phone history.

Microsoft Kin

What do you call a smartphone without any apps? A complete failure, as Microsoft learned to its cost with its ill-fated Kin.

Despite being (allegedly) three years in the making and designed by some of the smartest technical minds on the planet, the handset was fundamentally flawed. As well as the fact that it didn't include any in-built apps, installing them was tricky, while a lack of games was always going to reduce its appeal to younger consumers.

Throw in the fact that early adopters were soon protesting about Microsoft's poorly thought-through partnership with communications firms that over-charged them for uploading and sending photos, and it's not difficult to see why the computing giant ditched the Kin after just six weeks.

This entry was posted in TECH and tagged on by sarahstooks
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