From Google + to the Facebook phone: when the big ones fail in a big way

Although they were born several years apart, Google + and AirPower went to the technology cemetery almost simultaneously. They have enough company

On April 2, 2019 Google+ closed its doors forever . There were hardly any people left for this party finale; almost all of them had vacated the premises after it was known at the end of 2018 that half a million users had been exposed . And even at that time it could not be said that the social network of Google was alive: when there was initial euphoria , almost no one used the platform in their day to day. It took a while to die, but from the beginning it was one of Google’s biggest failures . Although not the only one.

In Google’s long list of failed projects there are both promising projects – some may be ahead of their time, such as Ara – and others that were skeptically received from the start. None exemplifies this second category as Google Glass .

Google’s glasses raised the question that nobody had asked: do we need smart glasses? The answer, of course, was a resounding and loud “no” accompanied, in general, by an equal of resounding and loud laughter when adding its cost of $ 1500 to the question.

The tiles do not lead to Oz

The search engine is not the only one who has screwed up in the technology sector, far from it. Microsoft, for example, managed to get two of its operating systems universally hated : Windows Vista and Windows 8 .

The second, in fact, was not that bad, but I was too focused on touch screens that were far from common in the market and, in fact, became so. The idea was good with a tablet in the hands, but it lost a lot if they were busy with the keyboard and the mouse. So much, in fact, that during the first year he lost until the start button .

However, neither Vista nor 8 were bad enough to take down Windows. With Windows Phone , unfortunately, the opposite happened: a very good operating system was not able to survive . Microsoft came too late to this market and had to leave it almost more quickly than with the one that had entered it

Along the way he left his alliance with Nokia – which he did not live to count as a manufacturer -, his original and effective proposal based on tiles and some magnificent and striking terminals of high and low range. The product was very good, but I had to fight with iOS and Android, two fighters well above their weight.

Apple is not free

Shortly before Google + died, another death occurred in the technology sector, although in this case the deceased, AirPower , belonged to Apple.

When Apple introduced its iPhone 8 and the new iPhone X in 2017 , it also announced AirPower , a wireless charging system that had to reach the market sometime in 2018. Unlike other products that ended up appearing with some delay, such as AirPods , this device stayed at some station halfway.

Apple’s explanation (which announced the cancellation by a brief statement sent to TechCrunch ) was, in broad strokes, that they came up and announced something they were not able to produce if they wanted it to reach its “high standards”.

Something similar happened with the MacPro of 2013 , known for its innovative design (which reminded many of something as little innovative as a paper mill , of course). The problem is that they could not square the cylinder and after they realized that it was impossible to make room for the components in that format.

BlackBerry finished with BlackBerry
Younger people may not remember it, but there was a not so distant time when BlackBerry was one of the leaders of the mobile sector and their telephones, object of desire . Its main weapons were its qwerty keyboard, the instant messaging system – encrypted and free, it had no rival in a world where the only alternative was SMS – and, to a lesser extent, the game BrickBreaker, a version of the Arkanoid .

Unfortunately (for the company), this is all that the then co-CEO of the same, Mike Lazaridis , was willing to compromise. In his opinion, the phones should be just that and he refused openly and for years to incorporate news such as cameras to their devices. Yes they were put to start their tablet, PlayBook , which did what it could with an operating system much lower than iOS and Android and with hardly any applications. The only version that went on sale was available between 2011 and 2013.

By the time Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie (the second co-CEO) left the company’s management in January 2012 , it was too late . His successor, Thorsten Heins , had to compete with Google and Apple for a small part of the pie of a mobile market that was already smart when its terminals did not even reach smartphones.

A year later the BlackBerry Z10 was introduced , which would actually be the company’s first smartphone with the BlackBerry 10 operating system. Soon it was accompanied by the Q10 , which combined the touch screen and the distinctive physical keyboard of the Canadian firm. Then, of course, there were barely any crumbs remaining on the cake and they had to share them with Windows Phone 8.

In 2015, the company abandoned its platform and developed an Android phone in 2016 to simply license the brand to other manufacturers . Although the company continues to exist, its place in the history of mobile telephony is a past tense that, in its case, was clearly better.

First and Kin: it can be too social
Tripping twice with the same stone is cause for mockery and derision in any sector, not necessarily the technological one. Now, observe how someone stumbles on a rock and then step on it and fall flat on the ground , too, however much the first milk is given. This is what happened to Facebook, which saw Microsoft fall on its back after stumbling over a stone. And yes, he had to see it, because in that case Mark Zuckerberg’s social network was the stone.

The singing featured in this case had a bit of literal singing, since one of the two Microsoft Kin could pass perfectly for one. Indeed, Kin ONE and Kin TWO had a particular design, but not far from what could be seen in the sector in 2010 or even a few years before. The fact is that the main characteristic of both, in addition to their complete physical keyboard, was that they were focused on a social use.

Thus, in the -primitive- operating system it was important to upload content to social networks and their contacts, which appeared on the screen. Along the way, it left behind functions such as the calendar, the GPS or a competent navigator for everything that was not a network. It also did not allow uploading photos to Twitter, sending private messages or retweeting. The worst thing is that it was not possible to install applications to correct these failures .

Maybe the errors could have been fixed, but there was no time: Microsoft canceled the project only six weeks after the launch. It is said that only 500 units were sold worldwide.

The failure, therefore, was sounded. But, apparently, Facebook and HTC were wearing headphones, because they should not hear the roar and three years later they presented the HTC First , the first-and last- “Facebook phone”.

In reality it was more a layer of personalization on Android that anyone could install, although the social network was behind its development and worked with the manufacturer to launch a device that took it from the factory. After selling about 15,000 units and that AT & T had to reduce to a dollar the price of a product that went out 99 a month earlier, the project was abandoned and became a stone in the path of both companies. For the moment, nobody has tripped over her again .