Editorial by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday December 31, 2013.
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There are less than 12 hours left in the year 2013, and for a few products and companies, the end cannot arrive soon enough. This has been a year of flops, false hopes, and phones that missed the mark by a wide margin. Here's a look back at some forgettable performances from the mobile industry.
HTC First aka the Facebook phone
The HTC First seemed liked a good idea at first. The long-rumored "Facebook phone" would finally come out with a way to integrate phones with Facebook messages, photos, and updates; what could go possibly go wrong? The magic quickly faded once people realized that no one really likes the idea of Facebook being at the front and center of everything. The phone was also hampered by so-so midrange features and software that needed refinement that arrived too late. Facebook all but removed any reason to purchase the phone the minute it decided to release Facebook Home as an app, and the biggest dud of the year was born.
BlackBerry started 2013 with a lot of hope when it announced the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 in January. Fast forward 11 months later: BB 7 still outsells BB10, BlackBerry's CEO has been fired, the stock isn't worth half as much as it was at the beginning of the year, and the company was nearly put up for sale. BlackBerry actually delivered good phones in the Z10 and Q10, but not good enough to reverse years of decline. With a renewed commitment to enterprise and good signs of BBM growth, maybe 2014 will be kinder to the folks once known as RIM.
Apple iPhone 5c
Apple has unfairly been accused of repackaging the same-old-thing and then selling it to fans, but the iPhone 5c is a case where that criticism is actually valid. Analysts expected the 5c to be a low-cost iPhone but it ended up being a lower-cost iPhone that is still expensive. It also wasn't really a new product because Apple took the iPhone 5 internal hardware, put it in pretty plastic colors, and then told people to buy an ugly case to cover those colors. Not surprisingly, the iPhone 5s still outsells the 5c by a very wide margin.
Samsung Galaxy NX
Here's another case of great concept, glib reality. The Samsung Galaxy NX promised all the connectivity and app enhancements of Android with optics far better than anything previously seen on an Android device. The mirrorless camera had pro-level photography and fun software that was sometimes clunky but overall pleasant. However, none of that matter once people saw the price tag. At $1,700, Samsung took the "pro" label too far. Better dedicated cameras are available in that price range, and even Samsung's own NX300 can be had for a third of the price. Being able to post to Instagram or Dropbox from a higher quality camera just isn't worth it.
Non-Nokia Windows Phone
If a Windows Phone is released by a company other than Nokia and hardly anyone buys it, does it make a sound? It doesn't make a loud one, if at all. HTC had the endorsement of Microsoft for the Windows Phone 8X as the "official" phone of the platform in late 2012, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Since then, Nokia has been the only company to really push Windows Phone, leaving Samsung to half-heartedly release the ATIV series of phones and HTC to put all its chips behind Android. It's no wonder that Nokia has 92 percent of the Windows Phone market share. Microsoft is taking over Nokia's device unit, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see "Non-Microsoft Windows Phone" on the 2014 list.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.