Sometimes, in life, things don’t turn out the way you expect. Sometimes you fall flat on your face, but that’s ok; just dust yourself off and get back up. Having said that, in the case of mobile phone manufacturers, while all is absolutely forgiven, we reserve the right to have a jolly good laugh at the cock-ups.
Here I’m taking a gander at four such cock-ups, four phones from 2013 that didn’t quite perform as expected – or promised.
The term “failure” is perhaps a tad vague in the context of mobile phones, but I’ll do my best to explain why I’ve included each phone in the list, lest I find myself relentlessly mauled in the comments section.
Oh, and needless to say, feel free to chime in with your own candidates. EDIT: Yep, there's an obvious omission here...
Ready? Let’s dance.
We’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to HTC-branded failures, with the Taiwanese manufacturer recently recording its first-ever quarterly loss. It would’ve probably been a tad harsh to include the HTC One here, given the critical acclaim and array of awards.
Instead, we turn our attention to the HTC First, yet another device that demands of HTC: ‘What on earth were you thinking?’
The HTC First was unveiled in April this year alongside Facebook Home, an Android UI overlay thingy. Essentially, the HTC First was a further stab at the “Facebook phone” thing, HTC having already released the HTC Salsa and ChaCha duo back in 2011.
In terms of specs, the HTC First was completely middle of the road, with a 4.3in 720p display, dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, a 5MP rear camera, and 16GB internal storage.
Ultimately, on account of consumer reaction to the Facebook Home fork, the HTC First’s international rollout was canned. Now let’s never speak of it again.
Samsung Galaxy S4
“How can a phone that’s sold tens of millions of units be a failure? You’re an idiot. This site makes me want to vomit. You’re all on the Apple payroll…” And so on and so forth.
I’m labeling the "Life Companion" Samsung Galaxy S4 a failure because it’s emphatically failed to live up to expectations, expectations that were largely set by none other than Samsung.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 raced out of the gate, shifting 10 million units in its first month of release. We then hit 20 million a month later, 30 million after four months, and 40 million after six (as relayed by SamMobile). Clearly sales are slowing, and unless there’s a massive buying surge at Christmas, we can’t see the flagship hitting the 100 million mark any time soon.
Indeed, rumour has it Samsung is bringing forward the Galaxy S5 launch on account of lower-than-expected Galaxy S4 sales.
Figures aside, you might remember the ridiculous fanfare on Samsung’s part prior to launch, with one particularly outrageous teaser promising that the Galaxy S4 would be “one of the most exciting products to hit the market since TVs with colour.” WHAT? Do you have any idea what you’re actually saying?
In reality, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has an undeniably uninspiring design, especially sitting side by side with the likes of the award-winning HTC One. And as for those throw-a-ton-of-random-crap-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks software features, they initially consumed 7GB of the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 16GB internal storage. Brilliant.
Chances are I’d be hunted down and tied to a lamppost naked (or something equally disturbing/humiliating) if I failed to include an Apple smartphone in a feature berating the Samsung Galaxy S4. Keep your pants on, Apple hater.
Apple says it shifted an impressive nine million combined iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c units in their first weekend of launch, and while there was initially some confusion over the breakdown, consensus is the iPhone 5s is dominating.
On that note, rumours from out east suggest iPhone 5s shipments are on the up, while iPhone 5c orders are down.
Part of the problem is the price. The iPhone 5c was heralded by analyst types as a cheap iPhone intended to pander to the entry-level market, perhaps with a view to taking over China.
But nope, Apple CEO Tim Cook explains: “We’re not in the junk business. There’s a segment of the market that really wants a product that does a lot for them, and I want to compete like crazy for those customers. I’m not going to lose sleep over that other market, because it’s just not who we are.”
Fair enough, but that still doesn’t explain why the iPhone 5c is only marginally less expensive than the flagship iPhone 5s. The question on everyone’s lips is: “Why wouldn’t you pay a smidgeon more to get the full shebang?”
I’m finding it really hard to care about Motorola at the moment. It feels like decades ago that we relayed the words of Outrageously Foxy Lady (yes, that was her official job title) Christy Wyatt, and the message I’m getting from the US manufacturer is that it doesn’t much care about the other side of the Atlantic.
Prior to launch, the Moto X was being heralded as a “real game changer”, and we had high hopes for something special that wasn’t just another 5in 1080p, quad-core, 13MP hunk of uninteresting junk.
Worse than that, the Moto X is a decidedly mid-range phone that looks to stand out with… an array of customisable covers. Do were care that it's US-only? Not at all.
According to Strategy Analytics (via The Wall Street Journal), the Moto X sold “roughly 500,000” in Q3. Case: closed.