Bombs away! Smartphone trends that crashed and burned

Smartphone makers try a lot of things to get people interested in their phones more than anyone else's. Over time, though, we've seen that risks of the wilder sort often result in spectacular failure, as all but the most niche or misled buyers hew to what they know and ultimately prefer: predictable, and sometimes pedestrian, hardware features and software services.

Take, for instance, Microsoft's embarrassingly short-lived Kin One. Discontinued after just eight weeks, this overpriced pod of a smartphone committed two of the sins listed within.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Smaller is not better

Before phones took growth pills, the trend went the other way, making them tiny and pocketable. Palm, and later its HP owner, got the memo too late, releasing one of the worst offenders for the category Phones Too Small to Effectively Use. The HP Veer 4G's 2.6-inch display made even the simplest task of dialing a phone number challenging. Now just imagine squinting to read your e-mail!
Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Dual screens

At the end of 2010 and into 2011, some people had the idea that what people really needed wasn't just a larger screen, but more of them. Such was the logic behind the Kyocera Echo, a phone that folded like a book to give you two large screens that were meant to operate kind of like a tablet when fully laid flat. Except for that rangy seam down the middle. And the fact that full-screen mode only worked for select apps.

It wasn't just Kyocera's harebrained idea, either. Here are other dual-screen phones gone wrong.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

3D anything

You may not remember this, but for a while there, 3D was all the rage. With the Evo 3D and Thrill 4G, HTC and LG had both introduced phones with twin camera modules on the back to capture HD photos and video, and 3D game titles were also onboard. The only problem was, nobody wanted them.

As much as I'd like to say we've learned our lesson, rumors of an Amazon 3D smartphone has come to the fore. If Amazon is indeed undertaking such a venture, let's hope the company finds implementation beyond the cheap gimmick.

Photo by: Josh Miller

A Facebook phone

You know that old adage, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again? At some point, it pays to stop trying. Facebook and HTC teamed up one too many times in an effort to create a "Facebook phone" that would put its social network in the forefront. The first attempt came in the form of the HTC Status (ChaCha elsewhere) and HTC Salsa, two phones with Facebook buttons that failed to make a dent.

Two years later, Facebook tried again with the HTC First smartphone equipped with the new Facebook Home skin.

It isn't just Facebook, either. Microsoft's Kin similarly attempted to corner the youth market with a strange take on social networking. Here's how buyers voted: dislike.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET


The sad truth is that kickstands never really caught on. They were there for a while, and HTC keeps introducing them as a design element in its Sprint Evo line from time to time, as in this twiggy form on the Evo 4G LTE. As much as we enjoy their functionality and even their looks, as a hot trend, kickstands keep falling flat.
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET


Sprint was the first carrier to bring the U.S. 4G of any kind, and for that its HTC Evo 4G will always shine as a pioneer. The carrier, however, put its eggs in the wrong basket, as LTE technology became -- and is still becoming -- the global standard. Now Sprint's about-face LTE deployment is lagging and any preexisting WiMax users wound up holding the short end of the coverage stick.
Photo by: CNET


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