This was the biggest year ever for the smartphone market, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering how quickly this segment of the mobile industry is growing. 2010 may well be remembered as a tipping point, the year when smartphones became the expected type of handset for someone to pull out of his/her pocket — instead of the impossibly-thin flip phones that once used to occupy that position. However, not everything was all smiles and sunshine in smartphone land this year, and before we turn to the best that manufacturers had to offer in the trailing twelve — as well as some predictions for 2011 — we wanted to opine on the biggest letdowns of 2010. We’ve asked a few of the editors to make their picks, but what we’re really interested in are your opinions, which you’re encouraged to leave in the comments.
HTC — What happened to HTC in 2010? They were too busy making phones with big screens, that’s what. We saw little creativity out of the Taiwanese firm both in terms of software (the updated version of Sense for Android isn’t much of an upgrade of last year’s version, and their Windows Phone 7 HTC Hub is a waste of space) and hardware (the Z-hinge on the Desire Z is cool, and we like the idea of pop-out speakers on the HTC Surround, but they aren’t anything remarkable).
Samsung Beam — Supposedly the first smartphone with integrated pico-projector, this handset now looks destined for a very limited release — which is a shame, because it had all the makings of a hit.
Dell — Despite all the buzz around the Venue Pro and the popularity it was enjoying, by far the greatest among all announced and unannounced WP7 devices, Dell failed big time with the Venue Pro, being 2 months late to the show. In case the devices that start shipping mid-December will still be plagued by bugs, I’ll change that to biggest let down of the last 5 years. In my opinion, Dell has a unique opportunity with the Venue Pro which I really hope they won’t blow, for both their and our (users) sake.
Galaxy S Froyo rollout — Starts, stops, and bricked phones made for one of the most problematic, uncoordinated update deployments in consumer electronics history.
KIN line — In my opinion, I truly believe to this very day that the Kin phones had huge potential. “Feature Phones” are still huge sellers. Many of us techies may not realize it but a majority of “ordinary consumers” still don’t have smart phones, especially teens. Thus, the potential market Microsoft/Verizon had at their fingertips was extremely large. Unfortunately, they were marketed incorrectly and the price plans turned many people off. This could have been done differently with success as the alternative outcome.
BlackBerry Torch — The Blackberry Torch is lacking in support from RIM and developers do not seem interested in creating software for the Blackberry 6 operating system.
KIN — Ambitious cloud capabilities, but killed before it really got a chance.