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June 19, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 1:25pm

10 devices that didn’t change the world

Some of the technology world's lesser-known devices.

By Vinod

Everyone wants their work to have an impact on the world, and when your work includes designing and producing the devices that people use every day, this becomes a potentially reachable goal. But what if what you produce isn’t ever really that great?

Here is a list of devices that had high hopes, but ultimately probably won’t be remembered in the history books…

N-Gage

Nokia N-Gage

Released in 2003, the N-Gage was Nokia’s ill-fated attempt to enter the hand-held games console market and take on the likes of Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance. Offering mobile phone functionality built into a games console, the N-Gage cost $299 upon launch and ultimately sold three million units worldwide before it was discontinued in 2007.

HP TouchPad

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HP TouchPad

Whilst Android and iOS dominate the mobile and tablet world these days, it all could have been very different had HP’s TouchPad succeeded. Launched in July 2011, the device ran WebOS, which HP had acquired for $1.2bn as part of Palm Computing. The multi-touch operating system should have proved ideal for tablet devices, but an extremely poorly delivered device (which briefly gained notoriety when HP slashed its price to $99) spelt the end for what could have been a real force in the technology market.

S4 Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Putting cameras into smartphones has completely revolutionised the mobile market, with a device’s photo taking capabilities now a major USP for many consumers. However Samsung decided to take this idea and move it forwards just a tad too much, grafting a full-sized camera onto the back of a Galaxy smartphone to create the slightly bulge-y Zoom. The most recent, the Galaxy K Zoom, released earlier this year, features a 20.2MP camera with 10x zoom capabilities, more than many of us would ever need, but has yet to see widespread acceptance.

 

Z10

BlackBerry Z10

This entry may be a little unfair given the device only came out in January 2013, but it demands entry here as it has not helped BlackBerry recover its flagging fortunes as much as the company would have hoped. The company’s first touchscreen phone was the first with its new BB10 operating system, which promised a revolution of the company’s very image, but reception so far has been lukewarm as consumers continue to favour Android and iOS devices.

Nokia 7600

Nokia 7600

Nokia has somewhat of a track record when it comes to releasing unconventional devices, with the 7600 another entry into its hall of shame. Released in 2003 and targeted at fashionable first-adopters, the device instead became notable for being incredibly awkward to use thanks to its unique teardrop design.

Upon its launch, the 7600 was one of the lightest 3G devices available on the market, but suffered from having poor specifications, featuring a weaker processor and less storage than similar devices.

Kyocera Echo

Kyocera Echo

A noble attempt to blend together phones and tablets, Japanese manufacturer Kyocera (best known for their printers) released the Echo in April 2011. Described by US distributor Sprint as the, "first dual-screen smart phone", the Echo came with two hinged 3.5-inch touchscreens which could also act together as one 4.7-inch screen whilst in "Tablet mode." Certain apps were optimised to use both screens, including an email app with the message displayed on the top screen and your inbox on the bottom, and it could also multitask, running separate apps on each screen. Unsurprisingly, it was not a success.

WebTV

WebTV

The Internet has in some ways superceded the television as many people’s primary source of entertainment, so why should it not be possible to combine the two? This was the thinking of WebTV, set up in 1996 during the early days of the web, which used a television set as a combined screen and display for watching and surfing the web. Advertisers were particularly excited about the possible range of the new technology, but poor hardware and insufficient support users quickly deserted the service for their desktop and laptop computers. It wasn’t without its success, however, as WebTV was eventually bought by Microsoft and turned into MSN TV before shutting down in September 2013.

 

John's Phone

John’s Phone

Dubbed ‘the world’s simplest phone’, John’s Phone, made by Netherlands-based John Doe Amsterdam is good for just one thing – making and receiving phone calls. Looking to cut through the confusion created by the array of apps and services present in modern devices, John’s Phone is decidedly old-school – it even comes with a physical address book and pen.However, since its launch in 2010, it has been criticised for being over-priced and having poor design quality and ergonomics, meaning that its effect on the wider world has sadly been minimal.

Sony Tablet P

Sony Tablet P

Everyone is looking for the next big innovation, and for television manufacturers, that currently appears to be curved screens. Sony decided to take this a step further, however, and apply this to their tablet devices with the Sony Tablet P. Upon its release in March 2012, the Android-powered device was actually fairly exciting in offering two screens with the ability to play PlayStation games on it, but quickly drew opposition for its fiddly controls and expensive price, meaning the clamshell curved design was quickly shelved.

Aakash

Aakash

Sometimes technology really does have the opportunity to change the world, but sadly Aakash hasn’t achieved that…yet. The tablet device drew worldwide attention following its launch, as it had originally been dubbed "the $35 laptop" that was going to bring the Internet to some of the poorest areas in the world, before being redesigned as a tablet. Despite a prestiguous deal with the Indian government, however, the price of the device has remained high due to complications in supply and production. Its noble aims mean that we hope it will not fade away.

 

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