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Articles

The biggest tech flops of 2013

1. Samsung Galaxy Gear Smart Watch

Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch is likely to go down as the biggest gadget bust of 2013. Reviewers savaged it, pointing out a number of limitations and deficiencies.

For one, it only worked in conjunction with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 phone. Then there was the fact that it did little beyond supplying notifications and text messages. It was also big and bulky, and, at $300, overpriced.

All that goes a long way to explain why Samsung sold fewer than 50,000 units of the Gear this fall.

2.  Windows 8

Officially released to the public in October 2012, it took some time before the full scope of the operating system’s failure became known. By spring of this year, it was clear that Microsoft’s Windows 8 – which featured a snazzy tile-oriented, touch-enabled interface that was completely different from prior experiences – was a giant turkey

First-quarter computer shipments dropped 14 per cent from the previous year, according to IDC, which was almost twice as bad as what the tracking firm had expected. Worse still was the fact that the new operating system was originally expected to buoy PC sales, but it instead did the opposite.

The radical changes were simply too much for buyers, to the point where Microsoft was forced to revert to some older features – such as the prominent placement of a “Start” button – with its Windows 8.1 update this past October.

3. Surface tablets

Microsoft's Surface tablet has a detachable keyboard. (Keith Bedford/Reuters)

Similarly, Microsoft’s initial foray into tablets landed with a resounding thud. The Surface RT, released in October of last year, managed to sell fewer than a million units by the end of the winter, or a third of what the company had expected. The beefier Surface Pro, intended as a laptop replacement, sold just 400,000 in the month after its release in February. In contrast, Apple sold about 42 million iPads between October 2012 and the end of March 2013.

Microsoft’s tablets were generally criticized for being too big and heavy, with not enough battery life or app capabilities. The RT also didn’t run a full version of Windows, meaning that users couldn’t take advantage of all the programs available for the operating system.

“It had been crippled by the manufacturer, and that’s often the case with a failed product,” says Silicon Valley technology analyst Rob Enderle. “Somebody brings out a product and is afraid it’s going to cannibalize something that’s more expensive, so they cripple it and it doesn’t sell.”

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