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The 10 biggest tech blunders of 2019

It’s another year that just has started, which means this is the right time to introspect on the twelve months that has gone by. Also, a span of one year can be a lot of time for the tech industry given the fast-paced scenario prevalent in the tech scene. That’s just another way to say there are a lot of things that happened in the last year, and of course not each one of those meant success for the respective companies.

This brings us to the list of things that just didn’t go off the way it was supposed to be for the respective companies. Here they are:

1. The Samsung Galaxy Fold

The smartphone with a foldable display was supposed to be the biggest surprise to go with the launch of its first flagship phone launch of the year, the Galaxy S10 series. Unfortunately, things bombed spectacularly post the initial hype and hoopla that accompanies each product launch. While the looks of the device too were a deterrent for many, what disappointed all is the way the device fared during the initial review.

The least of all that users were prepared for was the very design of the device failing miserably. Some reported the display ending up having creases during initial use or some reviewers said their Fold had foreign objects finding their way inside the device. Surely that’s the last thing anyone would ever expect out of even a low-grade device, let alone a flagship phone priced on the other side of two grands.

No wonder, Samsung was left red-faced and was the biggest product misery they faced post the Note 7 fiasco.

2. All the great blunders Apple wished they avoided

The biggest of them is, of course, the AirPower which was supposed to be the end solution of all wireless charging woes that Apple users faced. It was projected as a charging mat that could charge multiple devices at one go. Unfortunately, while it was taking forever to reach a stage of maturity, it eventually got killed before even reaching markets, underscoring the poor design that went into it.

The year 2019 is also the time when Apple eventually realised its butterfly keyboards on this year’s MacBook Pro line of laptops aren’t taking them anywhere beyond the flashy name. It’s prone to let debris collect under the keys leading to those malfunctioning.

Apple card was also another significant service that the company has introduced in 2019 but for reasons best known to no one knows whom, it seems to be frugal when assigning credit limits to women compared to men.

Also, the company’s much-publicised service launches, that of News and Apple TV+ simply didn’t achieve the sort of momentum the company hoped for. If that is not all, its iOS 13 came to have some serious deficiencies with some even compromising its security or privacy as well. Worth mentioning is the infamous FaceTime bug that let the caller listen or even see what was going at around the receiver’s phone even before the call was answered.

3. Dyson electric car project

The company is known most for its electrical household appliances such as the vacuum cleaner and all. However, the company surprised all with its announcement to venture in the electric car business. It also put in a sizeable £2.5bn in the business and claimed to have come up with a fantastic car which unfortunately failed to attract any buyers. The company, however, said they are continuing their research with battery technology which cantered around solid-state batteries.

That is unlike what other companies like Tesla or Volkswagen have pursued. Dyson claimed solid-state batteries offer a better driving range, but the technology is yet to mature fully. Maybe the company will attempt another entry in the electric car market at a later stage given that it hasn’t given up on its R&D efforts with the batteries after all.

4. WeWork IPO fiasco

The office-sharing company came to be valued at an astounding $40 billion at the beginning of 2019, enough for its founder Adam Neumann to be confident of his company being a top draw during its IPO. Unfortunately, things worked out in just the opposite manner, so much that not only did the company have to devalue to $15 billion, it eventually was forced to put on hold its IPO.

Investors didn’t seem to like the company founder retaining voting rights that amount to 20 times that of the ordinary shareholders. They also were confused about WeWork’s potential and how it could make money. Things panned out such that the company ended up incurring losses of $1.9 billion by Q3, 2019.

5. Google Pixel and Project Nightangle efforts

The Pixel is supposed to be the best example of what an Android phone should be like. Unfortunately, things came out to be something different from the Pixel 4 phones which suffers from battery issues while having a somewhat below par user experience. Not to mention, it seriously lacked the oomph factor that is almost a must-have in the flagship segment. The high price tag didn’t help things either, with the result being that of poor demand for the Pixel 4 phones. Its continues to be a great camera phone though.

However, the other reason Google is in the list is the manner it gobbled up medical history belonging to millions of patients of the Ascension hospitals in the US as part of its (in)famous Project Nightangle. Google’s interest in health records perhaps has its roots in its acquisition of Fitbit in a $2.1 billion deal even though Ascenson claims Google is not permitted to market or research the about 50 million patient records it will have access to. Worse, the patients or doctors were not taken into confidence about Google having access to the medical records.

6. Amazon Alexa and privacy issues

Perhaps it was something that was waiting to happen given our zeal to have something of a technology-based solution to most, if not all our queries and other requirements. That is exactly what happened when the Amazon Alexa smart devices were found to listen more than they were supposed to. Or not all that was spoken to it was private after all as there were some extracts of the spoken texts that ended up being in the human domain on the pretext of letting the machines perform better the next time onwards.

7. IoT may not be the future after all

Internet of Things envisages having machines on the domestic front that would be able to communicate among themselves and offer co-ordinated services as per the exact requirements of the user. So far so good but the reality turned out to be vastly different, with privacy issues being the biggest inhibiting factor that could prevent the segment to take off big time. After all, who would want to risk being surrounded by smart devices powered by artificial intelligent abilities. It’s quite like living with invisible prying eyes watching every move of the user.

8. Facebook and its Onavo VPN efforts

Facebook has become almost synonymous with data breaches or scandals. Maybe the company has a reach too extensive and varied for the company to have effective control over. Plus, the company itself has an almost insatiable urge to gobble upon user data, something that took on brazen proportions after it lured teens to install a VPN on their device and also offered money lure them into doing so.

The program involved mostly teens as young as 13 to young adults and would require the participants to provide root access to the VPN. The social networking company would gain from having an inside view of the user’s entire online activity.

9. ToTok is a spying app

ToTok was rapidly emerging as the next messaging app to have. That was until research by US intelligence revealed the app’s true colours, that of being a spying app designed to track the activities of the user. Worse still, there are all the marking of it being backed by the UAE government, which makes it a state-backed international espionage effort that however got busted before it could have reached damaging proportions. Or who knows, it might well have reached its objective.

10. Fake reviews of the Portal device by Facebook employees

If the various privacy scandals that have come to be associated with Facebook isn’t enough, what amazes is the manner the company has almost made that sort of a de facto company policy. That was once again driven to the centre stage when it was found several of the reviews of its Portal video conferencing devices were the handiwork of its employees. And the reason for Facebook to avail of the services of its employees for penning such reviews shouldn’t be too hard to fathom either if its stellar record on privacy is taken into consideration.