Every smartphone manufacturer is looking to develop the next big thing.  The explosion of apps in the last ten years combined with rapid device innovation has created a climate of unprecedented competition to provide that one device that will turn the industry upside down.   For every hit, there are several misses.  Manufacturers and carriers alike stake their reputations on these devices, and some of the results are tragic and some are comical.

Read on for a few brilliant smartphone ideas that tanked … big time.

#1: Kyocera Echo (Sprint) April to October 2011


Not even the magic of David Blaine’s introduction could transform the Kyocera Echo into a winner.  This was the phone for those who didn’t want to carry a tablet and a phone.  Two 3.5 inch screens combined to create a hinged tablet.  The problems…  Two screens meant twice the battery drain.  There was never really a niche carved out for this device.  Gamers didn’t buy it.  Most tablet users didn’t want to merge the functionality of their tablet and phone, and those that wanted bigger screens eventually got them.  Samsung, HTC, and Apple started making bigger screened devices shortly after the Echo debuted.

#2: Palm Pre (Sprint) June 2009-2010


With waning sales during the end of the reign of Blackberry, two years after the first iPhone, and 1 year after the first Androids, Palm introduced the Pre to much fanfare.  It was even featured on the tech segment on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  The device featured Palm’s new Web OS and a touchstone charger that allowed the phone to charge by being placed on a charger with no wires.  The Pre was in essence the last Hail Mary of Palm, but alas, it was too late.  Google and Apple had already started a revolution against Blackberry – and Palm was not invited.  The lackluster sales of this device led to Palm’s demise and they were eventually acquired by HP.

#3: Blackberry Z10 and Q10 (Multiple Carriers) Mid 2012


Blackberry’s reign ended with the one-two punch of iPhone and Android.  By the time Blackberry was able to adapt with the Blackberry Q10 and Z10 in mid-2012, it was late to the game.  They brought on a new CEO who tried to emulate Android and IOS, but Blackberry went on the auction block after the failure of these devices.  It has since been pulled back because of a lack of suitors.

#4: Microsoft Kin (Verizon) May to June 2010


The Microsoft Kin was a complete failure.  It was Microsoft’s first attempt into the smartphone world, and had a shelf life of only two months.  That was after Microsoft invested two years and about $1 billion developing the Kin platform.  It was supposed to be a social platform and was completely dependent on it.  The Kin was SUCH a failure that Microsoft scrapped it completely within one year, shutting down the services that provided the social elements, rendering the phone useless.  It also had no app store, no third party applications and limited API for developers.

#5: Motorola i930 (Nextel) October 2005


Limited 2G Data Speeds and no Qwerty Keyboard made this device outdated by the time it was released.  It was a tri-band world phone designed for World Business Travelers, but the user interface combined with Windows Mobile 2003 was clumsy and inefficient.  It lacked Bluetooth capabilities and could not be upgraded.  Third party apps would lock up on the device.

#6: Samsung Omnia (Verizon) June 2008 to March 2011


Even Samsung had some Dogs.  Though the Korean Giant dominated with the Galaxy Line, their foray into the Windows Phone in 2008 lacked pizzazz.  It had Windows Mobile 6.1, but was known to be buggy and tried too hard to be a pc on a smartphone screen.

#7: HTC Evo 3D (Sprint) 2011 


The EVO 3D was the third entry in the EVO series for Sprint.  It offered a faster dual core processer, better battery life than the previous models, and used Sprint’s 4G Wimax technology.  The wow factor on this phone was the 3D effect.  HTC used a parallax barrier, essentially they combined two image versions of the same image to mimic a 3D effect.  The technology was cool – for about a week.  Then you just had an expensive EVO.  3D belongs on a TV, or if you’re old like me, it belongs on a theater screen.  3D on your phone was shelved when the EVO 3D went end of life.  Until we have holograms popping out of our phones like in Star Wars and Star Trek, I’ll pass.

7 Brilliant Smartphones that Tanked – The Summary

These devices showed that not everything that CAN be done with a smartphone – SHOULD be done.  What seems like a good idea at CTIA will not always grab a chunk of the market.  When you see those old reels of early attempts at flight around the time the Wright Brothers had their success, you see a similar comical path to what amounted to a new era in human innovation.  Without all these failures, how do we decide what not to do?

Trying to find out the best plans, features, minutes, and discounts among the carriers is enough to drive most business’ telecom departments into submission – the most dreadful of all of these complexities is international roaming.

In one such instance, an employee of a well-known company traveled internationally without notifying their company. The person racked up $5,000 worth of overages in roaming and streaming changes. Renodis was brought in to work with the carrier to help to reduce the charges, but not without significant work on both sides.

As you may have heard, T-Mobile just announced that it will drop international data and text roaming charges in more than 100 countries. Great! But what does that really mean?

What is typically done to prevent international roaming charges?

Let’s take a step back. Without the New T-Mobile plan, the way to deal with or prevent international roaming charges is to make a feature change to your international traveler’s phone plan before your travels by temporally adding an international plan or using a Brightroam device. Brightroams are an affordable device that could be activated on a short term basis (we also recommended purchasing unlocked GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) iPhones directly from Apple to activate for China use as needed).

T-Mobile International travel and roaming plan: What’s in the details?

T-Mobile has revamped its plans with the idea of keeping it simple for businesses to make the best choices when it comes to international travel.

In their Simple Choice Plans, in addition to unlimited talk, text, and data while on T-Mobile’s home network — you’re covered worldwide. Their qualifying plans include unlimited data and texting in more than 100 countries. (*See the full list at the below)

What does this mean for you?  It allows you to easily check Google Maps (handy if you’re lost abroad), check in and update social sites, and send emails without roaming changes. Netflix might be a little tough since it only provides 2G speeds. But if you want the extra speed, a one day pass for 100MB is $15, 7 day pass for 200MB is $25, and $50 for 500MB over 14 days.

So that means for International Travel:

  • Calling: 20 cents per minute in more than 100 countries*
  • Texting: Unlimited in more than 100 countries* included at no extra charge
  • Data: Unlimited in more than 100 countries* included at no extra charge

Note:  texting and data usage is where we usually see the most overages for international travelers.

The New Plan will start on Oct. 31st (maybe to scare the other carriers on Halloween!) and signup should be easy since T-Mobile announced the elimination of the traditional carrier contracts this past spring. So there will be no locking into a 2-year contract, no annual service contract requirements, no early termination fees, and you can upgrade when you want.

T-Mobile also said that it’s 4LTE nationwide network will be covering 200 million plus customers in over 220 metro areas within the U.S.

And if that’s not enough, to help get the word out T-Mobile has signed an agreement with the pop recording star Shakira for exclusive access to her new music, which will result in unique content for T-Mobile customers.

T-Mobile International travel and roaming plan: Summary

You don’t think twice when you send an email or Skype someone half way around the world, nor should you. The same should be said of our smart phones – and T-Mobile has provided a good step in that direction.

T-Mobile is introducing a game changer of an idea that really should have been done long ago. We are living in a small global society without boundaries when it comes to technology and this is how a lot of users see their mobile phones. In my opinion, T-Mobile has listened to the masses. With the roll out of their Simple Choice Plans, they will make international travel easier on the pocket book and save time for their users.

Only time will tell if this move will help T-Mobile gain market share from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint or just make their existing client base happier. Either way it is a good way to shake things up in the highly competitive world of mobility.

*Country locations

Aland Islands Easter Island Lithuania St. Kitts and Nevis
Anguilla Ecuador Luxembourg St. Lucia
Antigua and Barbuda Egypt Malaysia St. Martin
Argentina El Salvador Malta St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Armenia Estonia Martinique Suriname
Aruba Faeroe Islands Mexico Svalbard
Australia Finland Moldova Sweden
Austria France Montserrat Switzerland
Bahrain French Guiana Netherlands Taiwan
Barbados Germany Netherlands Antilles Thailand
Belgium Ghana New Zealand Trinidad & Tobago
Bermuda Greece Nicaragua Turkey
Bolivia Grenada Norway Turkmenistan
Bonaire Guadeloupe Pakistan Turks and Caicos Islands
Brazil Guatemala Panama Ukraine
British Virgin Islands Guyana Peru United Arab Emirates
Bulgaria Hong Kong Philippines United Kingdom
Cambodia Hungary Poland Uruguay
Canada Iceland Portugal Uzbekistan
Cayman Islands India Qatar Vatican City
Chile Indonesia Romania Venezuela
China Iraq Russia Vietnam
Christmas Island Ireland Saudi Arabia Zambia



When laptops hit the market they were a rage – everyone had to have one.  No longer was the global workforce chained to a desk, for with the laptop came the liberating freedom of mobility.   Fast-forward another few years to the introduction of the tablet and smartphones, and suddenly the entire physical landscape of modern computing has changed.   Unlimited mobility is no longer a luxury but a given, and each device seems to offer more and more through the context of less physical space.  With multiple device options and BYOD on the rise in many organizations, the addition of devices can undoubtedly increase the Total Cost of Telecom™ (TCT™).

The explosion in mobile computing has essentially left the laptop in its dust, and with users asking, “So I have a smartphone and a tablet, where does my laptop fit in?”

Laptop computers, portable and convenient as they are, have lost much of the luster once bestowed upon them.  Here are a few reasons:

  • Heavy – most laptops weigh between 3 and 9 pounds.  That’s like carrying around a small dog in your bag.
  • Ease of use – laptops must be fully charged and powered up in order to function.  This process can vary greatly depending on the age and quality of your hardware.  In the end, you have to wait at the least an agonizing few minutes before you can jump onto Facebook.
  • Ergonomics – carrying some significant weight to them, laptops become an ergonomic detriment to the carrier, causing back, neck, and joint pain.  Many an orthopedic surgeon owes his client base, maybe even his entire practice, to the laptop.

Tablets and smartphones, on the other hand, have come to prominence for the very reasons the laptop falls short:

  • Portability – tablets (most weighing less than a pound) slip easily into a briefcase or notebook and smartphones can be toted around in your pocket or purse.
  • Interactivity – using a touchscreen rather than a keyboard, your finger becomes the stylus, providing a much more tactile experience.  Tablets are widely used in educational settings and for special needs children who have difficulty with fine motor skills such as keyboard or mouse usage.
  • Convenience – as with the smartphone, your tablet is usually ready to go with the swipe of a finger.  Photos, videos, books and music can be stored and accessed quickly.
  • Battery – tablets and smartphones have longer battery lives than typical laptops.

As society continues to move down the ‘less is more’ path in personal computing, it becomes clear, however, that less is not always better.  Laptop computers do still offer benefits over tablets and smartphones in a number of key areas:

  • Keyboard – for anyone who has had the (frustrating) experience of typing out a long email or blog on a tablet knows the relief of getting back onto a physical keyboard.  Less mistakes, faster typing and more accurate content result.
  • Screen – typical laptop screens are 13 inches or larger, compared with an average screen size of only 8 inches for tablets, and much smaller for smartphones.
  • Multitasking – working on a laptop makes toggling between multiple programs a cinch, allowing the user to view them with ease.

When it comes to choosing between a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, it becomes a question of necessity:  which device is right for the intended job?  For convenience and speed, the tablet or smartphone is the hands-down winner.  However, for real, hands-on work purposes, the laptop computer still has a place in our repertoire of gadgets, and it likely will for some time to come.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net