Following on from part I, here are some even bigger blind alleys, and disasters that looked like such good ideas at the time… 5 more to go, and I promise there’s no mention of iPhones or Wm6 here.
5) Project Odin
This one is personal. Back in Psion’s glory days, and riding high on the success of the Revo+ and Series7 Psion decided that what the world really needed was Smartphone. And when Motorola asked them to work on a keyboard based Smartphone the world was about to get a killer device.
What actually happened is that towards the end of the project, after Psion had spent all of the budget on R&D, Motorola flip flopped and pulled out of the project. Psion was then forced to restructure themselves completely and pulled out of the consumer market all together. Sob..
4) Mobile TV
It seems that the great hope of the mobile phone industry is that we’ll stop talking to people on phones and get madly excited about the ability to watch TV on our mobiles. Various means have been tried, and mostly failed. From video trailers, to built in tuners, to IP based services, and most have failed as people don’t seem to want to watch/or pay for, jerky TV clips on a small screen that drains your battery and stops you being able to use the phone
I remember when 2G phones first came out. Huge great things they were, and the great selling feature wasn’t SMS, or colour screens or email. No it was WAP. The mobile phone networks loved it, and fell over themselves trying to persuade use that this would allow us to surf the mobile internet. Cellnet (now O2) even had glossy 3d animations about how using one of these phones was like becoming the silver surfer and flying along digital superhighways in glorious 3d..
Except it didn’t. and it wasn’t. and it never was. Most people agreed that wap was spelt with a capital C
2) PalmOS 6
You really have to hand it to Palm. One minute they are king of the mobile world. Producing devices that rule the market place, and the hearts of all of there users, and the next well they do absolutely nothing. When I bought my Palm T2, I was a little nervous. It was on special offer and did everything I wanted it to, apart from the fact that the new Palm OS 6 was out later that year. Still, with a broken Sony Clie in my rucksack, I needed something and the T2 fitted the bill. The new OS was to feature what every palm user wanted, multitasking. And it was just a few months away.
Then it was announced that the new OS would be delivered to the developers at the end of the year, with new devices out by Easter. then nothing happened. It was delayed, and delayed and eventually canceled. Not put off by this Palm announced that a replacement Palm OS6 based on Linux would be released. To everyone’s surprise they split the hardware and software parts of the company and everyone waited and waited. A couple of product lines, the Life drive and the TX came and went while we waited. The software half of the company was bought by Access, and we waited and waited. As if to prove that the company could do some nice stuff if they had a decent OS, Palm went and licensed Windows mobile, and produced the magnificent Treo 750. Meanwhile fans of PalmOS waited, and waited and waited.
Palm got fed up of waiting, and actually bought new licenses for Palm OS5! Rumors floated about that they were now writing there own OS based on Linux. Would this compete with the existing OS6 (now called the Access Linux Platform)? Well we don’t know. because we are still waiting.
When it comes to promises of great success, followed by great failures then the Gizmondo story takes some beating. Billed by many in the UK (including people who really should have known better) as a British PSP killer this handheld offered GPS, Telephone, email and an ‘amazing 3d games engine’ It wasn’t and after a saga involving???? it died a quick and painful death.. well not really that quick.. It did involve a Swedish organized crime ring, a crashed Ferrari, Formula 1 sponsorship (Jordan) and the MTV show ’Pimp My Ride’