Biggest flops of the year in mobile

by: Simon HillDecember 10, 2012

2012 has been a great year for mobile tech. Competition in the smartphone market has reached fever pitch and the battle for your tablet affections has really sparked into life. Android has increased its lead at an impressive pace. We’ve seen epic courtroom brawls, another reboot from Microsoft, and a feast of new devices and apps. There have been highs and lows, stunning irresistible devices and ridiculous perplexing failures. We’ll run through the year’s successes elsewhere. In this article we invite you, dear reader, to join us for a little schadenfreude as we serve up the biggest flops of 2012.

Windows Phone 8

Is it too early to call Microsoft’s latest mobile reboot a failure? It probably is, but even with an increased market share and Ballmer’s recent revelation that November sales were four times higher than the same period last year, it’s pretty tough to paint Windows Phone 8 as anything other than a flop. Let’s face it – quadrupling a very low figure doesn’t equal success.

Microsoft got Nokia, HTC, and even Samsung, not to mention Huawei and ZTE, to develop WP8 devices, and the company has spent big on advertising. When you throw that much money at something you expect it to sell. IDC is optimistically predicting that the platform will limp into double figures by 2016. We’re not convinced. Let’s put it this way – do you know anyone who wants a Windows Phone for Christmas? Even if WP8 hits that target, can it really be called a success considering the money that Microsoft has poured into it?

Windows Phone 7

The death knell for Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 was sounded by Windows Phone 8 when Microsoft revealed that new apps would not be backwards compatible. How’s that for a thank you to the handful of customers who were persuaded to buy a WP7 device? The old platform was struggling to get a toe hold in the market and this was the final nail in the coffin.

Amongst Microsoft’s aggressive marketing campaigns was “Smoked by Windows Phone” which led to a pretty comical PR disaster for Microsoft when a Galaxy Nexus won a challenge and staff at the Microsoft store refused to pay out.

Nokia Lumia 900 and 808 PureView

The flagship Nokia Lumia 900 came out at the start of the year and Microsoft announced WP8 in June. It didn’t sell many Lumia 900 handsets. The saddest thing about Microsoft’s failure in mobile is the fact that it is taking Nokia down with it. It’s also worth remembering the Nokia 808 PureView, which had a 41-megapixel camera, but ran the Symbian OS. Then there was the embarrassing faked PureView demo which was supposed to be a video shot with a Lumia, but was actually shot with a pro DSLR as revealed in a reflection in the video.

Google Nexus Q

A futuristic glowing orb as part of Google’s Nexus lineup was a real surprise and it generated a bit of excitement until Google revealed what it actually did and what it would cost. The Android device was designed to stream media from Google Play and YouTube to your HDTV or home stereo using your Android smartphone or tablet as a remote control. So it was basically a really limited set-top box that cost $299. It was widely criticized and Google was obviously listening. You know things are bad when Google pulls it immediately after launch.

Apple Maps app

The release of iOS 6 brought a bunch of new features to Apple’s platform, but it also cut out Google Maps as a default service and replaced it with Apple’s own Maps app. As it turned out the new Maps app could have used a bit more development time. There were several stories about dodgy directions and Apple CEO Tim Cook made history by actually apologizing. Google Maps has still not made it onto the platform.

LG Optimus Vu or Intuition

Samsung surprised a lot of people with the success of the Galaxy Note, an oversized smartphone or an undersized tablet. LG decided to jump on the phablet bandwagon, but unlike HTC, LG got it wrong. The device looks like an experiment in rectangular ugliness. The reviews ranged from average to stunningly bad. My personal favorite was from The Verge which kicked off the wrap-up with “Don’t buy this phone.”


We’ve been wondering when NFC will take off for a while now, but we can safely say it won’t be 2012. Despite being around for years, the technology has been heralded as a new mobile payment solution and it has tons of potential uses beyond that. We are seeing more high-end smartphones supporting it, but it’s simply not a must-have feature yet and all that potential is largely unfulfilled.


RIM completely failed to capitalize on its early smartphone domination and the BlackBerry platform soon fell behind Android and iOS. At the start of the year RIM’s co-CEOs were ousted and Thorsten Heins took over. BlackBerry 10 was held up as the new hope for the ailing brand, but in the summer the release was pushed back into 2013. Early glimpses looked promising, but with lay-offs and a dwindling market share, BB10 really needs to be a hit when it finally lands.

2012 has been a bad year for RIM and there’s nothing more effective at dissuading your remaining fan base from buying a new BlackBerry than announcing a new platform that isn’t backwards compatible. If you then delay it by several months you can ensure a downward spiral.

Share your flops

That’s it for now – the biggest mobile tech flops of 2012. There were plenty of poor smartphones released this past year that sank without a trace, but these are the fails that were unmissable. We’re sure you can think of a few more so post a comment and share. Or maybe you don’t agree with the list? Post a comment and tell us why.

  • Adrian B

    I don’t see why Windows 8 would be considered to be a failure yet. I do think it’s a failure to call it a failure prematurely though…

    • xoj_21

      Vista 2.0 everyone hate it

      • xico

        you’re kidding, right? have you even used it yet? I actually like it: the UI is nice and last I checked it even had a lower ram footprint than windows7

        • killerfooty

          Have you bought one? Liking and stepping up to the plate are two different things.

          • hohopig

            Well I bite the bullet and bought a copy to try and it is surprisingly good actually. a bit of a learning curve but most of the things are handled much more efficiently and seamlessly than previous windows version, even W7 which is quite good IMO.

        • Chris Harpner

          I’ve used it and I hate it. I used it on my touch screen PC too, and didn’t care for it one bit. Don’t misconstrue my own personal opinion as confirmation that W8 was a flop. I’m just responding to xico’s question directed to xoj_21.

          • Aj

            I too hav used it nd i hav loved it..d new meteo ui is gr8 nd is much better dan mac os x..i just luv d geastures nd if det were available on wp8 i would hav made a switch to it (from my iphone 4S) before i got a gs3 as my bday gift

          • ddbaxte

            Obviously, it’s got a terrible spell check.

          • Jonathan Buxton

            That post was the most difficult thing I have read in years… Please use a spell checker, or take an English class.

          • Aj

            My eng is not bad..this is the way in which i text and do chatting on the internet. You see, my english is not is you who is outdated. I can ensure you that my english is much better dan yours.


          • MasterMuffin

            Uhmm no, all the “normal” people don’t talk like that -_-

          • Jillxz

            Uhmm no, all the “normal” people don’t talk like that –


          • Aj

            Then I guess that this world is full of ”abnormal” people

          • MasterMuffin

            No, only “swag fags” and stupid people speak like that. Whichone are you? >:)

          • Aj

            Den i guess dat im 1 of dose stupid ppl (who r everywhere in d world nd dominate g+, fb,twitter,whatsapp nd never forget text msging)

            Fyi (for your information) den=then, dat=that,im=I’m,ppl=people,r=are,d=the,nd=and,g+=google plus,fb=facebook

          • MasterMuffin

            Yea I understood what you said and I’m glad you confessed that you’re stupid and Yes, internet is full of stupid people but there are more people that speak normally than those who speak like a retard :)

          • Aj

            I dont speak lik a retard but i do chat nd text lik a retard
            Over here im being called a retard cause i write a comment in dis way but im pretty sure dat if i msg or chat in d way in which u guys write ur comments, im gonna luk lik a retard
            So both ways im a retard nd actually i think dat im a retard by callin myself a retard

          • MasterMuffin

            Well, I never said you’re a retard but if that’s your conclusion, I’m happy with that :D

          • JabberWock

            roflmao…some people…honestly…

          • A. Newman

            Thats why I’m not on social networks, I can spell and because I prefer my friends to be in the same room at me and my followers (aka. stalkers) not to exist.

          • A. Newman

            Well please use good English because there are obviously not fluent English speakers on here (not me, from America) and they really appreciate your spellings.

          • This has to be the worst thing I’ve ever read. Tweets aren’t even written that shorthanded and they have a character limit.

          • Aj

            Tweets are generally short, something like one or two liners. Atleast for celebrities. And bedsides, I don’t use twitter so I don’t care about what people tweet. Twitter seems like crap to me, atleast when we have facebook

          • MasterMuffin

            Bedsides xDxD

          • A. Newman

            Facebook and Twitter can do anything email can do. Try and prove me wrong, I dare you.

      • A. Newman

        I swear, Vista NEVER crashed on me, seriously

      • A. Newman

        Really? I’d look into some sales figures…

        • xoj_21

          vista was bundle, and still hataed by many

      • hohopig

        :P Vista 2.0? Appearantly everyone does not use that term :P.

    • IncCo

      The article basically says the same thing.. “Is it too early to call Microsoft’s latest mobile reboot a failure? It probably is …”

    • MasterMuffin

      I simply love windows 8, it’s just so fast and (when you get used to it), using and multitasking are really easy! :)

    • jordanrai

      considering the amount of money invested i’d declare it a flop for this year at least.
      things may change for the better in the future for win8 phone. I’ve never seen so aggressive marketing for a phone in my country. must be alot of money they invested, not sure if they even recovered that.

    • libtekhed

      I’d like to try W8 on a touch device but I had to rage uninstall after 2 weeks using the beta on a desktop

  • Scott

    Galaxy Camera. Sure it’s a great idea and all, and heck, even I wanted one when it was announced. Well, until I found out that it would cost $500 with the quality of a $200 camera.

    • egef

      It cannot be considered a failure yet since it’s just been released.

      • Reginald Spence II

        It’s a failure in the price alone. You can buy a 200 point and shoot and n 8 GB Nexus 4 (when they’re available again) for the price of a galaxy camera and be set.

        • Could say the same about the iPhone each time it comes out. A failure on price

        • APai

          good luck finding a camera with the specs on that cam. last checked a superzoom cam retailed around $350 and a mid range phone would cost around 250-300.

          the galaxy cam is like an S2 on steroids + super zoom camera.

          can’t get cheaper than that.

          • I want one, but not at that price. It’s too high, and I’m waiting for the inevitable firesale to scoop one up at $299.

          • APai

            firesale happens when none of it is selling.

  • IncCo

    The google play store errors when trying to buy a nexus 4 is definitely a failure in my eyes.

  • MasterMuffin

    iPad mini, anyone?

    • lance

      ipad mini looks good to me. although I’m not buying it for sure :)

      • MasterMuffin

        Really? :)

        • RarestName

          Yes, people actually like it.

          Like Lamarr Wilson from YouTube.

          • MasterMuffin

            Well there is always an exception, but really, why would anyone want to buy that piece of sh*t? Ipad is good, but ipad mini is overpriced budget tablet!

          • RarestName

            I know :P

          • MH Maun

            com’on… at least they will have a apple logo!!!

          • MasterMuffin

            Oh right, that’s cool… Not :D

    • A. Newman

      iPhone 5? Anybody?

      • MasterMuffin

        No, it’s probably going to be the best selling smartphone ever….

        • A. Newman

          Well maybe where you live but where I live, everyone who has the iPhone 5 complains about how bad it is. Then again, this is Android Authority…

          • MasterMuffin

            It doesn’t matter what everyone you know said, they bought it. And not just where I live, it has been estimated, that it will be the best selling phone in the world. It’s sad because it sucks balls so much :)

  • Daniel

    My biggest Flop for 2012… The Nexus 4. 8 vor 16 GB flash?!? Blurry display?!? Performance not the best and… The sale was a big Fail… Sorry for my Bad english…
    P.S buyed a Galaxy Note 2 and Nexus 7!

    • MasterMuffin

      Uhmm I agree with the first one but you do know that nexus 4 has almost 100 PPI more than your precious gnote? And perfomance is also great with snappy 4 pro. And the sale, well it depends on what you ment a) you ment that the Google play selling was failure or b) nexus didn’t sell well and in that case you’re wrong, it seems it’s going to be the best selling nexus :)

  • APai

    they promised mango would change everything, then windows 8 , they said will explode on the scene. now they say patience. it’s 2 years now… waiting for it to storm the world.

    so, it can be called the failure of 2012. it may take off in the future. but as of 2012… it’s a flop.

  • RKing

    I ditched My Iphone 5 for the Lumia 920 and the WP8. According to everyone else the sales numbers forWP8 devices are blowing away the previous estimates. It is just a better O/S for a business phone with the ability of accessing Office files and other capabilities. Also tyhe XBox intergration. Let me guess you are Microsoft Hater.

    • Are you saying you can’t access Word or Excel files on iOS or Android? Because you totally can.

      Ballmer claims they sold 4 times what they sold last year at this time. The problem? Any number times zero is still zero. The fact that MS keeps releasing vague comparative numbers instead of concrete sales figures means it’s a flop.

      And don’t forget to count Surface RT as a flop. MS cut the component orders in half because no one is buying it.

    • A. Newman

      Everyone here are Microsoft Haters (hence the name Android Authority). But I’m not. I want to see Surface destroy iPad and WP8 send iPhone and Android into oblivion.

  • This site is a flop. Slashgear is better.

    • A. Newman is even better.

  • itsme

    What a joke of a “list” this is, some of these “writers” for AA are nothing more than word pickers.

  • companyemails

    I see the following as 2012’s biggest flops and/or disappointments:

    1. Anything Windows – With windows 8, WP8, WP7, RT, and Surface microsoft is simply having a rough and disappointing year.

    2. Microsoft advertising (basically bash other products instead of promoting your own) and paying through the nose to advertise the product, with little relative consumer sales to show for it.

    3. Apple’s IOS Maps – no explanation necessary.

    4. The slow eradication of all things Google from Apple products’ native functionality.

    5. Motorola smartphones in general (the products, the horrible skins, and the atrocious update policies)

    6. Failed crowd sourced (mainly Kickstarter) projects: What happens when those looking for funding take the money and run or never produce a product – something that is happening more and more often.

    7. The new iPod nano – talk about one step forward and two steps back.

    8. The new iPad mini (not a failure, but definitely a tremendous disappointment)

    9. The nexus Q (they should have merged this project with Google TV and created a nexus version of Google TV)

    10. Google TV (still shows tremendous promise, but remains disappointing – see #9 above)

    11. ALL CHILDREN’S TABLETS – In the day of the Nexus 7, why on earth would anyone buy a specialized children’s tablet running some cribbed version of android and having to pay through the nose for specialized games, when you can buy an N7 and tailor it to your kid’s needs and usage patterns with content straight from Google Play.

    12. Facebook’s IPO and their increasing turn into an infomercial – this has been going on for a while, but 2012 has truly turned them into an advertising mess.

    13. AMD’s latest line of CPUs – they’ve been late to the power efficient CPU party and are still not doing it as well as Intel, let alone ARM.

    • APai

      good accurate list

    • MasterMuffin

      Nice list, I agree with everything except for w8, it’s great :)

      • A. Newman

        I know I disagreed with you before, but I love Windows 8, too. It’s actually really good on desktops! And faster too…

    • jordanrai

      great list.. i agree with almost all.

    • Jared Persinger

      I agree with most of them but I don’t agree with #5. I am the owner of the droid razr maxx hd and it runs jellybean and I actually like the skin

    • Jared Persinger

      But it is a great list in general

  • Peter

    On RIM: “and a dwindling customer base … dissuading your remaining fan base”

    While RIM absolutely has huge issues, you’ve repeated the same ignorant misnomers of so many bloggers before you.

    If more people in the world are now using BlackBerrys than ever (80 million … up from 25 million when Android came out; and 10.5 million when iPhone came out) … how is the ‘customer base dwindling”? Likewise, if net new subscriptions continue to rise, how is it “dwindling”?

    Think with your brain (if you have one) and report accurately … the Smartphone market is growing fast and the growth of Android and iOS is far outpacing RIM … but RIM is actually still growing too in terms of active users.

    • Simon Hill

      You’re right, I’ve even made that point in the past, no excuses, I’ve amended it to “dwindling market share” which is true (a smaller proportion of a still expanding pie). In any case the BB10 delay and RIM’s year could fairly fall into the flop category.

  • andfan

    Balmer should quit Microsoft and audition for a Gargamel role in the next smurf movie – he would be probably be more successful doing that…

  • michael sanchez

    Reading anything from Simon hill. Really

    • Simon Hill

      lol, guess I asked for that :-p

  • how about the inability of almost all manufacturers to get ICS let alone JB out to phones that were considered flag ship phones not even a year prior. HTC and Motorola were the worst. Unfortunately this is a continued FAIL as well as there are several flagship phones that are still without JB that came out just a few months ago.

    • Actually, moving from GB to ICS is much bigger jump than ICS to JB. Which is why most ICS generation phones are getting JB but GB phones are by and large stuck with GB. Even the GB phones that got ICS were fraught with issues.

      I think at this point the Android OEMs are just going to wait for the 2 year GB owners to upgrade to JB instead of trying to upgrade to ICS.

      This is very close to having WP7 phones with no upgrade path to WP8, but at least most of the apps are compatible. It’s still FAIL.

    • Simon Hill

      I thought about including this, it often seems to be down to the carriers as well though. I got JB on my S3 a while back but have friends on the same network who haven’t had the update yet. Trying to get a straight answer on when a phone will get the upgrade is often impossible as well.

  • runekey

    As a owner of a Windows 7 phone I laughed out loud when I saw Windows 7 and 8 right next to each other as biggest flops. Can’t wait to ditch my LQ Quantum for a Nexus 4

    • A. Newman

      GOOGLE AND ANDROID AND MOTOROLA HAVE GRABBED EVERYONE’S ATTENTION BECAUSE THEY MASK ALL THEIR JUNK WITH COLORFUL VISUALS. THEY HAVE HYPNOTIZED PEOPLE INTO THINKING THEIR PRODUCTS ARE GOOD. Okay, my friend has the Razr M, and he says it’s the best phone ever. Then I whip out my WP8 and do something amazing. He asks “HOW DO YOU DO THAT?”. I say “Sell your Droid on Ebay and buy a Lumia for 90 DOLLARS.”

      • hohopig

        Actually, that accusation (in Bold) should be pointed at Apple :P.
        But still, am interested to know what you did in the demo to your friend.

  • Simon

    I know so many people in the UK who are ditching their iPhones and Android devices for WP8. I’m using W8 and my Laptop is ten times faster than it was before. My gorgeous wife has the HTC 8X and it is wonderful. I often put my Galaxy S3 down and have a play with the HTC because it is far more interesting to look at and use.The only frustration for me at the moment is that the two Windows 8 phones I would like to buy are exclusive to other networks, and I don’t want to switch.

    To say that it’s a flop when so much money has been spent on advertising is also a complete non statement. No amount of advertising is going to equate in an immediate step change in sales. It’s a gradual process, especially when a product is new and very different to everything else.

    • MasterMuffin

      I agree, but Y U BOUGHT HTC, lumia is better :)

  • djares21

    Shut your Fuck up with your wp8 !!!

    • A. Newman

      No thank you, I would rather I not. And can you please shut your laptop up with your hands to refrain from repeating the comment you just made?
      Why, thank you very much. Now, I will continue to enjoy my WP8.

  • RarestName

    You didn’t talk about Android 4.2 and the month bug?

    • That was just a bug. 4.2 wasn’t a “flop”. They’re talking about flops. Learn to read in my opinion.

      • RarestName

        I just read it again with your opinion.

        • MasterMuffin

          Smartass :D

          • RarestName


  • melody

    I agree with all those in list.

    although I still hope wp8 will be a success next year.. or perhaps wp9

  • kascollet

    Galaxy S3 Mini for sure. When the hell will get a true high end SMALL Android phone ?

  • A. Newman

    @Let’s put it this way – do you know anyone who wants a Windows Phone for Christmas?,
    I, do, no joke, they are awesome.

  • Ruca

    I use Android now, but maintain WP is a solid OS. The real disappointment is Android 4.2 with the vibration bug, useless homescreens creating even more redundancy in an OS already full of redundancy.

  • Trust

    After so much negative press I dropped by a windows store. TBH it’s not as bad as a regular user would think. I find the surface and win 8 quite pleasant products. I won’t buy them anytime soon coz I’m flooded with apple devices but in time I’ll give them a try. My observation over the years is that people LOVE to hate Microsoft, largely because of their grip on the market and Apple’s (SJ-inspired) bad mouthing. The latter has disappeared now that Apple is no longer a niche player..

  • You people need to know what a flop is..

    A Flop is something highly anticipated, but doesn’t live up to its hype..

    Why would the iPhone 5 or iPad mini be in the list of flops? did Apple put millions of dollars into the iPhone and only got $5 back?

    I don’t see Windows Phone being a flop.. i see people buying them in stores..

    But the rest i do agree on.. The biggest flop of the year had to Apple Maps for me

    • A. Newman

      WP8 is amazing. Apple Maps, not so much.

  • chanman

    NFC is a flop (in the US at least) mostly because the carriers block Google Wallet. You need one big player to move an industry. Right now all these companies are trying to get a piece of the pie, and really fragmenting the market so no one standard can gain a toehold. It sucks.

  • Nojoke99

    Google Maps now made it back to iOS6!

  • meman

    IPhone 5

  • meman

    droid RAZR… Biggest pos on the market.. Also agree with the slow updating from moto..

  • competition in the smartphone market is very tight and very fierce, but not much different from the competition between obat keputihan alami crystal x