The Biggest Tech Fails of 2016

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Technology does not only make our lives more convenient, it also inspires us to achieve more. Ambitions are high, and most of the technological outputs made this year better overall. However, when technology fails on a large scale, human lives are at stake.

For every successful release in 2016 (the iPhone 7, in instance), there have been massive snafus and tech bombs. This reminds us that ideas may be good on paper, but proved poor in actual execution. Let’s look back to the biggest technology failures of the last year.

Fake News on Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg may deny that Facebook have affected the result of US Elections, but we think it had an essential role in bringing us where we are today. Fake news infested the site months before the elections. You probably have seen the article about an FBI agent who was involved in murder-suicide after investigating Hillary Clinton’s WikiLeaks emails. Or Taylor Swift actually voting for Donald Trump. Sorry to burst your bubble but these news aren’t true at all.

What’s even worse, Facebook is the most used social media platform with over 1.7 billion users. Even Google is partly responsible in this case, as it used to accept Adwords advertisements from satire or fake news websites. These internet moguls may point that they are promoting transparency but a research conducted by The Verge/BBC indicated that fake news reached more users than the legit ones.

As a response, Facebook devised a mechanism to let users fact-check articles posted on the site. They made a collaboration with ABC News, Snopes.com, FactCheck.org and PolitiFact for this activity. However, its effectiveness in curbing misinformation remains unknown and we’re not sure how this will fight fake news in the first place. Social media has reached a point where publishing false news has become a business.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Fiasco

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was released last August 2016 in the hopes of eclipsing Apple in the high-end smartphone game. The phone itself received glowing reviews, and was once touted as the best android smartphone ever. Seems like it was on fire, isn’t it? Except that Samsung Galaxy Note 7 literally burned all thanks to its faulty batteries. Speculations say Samsung tried to cram much in the smartphone while keeping it too thin.

The Korean smartphone giant recalled 2.5 million units of Galaxy Note 7s to mitigate risk of users catching fire or exploding while charging. Replacement units were once issued but some of these still overheated. Hence, Samsung discontinued the device according to its statement last October 2016. The setback is bound to decrease Samsung’s profits for more than $5 billion over the next three quarters. Worse, analysts predict the damage done to the company may hurt future sales to the benefit of its rivals.

Yahoo! (?)

Google’s rival in the past now faces crippling issues. As if the exponential decrease on its stock prices was not enough. Yahoo was forced to sell the company as a last ditched attempt to save it. Yet that’s not the worst blow for the firm.

Amazingly, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and the other executives failed to monitor hacks that affected over 1 billion accounts for the past three years. The perpetrator is apparently a state sponsored actor who went past the security measures on 2013 and 2014, according to what Yahoo is telling its stakeholders. A bigger trouble now lies with their deal with Verizon. The acquirer is now reexamining the terms of its $4.8 billion acquisition bid in the rise of the security breach. At best, the telecommunications giant may ask for a price cut. Worst – the deal will be scrapped at all. Nonetheless, the events affecting Yahoo aggravated more Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s already tarnished reputation.

The Slow Death of Smartwatch

Manufacturers had a penchant of attaching the word smart in just every day gadgets. Smartwatches were heavily promoted since 2015, hoping these will reach the revolution smartphones induced. Unfortunately, the public decided these are mere fad. The Apple Watch for example, shipped just over a million in the 3rd Quarter of 2016, as compared to its 3.5 million units sales in 2015. Moreover, the company discontinued the production of its $10,000 gold version as it positioned itself more as fitness brand than a luxury unit.

Other smartwatch manufacturers also experienced stagnant growth. Samsung had flat growth, Peeble sales declined and Lenovo experienced the biggest blow. Traditional watchmakers like Fossil also discontinued their production of smartwatch versions. People still want analogue watches, and digital ones are provided by smartphones or sports watches. With customer appetite being weak, the future is bleak for smartwatches.

Twitter and its Problems

Perhaps the ugly side of humans will always pop up when we have the blessing of anonymity. Internet has all kinds of bigots, creeps and trolls but Twitter didn’t do anything to prevent these early this year. The social media site was forced to move after high-profile attacks on actress Leslie Jones. The CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged that the company has to do more proactive moves to address the problem in the long run.

New ways of blocking users with malicious posts were introduced last November 2016 to curb online bullying. Twitter also removed the accounts of several extremists. The company believes it needs to make the service safer for the users. However, it costed acquisition talks from Disney.

Here’s another Twitter-related problem. Vine was poised as a six-second video service by Twitter. It garnered popularity, attracting millions of users and launched the careers of several internet personalities. Twitter said it was shutting Vine down last October. This is because Twitter had troubles in making it a cash cow. The company had prospects of selling Vine after acquiring it in 2012 but that didn’t happen. For the ending? Vine will live as an app for those who want to six second video service, yet the service itself will be shelved.

GoPro’s Drowning Drone

Drones and action cameras are the perfect couple for aerial photography. Hence, GoPro created Karma, a gizmo that has a capability of a drone and a powerful camera. The drone works just fine and takes good photo except that it can’t stay afloat. Customers reported the poor gizmo loses power midflight and falls on the ground. GoPro then issued a total recall to those who bought the $799 drone in exchange for full refund.

What’s worse was the recall was issued only weeks after its release. It was a shame since Karma has some unique traits like the handheld stabilizer. Flying it was also easy. Too bad, the gizmo can’t even do its basic task – stay in midair.

Farewell, Modular Phones – for Now

Everyone was excited about Google Project Ara and the newest flagship from LG. Unfortunately, none of them were able to make modular phones as fun as these were on paper. In the case of Project Ara, the decision was a part of unifying Google’s hardware development. The web giant shelved the idea and will not materialize the project. On a more positive note, it may license the technology to other manufacturers.

Meanwhile, LG G5 was supposed to be the first modular mainstream phone but it has overly complicated mechanism. The modules were also so uninspired critics and users alike thought this is more of a burden and a gimmick. And the result? It may have contributed to LG’s $ 132 million loss for the year.

What’s your say on these 2016 tech fails? Do you think 2017 would be any better?

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