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Cell Phone Industry's Six Biggest Failed Schemes 163

Posted by timothy
from the modu's-idea-was-pretty-cool dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "The tech world is for dreamers, schemers, and sometimes, scammers. Which is why it's no surprise that the cell phone industry isn't any different. In wake of the recent news about the Israeli mobile-phone firm Modu shutting its doors, mobile analyst Sascha Segan revisits six major failures in the cell phone industry, from using phones to create a peer-to-peer that would eliminate the need for wireless carriers to a company with a $225,000 phone."
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Cell Phone Industry's Six Biggest Failed Schemes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, 2011 @08:11PM (#34900552)
    For one thing, the outrageous charges for text messages. Or making sure that every aspect of you using your phone gets the last little second out of you so that it takes away from your total minutes. Or not having phones that function as answering machines simultaneously as voice mail....the list goes on. They are really taking consumers for a ride.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @08:25PM (#34900632)

    What it really comes down to is that most of the good ideas in cell phones (a) have been done already or (b) are waiting for technologies in other areas to advance first. All those other not-so-good ideas have extremely limited appeal to the masses. Yet people and smaller companies continue their attempts to "innovate" in this marketplace, primarily because there appears at first glance to be such a huge amount of cash sloshing around in the cell phone arena. As it turns out, though, that money is pretty much locked up by the major players, so your Popeil-esque Great Idea But On A Cell Phone This Time is going nowhere.

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @08:32PM (#34900674)

    Reading comprehension FTW. I said that the good ideas were either already done or were waiting on technology in other areas to be developed first, which means you can't invent them yet. Someone will invent them eventually, but it won't be you.

  • 10c text messages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @08:47PM (#34900774) Journal
    You'd think when they charge you 10c per text message, that'd be something people reject. Especially when any random stranger can send you spam which you have to pay for.
  • Iridium (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Z8 (1602647) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @08:56PM (#34900822)
    They missed one of the biggest failures of all, Motorola's attempt to build a global satellite-based network [wikipedia.org]. It cost the company over $5 billion USD. Some more details here [74.220.211.32].
  • by Pinckney (1098477) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @09:12PM (#34900900)
    I'd really rather if they not do that. If it becomes standard to link to the print version of articles, sites will just remove the print option entirely. As it is, we, who care, get to enjoy these articles in a relatively clean form for minimal work, and the people who don't care effectively subsidise us (thanks!) with their ad impressions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, 2011 @09:13PM (#34900910)

    I'm always amazed to hear you have to pay to receive messages in some parts of the world (America?)

  • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @09:14PM (#34900912)
    Yes.

    But imagine if everyone gave links to the print version; they'd eliminate it since it allows the reader to actually read the article, rather than wade through crap. Better if it's kept as a "secret" and only used by a few people.

  • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @09:21PM (#34900976) Homepage

    Is it really too much to ask the /. editors to quickly look around the page for the crud-free one-page "print" version link and post that for us all instead...

    http://www.pcmag.com/print_article2/0,1217,a=259387,00.asp?hidPrint=true [pcmag.com]

    So you'd like Slashdot to intentionally screw PCMag out of ad revenue for the (not insignificant) amount of traffic /. brings to their website, making it likely that PCMag's web gurus will block such outside linking to the print version, disable the print version outright, put themselves behind a pay filter, or go out of business (something that plug-ins like AdBlock are already working on doing)?

    Yes, no one likes ads. But to quote the snob -- "websites is expensive".

  • by cgenman (325138) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @09:24PM (#34900986) Homepage

    Then have three times the ads on one page. Breaking across three pages is as much of a pain to read as those old credit-card sized pocket books were in the 90's.

  • by flatt (513465) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @11:30PM (#34901594) Homepage Journal

    You'd think when they charge you 10c per text message, that'd be something people reject. Especially when any random stranger can send you spam which you have to pay for.

    I believe the ridiculous rates for texting are proof that there is collusion in this market. Something with such little overhead (essentially none) should not be able to sustain such a high cost if there is adequate competition. I think people would reject it, if they had a choice.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday January 17, 2011 @12:12AM (#34901736)
    From mini-microsoft [blogspot.com], one of the reasons that the Kin failed was politicol.

    Now there is spin that Andy killed kin to put all the wood behind Windows Phone 7. Er, the guy was in charge for two years of Kin development. He could have made this decision far earlier.

    Similarly Windows Phone 7 has two years of development under his watch. Based on his past performance, 99% chance this is also going to be a total catastrophe. It further doesn't help that much of the Windows Phone 7 leadership team was kicked out of Windows when they screwed up Vista.

    It sounds to me that Kin and Windows Phone 7 were completely separate products from different groups.

  • Re:Iridium (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday January 17, 2011 @12:32AM (#34901826)

    Iridium was one of those projects that was a good idea in the beginning; however, by the time it came to launching it, nobody at the top had noticed that circumstances had changed. The idea was begun way back in the 1970s when a vacationing Motorola engineer wanted to make a call from the beach in the Caribbean. The thought occurred to him that he could use satellites to do it. The technology wasn't really ready but over the next few decades, Motorola worked on it in tandem with other technologies.

    By the time, the technology was ready, Motorola had worked hard on getting the necessary logistics of launching a satellite network. However, since the original idea, cellular phones were beginning to partially fulfill the need for communications. Now a cell phone can't go everywhere like the sat phone was intended, but it can be used in places most people will be, like in cities. In its estimation, Motorola (whose products helped launched the cell phone industry) badly miscalculated the numbers of customers that would have need for a sat phone compared to a cell phone. I think one place that they expected higher demand was Africa. However, in Africa, cell phones actually outnumber landlines because they are in fact cheaper than landlines to operate and build. The local populations buy mostly prepaid phones but only in the remotest parts would they need a sat phone. However, few can afford the nearly $1000 USD just for the phone itself.

    The problem wasn't that someone at the top should have recognized the situation had changed and that spending a few billion dollars or so when there were going to be few customers was foolhardy. I think part of it was that Motorola didn't know when to cut losses but went ahead anyway.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:57AM (#34902342) Homepage Journal
    And yet Microsoft investors STILL haven't revolted and threw Balmer out. I just don't get it. The man has shown he lacks both technical vision AND managerial skill. From everything I have seen and from what ex Redmonders have said, Microsoft still seems to think it's the 1990s, ie the managers think that the only competition they face comes from within Microsoft. Thus they constantly bicker among themselves and Microsoft ends up with an inconsistent, often incoherent line of products.

    The phones are obviously the biggest example, at one point Microsoft was developing 3...THREE...different competing and incompatible phone operating systems. You saw it a couple of years back with the music DRM fiasco, Microsoft managed to develop and release 2 different DRM formats that weren't compatible with each other. You can even see the political infighting within single products. The windows UI is an incoherent mess. Every single interface seems like it was designed by a different person and instead of someone actually taking charge and making decisions they just threw everything together and called it an interface. You can even see this with Windows phone 7, it's obvious that different groups had different ideas on how the phone should be programmed and how what capabilities/interfaces should be exposed. And since none of the managers wanted to "submit' to any other manager, you end up with an incoherent mess. The whole reason we ostensibly pay CEOs ridiculous amounts of cash is that they are ostensibly supposed to be the one who steps up in these situations and forces everyone to play nice. It seems that Ballmer is either unable or unwilling to do this and Microsoft just keeps on going down the shitter. In the current recovery Microsoft seems to be one of the very few large US tech firms that has actually lost market cap, a lot of it. Ballmer is a talentless hack whose only "ability" was that he happened to land in the right place at the right time. Again, why share holders aren't calling for the man's head is beyond me. His only "talent" seems to be a penchant for stupid pranks, but guess what I can go down to any frat house in the country and find someone that is better than Ballmer at stupid pranks and pay them 1% of Ballmer's salary and they would be damn happy to get it.

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