2010 Mobile Tech Low Points

Yesterday I wrote about what I thought where the high points for mobile technology during 2010, and today I am sharing what I think where the low points. One of the reasons why I am writing these articles is to provide a year end review, but I also intend to share praise and disappointment with the parties that are involved. The good news is that I think there were far fewer low points than high points in mobile technology in 2010.

The number of low points for 2010 would be even fewer if the FCC did not pass its Net Neutrality rulings at nearly the very end of the year. For me, the FCC’s actions, and in the case for mobile, in-action, is the lowest point for mobile technology this year.

The FCC is basically allowing wireless providers to do anything that they want to control their data services. Providers will be able to discriminate traffic, so Skype might not work but a provider’s voice over IP product may. We will likely see several new data services with a variety of prices and uses that will make buying mobile products more complicated.

Innovation on the Internet did not come from Internet Service Providers, it came from third party companies who took advantage of the “open range” on the Internet provided when the government said ISPs could not control how the Internet can be used. The FCC seems to think that lesson doesn’t apply to mobile data, and that is really disappointing.

The remaining low points this year came from companies who fumbled product launches. Critics of Microsoft are probably not surprised with how the company handled the Kin, but almost everyone was surprised with how Apple handled the antenna problems of the iPhone 4.

With the Kin Microsoft spent a bunch of money to develop a product that it only sold for a few months. The Kin saga exposed just how incoherent Microsoft’s mobile strategy has been and left most wondering why the company would have invested any resources in it, particularly after it made the decision to start over with Windows Mobile to develop Windows Phone.

While the Kin seems to be a low point only for Microsoft, the some times overlooked part of the story is how Verizon basically killed the Kin by not providing low priced data services that it needed in order to sell. The low point of Kin is the reminder of just how much control the carriers have on the mobile market, which makes the FCC’s Net Neutrality rulings all the more frustrating.

Apple turned the iPhone 4 launch into a low point by acting as if users were crazy when they complained about poor antenna reception. At first Apple told people they were holding the phone the wrong way, then they claimed that all mobile phones have the exact same problem. Apple still refuses to admit that the antenna design on the iPhone 4 is flawed, but they did eventually admit that their users were unhappy and tried to make it right.

In this case the low point for me was Apple’s attitude towards the people who pay them money and thereby keep them employed. Mobile technology is first and foremost about people because the technology is so personal. People will not tolerate problems with technology that they rely on every single day, and the market is competitive enough for them to use another company’s product. The most important lesson that Apple and all other companys should learn from Antennagate is to listen to your users and not be stubborn with them even if you think they are right.