BlackBerry has announced yet another set of disappointing financial results as it struggles to turn around its ailing smartphone business.
The company said that it sold just 1.9 million smartphones in the last three months - almost half that of the 3.7 million sold in the previous quarter.
In all BlackBerry lost $4.4 billion, including a massive $2.6 billion loss on its BB10 devices. Most of the phones it did sell were based on the almost archaic BB7 operating system, it said.
The new interim CEO John Chen said he had implemented a new company structure to try and stem the losses, and added the company would work with Asian tech builders Foxconn on a new range of cheap phones for emerging markets.
"Foxconn's scale and efficiency will let us compete more effectively," the company said. It added that as well as new markets like Indonesia and Mexico, it would focus on reaching "prosumer" and business customers.
On the plus side, Blackberry said that the launch of its BBM messaging platform on iOS and Android had won 40 million new users.
Samsung Galaxy Gear
2013 was supposed to be the year of the smartwatch - and it some ways it was. Pebble, Sony and Samsung all released new takes on the retro-futurist staple in the last 12 months. But none of them were compelling products for the mainstream, and none were as disappointing as the Galaxy Gear. With a severe lack of apps, a stripped-back, proprietary interface and nonsensical notifications (which required you to check your phone anyway) this was a product without a purpose. And reports of low sales seem to confirm that it's not long for this world, in its current form. A r<a href="http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/19/samsung-galaxy-gear-notification-update-reaches-the-us/" target="_blank">ecent update</a> helped matters a little. But look for Samsung et al (including Apple) to do better next year.
<a href="https://www.facebook.com/home.php" target="_blank">Facebook Home</a> was supposed to be the social network's trojan horse, ready to turn your Android phone into a Facebook phone through a simple app download. Instead it turned into a disaster, with buggy, poorly designed software and minimal take-up even by Facebook's most committed users.
Comet ISON was supposed to be the Comet of the Century, lighting up the winter skies brighter than the Moon in full daylight. Instead it approached the Sun, <a href="www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/12/02/comet-ison-is-dead_n_4371817.html?1385997146" target="_blank">fizzed a bit and then blew up.</a>
The Microsoft Surface line of tablet computers (both the original RT and the Pro) were ambitious but flawed attempts to take the iPad on at its own game. The RT ran a weird, incompatible version of Windows, while the Pro suffered from a heavy price tag, and a heavy form factor. The new Surface 2 line looks much better - but it didn't arrive before Microsoft <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2013/7/18/4535976/microsoft-lost-900-million-on-surface-rt" target="_blank">had to suffer almost a $1 billion write-down</a> on the RT alone.
When it arrived in January 2013, BlackBerry 10 was already delayed and out-dated. So while it was supposed to take RIM (or BlackBerry, as it is now) back to the mainstream of the smartphone market, it actually contributed to its marketshare declining even further to below 1% in America. It's now focusing on "business" customers, even as its executives struggle to keep the lights on.
It pains us to say this, because Nintendo's Wii U console has been responsible for some of the best, most memorable and family-friendly gaming experiences of 2013 from the return of Wii Sports to Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3 and the Wonderful 101. But you can't ignore that for most of 2013, the Wii U was painfully underserved with decent games, sold a woefully small number of units and squandered its early start against the Xbox One and PS4. 2014 should bring more great games - including Mario Kart 8 and a new Smash Bros game. But will it be too late?
Ouya was supposed to take Android living room gaming and turn it into a grass-roots phenomenon. Instead it gave us the worst controller in recent memory, very few truly stand-out games and and overall feeling of a missed opportunity - beautiful design and commendable ideals aside.
EA's reboot of the classic city-building simulation was a beautiful, complex and addictive game - with two fatal flaws. The first was technical, with EA's servers simply unable to cope with the game's online requirements. The second was more fundamental - the game's "cities" were actually restricted to the size of small towns, leading to almost immediate space frustrations when building your idea metropolis. Alas.
2013 was the year that Asus's innovative two-in-one phone-tablet hybrid finally arrived in the UK. And it was a bust, let's face it, with customers failing to take to the notion that having a giant screen to slide your phone into and use as a pretty basic Android tablet was better than just having an iPad next to the sofa. Maybe we'll see another stab at it in 2014 - or maybe Asus will concede that just making a good phone and a good tablet is hard enough.