2010's Most Hyped Gadgets: Where Are They Now?

/ Source: TechNewsDaily

More than 2,500 technology companies introduced more than 20,000 products at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early last January, and more gadgets were launched in the successive months. Some went on to be phenomenally successful, while others never made it to retailers’ shelves.

After all the hype and multimillion-dollar ad campaigns in 2010, how are those devices doing now? TechNewsDaily takes a look.

Chopped: Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid

The Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid stole the show at CES 2010 with its novel two-in-one design. Look, it's a netbook! Look again, it's a tablet! (Although in those pre-iPad days, it was known as a slate.) The display popped out of the casing and could be used as a standalone device. The price was around $1,000, and Lenovo officials said it would be released "soon." 

“Soon” meant June, but in May Lenovo announced it had scrapped the Hybrid and was starting over. The tablet half of the Hybrid re-emerged in September with a new French name, LePad, and it runs the newest Android operating system called Honeycomb in place of the original Linux system. Price is rumored to be less than the iPad. Release date is set for first quarter 2011, so it's sure to be a Lenovo feature at CES 2011.

Flickering: BlackBerry Torch

The BlackBerry Torch, RIM's first phone running on OS6 and the first BlackBerry to have both a full QWERTY keyboard and a touch screen, was launched Aug. 3 at a press event in New York City. 

"The launch of the BlackBerry Torch with BlackBerry 6 is one of the most significant launches in our history, and this amazing new smartphone brings together many of RIM’s core strengths into one fluid and superior user experience," Mike Lazaridis, RIM's chief executive, said at the launch.

In its first weekend,  Torch sold 150,000 units, less than a tenth of iPhone 4 sales the previous month. One week later, RIM and AT&T cut the price of the Torch in half to $99.

While OS6 may be a disappointment, RIM is hard at work on a new operating system that may feature super-fast dual-core processors and a 3-D interface. The new system could debut as early as Feb. 14 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

In the meantime, BlackBerry's  PlayBook tablet is set to be released in the first few months of 2011 and should have a big presence at CES. The PlayBook features a new operating system, which may be a preview of what's to come for BlackBerry phones later in 2011.

Multiplying: Apple iPad

Apple unveiled its tablet Jan. 27 after CES 2010, but Apple has always opted to announce its devices at its own events, declining to appear even at MacWorld after 2009. 

Apple released the iPad in April 2010 and sold 3 million of the devices in 80 days. Surprisingly, the iPad was developed before the iPhone.  The company realized that its touch screen device would work just as well as a mobile phone, so Steve Jobs put development of the iPad on hold and decided to develop the iPhone instead. 

The iPad captured 95 percent of the tablet market share by the end of September, according to Strategy Analytics. Even in the face of Android tablets, including Samsung's Galaxy Tab, and a long list of competitors due to launch in 2011, analysts warn that other tablets have much ground to make up. 

The second-generation iPad is being assembled for shipment from China within the next 60 days, according to reports from Taiwan. That puts the iPad 2 at an April release, consistent with Apple's annual release schedule for next-generation devices. Since Apple doesn't "do" conventions, don't expect a preview at CES 2011, but a late January unveiling would not be a surprise.

Thriving: Apple iPhone 4

Despite the "Antennagate"  problems following its June launch, the iPhone 4 is thriving. In November, Apple overtook Research in Motion, the manufacturer of BlackBerry phones, to become the world's fourth-largest manufacturer of not just smartphones but all kinds of cell phones. And while Android phones outsold iPhones in the United States, there are dozens of Android smartphones available at any one time through all of the major U.S. carriers, while Apple announces only one new iPhone model every year and it is available in the U.S. only through AT&T.

Rumors about a Verizon iPhone have gained credence this fall with the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reporting that it is on its way in early 2011. While neither Apple nor Verizon has confirmed the reports, analysts predict a Verizon iPhone could double iPhone sales.

What's next? An iPhone 5, of course. The fifth-generation phone is expected to have a larger (3.7-inch) screen, faster processor and new antenna. Photos probably will be leaked in the spring and the new iPhone officially unveiled in late June.

Reincarnated: Google Nexus One

Google launched its first branded phone Jan. 5, opening day for CES 2010. Nexus One featured Android 2.1 Éclair, and was the only updated Android phone available for several months. It also got the next Android update, Froyo, in June, a full months before any other Android phones.

More notable was Google's decision to offer the phone only on its website, promising people a "new model for consumers to buy a mobile phone" outside the traditional carrier outlets. Customer service proved to be a problem because consumers were unclear whom to turn to for help: HTC, which manufactured the phone; Google, which marketed it; or T-Mobile, which made it available. 

Sales stuttered. Headlines noted that Nexus One sold around 135,000 units in 74 days, the same amount of time it took the iPhone 3G to hit a million. Seven months later, Google stopped production of the Nexus One. But rumors of a second Nexus persisted through the fall, and on Dec. 6 Google unveiled Nexus S, which is the first Android phone to run on Gingerbread, Android 2.3.

Dead: Skiff e-reader

Another device launched at CES 2010 was Hearst Corp.’s Skiff Reader, a big  e-reader optimized for newspapers and magazines. The device was an attempt to recapture paying subscribers who had abandoned printed publications in favor of free content on the Web.

Would Skiff be the publishing industry's savior? No. Pricing was never released, and the Skiff was pronounced dead June 15 when Hearst’s publishing rival News Corp. announced it had bought the software but not the hardware from Hearst.

Dead: QUE e-reader

After three debuts at various tech shows, Plastic Logic finally brought a "shipping model" of its QUE e-reader to CES 2010. QUE was touted as the first e-reader designed for business professionals.

"What we are trying to do at Plastic Logic is give you the benefits of paper without all of the drawbacks," CEO Richard Archuleta said at the company’s CES event Jan. 7. 

The 11.6-inch device, offering Microsoft Outlook and Office integration, came in at a pricey $649 for Wi-Fi only and $800 for added 3G connectivity. Release was set for April, right around the time sales for the less expensive iPad were skyrocketing, but was postponed until summer.

Plastic Logic canceled preorders on June 27, and on Aug. 10 the company officially killed the QUE.

Overachieving: Samsung Galaxy Tab

Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy line of Android phones at the CTIA wireless convention in Las Vegas last March, but it was not until the IFA show in Berlin Sept. 2 that Samsung officially announced its 7-inch Android tablet. 

Much like a bigger version of its new phones, the Tab became available through all four major U.S. carriers beginning in November for around $600 without a contract and $400 with a two-year contract, depending on the carrier.

As of Dec. 6, Samsung had sold 1 million  Galaxy Tabs globally, nearly doubling sales since Thanksgiving weekend. While that was vastly fewer than iPad's 7 million units sold, the Tab figure prompted Samsung to revise its initial projection of an even million sold during 2010. The new projection is 1.5 million.

Samsung is already at work on another tablet, the  Gloria. This 10-inch device will run Windows 7 and feature a slide-out keyboard, apparently designed for those not ready for  touch-screen-only. Release is said to be in the spring, so a preview at CES 2011 is likely.

Down, but not out: Windows 7 phones

Windows 7-based phones were a hot topic of conversation at the CTIA wireless convention, and the booth was besieged by attendees who wanted hands-on time. Its easy navigation and social media integration were new at the time, but the device was not scheduled for release until the fall. 

In the meantime, the summer marketplace was flooded by the iPhone 4 and a slew of Android phones, including Samsung Galaxy S phones, featuring free-wheeling business and pleasure app integration. By early November, when nine Windows 7 Series phones were released in the U.S, Microsoft's slogan "Designed for life" was only a faint echo of Samsung Galaxy ads. Despite good reviews and promotional concerts by Maroon 5 and Katy Perry, the phones failed to capture consumer attention.

Microsoft officials have remained mute on the subject of sales, declining to make traditional first-weekend sales announcements. It was too soon to give numbers, the company said, adding that Windows 7 phones are a long-term project and it "plans to sell a lot in 2011."

Microsoft will not be branding its own phone the way Google is doing with the Nexus S. It has left the door open to speculation about a Microsoft tablet running Windows 7 Mobile in 2011, a rumor worth tracking down at CES 2011.

Repositioned: HP Slate

The HP Slate was announced at CES 2010 as a consumer device "fitting snuggly into a new category between cell phones and netbooks," but in October HP changed its tack and repositioned the Windows 7 Slate 500 as a business device.

The Slate 500 began shipping later that month. It includes a dock for upright use and a “digital pen” (a stylus). The Slate could replace the clipboard, pen and paper used by doctors and insurance adjusters who need to do more than swipe and tap.

"We were bullish about the direction we were taking at the time, but an unanticipated development gave us an opportunity to refine our plans," Phil McKinney, vice president and chief technology officer for Hewlett-Packard's Personal Systems Group, said on his blog.

That “development” was HP's purchase of Palm on July 2 for $1.2 billion. HP has promised to bring a consumer-oriented, Palm webOS-based tablet to market in the first quarter of 2011. Like Lenovo's LePad, the new  HP tablet is sure to be present in Las Vegas at CES 2011.