While the year witnessed next-generation innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) being introduced into daily lives and into smartphones at a mass level, some flagship failures dented the image of some tech companies.
The biggest setbacks to the tech industry came in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and the Rs 251 (less than US $4) Freedom 251 smartphone failure.
Galaxy Note 7 — launched in August amid much fanfare — was poised to be in direct competition with the Apple flagship iPhone 7 and Google flagship Pixel. However, batteries started exploding and devices caught fire while charging, forcing the South Korean giant to recall 2.5 million units worldwide in September (they were yet to be shipped to India).
The company encouraged Note 7 owners to swap their devices with new ones, but the replacement Note 7 devices too caught fire, leading to production being halted in October.
The device finally landed up in the junkyard, with Samsung calculating the impact of the sales halt (after the mishap) at US $2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016 and US $880 million for the quarter from January to March 2017.
The next biggest tech failure came from India. Despite criticism, the Freedom 251 smartphone from Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd made global waves since its launch in February.
After announcing that it has delivered 5,000 Freedom 251 smartphones in July, Ringing Bells said it would deliver 65,000 more to those who had booked the device in cash on delivery (COD) mode. However, the initial hype fizzled out quickly, with experts calling it “one of the biggest cheats in the digital age”.
“Every educated person, or those having fair understanding of technology, doubted it. It could be looked at as one of the biggest cheats in the digital age,” Principal Analyst (Telecoms) at CyberMedia Research (CMR), a market research firm, Faisal Kawoosa told IANS.
In December, there were reports that Ringing Bells had shut shop though the owners denied it — but the cheapest smartphone remained elusive.
According to Research Associate at New Delhi-based Counterpoint Research, Parv Sharma, Freedom 251 raised false hopes in the people about owning a cheap smartphone.