Things never seem to work very well for Microsoft when it tries to be cool. The Kin was a failed experiment, a pseudo-smartphone built on a foundation of social networking on the go, and aimed almost entirely at a teen audience. Although the company quietly shelved the Kin earlier this year, the folks at Microsoft appear to be gluttons for punishment.
White iPhone 4
Some people are still hoping to snag the elusive great white iPhone 4. Expected to be available when the black iPhone 4 launched in June, the white iPhone has suffered repeated delays based on vague excuses. The vaporware smartphone is currently slated for early 2011.
Facebook is a bit of a paradox: It's a network built on sharing and making connections, but where users stubbornly insist on control over their privacy. Mark Zuckerberg, the seemingly prepubescent founder and CEO of Facebook, caused a stir when he told an audience that users don't care about privacy anymore.
The developers at Google expected to make a huge splash on the Web with Google Wave. Google Wave creators predicted that the multithreaded, real-time communications platform would replace e-mail, just as e-mail had once usurped faxing and snail mail as king of written communication. Instead, Google Wave fizzled.
The JooJoo tablet began life as the CrunchPad, but design issues and production costs led to a falling out with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, and the tablet lost its crunch. Attempts to resurrect the effort as the JooJoo tablet were met with a rather tepid response. The JooJoo never found its mojo.
iPhone 4 Antenna
What antenna problem? If you just hold the iPhone 4 precariously balanced between your thumb and pinkie, in your left hand, on a sunny day it works just fine. Well, not exactly, but Steve Jobs said something to that effect in response to mounting reports of antenna issues with the iPhone 4.
Google was poised to revolutionize the smartphone industry. Riding a wave of success with its Android mobile OS, Google would sell its own branded smartphone directly to consumers rather than through a wireless carrier. The Nexus One, however, failed to compete with sexier Android smartphones such as the Motorola Droid, and ultimately Google pulled the plug.
Before the Apple iPad hit the streets, Microsoft generated some tablet excitement of its own with a "leaked" video demonstrating a folding, dual-slate device. The Microsoft Courier concept had a lot of fans, but the vaporware tablet went from rumor to officially canceled without ever seeing the light of day.
Just like Facebook, Google has had its share of privacy debacles--and Google's CEO seems about as sensitive to privacy concerns as Facebook's Zuckerberg does. Eric Schmidt pulled out the "if you aren't doing anything illegal, then you shouldn't be worried about your privacy" argument. People didn't take kindly to that.
Plastic Logic announced the Que Reader, a rival for Amazon's Kindle and other e-reader gadgets. Despite decent specs and early expectations--and a fair amount of anticipation--Plastic Logic eventually moved the device to the vaporware category, delaying it indefinitely.
The $35 Tablet
One of the most exciting tech announcements of the year came when the government of India unveiled a prototype tablet that it claims will sell for a mere $35. Compared with $600 iPads, the device could revolutionize mobile computing. Unfortunately, no news updates on this vaporware have surfaced since the initial announcement.
The list wouldn't be complete without a bonehead quote from Steve Ballmer. The Microsoft CEO marginalized the threat of tablets like the Apple iPad, and stubbornly insisted that the PC will continue to dominate. I imagine that behind closed doors Microsoft is taking the tablet threat much more seriously.