While we all thought that the year 2020 was everyone’s worst nightmare, with the pandemic sweeping affecting nearly half the global population, conspiracies boiling over, and misinformation spreading mercilessly, what followed in 2021 didn’t really prove to be the knight in shining armor we had all been waiting for either.
The year 2021 was kind of a mixed bag that had its fair share of pros and cons, while on one hand, we witnessed some undoubtedly impressive tech launches which included the advent of the Meta and blockchain taking over the internet, on the other hand, there was also no denying the fact that the year showcased some of the biggest tech failures we had witnessed in a while.
Some of the mainstream failures that made it to the headlines this past year featured privacy fiascos, data breaches, devices that failed to live up to their promises, and big tech giants steeped in controversy. While it is true that not all tech products are supposed to make sense to the consumers, here we’ll talk exclusively about the fails that not only failed in making any sense but also received backlash for being there in the first place.
Without further ado, here’s a list of the biggest tech failures that topped the charts globally in 2021. So, sit tight and fasten your seatbelts because this ride is going to get crazy!
1. LG’s Stretchable Phones
Let’s start by taking you back to early January 2021. LG teased a rather unique smartphone design at the annual CES conference being the first of its kind featuring an impressive expandable display. You heard it right, expandable! This smartphone was more than just a concept, the company had also announced that it’ll soon be making its way to the consumer market, which would’ve been revolutionary, had it happened the way we imagined.
Just when everyone thought that the smartphone market might soon enough be getting a revolutionary breakthrough, LG decided to shut down its entire smartphone business and all those dreams went poof only a few months later in July.
This obviously meant that people would no longer be seeing LG’s smartphones ever again and just like that, the company that was once ranked among the smartphone pioneers of the world, was nowhere to be found.
2. Apple’s Original HomePod Speaker
While Apple may still be in the HomePod business, the original speaker is no more. Apple gave its original HomePod speaker an unceremonious burial following an announcement through its website last year.
“Why?” you ask? While the original HomePod did touch base with a niche audience, many of whom did even buy multiple HomePods. The device never really made it to the mainstream media, the way that smaller, cheaper smart speakers from Amazon or Google did, and there were plenty of reasons why.
Some of the major ones being that the device was slightly ahead of its competition when it came to the price tag, the sound wasn’t as good for the money and it came with limited streaming support. While the company did try winning at all these fronts, it failed and decided to discontinue the original premium one and instead shift its focus to the smaller and much cheaper HomePod mini.
3. Microsoft Surface Duo 2
Surface Duo 2 was Microsoft’s second attempt at foldable tech, with the first being Microsoft Surface Duo, which launched back in 2020. It looks like a pocket digital book device, which is somewhat unique for its kind but nothing impressive.
While the Surface Duo 2 does come bearing some improvements and upgrades over its predecessor, however, once you move past the spec sheet corrections, it failed to convince the users why two screens are better than one.
More than the concept of dual-screens being flawed or even the fact that it runs Android and not Windows, the real problem lies in the execution. For regular phone users it doesn’t offer much of an upgrade while for productivity-focused users, it didn’t do enough to outpace the likes of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3.
4. Apple’s Child Abuse Detection System
What Apple thought could serve as a safety belt for its users turned into a complete disaster. While the company’s intentions were good when it decided to scan iPhones for child abuse images, it forgot the massive criticism it was about to face over the privacy implications.
This ultimately resulted in the company delaying the move, which in turn dismayed child advocacy groups. It was quite literally a no-win situation.
The tool that fueled much criticism from all around, was called “neuralMatch”. It was built to identify child sexual abuse at the earlier stages and worked by scanning photos featuring abuse before those images were uploaded to iCloud. When it found a match, the company was to report the incident to the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Apple’s system was supposed to go live this year, however, the backlash challenged the company’s reputation as a privacy crusader.
5. Internet Outages
Last but not the least, how can we forget the biggest internet outages amidst the pandemic when the only thing everyone relied on was unavailable. There were primarily two internet outages that horrifyingly portrayed our dependence on the internet.
The first one was the Fastly outage in June, when the cloud computing service providing a content delivery network for Reddit, CNN, Amazon, and many others went dark due to an outage. Fastly stores copies of key sites around the world for faster loading times, and when it went down, there was a global domino effect that impacted everyone from The New York Times to CNET.
Then, a week later, an issue at a similar company, Akamai Technologies, broke websites including those belonging to Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
However, these weren’t the only big internet failures of the year. In December, Amazon’s cloud computing service suffered three outages that led to issues for Disney+, Slack, Netflix, Hulu, and many others. It even disrupted Amazon’s logistics operations during the most important holiday season.
These were some of the biggest tech failures that we spotted in 2021, let us know in the comments down below if we’ve missed out on any important ones that you know.