1. Palm Pre
About two years into the iPhone era, Palm seemed poised to shatter Apple's smartphone dominance. Its WebOS system, Deck of Cards multitasking, slide-out keyboard, outstanding voice quality and Synergy for updates, contacts, calendars and messages from various sources including Facebook, Outlook and Gmail were considered the best offerings in the industry.
But the market had already passed it by.
About a year earlier, the Palm Pre would have stood a chance. Its Web search automatically pasted search terms into various engines, the pinching and double-tap zoom was as easy to navigate as the iPhone's and it had Wi-fi, Bluetooth, an airplane mode, Microsoft and Mac compatibility and the voice quality of a landline phone.
Unfortunately, by 2009, the iPhone and BlackBerry had a lock on the market and the Pre looked like be a little bit of each of them. Palm just couldn't back it up. Most of the Pres were left over from old Palm products and its newest apps bore little resemblance to the iOS and Android offerings of today.
The Pre was supposed to get a shot at redemption in 2010, when Hewlett-Packard bought Palm for $1.2 billion and was bent on using it to build the next dominant OS. By Aug. 18, 2011, or little more than a month after HP released the WebOS-driven TouchPad tablet in the U.S. and only a day after the Pre 3 phone's release in Europe, HP stopped making and supporting any WebOS hardware whatsoever. Palm saw its smartphone market share slide from 4% in December 2010 to absolutely nothing.
There are still a few holdout open-source WebOS users out there, but not enough to keep the Pre's memory alive.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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