Analysis

The 3 worst tech predictions of 2011

When it comes to digital prognostications, some guesses actually stick — but not in these cases

What would we do without the rumor mill? Whether it's a proclamation from a business analyst with "insider" know-how or a whisper strung along by anonymous sources, for every correct tech prediction at least a dozen misguided ones are left out in the cold. Here, a look back at the year's most flat-out wrong guesses — just in case you've forgotten:

1. The "ultra sexy" iPhone 5Remember how the latest iPhone was supposed to be an "ultra sexy" redesign with a "radical new case design"? In the pre-Siri era back in April, the website formerly known as This Is My Next published a sneak-peek mock-up illustrating a much thinner iPhone, featuring a larger screen and a rounded teardrop-shape profile, "based on information from a variety of sources," as editor in chief Joshua Topolsky put it. Meanwhile, Bloomberg and other sources were hinting heavily that a separate "cheaper iPhone" would debut alongside the iPhone 5. Instead, the spunky Siri-equipped iPhone 4S — an attention-getting upgrade, but not a new incarnation — arrived alone.

2. Amazon will never make a tabletWhen rumors of a sub-$300 Amazon tablet began swirling back in August, several writers scoffed at the idea of an iPad challenger. Just "another round of tech headlines so clearly penned by Apple-hating geeks, who will do and say and write anything in the hopes of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy," declared Timmy Falcon at Beatweek Magazine. How, asked the Los Angeles Times, could an unconfirmed tablet "prompt such an optimistic, multimillion-sales forecast?" Fast-forward to November, when Amazon released its Kindle Fire touchscreen tablet, priced at $200, and shipped an estimated 5 million units in less than a month.

3. Facebook's Netflix impersonation Back in September, Mark Zuckerberg took the stage to announce some "massive" changes to his 800-million strong social network, the biggest of which was a new type of profile dubbed Timeline. In the days leading up to Zuckerberg's announcement, several bloggers predicted he would also unveil Facebook's version of a comprehensive "movie rental service" à la Netflix — yet "another effort to make Facebook's website 'stickier.'" Despite the hype, the feature hasn't seen the light of day. At least not yet.

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