It should be said, the "top ten worst" lists are a lot more fun to write than the "top ten best" lists. Fawning over successful devices over and over gets a bit repetitive, and after a while you feel more like a salesman than a journalist. Scepticism and schadenfreude is much more fun.
Over its history the mobile industry has produced some real stinkers, but if there are any you think we're missed the Comments section is below.
Honourable mention: Twitter Peek
Shaun Nichols: Twitter has become a pretty big deal over the last couple of years. It seems just about everyone in the western world has signed up for the service and shared their innermost thoughts 140 characters at a time.
Despite its fairly limited use and huge user churn rate, Twitter is generating a ton of buzz and hype. Among those who have bought into that hype are the makers of the Twitter Peek.
The $99 device allows you to post tweets while on the go. Unfortunately, that's all it does. You buy the handset and then pay a monthly data fee to do something that just about any decent smartphone handset already does. If you're like the majority of people who sign up for Twitter, the Twitter Peek will be little more than a paperweight within a month.
Iain Thomson: I can remember laughing really quite hard when Shaun bought up the subject of the Tweet Peek at our weekly video news roundup. The idea that some idiots would spend money on a device to use Twitter alone was hilarious.
Twitter is explicitly designed to work well on mobile phones. Crucially, with a phone you can also make calls, access the internet and stay in touch. Why then do you need a clipped phone that does just one function.
The Twitter Peek is for people who know nothing about technology (a fairly large market), have money to burn (a considerably smaller one) and are dedicated Twitter users who don't want to access the site on their phone (micro-market size). All in all we don't expect to see many sold.
Honourable Mention: Compaq Portable
Iain Thomson: We gave one of Apple's early attempts at a mobile computer a very hard time a few weeks back but when it comes to lemons of the mobile computing sphere it's difficult to beat Compaq's first ever PC, the 'Portable'.
When the founders of Compaq formulated their plan to take on IBM at the Houston House of Pies they knew they needed a selling point IBM couldn't match. IBM dominated the market with the 'no-one ever got fired for buying IBM' ethos of the day so they came up with the Portable, which was basically a desktop PC with the screen built in and a carrying handle.
Quite frankly they should have added wheels. At 28lb this behemoth would put you in traction and the nine inch green screen wasn't exactly the best thing to spend a day staring at. Still and all it was popular, selling over 50,000 units and putting Compaq in line to become one of the leading lights of the forthcoming PC revolution.
Shaun Nichols: It may not be a cell phone, and it's hardly what most would call "mobile," but there's more than enough to put the Compaq Portable on the list.
In terms of hardware, the Portable wasn't that bad. It sported 128kb of memory, a pair of floppy disc drives and a relatively small price tag. The big problem was that it wasn't really portable. The gimmick may have been nice, but in terms of practicality you could save yourself a fair amount of money and just purchase a regular desktop computer.
Still, the fact that it came along a good seven or eight years before true notebook systems actually appeared keeps the Portable limited to our honourable mention section.
10. iPhone "I am rich" App
Shaun Nichols: When Apple began to open up the App Store service to third-party developers, we knew that the quality of software would vary. Some great products could be had for a bargain, and some pretty dumb stuff was offered at pretty audacious costs.
None, however, were more audacious than the "I am rich" vanity application. Calling it an application is a bit generous- all it did was display an image of a small red jewel in the centre of the screen. The price charged to perform this task? $999.
Yes, one thousand dollars to put a little picture of a ruby on your iPhone and remind everyone that you have a lot more money than common sense. Apple pulled "I am rich" shortly after its introduction, but the little jewel would not be denied, and the application showed up a few months later as an Android store offering.
Sort of the "Great Gatsby" of phone apps.
Iain Thomson: We had to put at least one application on the list and this is it - a app that shows the world what a pillock you are. "I am Rich" was the app for that.
The really stunning thing is that some people actually bought it. It boggles the mind that some people would do this. After all, most people won't know what it is and the rest of the population who does thins you're an idiot.
Throughout much of human history men and women have displayed their wealth in order to attract mates. Showing wealthy showed you were smart enough to survive and would be a good provider. My only hope is that applications like "I am Rich " will serve a valuable evolutionary purpose in making some people unbreedable with.
9. Nokia 7380
Iain Thomson: I said last week that Nokia engineers aren't the coolest people in the world and the Nokia 7380 is the best example of why they should stop trying.
The 7380 was dubbed the Lipstick Phone, because it was designed to look like a lipstick holder, albeit one with a camera, leather side-panels and a tiny screen. But what made the phone really revoutionary was that the phone didn't have a keypad. Instead there was just a rotary dial that scrolled through numbers and letters on the screen.
Now as we've seen with the iPod rotary controls are not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you are only using them once every five minutes or so. But for writing anything, keying in a number or anything that requires too much turn and clicking, and you've got a very bothersome interface. Add in the fact that the phone had a lousy 52MB of memory and a camera that was fuzzy at best and you had a horrible little device.
Nokia never intended the phone to be a first-use devices, but something that could be slipped in a pocket and taken out for a night. The launch saw lots of beautiful people using them and then the handset went on sale to the general public and was about as popular as rabies.
Shaun Nichols: Iain and I are both major proponents of getting more women into the engineering and programming fields. Not only does it expand he talent pool, it also brings fresh perspectives that help prevent disasters like the Nokia "lipstick" phone.
It's hard to imagine a couple of female engineers sitting on the 7380's design team and agreeing that this was something all women would want to use. They might also have been able to break their male geek counterparts of the notion that general consumers buy gadgets for gadgets' sake.
Man or woman, there's no reason to think that the rotary control would be a good idea. Dialing a phone number is something that even in the old days of operator switchboard connections was instaneous: you either told the operator the number or you put your finger in the rotary hole or hit the keypad. The act of scrolling through characters on a screen makes even the act of placing a local call incredibly tedious.
8. Edge networks as wireless "broadband"
Shaun Nichols: This one wasn't entirely the fault of the technology itself, but of the user expectations that preceded it. Edge was one of the early "wireless broadband" systems and for many users it was the first experience with mobile browsing and internet services.
Unfortunately, Edge didn't exactly qualify as wireless "broadband" in the way most people had come to know it. Connection speeds were significantly slower than 3G or Wi-Fi, and when the network got crowded, Edge was more like " wireless dial-up."
The problem was that users and developers figured that Edge could in fact perform like a Wi-Fi broadband connection, causing unreasonable performance expectations. Many were left pulling their hair out over pokey connection speeds when accessing the networks.
Fortunately, 3G networks have been deployed for most of the major metropolitan areas of Europe and North America, and with the exception of the occasional dead spot most users rarely have to deal with Edge.
Iain Thomson: Edge was an interim technology at best, but that wasn't how it was sold.
Basically you got a tiny speed boost for mobile internet with equipment that you could strap onto the back of the existing infrastructure at a small cost. But that doesn't make for a compelling sales pitch so instead the marketers got to work and tried to convince people that Edge was the second coming.
That it was nothing more than a stopgap was painfully honest but Edge came about at a time when everyone was desperate for more mobile data speed. Edge provided this, but at a heavy cost for such a small boost.
Iain Thomson: Ah the N-gage, a handset so bad they launched it twice.
As portable gaming systems got really popular Nokia thought it would like a slice of that market and brought out the N-gage handset. However, Nokia was to find out there's a lot more to a good games platform than the hardware.
The first N-gage was a disaster. It had little games support, the screen wasn't much to look at and the controls had obviously been designed by a phone engineer rather than a gamer. On top of these failings was the use of Symbian Series 60 as an operating system. Series 60 is a fantastic operating system for making phone calls, but it's a lousy games platform.
Sales were weak at best, particularly as the phone was so oversold by Nokia. No expense was spared at the launch and bold predictions for the3 handset's success were predicted. Nokia was even caught fibbing about the phone. It claimed that it had sold 400,000 units in the first two weeks but in fact these were just the number of phones it had shipped to retailers. In fact barely 6,000 had been purchased by end users.
In 2005 Nokia relaunched the platform, with much better hardware, but by then it was too late. No self-respecting gamers would be seen using one and the N-gage began a steady decline. By the end of the year Nokia's great gaming experiment will be over.
Shaun Nichols: The N-gage was a good enough idea that didn't have the computing muscle or correct design to really make it in the market. The idea was to target the gamer market by making a hybrid game system and phone.
Now, dropping a phone into a portable gaming system is not a bad idea, but trying to drop a gaming console into a phone is a terrible idea.
Nokia came at the device from the wrong end and tried to turn traditional mobile phone hardware and OS platforms. Adequate perhaps for smaller casual and puzzle games, but not nearly enough to run high-end games. For the targeted market, running the N-gage was a bit like a Formula One driver being forced to race in a go-kart.
I don't think it will be long before someone actually does get it right and put phone hardware into a high-end gaming handheld. Apple is just about there with the iPhone, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Sony, Microsoft and even Nintendo are developing something as well.
6. Motorola Rokr
Shaun Nichols: Least we forget, the iPhone wasn't the first attempt to combine an iPod and a mobile phone. That honour goes to Motorola's disastrous Rokr.
The handset was unveiled in 2005, a time when the "smartphone" was still emerging and most of us had phones that didn't do much more than make and receive phone calls. Motorola thought that it could appeal to a sizable market if it added the ability to play music on a phone.
The company enlisted the help of Cingular and Apple, and the outcome was the "Rokr" phone. The $250 device had the ability to store and play up to 100 songs. As it turned out, people weren't exactly enamoured with the low storage capacity and the high price point was out of reach for most of the device's targeted young consumer market.
If you take the Rokr into account, it's little wonder Apple was so particular about who it partnered with on the iPhone.
Iain Thomson: Rumours that Apple was going to launch a music phone had been floating around for years and then the Rokr was announced. It was one of the most underwhelming bit of kit out there.
As Shaun has mentioned the chief problem was capacity. Who wants jut 100 songs? Nobody cared that you could snyc your phone with iTunes, they just wanted a decent sized music collection.
I'm still a bit perplexed by the Rokr to be honest. I can understand Apple limiting the phone to 100 songs so that it didn't start to cannibalise its own iPod sales. What I don't get is why they did it in the first place. They must have known the end result would be a stinker. The paranoid side of me thinks it could have been Steve Jobs lowering expectations to increase the impact of the iPhone but that makes little sense, since the iPhone was so revolutionary in its own right.
Iain Thomson: Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) was the wrong technology in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The concept itself is simple enough. Strip out a lot of the heavy code in HTML that handsets couldn't handle, program in Wireless Markup Language (WML) instead and you should be able to get the internet on your phone. It was launched in 1999 at the heart of the dotcom boom and we were told it would revolutionise how people used the internet on phones.
The amount of hype at launch was ridiculous. BT Celllnet ran endless adverts showing a silver surfer with the slogan 'surf the mobile internet'. In fact the experience was less than edifying. There were precious few WAP sites to visit, those that were were rather dire and the graphics were useless. I lost count of the number of people who got venture capital for WAP companies and were going to make it big. None of them survived.
In the end the only way to get people using the internet on a handset was to make them fast and big-screened enough to use the regular internet. WAP was a logical response to a problem, but just the wrong answer for users and programmers.
Shaun Nichols: If your product is going to require everyone to completely redesign and rebuild every web site, it had better be not only a technological breakthrough, but also have a huge user demand.
In 1999, much of the general public was still accessing the web on dial-up connections and spending most of their time on portal sites or within "walled garden" ISPs. Aside from that, mobile phones were still just that - phones that you could carry around.
A few years later, the user climate had changed and the hardware market had caught up. Broadband was prevalent, most everyone had become comfortable with using both the web and mobile phones, and both the wireless networks and handset components were able to handle HTML. WAP was thrown on the garbage heap of technology and rightly so.
4. Microwave harm reports
Shaun Nichols: A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. A little knowledge combined with a lot of paranoia can be outright catastrophic. In the early part of the decade, the paranoid throngs recovered from their Y2K paranoia and shifted focus to the theory of dangerous mobile phone radiation.
The thinking was that mobile phones emit microwaves, and since microwaves are considered a form of radiation, then we all might as well stick pellets of plutonium in our ear canals because everyone's brain was being bombarded by killer radioactive waves.
The whole thing wasn't done any favours by the (dis)information superhighway. Web and email hoaxes furthered the myth by claiming mobile phone radiation was able to cook everything from eggs to popcorn to the human brain.
Iain Thomson: There's so much muddled thinking on this that is makes my fists clench and my teeth itch.
If you look at the last 100 years of technology there have always been people who were scared that it was making them sick. People protested against radio because it was thought by some to be harmful and the same is now true for mobile signals and wireless. Studies come and go but the balance of evidence seems to be pointing to the fact that mobile emissions are harmless in moderation.
So why all the headlines and scare stories, why the protests by NIMBYs every time a new mobile phone mast goes up? Well it's down to ignorance and laziness, on many parts. On the ignorance side of things people should actually be pressing for more mobile phone masts. The amount of energy the phone uses to try and find a signal decreases the closer you are to a mobile mast, so fewer masts means more of that 'dangerous' radiation being pumped into your head.
As for the laziness side of the equation that is aimed at my industry - the press. It's a terribly easy story to write, that the mobile phones that everyone carries and uses could kill you. Instant attention grab, huge market of interested parties and all you have to do is quote a dodgy survey or study and job done.
We all need to be a lot smarter about how we assign risk, and mobile telephony is a case in point. I'm willing to be there are people complaining about electromagnetic interference who smoke, drink heavily or eat poorly, any one of which will harm you more than your phone.
Iain Thomson: AT&T makes it high on the list because so many people in the US are having a really bad time with the mobile network, and the company shows little sign that it has got the message.
AT&T won the lottery to sell the iPhone in the US. This was a huge bonus in terms of pulling people onto its network. Unfortunately the type of customers it drew were those that wanted to use the iPhone to access the internet. Telcos had been whining for ages that no-one was paying for mobile data but the second people wanted to start doing that then the network infrastructure began to break down
iPhone users in major US cities, particularly San Francisco and New York, began to get lots and lots of dropped calls, and slow internet connections. In response AT&T admitted that it had problems, announced an investment plan in the network and then talked about raising prices to discourage people from going online.
When Verizon started a series of adverts to capitalise on this weakness AT &T threatened legal action, which fizzled out when the company was forced to admit that Verizon data was correct. All in all it's been a very disappointing few years for the network.
Shaun Nichols: As if I needed another reason to dislike Luke Wilson, now I have to watch those dumb TV commercials while looking down at the lone, flickering reception bar on my phone.
Apple has to be beyond livid with AT&T at this point. When they first introduced the iPhone and shopped it around no doubt AT&T (then Cingular) swore up and down that their network could handle anything the iPhone could throw at it. One year later when the iPhone 3G launched and AT&T's network buckled under the user traffic, it was painfully apparent that the carrier was woefully unprepared for the launch.
At this point, it might be best for everyone to cut off the exclusivity deal between AT&T and the iPhone. Apple would get to cut deals with other telcos, customers would be able to move to new carriers and AT&T would see the stress on its network from iPhone traffic lessen.
2. Windows CE
Shaun Nichols: For all the attention being paid to mobile phones, from Android to WebOS to iPhone to Symbian, there would be a much smaller market for them if Microsoft had done a better job with Windows Mobile and its core component, Windows CE.
Built for embedded systems, Windows CE is the heart of the company's mobile platform and has more than a few limitations, among them stability issues and gripes over capacity and performance.
These days, however, there is plenty of hope. Microsoft may be working on a major, if not complete overhaul of CE, and if the OS can't be brought up to snuff there are more than a few competitors looking to take over.
Iain Thomson: We didn't call it wince for nothing when Microsoft first got into the mobile market space.
Windows CE was initially Microsoft's answer to Palm and the performance of the early versions left many wondering what the question was. The software was power-hungry, not terribly effective and was the guts behind a lot of also-rans in the handheld computing and mobile market.
Windows CE also made it so high on the list because it spawned Windows Mobile, which remains a dog of an operating system. Windows Mobile was basically Windows CE with some improvements but it has hardly been inspirational in performance. Microsoft is a declining force in the mobile operating systems market and looks set to fall further.
Iain Thomson: Last year we praised GSM for taking a sensible, co-operative approach to mobile operating standards. It seemed fitting that we look at the competition.
Code division multiple access (CDMA) stemmed from research carried out by actress turned inventor Hedly Lamarr. It was picked up by the US military and eventually patented by Qualcomm, and remains a proprietary standard. It's only used in the US, japan and South Korea these days and it's a fly in the ointment for many mobile users on the move
Over a billion people use GSM phones worldwide and the standard has many advantages. Less than a quarter of that number use CDMA, albeit a wealthy and valuable part of the market. Qualcomm is going to milk CDMA for as long as it can and so US users are still going to have to use two phones if they travel, although the shockingly low numbers of Americans with a passport may explain CDMA's continued popularity.
Shaun Nichols: Betamax vs VHS, HD-DVD vs Blu ray, CDMA vs GSM. Every time you have two competing standards both on the market at once you are going to see a sizable number of users get shafted. In this case, it's customers of CDMA phone carriers.
Granted, the roaming costs associated with using your phone abroad keeps most people from using their phones and risking a monster monthly bill. But carriers are increasingly working on plans which allow users to keep their handsets on and staying in touch while out of the country. When that becomes commonplace, being stuck on CDMA networks could become especially painful, and the system could see its demise accelerate.
Here's to hoping that the companies working on the next-generation wireless broadband standards learn their lesson and can either settle on one system or at least make the formats compatible.