Top 10 BIGGEST TECH FLOPS
Isn’t it just exciting when a new technology is released to the public? New gadgets are always fun to get our hands on, but that joy is sometimes short lived. With new tech, there’s always a chance that it will be a big, giant, useless flop, just like these ten high-profile technologies and devices that failed miserably.
Samsung Note 7
There’s no denying why Samsung’s Note 7 became one of the biggest flops since the inception of the smartphone, though there are those that claim the frenzy was blown out of proportion. Yes, that was meant to be a pun! Almost immediately after the Note 7 launched in 2016, the media caught wind of stories of the device catching fire, exploding, and causing damage to property, vehicles, and people. Samsung responded quickly, doling out upwards of $6 billion in settlements. The issue with the Note 7 stemmed from faulty batteries sourced from Samsung SDI and Amperex Technology Limited.
The concept sounded interesting – a wearable, head-mounted display that put the information of the World Wide Web literally right in front of the wearer’s eyes; but even the Google name couldn’t save Glass from failure. Consumers need to know why they need your device, and Google simply failed to get that message across. Marred by safety and privacy concerns, a lack of clear marketing that emphasized its benefits, an iffy design that looked more unfinished than futuristic, and technical glitches after release made it difficult for the public to latch onto Google Glass.
Almost 30 years after Betamax and VHS squared off in their own format wars, Sony and Toshiba were locked in a war between Blu-ray and HD DVD. Rumors of the porn industry playing a large role in the downfall of the Toshiba-developed format spread quickly, but there was more to it. Working in Blu-ray’s favor was integration into Sony’s PS3 console compared to the Xbox 360’s optional, minimally supported HD DVD add-on and a vast difference in studio support. Backing Blu-ray’s 50GB capacity were most studios, sans Universal and Warner Bros, but even Warner eventually dropped HD DVD support, serving a fatal blow to the format.
When the hoverboard or self-balancing scooter hit the market, it intrigued technophiles and children alike, calling back memories of Back to the Future II. Then, once they got their hands on it, the awe and wonder quickly dissipated. Or caught fire and blew up in their faces. The novelty of scooting around on a hoverboard-esque device was quickly overshadowed by over $2 million in property damage caused by device failures. Making matters worse, big-named companies like Target and Amazon suspended sales and hoverboards were banned from multiple passenger airlines, effectively ending the hoverboard craze.
In May of 1975, Sony released the first consumer-level video cassette and dubbed it Betamax. A year later, JVC introduced the VHS, a similar product that, despite flaws, became the common household format. The Betamax had everything Sony thought the public could want: the ability to record, smooth mechanics, and better picture and sound, but it was not without glaring issues. The players themselves were considerably heavier, leading to higher production costs, and the tapes could only play for an hour, compared to VHS’ 2-hour capability. The final nail in the coffin was Sony’s failure to secure a place in the rental market before VHS did.
When Microsoft released Windows Vista in 2007, it spread a plague across home computers everywhere. The widely-hated operating system was meant to improve upon Windows XP but only alienated users. Slower, clunkier, and incredibly inefficient, Vista hogged RAM, put a strain on hard drives, and had a shocking lack of driver support from third parties. Where XP was user-friendly, Vista became a nightmare for casual operators, and as the User Account Control prompts started piling up, the hatred continued to grow. Despite notable sales and downloads, Vista is often regarded as one of the worst operating systems.
Though a product may be eye-catching, its success is never guaranteed. That was the lesson Apple learned with the quirky Power Mac G4 Cube. Released in July of 2000 for $1,799, the G4 Cube attracted attention for its unique design, but that may have also been one of its greater flaws. The alien-look was unfamiliar and, coupled with a high price tag, made it difficult to appeal to common consumers. Cosmetic design flaws and a lack of upgrade options haunted Cube owners and as word got around, sales dropped. By January of 2001, Apple reported it only reached 1/3 of its expected sales. Six months later, the cube was dead.
Initially released alongside VHS tapes, LaserDisc had a clear edge over the cassettes. Though much larger, they were initially cheaper and offered more options and better clarity, but still struggled to make any headway. The introduction of DVDs in the mid-90’s dug the final grave for LaserDisc. Despite some advantages over the smaller disc format, like frame-specific searching and lack of user prohibitions, the LaserDisc only allowed for 30 to 60 minutes of playback per side and, by the 1980’s, each disc cost upwards of the equivalent of $80 today.
Google Nexus Q
At a price point of $300, Google’s Nexus Q was a bold move. Competing against the already popular – and considerably cheaper – Apple TV and Roku options, the spherical Q banked heavily on Google’s name to sell it. Requiring far too many plugs to be functional and featuring curious design flaws – like requiring a mobile device but not allowing playback from it - the rounded digital media player was doomed from the start. The Q’s official launch was scheduled for 2012, but by January of 2013, it had been pulled from the Google Play site.
Microsoft’s answer to the iPod, the Zune, launched in 2006 and survived through four different generations – each progressively worse than the last. By 2009, when the Zune HD 16 released, Microsoft had reported that Zune sales had dropped more than 50%, spelling a grave future. With Apple’s MP3 player already dominating the market, the Zune was destined to fail from the get-go as it offered no real benefit over the sleek and familiar iPod. According to Microsoft’s former leader of home entertainment and mobile business, Robbie Bach, the Zune’s marketing failed to captivate the larger audience it needed.