11 tech product flops and service fails in 2013

11 tech product flops and service fails in 2013

Summary: Some of 2013's most anticipated products and services may have drummed up support in the months prior to launch. But on opening day, it was nothing but stress and hassle.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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  • Twitter Music couldn't find its voice

    People go to Twitter to share random inane thoughts, share news, and even topple dictators. And beyond that, pictures and video and other content can be shared. But not so much music, the microblogging company soon found out, as its music discovery service failed to take off after about six months of public availability.

    Weeks after sister site CNET first discovered Twitter Music, its doors were flung open to the general public. Anger brewed initially as the service was only available to the social network's elite. But soon after, things began to unravel. Twitter Music founder Kevin Thau left the company, which sent the first smoke signal that the product might have been in trouble. Over time, it still couldn't drum up a significant amount of user interest, with users instead heading to Spotify, YouTube, and iTunes. 

    Six months later, Twitter reportedly remains on the fence about taking its music service "round the back of the sheds," if you catch my drift. While the service was designed to generate additional revenue off the back of its still-developing advertising program, the company may have better luck in its television-focused efforts.

    Image: CNET

  • Ubuntu Edge began life as a concept... and stayed a concept

    It was certainly a nice idea, and a well-thought out way to drum up cash to support its development. But getting the Ubuntu Edge smartphone into development failed before the device itself even had a chance to succeed or fail in its own right.

    The idea was simple: it would serve as a phone in the hand, and a PC when docked with a monitor. The Linux-powered part-smartphone part-desktop could have significantly shaken up the smartphone market had the crowdsourcing effort worked. Bloomberg backed the idea and funded $80,000 into the pot to receive 100 devices and other benefits. Drumming up $2 million in the first eight hours, a massive drop-off in investor support saw the fund grow to just $13 million by the end. The target was $32 million.

    Even though the highly anticipated device wasn't able to reache the market, Mark Shuttleworth, chief executive of Ubuntu's parent company Canonical, claimed his vision lives on in the form of the iPhone 5s. He said the Edge smartphone "may have accelerated the idea of convergence," but the latest Apple's smartphone is powerful enough to be "desktop class." 

    Image: CNET

  • iPhone 5c: The 'budget' smartphone that never was

    There were leaks-a-plenty in the run-up to Apple's September media event, where the technology giant would announce two smartphones — the premium iPhone 5s, and the cheaper iPhone 5c. But many were still surprised that Apple would deviate from its traditional one-device-at-a-time line-up and market multiple devices to different audiences.

    But the company probably should have stuck to its guns. The iPhone 5c was considered the "entry-level" smartphone, but it cost only $100 less than its more powerful, premium counterpart. Chief executive Tim Cook said it was never its intent to be a low-cost device, even though the leaks had pointed to a device aimed at the emerging market. Demand was reportedly low, and as a result Apple kept mum on sales figures, likely not wanting to spook investors.

    It's probably the one case of the year where speculation and rumor killed the product before it launched, rather than the company directly screwing up in some way. Expectations were simply way off base to reality, even if the price point was still a little too high.

    Image: CNET 

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Topic: Tech Industry

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  • What about the biggest flop of them all?

    I'm talking about Google Chromebooks. The loneliest spot in any Best Buy is the Chromebook display.
    Sir Name
    • Chrome Books have an audience

      They are doing quite well in schools. The problem is that consumers don't want an always on device, but schools, they work rather well for.


      Best Buy being a consumer business, no one cares about the, but I think the Microsoft Surface devices are far lonelier than the Chrome Books could ever dream to be.
      nucrash
      • Numbers

        See : http://www.zdnet.com/latest-idc-figures-show-chromebooks-continue-to-struggle-7000023000/
        cld9731@...
    • Don't know about that

      I went in one week with chromebooks on the display and customers there, then the next week and there were no more and big signs that said "don't worry more on the way". However, you wonder if microsoft has any say in what goes on in these stores.
      You could argue the mac area at best buy is lonely, but every non-gamer I know now seems to have a macbook for their personal laptop. Windows only seems to be stuck on every business PC, because you 'have' to use it.
      drwong
      • That's odd, DrWong

        since they ALWAYS seem to be on display at the Best Buy's I've been in, and the Staples stores.

        What's even odder is that nobody is ever around those displays, but they're at the Apple and Microsoft ones.

        So that's a very odd statement coming from you.

        Oh wait - no it isn't! :)
        William.Farrel
      • OH really?

        Windows PCs are on my desks because I want to use them... both for work and play. Considering the % of the market share Windows/Mac computers populate... I very much doubt that everyone you know has a Mac.
        MelbourneTweetr
    • and...

      certainly RT is a bigger flop. You really shouldn't be bringing up chromebooks, a relative success that will keep growing.
      drwong
      • re:

        Windows RT outsells Chromebooks.
        Sir Name
        • I haven't heard about any 900 million

          loss for chromebooks. All I see is more companies starting to put them out. RT - lost all its OEM backers.
          drwong
          • Because you can't / don't want to understand much?

            Lets see, Acer CEO fired for backing Chromebooks, HP recalling Chrombooks, others sitting on shelves.

            Now seeing that Surface was from a single company, and Chromebooks are spread out over several, do you think the total write offs between them all will be equal to the original Surface writedown, or will each company cut their loss on a "non newsworthy" scale, as each company made them in limited quanties, (which MS should have done)?

            I know, when logic is used, your posts have a hard time standing on their own, which is why I guess you always lose.
            William.Farrel
          • Its not a competition!!!

            I heartilly wish that you and all your buddies who see these discussions as a competition to see who can slag whose product choices would just bugger off and let the adults discuss the tech.
            Your constant attitudes of self-indulgence pretty well ruin the site for the big boys.
            radleym
          • you have the same mindset as the outgoing

            Steve Ballmer. He himself has even admitted he is part of the problem and that's why he's out.
            drwong
        • Magic 8 ball says

          "Doubtful"
          WhoRUKiddin
          • That's what I was going to ask you

            WhoRUKiddin?
            William.Farrel
  • But wait, Shutty says lots of companies want to use Ubuntu on their phones

    Of course he can't tell us who they are.

    I knew Ubuntu Edge was dead the moment he couldnt get any big investors to invest in the project.
    otaddy
  • Right on target

    On the iPhone 5C I could not agree more with this:

    "Expectations were simply way off base to reality, even if the price point was still a little too high."

    In reality, it's really the high-priced data plans that get US customers, at least. The off-contract prices could have been lower, that's granted, but Apple's a business driven by hardware sales and profit, not so much by fermium services - yet. So, yeah, the expectations, not Apple's execution, are what need to be questioned.

    Great points on all the other flops!
    chrisanderson1973
    • In Europe

      the 5c costs more than a Galaxy S4, HTC One or Nokia Lumia 920 off contract.

      Good, on contract, they all cost 99c, so there isn't much difference, and the iPhone 5S starts at around 90 Euros. But most people I know use PAYG SIMs or a 19 Euro a month flat rate (mobile, landline and data flats) and buy the phone off contract.

      When a low end Nokia or Samsung costs a hundred Euros, it isn't really a wonder that the 5c is struggling with its 600 Euro price tag.
      wright_is
    • In Europe

      the 5c costs more than a Galaxy S4, HTC One or Nokia Lumia 920 off contract.

      Good, on contract, they all cost 99c, so there isn't much difference, and the iPhone 5S starts at around 90 Euros. But most people I know use PAYG SIMs or a 19 Euro a month flat rate (mobile, landline and data flats) and buy the phone off contract.

      When a low end Nokia or Samsung costs a hundred Euros, it isn't really a wonder that the 5c is struggling with its 600 Euro price tag.
      wright_is
    • Hmmm

      They're building about 1 million 5c phones a week (150,000 a day), that's 52 million a year (and about 1/3 the run rate of the 5s), I'd hardly call that a flop. That's more iPhone 5cs sold than Nokia Lumias over the same period.
      rbgaynor
      • no flop?

        So why don't you buy it? I'm sure you don't :)
        ambek