The decade's biggest tech flops: Funny how Sony and Microsoft dominate

The decade's biggest tech flops: Funny how Sony and Microsoft dominate

Summary: We've compiled a gallery of the decade's biggest tech flops and it's quite notable how Sony and Microsoft dominate (and not in a good way).That said Sony has clearly run off with the flop charts.

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We've compiled a gallery of the decade's biggest tech flops and it's quite notable how Sony and Microsoft dominate (and not in a good way).

That said Sony has clearly run off with the flop charts. Microsoft has my all-time favorite flop though: SPOT.

Remember those glorious watches and kitchen utensils?

I'm sure we could add a few more Microsoft gems to the list, but let's examine the Sony duds because they are much more prevalent.

There's the dreaded Mylo:

Silly digital video formats:

The Vaio UMPC:

And the list continues. The lesson here is that it's very difficult to be all things to all people. Sony---and Microsoft to a lesser degree--has its hands in so many pots that it creates products that try to keep multiple divisions in the company happy. In the end you have a device that includes the kitchen sink and does nothing well.

This list, cooked up by CNET's David Carnoy, has a consumer bent to it. What are your biggest tech flops of the decade?

Topics: Emerging Tech, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets

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  • Sony and MS seem to be trying a lot of new (for them) things.

    It's reasonable that they're going to have a lot of failures in the marketplace.

    MS especially has the money to try a lot of new things just to see if they can come up with the "next new thing."
    Letophoro
    • totally fair point

      but especially in Sony's case things get bogged down. DRM with Mp3 players to keep music division happy etc etc
      Larry Dignan
    • I agree

      I think these companies should not be ridiculed, but rather CONGRATULATED for tech flops. They are the ones pushing the envelope of the bleeding edge.

      Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft.

      For every success, there are several flops. For every flop, there are dozens of amazing ideas being thrown against the wall in Microsoft Research. And I'm sure that's true at Sony as well. Did you see the WWPC keynote that Kevin Turner gave this week, when he talked about the 9.1 BILLION dollars that Microsoft spends on R&D? (That's 3 Billion more than the next guy, IBM).

      My hat's off to Sony for continuing to get their ideas out there.
      KRemde
    • Apple try's new things: imac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, App Store and gets hits

      Msft. with their Windows monopoly have become very flaccid in what
      they do, because they have billions of cash coming in from Windows
      they've fallen in the rut of throwing stuff against the wall to see what
      sticks instead of being focused.

      They can lose hundreds of millions in things like PlayforSure, Zune
      and Search technologies without coming out with something ground
      breaking.

      This using up of their cash is reflected in Msfts share price in the last
      10 years, you would have made many times more if you've invested in
      Apple.
      Davewrite
      • They also tried

        the Newton, the Lisa, AppleTV, MobileMe, Macintosh Portable, Taligent

        And they did not go all to well, did they
        GuidingLight
        • Most of those things are 10 years or more ago! Lisa from 1983! LOL!

          Man! :) You must be DESPERATE to find something to criticize Apple
          for!!

          Most of those things are more than 10 years ago.

          The Lisa came out before that Mac! That was the age of the Amiga!!
          The Lisa started in 1978 came out in 83!!!

          You're digging stuff out that are older than many people using macs
          today, that's scrapping the barrel! lol!

          MobileMe after some start up problems which were resolved in a few
          months is big success.

          Apple TV in he last financial report tripled it's sales. Generates
          revenues from Movie, TV sales and rentals.

          Look at Msft. RECENT stuff: Zune, PlayforSure, Vista (the big kahuna!),
          Windows Search, even Xbox is a money loser (a billion in warranty
          claims for burnt out boxes), etc

          Davewrite
          • The implicartion was that

            Apple produced no failures.

            MobileMe, AppleTV were both recent, so maybe you are correct, I should have just cut the list down to those two product, maybe throw in the Cube for good measure.
            GuidingLight
          • like I said MobileMe is a success.

            having a few startup hick-ups resolved after a few months isn't a
            failure.

            It drives iPhone, mac sales.

            Like some others Mossberg of WSJ originally had some issues with
            MobileMe but when Apple fixed it:

            CNET: "Mossberg gives Apple's MobileMe thumbs up"
            "Apple has fixed all of the speed and reliability issues I encountered "

            As for Apple TV like I said it tripled it's sales.

            Here to convince you from PC world (hey not Apple Insider!):

            Report on Apple's financial report. Feb 2009

            "Lost in the shuffle of Apple's record breaking earnings last quarter,
            and the hoopla over the potential for an Apple v. Palm courtroom
            showdown, is the fact that Apple's beloved hobby, the Apple TV, is
            still chugging along and ratcheting up impressive sales. Apple's
            earnings report shows that sales of Apple TV are up three-fold from
            the same quarter a year-ago, and Tim Cook's comments during the
            conference call indicate that not only has Apple not given up on this
            'hobby', but that it plans to keep on investing in it.

            "We still consider this a hobby, but it is clear that the movie rental
            business has really helped Apple TV, and there are more and more
            customers that want to try it. "


            PC world: "ratcheting up impressive sales"
            And you call that a 'failure'?

            Apple TV is derided because unlike iPod it's not achieved world
            domination or cult status like iPhone, but it's hardly a 'failure' lol!!
            Would Zune like to have Tripled its sales?
            Davewrite
          • Still not buying it

            Apple releases no sales figure for the AppleTV, and if it is "still a hobbie", that would indicate it is not selling as well,

            Three time "very disapointing" sales would raise it to "mediocre": that [i]is[/i] a failure.

            MobileMe speaks for itself, though alot of people have spoken for it.

            Well, complained about it, actually.

            Sorry, Apple's had their failures too, no way of getting around it, and I guess we each have our own opinions based on the little facts that Apple allows us to have.

            Why is that?
            GuidingLight
          • @Guidinglight. PCWorld 2009 Apple TV is "ratcheting up impressive sales"

            your mediocre vs PCWorld (not Macworld, not Macdailynews but PC
            world) "ratcheting up impressive sales"

            I think I'll follow PCworld than your opinion on this.

            :)
            Davewrite
          • @Davewrite - Fanboi?

            I know I like most MS products, "Fanboi", and I am willing to admit MS has had a fair share of failures.

            But you, as a fanboi of Apple can't seem to handle that Apple had failures.

            We have no idea what the sales for AppleTV are, or MobileMe - I haven't seen advertising for either in ages. Not to mention the lack of word of mouth from anyone here.

            It's safe to say they weren't successes, and close failures. If not complete failures.

            As far as MobileMe driving iPhone and other Apple sales? Come on, really? That is a joke. People are buying iPhones because they are cool or their friends already have one not because they can get MobileMe.

            I can see it now some acne covered teen going "Dude, I just got my iPhone and I got MobileMe! How cool is that, check this out!" - Yeah, totally believable.

            So please, for the sake of your integrity, quit being in denial.
            TylerM89
          • @ TylerM89: you sound more a MS fanboi than I do apple!

            Look at your comments TylerM89:

            "People are buying iPhones because they are cool or their friends
            already have one not because they can get MobileMe.

            I can see it now some acne covered teen going "Dude, I just got my
            iPhone and I got MobileMe! How cool is that, check this out!" - Yeah,
            totally believable."

            --------

            Look at those 'genius' statements from you and you call me a fanboi!

            You're the one who sounds like a MS fanboi or MS kool aide
            apologists! At least my posts have quotes and facts you've got
            stereotypes :'iphones used by acne teens saying dude'!!

            Go google it and check it out, lots of people like MobileMe because it
            syncs their calenders contacts etc amongst a bunch of devices.

            As for the 'acne teen' stereotype here's an article about doctors using
            iphones:
            ------
            "San Mateo, Calif., April 6, 2009 ? In the nine months since the
            launch of Epocrates software for the iPhone platform, more than 10
            percent of physicians in the United States are already actively using it
            to improve patient care.

            In less than a year, over 75,000 physicians have adopted Epocrates
            on their iPhone or iPod touch."
            --------
            So these are these pimply youths saying 'dude'?

            Do you know ignorant your statements sound?

            and you call me a fanboi, like I said you sound more like a MS fanboi
            than me!

            Even if I was a Apple fanboi at least there's some reason for it: iPod
            Touch, iPhone, Leopard, iTunes , Msft has Zune, Vista, Playforsure,
            Win Mobile.... lol!

            Davewrite
          • @Davewrite - Fanboi

            At least I admitted that Microsoft had failures, you couldn't admit any, making excuse after excuse for why it wasn't a failure.

            Everyone I know who bought an iPhone didn't even bat an eyelash about MobileMe. Why? Syncing with calendars and other things? Sounds like ActiveSync. Now who made that software? I wonder... hmm, oh right! MICROSOFT!

            And for the record, your list of hits for Microsoft is what a typical Apple zealot would mention, why? Because that tiny list is all the media has on Microsoft.

            You keep sticking with Apple and their 2000$ hardware, "exclusive" deals, and your MobileMe syncing

            I'll stick with Windows 7, Office 2007, IE8, ASP.NET AJAX, Visual Studio 2008, SharePoint and my Xbox 360, listening to music and calling friends with my Windows Mobile phone.

            Only a true koolaid drinking like yourself could muster such a stale failure list of Microsoft. I half expected you to say "M$" or "Windoze" so everyone here would see you still live in 1996.
            TylerM89
          • @TylerM89 you make me laugh, look at your own Msft Fanboi statements! lol!

            You say
            "I'll stick with Windows 7, Office 2007, IE8, ASP.NET AJAX, Visual
            Studio 2008, SharePoint and my Xbox 360, listening to music and
            calling friends with my Windows Mobile phone."

            Anybody reading your statement above would know who the fanboi
            was.

            I've got half a dozen posts here, did I list ANY Apple product I was
            using like you just did with Msft? Only a REAL fanboi would proudly
            list down the company's products they own! (Win 7, Office 2007... ha
            ha ha...) Is Msft paying you to advertise? lol!

            And you call ME a fanboi?!

            Do you tell tell everyone you meet, like a cute person at the bar : HI!
            I'm Tyler I use Win 7 and Office!"

            You must really LOVE the "I'm a PC ads".


            ROTFL!
            ------

            Davewrite
          • The difference between one fanboi and another...

            As one fanboi pointed out more than once, he's able to admit that his corporation of choice has had failures. The other one seems totally incapable of even admitting the possibility of failure in his corporation of choice. I guess that points to the fact that there are degrees of fanboi-ism.
            mgp3
          • He is right!

            Apple does come away with way more money, because they market high end products. Actually, they are not high end as much as high dollar. Most people will buy something that is too expensive, because they think it is better. Apple is restrictive, so once you start getting things that are Apple, you will stay on that path, or it won't work with the rest of your toys.

            I hate ITunes. I use an MP3 player with Video, and can put any song on it I own. To use ITunes I have to have them in ITune format. Proprietary went out the window (pun indended) in 92 for me. I bought the wrong PC, it had the Power Supply in the monitor. Never again.

            The Apple O/Sx isn't a bad system, but all the companies need to get more standardized, so that you could go cross platform when ever you need. That will never happen, because the O/S is a money maker for both Apple and MicroSoft.

            mjolnar@...
          • Success (or F417)

            @guidinglight

            "the Newton, the Lisa, AppleTV, MobileMe, Macintosh Portable,
            Taligent"

            Um, The Newton sparked the PDA market, was around for almost a
            decade, made a profit for Apple, was only canceled to consolidate
            product lines, and eventually gave rise to the iPhone. By what metric
            was the Newton a failure?

            The Lisa project was mostly subsumed by the mac team, so it is hardly
            a failure.

            The Macintosh Portable? How was that not a success?!? It sold well,
            started the whole laptop market, was revolutionary (Its competition
            was the luggable Compaq, complete with CRT, after all) and was
            merely replaced by better technology, as all things are in the
            computer industry.

            Taligent was NEVER released as a product by Apple, so I fail to see
            how that is even relevant in this discussion.

            That is not to say that Apple has not had failures, Certainly it has. The
            Pippin, among other things, comes to mind. But if you are going to
            post this crap, it is better to at least know a little about what you are
            talking about rather than just pull stuff off the top of your head to try
            to make a point.

            Then again, that appears to be your modus operandi.

            @TylerM89:
            "I know I like most MS products, 'Fanboi', and I am willing to admit MS
            has had a fair share of failures."

            As a nice corollary to Godwin's Rule, as soon as you use stupid
            jingoistic "me too" leety jargon like "fanboi," especially with the asinine
            cutsey spelling, you lose the argument.

            "We have no idea what the sales for AppleTV are, or MobileMe - I
            haven't seen advertising for either in ages. Not to mention the lack of
            word of mouth from anyone here."

            First, I doubt you ever saw an ad for AppleTV, as they only made one
            or two, and only aired them a few times. This is not because they
            abandoned the product, but rather because that was always their
            intention. They discussed this at WWDC. AppleTV was a hobby, and
            after a small ad push, they were not going to do much in the way of
            advertising, rather going with word of mouth. Speaking of which, what
            difference does it make if no one on ZDNet is talking about it? Who
            cares about people on ZDNet. Certainly enough people ARE talking
            about it that, with essentially ZERO advertising, it's sales have tripled
            year over year. BTW, it is not true that "we don't know what the sales
            for AppleTV are." The numbers are publicly available. It is certainly not
            "safe to call them failures."

            "People are buying iPhones because they are cool or their friends
            already have one not because they can get MobileMe."

            As someone who acts as a stickler for data, funny how you post such
            obvious conjecture. Please tell the doctors and real estate agents I
            know, who use their iPhones routinely as useful work tools, that they
            bought their iPhone simply to "look cool." They'd be surprised to hear
            it.

            "So please, for the sake of your integrity, quit being in denial."

            'nuff said.
            SpiritusInMachina
    • Agreed. I will even go so far as to say

      that any company with no failures usually is not trying anything new or different.

      Apple for all their latest successes have had their share of flops, as have companies from IBM to small companies. Even successful restaurateurs have had a new concept or establishment open, only to close 12 months later.

      The difference is that they take the chance. Some things stick, others things do not, but a least they are trying something new.
      GuidingLight
      • What are recent Apple flops? Even Apple TV tripled sales fr. last year. nt

        nt
        Davewrite
      • Pin the tail on the donkey

        While I agree with your opening sentence, if MS spends $9B annually on research, they might be better off giving that money to the shareholders who could invest it for much better returns.

        It would be interesting to find out what the actual return has been on the total of MS R&D expenditures since the company's inception. My gut feeling is that it would be abysmal, but I might be wrong.

        If you have some idea about where you are going, R&D is extremely important. I do not get the feeling however that MS really has its future in sharp focus.
        Economister