The worst tech flops and service fails of all time

The worst tech flops and service fails of all time

Summary: What do Google's Notebook, Apple's Ping and Microsoft's Zune have in common? Failure to launch, closure, and poor sales -- and they are all part of the worst tech flops and service fails.


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  • Facebook Phone

    The ill-fated HTC First, also known as the Facebook Phone, was doomed before launch. The Android skin, dedicated to Facebook Home, did not prove popular — especially as it is far from an exclusive piece of software — and despite a $99 price tag, failed to garner much interest. The death knell was struck when the exclusive carrier, AT&T, began offering the handset for 99 cents in what it called at the time a "temporary sale."

    Via: CNET

    Image credit: Josh Miller/CNET

  • America Online, AOL

    At its peak, America Online (AOL) accounted for over 30 million subscribers, garnered through internet newbies and heavy marketing which left us drowning in free AOL discs every time we opened a tech magazine. However, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) was well-known for dial-up problems, slow and stuttering software and questionable billing. It may have improved of late after rebranding as a content provider, but the stigma remains. 


Topics: Tech Industry, Apple, Consumerization, Google, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, PCs

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  • QR Codes

    are over 20 years old (it was released in 2004). The 2D barcode was designed for stock management and parts tracking originally and it is very successful.

    It was misappropriated for web addresses, setting up WLAN and other tasks in recent years, but the DENSO WAVE 2D barcode system, commonly called QR Codes is still going strong in the logistics branch.
    • Actually QR codes are going strong in other segments too

      I see them used in a lot of utility graphic design. Not ads, but information sheets and stationery. Anyone who says QR is dead hasn't been paying attention.
      • And yet, if you ask pretty much anyone outside your

        tech bubble, most will go: What's a QR code? Or, Oh, is that what those things are.
    • More journo nonsense

      Eh? How can something introduced 10 years ago be 20 years old?

      Only a couple of years ago very few people had a barcode scanner on their smartphone, in fact I don't even know if they were available as an app until fairly recently. Certainly they weren't 10 years ago.

      I started to use them a few months ago on business cards and packing slips and have noticed an increase in site traffic as a result.

      As far as I am aware these thing have only really become utilised by people and businesses in recent years so I think it's ridiculous to label something that is just starting to take off as a flop.

      The same could be said for Windows Phones which have been improving and increasing their market share in recent times. It's effectively a relatively new product. How can it be labelled a flop?

      These might not have made the billions their makers had hoped for, but the worst flops of all time? I don't think so.
  • My flop definition

    Apparently we're only talking consumer tech. My definition of flop is the proportion of hype to actual sales. Good examples are the Segway, Chromebooks, Linux on the Desktop, Nest, Dyson fans, the Mac, 3D printing, DATs, Super Audio CDs, and I'll probably think of more later.
    Buster Friendly
    • No, we're talking about products launched by companies

      And although the Segway is certainly one, and Super Audio CDs another (although too niche to have made this list), none of the others are.

      Some because they aren't products launched by companies, and others because they didn't do less than were expected, were profitable for the launcher, and/or had a serviceable life-span in the era they were used in (I am looking at you DAT, you once great backer upper of things!)
    • Dyson

      What's wrong with dyson?
      • Dyson fans: It's the hype to sales

        Buster Friendly never said there was anything wrong with Dyson fans, just the over-hyped design.

        Dyson endlessly brags about their 'bladeless' fans. Truth is, of course they have fan blades! They're just hidden inside the base. Dyson gushes endlessly on the revolutionary design which is simply a refined ducted fan in a highly stylized case.

        There are many gullible consumers who actually believe their fans have no blades - they must operate on magic! I personally overheard a couple at Costco marveling at how could the Dyson fan moves air without moving parts - they bought into the hype. That's how Dyson justifies astronomical prices for a fan.

        (Kinda like the fruit logo company - take conventional technology, wrap it up in a pretty package and convince users that their products are 'insanely great' and you are a better human being than everyone else for recognizing how revolutionary they are and buying them without question.)
        • Thanks

          I've seen those fans before and they were ok. I saw the word dyson and started thinking about their vacuums.
          • Re: Dyson fans

            There's nothing magical about Dyson fans and they work exactly as ECT described.

            That said, if I had a kid then I'd pay the extra in a heartbeat: conventional fans are just too dangerous with toddlers around. (I have neither a kid nor a Dyson fan.)

            They also look beautiful - like some of the products made by that "fruit logo company."
    • Your definition of flop is wrong.

      Segway is not a flop. What was a flop is how they priced them. Besides there is diy segway clones. Chromebooks are not a flop. If they were then why would Microsoft be targeting them now. Not to mention Google has not dropped support. In fact its only getting better, and with the added Android app support will only help to make Chromebooks more popular. Linux on Desktop. You might not see Linux on the desktop that much, but Chromebooks and Android OS are a derivative of Linux and using the Linux kernel. The same holds true Tizen, Firefox OS, Jolla, and many other linux based OS's. Nest is adding more products to their portfolio all the time. Dysan fans sell, maybe not in the numbers you want to see. Mac is still selling, and has evolved into other macs. The problem with Mac is the initial cost, but the service and quality are up there. If Apple dropped the Mac pricing down to PC prices, then the Windows world would be in trouble. 3D printing is still in its infancy. There was even a kick starter selling a 3D printer for $200. The pricing has to come down in order for 3D printing to take off. The only thing is media items are going to go the way of the dodo. Its all going to be on the cloud.
      • LOL. It's HIS definitition, not yours so...

        It's not wrong for him, just you.

        "My definition of flop is the proportion of hype to actual sales."

        Your arrogance/ignorance blinded you to that very important distinction.

    • "proportion of hype to actual sales"

      You might want to learn a little a about Linux.
      Actual sales of desktop Linux are never going to reach any amount of hype, because desktop Linux is not sold, it's downloaded.
    • You had some credibility in your

      definition until you put in the Mac. It's a product line that generates $20 billion a year in revenue and you claim it's overhyped?
    • How can you include Linux?

      That it isn't that well known on the desktop is irrelevant - that doesn't make it a flop. Android is based on Linux so it's just plain ridiculous to call it a flop.

      Chromebook sales might have disappointed Google but they don't fall into a "Worst flops of all time" thread, the Mac definitely doesn't - the inclusion of that is just farcical - and 3D printing is relatively new.
  • I don't see Google+ as a flop

    Personally I would never join Facebook, but I am on Google+ daily.
    • Very flop-like

      Google+ is actively used by those immersed in the Google environment, but a large percentage of the "members" of Google+ don't even know they're on it. They were on Gmail one day, clicked on the wrong button while looking for something else, and BAM! they're on Google+.

      I personally wouldn't put my money on any of the existing social networks because there is no loyalty to them. The younger crowd will jump boat to the next big thing without a backward glance. And Google+'s moment has passed already. While I am sure it will stay alive for a long time, I don't see any possible way in which Google could build a hype for it at this stage in the game.
      • We are being spoon fed Google +

        If you want to comment on a YouTube video your comment appears on Google +. If you want to respond to a comment, you have to do so on Google +. The only reason Google + sees any action at all is because Google is forcing users into it.
        • LOL. Just as you have to sign in here to comment.

          So your point is moot IMO.

          Thanks for the laugh.