Behind every successful tech launch, there are countless flops. However, not all of them fail just for being useless. Some fail due to overhype, while some of them are developed ahead of their time. Either way, these failures always leave behind important lessons that eventually help in building a technology that people would actually like to use. From the much-hyped Google Glass to Apple’s Newton, here’s a list of tech launches that failed, despite having cutting-edge concepts.
Google Glass, the smart glasses from the search giant was indeed ahead of its time.
Although revolutionary, the high price tag and issues with privacy forced Google to halt the production in 2015. The company didn’t consider its privacy implications, as people didn’t like the idea of some random person recording the video and invading their privacy. The issue also gave rise to the term “glasshole”, originally coined by Robert Scoble. However, Glass did paved way for future wearable tech. Google also announced to release a new version of its wearable device, but there hasn’t been any follow up observed so far.
Packed with advanced hardware that consoles still use today and a host of interesting game titles, the Dreamcast from Sega was one of the best of its time. But, the ability to easily create copies of Dreamcast disc gave rise to piracy, which allowed gamers to burn their very own CDs. Dreamcast got another blow when Sony announced the development of PlayStation 2 that had far better specifications. Despite cutting prices, the sales couldn’t grow and eventually, Sega had to discontinue the production. Dreamcast was also the last console the company developed, as they announced to focus only on offering gaming titles.
Mircosoft launched Windows Phone in 2010, which was already three years later when the first iPhone and Android devices were launched. It was marketed under different names over the years but failed terribly to attract the buyers. The company even bought Nokia’s phone business for $7.2 billion to create a space in the mobile phone market, but that move couldn’t help either. Microsoft wasn’t even able to attract enough app developers for the OS platform. In October 2017, Joe Belfiore announced that Microsoft will no longer develop new features or hardware for the platform.
Google Plus was an attempt from the search giant to share a space on social media platforms. However, the company couldn’t attract more people on Google+, which is today nothing but a single place that stores all user’s data. The company even tried to force the users to generate more sign-ups like creating an account in G+ to comment on YouTube. However, a 2015 study showed that 90% of the people who created a Google profile have never posted publicly on Google+.
In 2006, Toshiba in collaboration with NEC brought the HD DVD as a consumer product in the market. However, within two years, the HD-DVD format lost the battle against the Blu-Ray format, which was heavily marketed by Sony. Convincing major film studios to release HD movies in Blu-Ray format, Sony took the lead in the market and Toshiba had to withdraw support for HD DVDs, losing $1 billion in promoting the technology.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7
The Galaxy Note 7 was well-appreciated for its new design and features until it started exploding due to faulty batteries. Samsung had to issue a global recall, affecting more than 2.5 million devices. The problem didn’t stop with the recall, as many of the users who received a replacement faced the same issue again. Finally, in October 2016, Samsung announced that the phone will be permanently discontinued.
Newton was a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) platform developed by Apple. It was also known as hand-held PC, aimed to function as a personal information manager. It could take notes, store contacts and also recognize and translate handwriting to text, which was way ahead of its time. However, this revolutionary feature itself killed the product. Newton had difficulties in recognizing handwritings, which invited bad press reporting. The project cost Apple $100m, but the sales never took off as expected. However, the product did give the company a much-needed solution to improve battery-life: ARM processor, which in itself is a key driver today in the mobile industry.
Microsoft’s strategy to compete with Apple’s iPod by developing Zune media player never worked. Although, its launch did create hype initially, a software bug and an improperly planned sharing feature completely brought down the market share. Microsoft had to eventually pull the plug after five consecutively unsuccessful years in the market.
Nokia attempted to compete in the handheld gaming market with N-Gage, but couldn’t quite make it. The idea of combining a mobile phone and a gaming console led to an ergonomically poor and awkward product design, received excessive criticism from the market. The company was able to sell only 3 million of these devices over the course of two years. In 2005, Nokia had to discontinue N-Gage due to poor feedback and sales.
Segway was the much-hyped self-balancing two-wheeler human transporter that couldn’t attract more buyers, even when Steve Jobs quoted as saying “as big a deal as the PC”. However, apart from its self-balancing ability, there wasn’t anything special about Segway. Besides, what kept people from buying was its $5,000 price tag. Today, these scooters can be seen ridden by mall cops and postal workers.