The world never changes exactly how you expect, but often a failure determines the future as and more than a success, because it sets the stage for what will come.
Over the past 10 years we have learned that the fairy tale of the startup born in the garage is almost never repeated, and large companies often and willingly fail despite the triumphs narrated by their press offices. Here are technological flops that marked the decade, sacrificial victims on the altar of the future.
30 Google Nexus Q
Everyone was confused by Google's Nexus Q when it debuted in 2012, and it's confusion why this media streamer that looks like a bowling ball has crashed yet to hit the market. Priced at $ 299 plus 399 more for speakers and 49 for cables, the Nexus Q was incredibly expensive to be a paperweight. It streamed only from YouTube, it had strange connection problems; it only required an app to change settings. Shortly after the announcement of the launch, Google postponed the official release date of the Nexus Q, telling users that they had preordained that the company had "decided to postpone the launch to make it even better." That launch never came: Google silently shelved the device (while deflecting the rumors of interruptions) and distributed the remaining prototypes for free. To the delight of tech flop collectors.
29 LeEco (also known as LeTV)
LeEco, the "Chinese Netflix", should have been the next Chinese technology company to make its appearance in the West. But LeEco's two biggest bets (the acquisition of Californian TV producer Vizio and a Tesla competitor called Faraday Future) ended up tarnishing his reputation and the company's plans. Regulatory barriers sank his plans to acquire Vizio, which was to be LeEco's big entry into the entertainment market. The result? An embarrassing retreat and a couple of lawsuits.
28 Apple Watch Edition
Apple really thought people would want a $ 17.000 smartwatch. He believed it, really.
Before the release of Apple Watch in 2015, a sumptuous 18-karat "Edition" model started appearing on the wrist of celebrities like Beyoncé. At that price, however, the good Jesus himself could have worn it: nobody spends that money on an item that becomes obsolete in 10 months. It is not a Rolex.
With the first versions managed to face the market with realism, the ceramic glass case and the decidedly lower price put the crazy design of the luxury Apple Watch into the ceiling. Or should I call it apple watch flop Edition?
Among the technological flops, perhaps the most unfortunate. Maybe. Originally known as CrunchPad, JooJoo was one of the first tablets. Two years before Apple announced the iPad, TechCrunch co-founder Michael Arrington had asked his readers to help him build the $ 200 computer. Hardware problems brought the final product to $ 500 and a very late launch, just a few days before the launch of the Apple iPad. And JooJoo, born too long before, had practically no equipment compared to the new Apple tablet. Inevitable disaster.
26 Google Reader
In 2019, Google Reader finally got the plaque it deserved. It is not the first or last time that Google has denied an idea, but it was certainly one of the stupidest: Google's decision to kill the beloved RSS reader in 2013, despite protests and probably only to save costs of the server. Pretty much a fatal blow to the RSS Feed as a news distribution technology. I still mourn his loss.
For a brief moment in 2014 an "anonymous" social network was all the rage. Secret showed you messages from your friends and friends of friends, without identifying anyone by name. The result was a relatively safe space to talk about sex, drugs and other things that would have pushed you out of Facebook. It accumulated 15 million users almost immediately and raised 35 million in funding. But the lesson we've learned over the past decade is that nothing can remain anonymous for long. No lasting identity, no lasting social. Just 16 months after its launch, the co-founder of Secret pulled the plug on his own, sending Secret to the cemetery of anonymous apps together with Yik Yak, Ask.fm, Formspring and others. The founders are still busy returning the money to the investors, and perhaps have kept a few millionaires to themselves.
24 Magic Leap
When Google suddenly put half a billion dollars in the Magic Leap cases, the unknown AR startup seemed ready to change everything, despite the fact that nobody knew anything about its product, and since then things have gone more or less the same way.
Magic Leap illustrated a bunch of high-sounding patents with a lot of stolen sci-fi images and promised havoc. In fact, the first product was very similar to the current Microsoft HoloLens, but without a business model or an established company behind it. For $ 2,6 billion raised, Magic Leap sold only 6000 pieces.
23 Microsoft Band
Microsoft's first attempt at wearable hardware seemed more like a social experiment. Yes, you could have used Band to buy coffee from Starbucks, but even Starbucks could not save this gadget from death after the release of a second version, perhaps even worse than the first. Eventually Microsoft reduced the losses by shutting down the servers and offering refunds to apologize to users.
Of all the confirmations that an energy company could look for, having a President as an ambassador is probably high on the list.
That was the fortunate position that Solyndra found around 2009, when his circular solar panels attracted Obama's attention. The company had everything the Obama administration wanted: innovative and efficient design, potential to provide hundreds of new jobs and billions of dollars in funding. The only problem was that there was actually no business plan. Solyndra went bankrupt in just two years, due to skyrocketing costs and an almost non-existent customer base.
21 I put
Neil Young spent years denigrating MP3, iTunes and digital music as a whole, insisting that the quality of the compressed sound spoiled the listening experience compared to CD and vinyl. In 2012 he tried to solve the problem on his own, announcing the Pono music player and a shop that would sell audio files in high fidelity and without data loss. Pono gained so much attention and over $ 6 million in funding.
When he arrived in 2015, however, practically no one spun him. Maybe the horrible design? Maybe the rowdy yellow color? Who knows. However, the idea of providing quality music was later taken up later: Tidal, for example. Or Music Unlimited, the recent Amazon service praised by a Neil Young finally satisfied, so much so that he could sing on a personalized mp3 basis.
20 Galaxy fold
Come on, you all know this flop. I have never seen a launch like the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The cell phones purchased broke within a week. Virtually ALL.
There was like a little film on the phone and everyone thought it was for protection. It wasn't for protection. It was part of the phone. How Samsung thought this device was ready for launch, much less as such a high profile device, remains a mystery today. The company reworked the project and released it again later, but the damage was enormous.
This stellar flop is also well known. For the magnitude of the collapse, for Google's persistence in trying to save him, and for a dozen other absurd reasons. Almost three and a half years after opening its doors to the public it was impossible to name a single person who had created a real following on Google+, or a news that went viral on Google+, or anything good on Google+.
Paradoxically, we have to "thank" the huge violation of privacy that occurred in October 2018, which finally got us out of the way.
18 Google Tango
For tango it takes two, but Google has never found a partner to break through the world into augmented reality. Too bad, given that Project Tango has always had potential.
Launched in 2014, it adopted a new approach to AR focusing on localizing the position of a device in space (such as the human sense of proprioception). Google's plan was to build basic technology, then allow phone manufacturers and developers to make consumer products.
In the end, only two companies (Lenovo and Asus) accepted Google's appeal, however, creating devices that absolutely did not live up to expectations. In 2017, Google closed Tango in favor of its more traditional ARCore augmented reality framework.
17 Lily Drone
A completely waterproof drone that can follow you down a mountain, take off when you throw it in the air and automatically take your photo sounds like the best ever today, let alone in 2015. Well, it was a crowdfunding disaster. After years of hype and anticipation, it was revealed that the company's promotional video was a fake.
Lily Robotics has never shipped a single unit of the 60.000 pre-ordered, and was sued by the San Francisco district attorney's office. Although the company received $ 34 million from its backers and another $ 15 million in venture capital, many of these backers never received a refund.
16 The Facebook Phone
The early years of 2010 were great for Facebook, but perhaps they fooled Zuckerberg who was struck by a slight form of delirium of omnipotence. Making phones with a dedicated Facebook button? Madness. The Menlo Park house teamed up with HTC to launch Status and Salsa, two frankly ignoble phones.
Not content with the first two tech flops, the two companies made three of a kind with HTC First, which was kind of Frankenstein. To be clear, an Android device with a personalized Facebook Home skin. Embarrassing meteors, disappear almost immediately.
Before it was a failure, Vine was a glorious cultural engine. The 6-second loop videos invented by the app have become a launching platform for comedians and musicians, also introducing countless invaluable memes. No deceased social network is remembered with more affection.
Unfortunately for Vine it was bought by Twitter, which perhaps never knew what to do with it, and certainly never understood. The New York Twitter team languished while the San Francisco team focused on more pressing issues, including unprofitable. Vine herself stopped growing when Instagram introduced videos and adverts. Influencers left the app and in 2016 it became a desert. He lives in his spiritual successor, TikTok.
Apple is usually associated with some of the best engineering and design projects, as well as with some really important technological flops. For a long time, however, Apple hasn't made a big mistake: for this reason AirPower can be considered the biggest recent failure of the Cupertino house.
Announced together with the iPhone X, AirPower promised to be a new type of wireless charger, capable of charging up to three devices simultaneously (I don't know: an iPhone, an Apple Watch and AirPods). Apparently making these technologies work simultaneously was more difficult than expected, and a year and a half after the announcement of its creation, AirPower was unceremoniously canceled by the company.
Ouya seemed like a good idea. Launched at a time when mobile hardware was rapidly improving but the games weren't really using it, the startup offered to stick an Nvidia Tegra 3 chip in an elegant box designed by Yves Behar for $ 99. The package included a game controller and demo games. Ouja raised over $ 8 million on Kickstarter and is still the tenth most funded project in the history of the platform. Unfortunately the controller was terrible, the software was cooked and the store didn't have games worth the effort. One of the biggest examples of Kickstarter's success has turned into the biggest failure in the real world.
12 Samsung Bixby
Apple had Siri, Amazon had Alexa, Microsoft had Cortana, Google had Google Assistant. What could Samsung do? Voila, here comes Bixby. Samsung has done its best to make it work, even going so far as to add a mandatory Bixby button to some of its phones.
But Samsung's assistant was not exactly good, and had the only advantage of pissing people off by constituting a precious relief valve against stress. Unlike many of the things on this list, Bixby still exists today: a homeless assistant, since Samsung Home has not yet been developed. If you meet him, avoid him.
11 Windows 8
Do you want to go back to experiencing the thrill of seeing the Start menu and the Windows button disappear? Do you want everything familiar in Microsoft's Operating System to be a bit shitty here and there? Reinstall Windows 8.
In those days, Microsoft chased the iPad and went directly to touchscreens, forgetting what people actually used their PCs for. Windows 8 included a user interface, a full-screen Start menu and a messed-up interface. Windows 10 ended the disaster. At least to that, I say.
10 Google Project Ara
The dream of modular smartphones began in 2013 with the video concept Phonebloks by Dave Hakkens. Who would not want a portable and flexible device capable of lasting longer than the disposable designs that were seen around. Do you prefer Face ID over a fingerprint scanner? Enter the form. More speed? Insert new memory and a better processor. More beautiful photos? Change camera. Google's new Motorola division took the concept and tried them all.
The reason for the failure is not known, but the project ended in 2016. Can you say "The end of an Ara", or is it the worst cold ever made for technological flops?
Juicero promised the juice in an envelope. Not a box of juice, how dare you? A bag of fresh fruit and vegetables sealed in a QR code verified envelope that required a $ 700 machine to squeeze it and release the juice.A bit like Nespresso but for the juice.
Investors and Bloomberg discovered, however, that in the end the car, that is the fulcrum of the entire Juicero operation, was not necessary. People could squeeze the juice packs by hand. By hand! Immediate closure of the company. I don't wonder why it failed. I wonder how he got funds.
8 The Dieselgate
The biggest car scandal of the decade began when a group of researchers from West Virginia University ran into some anomalies in the emissions tests of a Volkswagen Jetta. Since then, almost all important VW characters have been charged with fraud in the so-called Dieselgate. Volkswagen has paid over $ 30 billion in fines since it was discovered and has promised to spend billions more in an effort to become a leader in electric vehicles. But tech flops never come alone: it doesn't seem to end here.
When the so-called "hoverboards" first became a fad in 2015 (teenagers and adults whizzing through the streets like floating statues, barely moving faster than if they had just walked) the sense of ridicule was already strong. Where was the Back to the Future levitation promised us? Whether it's humiliation or simplyarrival of more practical electric scooters, it seems that hoverboards have evaporated quickly becoming the fastest technological flops to fade. I often see them on high discount online sites, and in my scrapbook (famous the hoverboard that Google gave to my agency and which produced memorable falls).
6 The Fyre Festival
When tech flops are really, really epic: I still have before my eyes the images of the incredible Netflix documentary that tells what happened.
The year is 2017, and in a nutshell: Billy McFarland organizes an expensive festival with rapper Ja Rule, he doesn't plan ANYTHING, he finds himself a sea of reserved people (with dizzying tickets), he spends the money for himself and the influencers who promote the event. When the participants arrive on the exclusive island and start tweeting photos of their accommodations (bad tents, sad cheese sandwiches), an immediate wave of schadenfreude sweeps the net. A terrifying catastrophe.
As said, the event generated a couple of documentaries, an infinite number of blogs and triggered a growing wave of interest in travelers that has continued to this day. We are post-Fyre in many ways, especially for how we talk about scams now.
5 Apple Maps
Tired of being wiped out by Google for its maps, Apple decided to launch its version in 2012 together with iOS 6. An ambitious undertaking, given the strength that Google already had. But Apple will have made "the best maps ever," right? Here it is. No. Apple Maps was full of bugs, lacked public transportation information, and in some areas and countries it literally offered nothing but gaps or errors. The venture eventually led to a massacre of Apple executives, and the company would spend the rest of the decade trying to build a true Google Maps competitor.
Seven years later, Apple Maps was rebuilt from scratch. As of September 2019, directions (this time detailed) are only offered in 10 cities around the world, while Google has sent Street View practically also in space. Good luck in the remuntada!
4 3D TVs
Coming out of the huge hit that was "Avatar" in 2009, 3D TV was to bring a new level of immersion in the way people watched movies in their living room. I can smell tech flops.
But unlike cinemas, where 3D projections are still quite common, the effort to bring that same experience home has failed miserably. Let's face it: nobody wants to wear 3D glasses while sprawled on the sofa. And the screen sizes of most televisions don't show 3D in the same way that content comes out of a giant movie screen.
TV companies continued to support 3D for several years and there was a decent selection of 3D Blu-rays to choose from. In the second half of the decade, the industry gave up on the dream and moved towards HDR and other image enhancements that don't require glasses. Some don't even require a view.
3 I Google Glass
The debut was spectacular: Google co-founder Sergey Brin took the stage during an event in 2012 to show viewers a live stream of paratroopers wearing Google Glass as they landed on top of the convention center.
These glasses would change the world, he said. And they could have if they hadn't scared people so much. A camera always on you? What about privacy? How do we focus the images? Is it true that wearing them causes terrible headaches? Google keeps the dream alive with professional versions and for medical projects, but perhaps the world is simply not ready.
2 Galaxy Note 7
When Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 was first reviewed, the technicians went crazy. How beautiful it is, how strong it is. The most well-made smartphone ever. Then the first exploded. Within just two weeks, another 35 devices followed and caught fire like this: poof, like nothing. One even on a plane, causing a circular prohibition on all flights. Samsung ran for cover by withdrawing all devices, and replacing them with different terminals. Instead of ending up in an abyss, he threw his “degenerate” creation into it, guaranteeing survival. Then (return to point 20) he returned to the crime scene with the Galaxy Fold. Who is born round does not die framework.
1 The queen of tech flops: Theranos
Everything is known about this flop too: valued at 9 billion dollars and apparently ready to revolutionize medicine, Theranos went bankrupt in 2018. It promised a revolutionary blood test, so easy to do in the pharmacy. Then the Wall Street Journal revealed that the company-owned blood test didn't work. CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes had fooled everyone, executives and customers, by using standard blood tests instead of the product she was selling. A giant scam. Holmes was later indicted for fraud and earlier this year her lawyers said they hadn't received payments for months.