Every year, the tech industry bombards us with products vying to be the next big thing. But it’s a dog eat dog world out there, and consumers have grown weary of all the marketing gimmicks. Some readers might remember the endless array of useless gadgets brought to us by the tech-boom of the 90’s, like the CueCat or Microsoft Bob. More recently, consumers rejected hyped-up innovations like the Segway, which tried unsuccessfully to revolutionize walking.
Tech companies aren’t the only ones guilty of overhyping a product. The automotive, food, and entertainment industries have likewise produced catastrophic duds. Here’s our list of eighteen infamous examples.
Known by the mysterious moniker “Ginger” before its unveiling, high-profile tech experts like Steve Jobs praised the Segway as a revolutionary gadget, on par with the first personal computer. Speculation abounded among the press and public. When it was finally unveiled, consumers were curious, but ultimately unimpressed. The expensive scooter trawls along at a measly top speed of 12.5 miles per hour, making it practical only in pedestrian areas, from which it was banned in the UK and some US cities. Today the Segway survives only as a novelty transportation device used in city tours.
Once touted as Facebook’s biggest competitor, or even ultimate replacement, Google+ failed to find an audience among social media users. The confusing layout was a major turn-off, even if it was somewhat more intuitive than the competition. Google+ stills exists – barely. A 2015 survey found only 9% of the social networking site’s 2.2 billion profiles actively post content. Google continues to push the service, much to the chagrin of their users, who are forced to create a Google+ account in order to use the company’s more popular services.
Who hasn’t had the idea? Movies provide the sensory experience of sight and sound, why not smell? Turns out, it works better on paper than it does in real life.
Smell-O-Vision was invented by Hans Laube, who co-produced the movie Scent of Mystery to showcase his device. At designated moments in the film, the device pumped odors into the theater isles. Odoriferous scenes from the movie included a character smoking pipe tobacco, a freshly baked loaf of bread being taken out of the oven and waved in front of the camera, and exploding wine casks which, apparently, smelled like exploding wine casks.
Smell-O-Vision might have caught on, were it not for its disastrous 1959 premiere. The device made loud hissing sounds when it released an odor, and the placement of the scent pumps made it difficult for patrons in the front and back rows to smell the action, causing them to sniff loudly and annoy everybody else. Engineers later fixed these problems, but by then it was too late. The bad reviews poured in and Smell-O-Vision flopped.
Oh, the format wars. VHS vs. Betamax, DVD vs. Bluray – but how many people remember the humble LaserDisc player? Touted as the superior choice for cinephiles who appreciated quality, the price tag and lack of versatility in home recording sealed LaserDisc’s fate in North America and Europe, though it remained popular in the affluent regions of Asia.