It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so we like to tell ourselves. Product launches, new products, new products, new products. But does it live up to our wildest expectations? Here are some of the best-known - and worst-known - product flops of the last 10 years.
Ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing’s Chinese drivers are protesting that their earnings have not kept up with the soaring value of the company's stock in recent months. Didi had raised $15 billion from mega-rich backers including Alibaba Group and Apple, giving it a valuation approaching $120 billion. But its stock price has fallen more than 50 percent since mid-2018.
Will the new breed of cross-platform search tools marketed to PC, smartphone and smart TV users finally yield a super-fast computer that requires just a click, instead of the act of having to open an app?
Here's a look at some of the biggest product flops over the last decade.
Drunken driving declines each year. But the death toll remains. Diageo, the maker of Johnnie Walker whisky, in 2017 released a new model of its liqueur that promised not to leave users intoxicated for more than five minutes. Was Diageo’s new 10-minute-rule idea really a non-starter? The media looked on, and its very own 10-minute rule press conference was a one-hit wonder.
What if we changed the words “breakfast for dinner” into “breakfast for bacon and eggs” instead? That’s the question Lighter Lunch, the Swiss startup that sent bacon and eggs boxes to users’ doorsteps in June 2017, posed to consumers. What was their response? Within three months, the company ceased sales and saw its valuation plummet by more than 75 percent.
Messy dry cleaning.
By 2016, Kim Kardashian West had made her mark on the fashion world and collaborated with Kanye West on the Yeezy brand. The pair raised $200 million in venture capital funding. But that didn’t save Yeezy, which rebranded itself as JustLaundry in May 2017 and shut down its operations in the following year.
Bright red inbox.
Samsung’s "Innova" project demonstrated the popularity of its Galaxy smartphones in 2010, when its chief executive, J.K. Shin, called the concept "the best innovation we’ve done in years." But the electronics giant’s inoperable Christmas toy, a limited edition version of its Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, was a bit of a disappointment. Samsung announced that it would pull the plug on the inoperable toy in August 2016, over claims it’d cause electronics-related fires.
The demise of Samsung’s Innova operation wasn’t the only product failure last year. Earlier in 2018, TCL’s 6-inch phone failed to find its audience, costing it an estimated $1 billion and nearly failing it.
Home digital assistants.
I can remember the days when when Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant were first coming out, the biggest thing on our minds was whether they would “get me low” or “get me caught.” Since then, we’ve grown accustomed to being able to ask them any question and they’ll respond with every expectation, their only job to answer us in words. But, if only for a moment, for several months all we wanted was to control our homes remotely, over the internet. That was VoiceAssist, a voice-controlled assistant that did the unpacking for you. But, as it turns out, nobody wanted it. Amazon and Google refused to upgrade their voice assistants to the capability. The digital assistant died in 2017.
Drunk driving declines each year. But the death toll remains. Diageo, the maker of Johnnie Walker whisky, in 2017 released a new model of its liqueur that promised not to leave users intoxicated for more than five minutes. Was Diageo’s new 10-minute-rule idea really a non-starter? The media looked on, and its very own 10-minute rule press conference was a one-hit wonder.