For every success there is a heap of failures. Consumerism is often a game of creating demand or problems just to sell a solution; and all of these seemingly pointless products are no different. From exploding cellphones to 95 decibel chip bags we count down 15 of the most spectacular product flops ever. Just what were the designers thinking when they made these things?
1. Google Glass
Do you remember Google Glass? It may have felt like yesterday but these overly hyped spectacles hit the market in 2013 before disappearing. The glasses wanted to blur the lines between a phone and eyewear but the end result was simply too clunky and ugly for most customers. On top of the unstylish design, the glasses had privacy issues, low battery life, and a host of bugs that led to its discontinuation in 2015.
2. Crystal Pepsi
Though we look back at Crystal Pepsi fondly, it was not nearly as memorable back in its 1992 heyday. Pepsi wanted to appeal to a healthier crowd so they introduced the clear, caffeine free cola. Though the beverage had strong initial sales it fizzled out two years later and was discontinued. Crystal Pepsi has made some rare rereleases since its end however.
3. Samsung Galaxy Note 7
If the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 doesn’t ring any bells, its exploding battery problem might jog your memory. The phone became infamous in 2016 for catching fire during a Southwest Airlines flight which had to be evacuated. The Department of Transportation even made the phone illegal to be brought on commercial fights which led to Samsung ceasing production of the phone.
4. EZ Squirt
Do any Millennials remember this chromatic phenomenon back when they were a kid? Life sure is better with more color, but ketchup? Well, we’re not so sure. Heinz wanted to cater their classic ketchup to children so their solution was to make color it with zany colors of vibrant green and blue. Though EZ Squirt saw initial success, consumers probably realized that the condiment resembled paint more than anything else. Heinz discontinued the product in 2006.
5. SunChip’s Eco-Friendly Bag
It’s a nice gesture when company make biodegradable packaging, so when SunChips stepped up to the plate to make eco-friendly bags people listened. The only thing wrong was the bags were earth-shatteringly loud. And no, that is no hyperbole. When SunChips released the new bag they instantly received complaints. Well, how bad was it? The bags produced an astonishing 95 decibels! The culprit was the biodegradable corn-based biopolymer which was amazingly loud. Frito Lay discontinued the compostable bags in 2010. So much for the environment!
Another one-time fad that went the same way as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7; up in flames. From 2015 to 2016, the hoverboard craze not only swept the nation but also sent thousands into hospitals. 26,000 ER visits spelled doom for the two-wheeled toy which were sold by the millions with unstable batteries. Though today’s hoverboards have quality-assured batteries, the damage and reputation of the product had already been done.
7. Fidget Spinners
Another fad from recent memory. The fidget spinner terrorized parents and teachers during the summer of 2017. Kids everywhere had the cheap spinning toys and soon the public was inundated with them. For many companies it was a get-rich scheme that soon fizzled out with the popularity of the toy. Later that year it was revealed that the toys contained high amounts of lead and were a choking hazard, but by then the fidget spinner was long forgotten.
The Betamax has to be one of the most infamous product failures in history. As the story goes, the Betamax lost out to the less superior VHS tape despite coming out first. So what happened? Sony, Betamax’s creator, refused to license out their design to other companies, while JVC, creator of the VHS, did the opposite. This led to more VHS tapes being produced and more readily available. Despite its better picture and sound, the Betamax went the way of the dodo.
9. Mens Rompers (or RompHims)
A few summers ago mens rompers were all the buzzy rage, yet they’ve almost vanished as quickly as they appeared. Popularity for the polarizing male fashion trend peaked in 2017 but never enough to sustain market saturation. Though you can still buy mens rompers today you would be a little hard-pressed to find any guys wearing them in public this summer.
10. Cheetos Lip Balm
When it comes to products some companies should stick with what they’re good at. This especially applies to Frito Lay who decided to make a Cheetos lip balm in 2005. Most people enjoy mint, cherry, and vanilla flavored lip balm. But cheese flavored? Not so much.
11. Twitter Peek
If you use Twitter you probably access it from your phone, right? So why carry a completely new device when your smart phone can do the exact same thing? These are the same questions on our mind regarding Twitter’s decision to make an email and Twitter-only phone back in 2008. Though the device was compact and low-cost at $99 it failed to catch on with consumers. Maybe it was the outrageous $200 subscription fee.
12. Facebook Home
Sure, social media is fun, but what was it about every site trying to make their own phone? If Twitter couldn’t get their own phone off the ground then Facebook was sure to fail. Even a partnership with HTC couldn’t coax customers into buying the proprietary phone. Plagued by underperforming hardware the device fell flat– even after AT&T slashed the phone’s price from $99 to .99 cents. However its still not as big of a flop of Facebook’s Metaverse.
The realm of social media used to be more crowded back in the day. Competing along Facebook and MySpace was Friendster. Introduced in 2002, the media site had many of the same things to offer as competitors, but was plagued with crashes and slow loading times. Developers also failed to beef up site integrity as it grew causing an exodus of users. By 2015, Friendster shut down for good, losing out to Facebook.
14. Lifesavers Soda
In 1995 Lifesavers decided to take a crack at the beverage industry with their own soda. Though the soft drink boded well in consumer testing, it was less than popular on the market. The drink had flavors in pineapple, orange punch, grape punch, and lime punch, but its association as liquid hard candy most likely led to its failure.
15. Mobile ESPN
So we’ve seen a Twitter phone, a Facebook phone, and now another cellular device that predates both of those. Introducing, the Mobile ESPN phone! In 2006, ESPN launched the phone and service that would give fans unlimited access to stats and video from the palm of their hand. The only catch was that it was a $400 Sanyo flip-phone that required a $40 month subscription service. The project shuttered after a year, costing Disney $150 million.