Elon Musk once said – “Great companies are built on great products “. This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, companies create great hype on some of their products, but these products fail to live up to public expectations. This is a list of such types of products. Most products on this list have been discontinued, but some like the Segway still live on.
1 Segway Personal Transporter
The Segway Personal Transporter is a battery powered electric vehicle produced by Segway Inc. It has two wheels and a handle. It uses sensors, gyroscopes, accelerometers and motors to balance the weight of the person standing on it and move forward. Its cost varies from 3000$ to 8000$. Its maximum speed is 17 miles per hour and charge time is one hour. It can also charge by itself on going downhill.
Apple Co-founder Steve Jobs himself called the Segway, “as big a deal as the PC”. The original vision of its inventor Dean Kamen was to replace all short distance vehicles with Segways and banish cars from urban areas. However, this did not happen. Coupled with its high price and slow speed, consumers did not consider it valuable enough.
Even a book titled “CODE NAME GINGER: The Story Behind Segway” was released on the failure of the Segway. In 2015, Segway Inc., was bought by the Chinese company Ninebot.
Nowadays, Segways can only be seen with airport and mall security, at launch events, and some amusement parks, which is really short of Dean’s original dream.
2 Apple Lisa
The Apple Lisa was a personal computer developed by Apple in 1983. It offered graphical user interface and was one of the first computers to do so. Having up to 2 megabytes of RAM, a 5 megahertz CPU, and a proprietary Lisa OS, it was considered fairly advanced for its time.
According to Apple, ‘Lisa’ stood for ‘Local Integrated System Architecture’, however, Steve Jobs later confessed that it was named after his daughter, Lisa Brennan.
The Lisa cost $9995, and that is equal to a whopping $27,300 nowadays. It was a product that revolutionized the world of computing, but its potential buyers were hesitant to buy because of its high price. As a result, it was a commercial failure and sold less than 100,000 units. The only large buyer of the Lisa was NASA, which used it for project management.
Apple’s next product, the Macintosh was faster and much cheaper and thus hastened the Lisa’s demise. A later version of the Lisa was then renamed as the Macintosh XL.
Being a failure, the Lisa is not given much historical importance however, it was the computer that introduced Graphical User Interface to the masses. Today, a Lisa in working condition is worth a hundred times its real value.
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3 Tata Nano
The Tata Nano is a compact car launched by Tata Motors in 2008. The highlight of this car is its price point. It was launched at a price range of $2200 – $2500. It was (and is still) by far the cheapest car in the world.
It was designed to lure India’s lower middle class away from two wheelers and introduce them to cars. An Indian rating agency CRISIL, estimated that the Nano would expand India’s car market by 65%.
Sadly, this did not happen. Firstly, it was still too expensive compared to a motorcycle. Secondly, it was touted as ‘the car of the poor’. People did not like this tagline and didn’t buy the car. Even the then chairman of the Tata Group, Ratan Tata admitted that this was a huge mistake. To add insult to the injury, this car also suffered from some incidents of it catching fire.
The Tata Nano did not replace two wheelers and was not acquired by the masses but can still be seen traveling the roads among other cars. An improved model, the Tata Nano GenX was launched in 2015.
4 MSN TV
Most of us have heard about smart televisions which can view email, browse the web and even play games. But that’s modern technology. Back in the ’90s, it was big deal. That was the time when a small startup called WebTV Networks Inc., started a service which turned your television into a net browsing machine with a relatively cheap $350 (approximately) hardware.
This service, called WebTV worked with a plug and play set top box adapter, an infra-red keyboard and connected to the web via a technology called cable internet access. But under the hood, it was a different story. It ran on limited resources, sporting an 112 MHz MIPS CPU, and relied upon a slow speed 33.6 kilo bit/s dial-up connection.
At that time, it was estimated to be a huge success. WebTV Networks for purchased by Microsoft in 1997. Even though it’s initial popularity, it never crossed the million subscriber mark. Its sales fell rapidly. It was re-branded as MSN TV in 2001 and a new model with hugely improved specs and a cheaper price was released in 2004.
Despite all this, the trend never caught on and the user base declined to nearly non-existent. This concept was revived with the advent of smart TVs, however, Microsoft was not part of it. On September 30, 2013, Microsoft quietly shut down the service and it went unnoticed by all.
5 Facebook Phone
The Facebook phone or the HTC first was an Android smartphone developed by HTC specifically for Facebook browsing and staying connected to social media.
It ran on Android 4.1 with a custom skin developed by Facebook for Android smartphones called ‘Facebook Home’. Although it was marketed as flagship, it had mid-range specs like a 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor with support for 4G, a 2000 mAh battery, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of non-expandable storage. Other features included a 4.3-inch display, and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera.
This phone stressed on social media and neglected other apps. Due to this cause, few people purchased it and even fewer liked it. According to some reports, it sold even fewer than 15,000 units. Its launch in the United Kingdom was canceled and this phone was literally sold at a fraction of its price. After the failure of this phone, Facebook abandoned its ‘Facebook Home’ skin and not another ‘Facebook phone’ has been released ever since.
6 Google Answers
You’ve heard of Yahoo Answers. Right? But have you heard about Google Answers? Well…most of you haven’t.
It was an online question and answer site started by Google in 2002 as a successor to Google’s own ‘Questions And Answers Service’. It later became rival to Yahoo Answers, but it differed from the latter in a few ways.
While Yahoo Answers focused on community-based answers, its Google counterpart gave paid, well-researched answers. But Google forgot that people prefer inexpensiveness over quality, and that’s the reason that it is here in this list today.
Google Answers never became popular due to heavy competition from various other rival Q & A sites.
The website was available in English, Russian and Arabic. It offered categories like arts, entertainment, science, family, sports, computers and a few more.
Due to lack of usage and popularity, this Google service was officially ended on December 1, 2006 and all activity was stopped. However, an archive of the answers can still be viewed on www.answers.google.com