15 Worst Product Failures and Flops From the Past 5 Years
Sometimes, a new product changes things forever. Companies like Apple, Google, and Uber have all done this. Other times, a concept performs so badly people remember it for years. These are the worst product failures in recent history. One McDonald’s menu item is the biggest flop of all (page 10).
1. Samsung Galaxy Note 7
The problem: product defect
In late 2017, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 had one of the most dangerous debuts ever. After its release, consumers reported that the smartphone’s batteries were spontaneously catching fire. This led to massive recalls, and millions, if not billions, in lost revenue. Fortunately, Samsung redeemed itself with future models. Fin24 Tech reported, “It is safe to assume the Note 7 won’t affect sales of the S8 – a truly well-crafted device.”
2. Watermelon Oreo
The problem: a bad flavor combination
A stroll down the cookie aisle at your local grocer will reveal Oreo and Chips Ahoy flavors you’d never expect, including Swedish Fish and birthday cake. Some are reasonable, but nothing will be quite as weird as the limited-edition Watermelon Oreo.
Next: Consumers shattered this glass experiment.
3. Google Glass
The problem: didn’t live up to consumer expectations
Google has created a lot of experimental tech, and plenty of it has found practical use. Google Glass was one of the most hyped products from Google headquarters; millions of people were psyched to try it. Unfortunately, it just didn’t really work out. We’ll see similar technology hit the market in the future. But Google Glass may have been ahead of its time.
Next: HP lost “touch” with reality when it released this product.
4. HP Touchpad
The problems: rushed production and a poor operating system
You shouldn’t half-ass things. HP learned this the hard way when it announced a product designed to rival the Apple iPad in 2011. The Touchpad barely got off the ground, however. With flawed software, bad marketing, and many other disappointing factors, the Touchpad is a case study for how not to create and release a tech product.
Next: An embarrassing error in the autos industry
5. Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
The problems: expensive and ugly
Do you remember the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet? This convertible SUV sold miserably before ending production in 2014. It “looked like an angry clothing iron,” according to auto expert Doug DeMuro, and it cost way too much ($48,000). Now the CrossCabriolet lands on several “worst cars of all time” lists.
Next: At least this Amazon product didn’t literally catch on fire.
6. Amazon Fire phone
The problems: high price, mediocre performance, and basic design
From drone deliveries to 3D printing, Amazon has wiggle room to experiment with tech. But its biggest failure so far may be the Fire phone, which released alongside the Fire tablet and bombed magnificently. Amazon took a $170 million loss, the company’s worst in years, on the Fire phone, and the “mediocre” product soon flamed out.
7. Nike FuelBand
The problem: crowded market
The world is saturated with fitness devices, and that includes all the Fitbits, Apple Watches, and Garmins of the world. Nike also waded into the fray with its FuelBand, actually pioneering the concept to a degree. The FuelBand lasted a while but was put to bed after four years in 2014. The fitness tracker space proved to be too crowded, ultimately leading to the FuelBand’s death.
Next: Even the President of the United States faces product failure.
8. Trump University
The problem: false advertising
Trump University was founded in 2005 as a for-profit education company to teach people to make money in the real estate industry. However, dissatisfied students sued the now-defunct business, alleging it used deceptive sales and marketing practices to defraud students. In April 2018, Trump University settled the lawsuit for $25 million.
Next: Burger King couldn’t have it their way.
9. Burger King’s Satisfries
The problem: making a “healthy” guilty pleasure
People eat fries because they’re delicious, not because they’re healthy. But Burger King tried to have it both ways and developed Satisfries — reduced-fat fries with fewer calories. The menu item didn’t catch on after its 2013 debut and BK phased out the fries less than a year later.
Next: McDonald’s biggest flop in years
10. McDonald’s Wings
The problems: high cost, too spicy, and odd appearance
McDonald’s has conducted many food experiments, like spaghetti and mozzarella sticks. But one product never made sense: the Mighty Wings. Debuted in 1990, these hot wings lasted until 2003 and returned briefly in 2013. They didn’t last, however. Most consumers deemed the Mighty Wings too spicy and expensive. Many also felt the wings looked like McNuggets with bones attached.
Next: Consumers aren’t convinced about this Apple product.
11. Apple Watch
Calling the Apple Watch a failure is a bit unfair. Many people like the smartwatches, and the company just unveiled the next generation. The Apple Watch didn’t sell well, however, and consumers still aren’t completely on board with a smartwatch that requires a smartphone. The jury’s still out on this one.
Next: Do you remember this popular app?
The problem: a poorly handled PR nightmare
A popular social media network for a period of time, Vine wasn’t a traditional failure. As a sort of Twitter for video, Twitter actually acquired it. But Vine couldn’t make it with the likes of Instagram and Snapchat becoming more popular. It was canned in 2016 but still exists in the form of Vine Camera.
Next: Have you flown on this airline since its PR disaster?
13. United Airlines
The problem: a poorly handled PR nightmare
This isn’t a product, per se, but it is a service. United Airlines deserves a spot on this list for violently hauling a 69-year-old man off one of its flights to make room for company employees. The incident was caught on camera, and United suffered one of the biggest PR fails of all time. It’s been hard for travelers to forget the images of a bloodied, concussed man being dragged off of a plane by police officers anytime soon.
Next: Consumers have better things to spend their money on.
14. 3D television
The problems: high price and mediocre performance
Third time’s the charm, right? Not in the case of 3D TV, which several companies have tried and failed each and every time. It’s not even a new technology. It’s actually something that’s been brought to the market a couple times before the most recent wave of products. People just don’t seem to want it.
Interestingly enough, it looks like virtual reality is catching on, so we might end up skipping 3D TV completely and going to headsets within a few years. That’s assuming Oculus Rift doesn’t wind up on a list of product failures in the future, of course.
Next: Everything about this production was embarrassing.
15. 47 Ronin
The problems: confusing script, production disparities, and bad marketing
The 2013 movie starred Keanu Reeves and became one of the biggest Hollywood busts ever. According to Variety, 47 Ronin was supposed to be a sort of Lord of the Rings in 1700s Asia. With a budget of $175 million (not counting promo costs), the script was rewritten many times and the release date was pushed back twice. It finished sixth on opening weekend and grossed only $20 million in its first five days.