During the video game revolution of the 1980s and 1990s, it seemed like no company could do wrong. That same sensibility carried over into the tech booms that came later. With each of those booms, people often felt like they could open a business, make a new product and just sit back and watch as millions rolled into their offices. As smartphones, tablets and other hand held devices increase in popularity, you might think that now is the perfect time to open a tech company. Before you do, check out some of the biggest tech flops and failures of all time.
Some tech experts, including GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons, believe that the failure of DIVX is one reason for the failure of electronics retailer Circuit City. Seeing the number of DVD players flying off the shelves, the company wanted to cash in on the market. Circuit City developed a new form of technology called DIVX that let customers rent movies to watch at home. Customers rented discs that used the DIVX technology and could keep those movies for two days before the coding disappeared. They could pay more to rent the movie for longer or toss the disc. DIVX lasted for less than one year.
Thanks to its Genesis game console, Sega was on top of the world in the 1980s and 1990s. Billed as a competitor to consoles from Nintendo, it survived for a number of years. Sega even released add-ons for the console, including a converter that played CDs and an adapter that let it play 36 bit games. The Dreamcast arrived in stores in 1999 and failed to make much of an impression. Within two years, Sega pulled it from the US market but continued selling it in foreign territories.
When Audrey landed in stores in 2000, you could buy a fully equipped and state of the art computer for less than $1,000, and you could buy a good laptop for around $500. The manufacturer behind Audrey, a little known company named 3Com, thought that families would love this little computer, which they named after iconic actress Audrey Hepburn. Billed as the perfect starter computer, the company claimed it was great for families and would serve as a good stepping stone into the computer world. Its slow operating system, bulky design and small screen made less of an impression on shoppers. Audrey was all but gone within a year.
Now known as one of the top smartphone manufacturers, Nokia once hoped to create a gaming phone. The end result was the N-Gage, which failed to attract many gamers. Priced at $299 when it landed in stores in 2000, it had a number of bulky and large buttons that were great for gaming but not so great for taking phone calls and a tiny screen that made playing games difficult. Though Nokia tried to replace the N-Gage with the N-Gage 2, both failed to make it big.
For every XBOX 360 or iPhone, there are dozens of devices that fail to attract much attention. Even giants in the tech world like Sega and Nokia had problems in the past. Those companies delivered such spectacular failures that few people even remember the more recent tech flops.