Worst tech launches ever

News that the WebOS tablet is set to be scrapped is big news having only been available for a couple of months. Question is, does it rank as one of the worst tech launches ever?

First impressions last, so for a piece of tech to join the gadget gods, such as the Apple iPad 2 and or the Samsung Galaxy S2, it must wow us from day one. No glitches, no injuries and no product recalls.

 

With news that HP is halting production of the TouchPad and Pre hardware just months after the WebOS packing tablet device launched, we select our most spectacular failures to launch in recent tech history.

 

Apple iPhone 4 (2010)

Apple was so impressed by its own design handywork, it seemingly forgot to check the iPhone 4 actually worked. Steve Jobs' answer to the reception-killing grip of doom,? "Just hold it differently." Failing that you could cover the gorgeous stainless edges band with tape, nail polish or buy a £25 rubber band from Apple. With 1.7 million sales in three days, it's the most successful failed launch of all time.

 

Clackers (1971)

Place your finger in the ring, let the balls hang below, move your hand in an up and down motion and let them swing until they clack together repeatedly. These acrylic balls were based on the design of a weapon and were pulled from sale in 1971 after sending scores of kids to hospital with cracked knuckles. Eye injures also resulted when the balls exploded without warning. It's a hard life being a teenager.

 

Digital Convergence CueCat (2000)

Hey T3 subscribers, want a cat-shaped barcode scanner that'll give you quick and easy access from this page, direct to our advertisers' websites? What do you mean no? Back in 2000, they (meaning ads teams on the snout for extra commission) thought it was a great idea to supply magazine subscribers with these feline-shaped monstrosities that allowed readers to willingly plug-in the tail and summon pop-ups. It was phased out in 2001 after exposing personal data to hackers and was being sold for as much as 20p in 2005.

 

Enter the Matrix (2003)

Want to know why the Matrix Reloaded movie reduced the world to tears, aside from than the terrible acting, convoluted plotlines, ridiculous dialogue and 25-minute action set-pieces? Well the Wachowski brothers saved all the best bits, including 2 hours of live-action cut scenes, for this unfinished, unplayable video game rushed out for release on the same day. In theory it was was supposed to expand the Matrix universe, in practice it left both movie and gaming audiences reaching for the damn blue pill. You couldn't even play as Neo.

 

Google Buzz (2010)

Google's new Facebook and Twitter competitor automatically signed up all 170m of its Gmail users and suddenly we were all following our entire address book. Worst of all, it revealed to the world the people we emailed the most. Adulterers worldwide breathed a sigh of relief as Google was forced to change tact days later, but the damage was done. Allegedly, Google Buzz has been cited in more divorce settlements than it has members.

 

Google Nexus One (2010)

When the tech world prepared itself for an epochal shift in the smartphone landscape no-one was keeping shop at the new Google store. Those who bought the problematic device found no support line and a three-day wait for email replies. Without network affiliation, the SIM-free handset sold just 135,000 in the first 74 days. There'll be no Nexus Two.

 

HP TouchPad, Pre, WebOS (2011)

HP was going to give the Palm-based WebOS operating system the much needed boost it needed and when the HP TouchPad launched in late June 2011, it was widely received as a decent first entry from HP in the tablet market. Fast forward just two months later and not only has the TouchPad been scrapped, but WebOS and the Pre smartphone range has gone with it no doubt leaving users scratching their heads as to what to do with their now defunct HP kit.

 

Motorola ROKR E1 (2005)

Before the smartphone iPhone entered our lives, Apple decided to test the waters with a Motorola by delivering a candybar handset boasting full support for iTunes. One rather major snag was that you could only store up to 100 songs on the device. Add to that the amount of time it took to load ten of your favourite iTunes-bound albums, an unattractive interface and the ROKR was a resounding fail.

 

Nokia Comes With Music (2009)

What a great idea! £130 for a phone and a year's subscription to unlimited music downloads, and you get to keep the tunes afterwards Great until you realise you can only play them on a bargain basement 5310 handset and not the super-cool 5800 Xpress Music handset launched on the same day, with a great player and good speakers. Nokia eventually dropped the DRM-protection and widened the range of handsets, but as of April 2009 it had snagged the cash of just 23,000 subscribers.

 

Nokia N-Gage (2003)

Gameboy ruled the roost when it came to sitting in the backseat of your mum and dad's car on a road trip to Cornwall, but that didn't stop a certain Finnish mobile manufacturer wade in on the portable gaming market. The N-Gage was supposed to be the ultimate mobile/gaming crossover device, but the problem was, it didn't to either of those things very well. It's unfriendly shape and button layout were no match for Nintendo's iconic device, and now only the games live on in the Ovi Store realms.

 

North Korea's satellite launch (2009)

Here's a failed launch in the truer sense of the world. The world wagged a disapproving finger on April 5th 2009 when North Korea attempted to send a satellite into space. While Kim Jong-il's government proclaimed a "proud achievement made out of our battle to upgrade our country's space scientific technology," rather than a suspected long-range missile test, the world sniggered as the rocket plopped into the ocean.

 

Rise of the Robots (1994)

Street Fighter meets The Terminator with best-ever graphics and a score from Brian May? What could go wrong? Well, everything. A hopelessly sparse and impossible to perform moveset for each Robot was nullified when gamers realised that computer 'droids could be beaten with a repeated use of a flying kick. May's score was canned, when his record company saw what was coming.

 

Sony Ericsson Satio (2009)

Poor Satio had big shoes to fill, blending the iconic Cybershot and Walkman brands in to one superphone. It had a great cam, great music player and a multi-million pound ad campaign, but just like the England footy team, it froze under the weight of expectation. No, really, it froze. The device suffered terrible firmware, software and power management issues and was pulled from the shops within weeks. Even Carphone Warehouse binned it, presumably because the staff couldn't figure out how to pronounce it.

 

Virtual Boy (1995)

When the Nintendo 3DS was but a distant dream, Nintendo felt they had already nailed this 3D graphics lark. Gunpei Yokoi the man behind Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros, was the chief figure behind the 32-bit handheld that gave some gamers headaches and had a distinct lack of games to play on it. Financial misfortune soon followed for use and seller respectively.

 

Windows Vista (2007)

Microsoft COO, Kevin Turner is calling the iPhone 4 fiasco Apple's Vista after the failed Windows OS bombed so badly, not even a Jerry Seinfield/Bill Gates advertising campaign could save it. Vista notably suffered from rather hefty hardware requirements, and Microsoft even offered the option to downgrade back to Windows XP, if customers were not satisfied, which was quite a lot.

 

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