How-To Geek

14 Epic Tech Failures [Infographic]

Some of these epic technology failures you’ll recall–like the short lived Swatch Internet Time Watches. Others, like the Gizmondo handheld console, you probably never even heard of.

Courtesy of Mashable’s infographics department, we get a glimpse at 14 of the more notable consumer technology and web site failures over the last two decades. Want a high res version of the infographic? Hit up the link below. Can’t believe they made LaserDiscs until 2000? Have a failure to add to the list? Let’s hear about it in the comments.

14 Epic Tech Fails That Will Live In Infamy [Mashable]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/30/11

Comments (28)

  1. Hatryst

    I really felt something when I saw #14

    N-Gage QD was one of the best phones I’ve ever used, and I miss it (I bricked it, don’t ask). BTW, the problem lies in the infographic itself. They’re mentioning the first N-Gage (tilt sideways to talk) and the image shows the N-Gage QD, which, according to me, is the most appealing phone ever made by Nokia. Back when it was new, you could hold it in front of a crowd, and 8 out of 10 people would be curious to see what it is :)

  2. Arston

    True. I don’t think N-Gage should be in that list.

  3. Wayne

    DIVX is still alive and well. A lot of online video is streamed using DIVX technology.

    Tablet PCs are also still alive and well. My daughter uses an HP Touchsmart tablet PC for schoolwork. HP and others still make and sell this form factor.

  4. x3geek

    Another american thinking Nokia was failure everywhere else.

  5. Wayne

    2 things I I also have to disagree with on the list:

    -The Iomege ZIP drive was very successful in it’s time. What killed it was the USB thumb drives.
    -Also #11, the convertible laptop. That’s a niche market device, not a failure. Up until the iPad, numerous doctors swore by those laptops/tablets.

  6. Raj

    Thumbs up for x3geek’s reply

  7. Kerensky97

    I agree with Wayne, alot of these device did good even if it wasn’t tech journalists using them; I think this is one of the examples of the overuse of the term Epic Fail.

    Laserdiscs weren’t as popular as VHS but staying on for 22 years is an accomplishment.
    SonyRolly is a niche product NOT and iPod competitor.
    Internet Currency is still coming and going now, just because some 90’s companies went bust doesn’t meant the idea is gone (I guess people don’t order flowers online because FTD died in the dot com bust?).
    HD DVD held out a long time and for a long time nobody knew if BluRay or HDDVD would win. Coming in a close second can’t be defined as an epic fail.

  8. horizonguy

    I agree with other posts…Zip drives were (almost) a standard for delivering larger amounts of data vs. tons of floppies, especially for the print and advertising industries. Divx is also still very widely used, especially for downloaded/torrent content. It offers decent quality vs. file size.

  9. Bruce

    It’s ludicrous to have Laserdisc on this list.
    It was a very successful format for high quality home feature film viewing for almost 20 years.
    It would have been far more appropriate to list the RCA Selectavision Videodisc as an epic fail.
    (Reading video with a needle and grooves?)

  10. datdamonfoo

    I don’t think people understand the difference between the DivX codec and DIVX, a video format that was for renting movies. Even though they share the same name, they are not related.

  11. zzzsyk

    Nokia N-Gage “The taco phone” lol

  12. jeffeb3

    @datamonfoo you are correct. I used to work at circuit city when they sold divx players. They were a dvd player, but about $100 more expensive (dvd players cots ~$300 at the time). They aren’t related to the divx codec at all. They were just dvds, but they included drm, so you had to plug your player into your home phone (who has that anymore?) and it would call in when you watched the movie, and refuse to play 2 days after the disc first called home. I think they mostly failed because people weren’t used to the idea that the DVD they were throwing away had a $20 movie on it, and they just couldn’t watch it. It was only a year or two after they last player left the shelf that the dvd + divx codec started showing up in dvd players, and the cost of that player was ~$50 (apex anyone?).

  13. Randolph McGhee

    Seems like the common thread of the comments is that this infographic is dumb. I’d personally disagree with many of the items on there. The people that make these infographics often seem to be clueless.

  14. jeb

    I’m surprised they didn’t call the VHS a “failure” since it’s no longer around either!

  15. Robby

    That’s it! I’m making an infographic about horrible infographics!

  16. infmom

    I don’t think the Zip disk is necessarily an epic failure. It could have been more successful if Iomega had found a way to bring the price way down and had dealt with the “click of death” in a timely manner.

    PS. The infographic is blurry and hard to read in that monochrome brown format. I’m just sayin’.

  17. Hunter

    I have issue calling HD DVD a tech failure; HD DVD was a tech success! It was better than Bluray because it was much cheaper to produce the discs and more importantly cost $0 to license and the diodes were cheaper. The first HD DVD players debuted at $600, the first Bluray at $1000+ for comparable if not exactly the same audio/video quality.

    I remember when every journalist in tech was sounding the death knell for Bluray as Warner Bros was expected to sign exclusively with HDDVD, as the pornography industry already had. But at the 11th hour a deal from Sony involving at least $300 million in payoff swung warner the other way.

    HDDVD did not fail on tech. HDDVD failed because Sony could not afford to lose this particular format war, having already bundled and marketed it at a loss with every single PS3. Death for Bluray meant the end of the PS3 as a console competitor and tons of R&D and manufacturing investment. Considering that Sony has ALWAYS lost its format wars since then, it is understandable that they would make an investment to win this one. But let it be known that at the time of HDDVD’s demise, HDDVD players were less than half the cost of the cheapest Bluray player.

  18. thor

    However, there was a silver lining for the Divx player debacle. It really was a perfectly functional DVD player as well. When Circuit City started closing them out, it was the first unit I noticed available for under $200, and so was my first DVD player (I still have it on a shelf in my junk room).

  19. Jeremiah

    I worked at Best Buy (selling phones) when the ESPN phone came out. It was indeed not our best selling item. Only really big sports fanatics bought it. The real problem everyone had was there was only a selection of two phones (one being the flip) and were cheaply made with very poor graphics.

  20. Ryan

    I’m in engineering in my freshman year and we all are required to have a tablet PC. I like it, we can interact in the class and do are hw on them. They are expensive but they do have there benefits.

  21. Rashad

    You should add your list to the the top of itself.

    Or sit back and think about what a tech failure is:
    Is it something that was successful for a brief period (till technology evolved)? Then ok.
    But if (more correctly) it is something that never got off the ground, then you got a lot of them wrong.

    By your reckoning the Sony Walkman was a dismal failure – as were a zillion other terrific gadgets/ideas that burnt brightly for a while…

  22. Funkus

    My candle burns at both its ends,
    It will not last the night;
    But oh, my foes, and ah, my friends,
    It gives a lovely light.

    … Was the horse a faillure?

  23. MrZ

    Actually the Zip drive was a pretty good devie let me tell you back in the day you needed one if you worked anywhere near graphic design. What actually killed it was there were so many competing incompatible formats. you had the Zipdisk, the SUperdisk, the Sydisk, to name a few and not to mention the Jazz drive… these were all btw incompatible with each other. Everyone who had any of those devices swapped them out for a CdR-Drive as soon as they hit the market and never looked back. The adoption of thumbrives was just the dirt on the casket.

  24. Pras

    I had the QD and it was the best phone I ever owned !!! A lot of people were so impressed by mine they got one themselves. It does not deserve to be on the list.

  25. Russ

    I think I understand the logic of this article! I’ll write some more for Part 2:

    15. CRT monitors: big, bulky and ugly – these soon gave way to the much slimmer and inexpensive LCD displays.

    16. 386 processors: slow and expensive, why would anyone have used these when much faster chips like the Intel i5 or the AMD Athlons were just years away? Huge Epic Failure.

  26. dlgn

    People still use HD-DVD today. Just saying.

  27. Dudemeister

    Hmm… i think they forgot the MiniDisc

  28. kink

    Yeah, Internet Currency is NOT dead, just look @ bitcoin. It is an internet currency and it is flourishing, but still has problems (thieves).

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