10 Inventions That Failed

Although sometimes used in novelty tours, the Segway is widely considered to be a failed invention.
Although sometimes used in novelty tours, the Segway is widely considered to be a failed invention.

Before releasing a product into the market, the manufacturer invests heavily in researching its viability in the market and has to ascertain positive consumer response before introducing it to the market. While most products become instant hits, some fail to live up to consumer expectations.

10. South Korea - Hyundai Excel

The Hyundai Excel is a subcompact car produced by South Korean manufacturer Hyundai and was the first front-wheel-drive car manufactured by the company. The car was introduced in the market in 1985 and was sold in foreign markets under different names such as Hyundai Pony Excel. Production of the Hyundai Excel was discontinued in 2000 after experiencing weak sales over several years.

9. United States - Pepsi AM

The Pepsi AM was a soda manufactured by Pepsi which contained higher levels of caffeine (up to 28% more) than other soda brands. The beverage company introduced the product in 1989 as Pepsi A.M. and was marketed as a breakfast drink as an alternative to coffee. However, the product was a failure with Pepsi failing to convince consumers the viability of drinking a can of soda in the morning. Pepsi discontinued the production of Pepsi AM in 1990.

8. Italy - Zastava Koral

The Zastava Koral is a super-mini car which was designed and produced in Italy. The Zastava Koral was originally designed as a Fiat 127 with a license from automobile company, Fiat. The car was introduced in the international market in 1977 and later to the US market in 1985 as the Yugo. The car was targeted to the low-income consumers with a cheap price tag. However, the Yugo’s reputation was devastated when one of its units was involved in a tragic accident in 1989 in Michigan which resulted in the death of a 31-year-old woman.

7. United States - Ford Pinto

Editorial credit: betto rodrigues / Shutterstock.com.

The Ford Pinto was a subcompact car manufactured by American automobile company, Ford. In years leading to its introduction to the market, the American automobile market had been flooded by Japanese brands whose subcompact cars had high demand. In response, Ford came up with the Ford Pinto which was introduced into the market in 1970. However, soon users began to report fires from the fuel tank after relatively minor rear-end accidents. The safety concern ruined the public perception of the Ford Pinto model and caused the company to make the largest car recall of the time. The Ford Pinto was included in a 2008 list of the Time Magazine of “The Fifty Worst Cars of All Time.”

6. Finland - Nokia-N-Gage

The Nokia N-Gage (a variation of the term “Engage”) was handheld gaming console which had a smartphone integrated with it developed by the Finnish company, Nokia. The developers of the gaming console saw the opportunity after realizing that gaming enthusiasts carried both gaming consoles and smartphones and thought of integrating the two. The N-Gage was introduced to the market in 2003 at a price of USD 299 but was poorly received. Some causes of the poor sales were the device’s design which resembled a taco and was nick-named the “taco phone.” The company discontinued the N-Gage’s production in 2005 after experiencing poor sales.

5. United States - McDonald's McDLT

The McDonald fast-food franchise introduced the McDonald’s McDLT burger in 1984 with the name being the acronym for McDonald’s Lettuce and Tomato. The sales concept of the McDLT was its novelty packaging where the bottom bun and meat were packed separately from the top bun, lettuce, pickles, sauces, tomato, and American cheese. The McDLT was an instant fail with consumers showing less interest in purchasing a fast-food item and then pack it themselves. Another item of concern was its packaging material, Styrofoam which was an environmental hazard. The McDLT was discontinued in 1991 after recording poor sales.

4. Switzerland - Logitech Fotoman

The Swiss company Logitech is commonly known for making computer mice. However, one of its most iconic innovations was the Dycam Model 1 or the Logitech Fotoman, the world’s first commercial digital camera. The camera featured a 1MB Ram which had the capacity to store about 32 images, an impressive feat at the time. Logitech launched the Dycam Model 1 in 1992. However, the camera was expensive, and users could only view images on a computer. These factors caused the downfall of the digital camera which recorded extremely low sales.

3. United States - Segway

Segways in use.

The Segway PT is an electric two-wheeled scooter which incorporates technology to achieve self-balancing. The Segway PT was supposed to be the biggest innovation of the 21st century with the venture capitalist, John Doer even claiming that it would become bigger than the internet. In the years preceding the scooter’s launch, Segway’s inventor, Dean Kamen estimated weekly sales of 10,000 units. However according to Forbes Segway only achieved sales 30,000 units in six years since its debut. While the Segway was a hit in its debut, it faced a social problem that led to its decline where traffic police harassed users as well as the public perception towards the Segway of inducing laziness.

2. France - Minitel

In the late 20th century, France made what was perhaps the greatest technological invention of its time; the Minitel. The Minitel was an internet equivalent which featured a monitor connected to the telephone network in what is termed as a Videotex online service. The service was rolled out nationally in 1982 after successive pilot programs conducted in Brittany in 1978. Through Minitel, users were able to access numerous services remotely including bank transactions, access to the stock market as well as remote purchases on travel tickets. While the invention was an instant hit in France, it was quickly overtaken by the global emergence of the internet in the 1990s and became obsolete at the turn of the 21st century.

1. United States - Apple Newton

The American technology giant Apple is known for setting trends in the digital space with the majority of Apple’s products quickly becoming instant hits. However, in the early 1990s, Apple launched a product which became its worst nightmare with critics terming it as Apple’s worst invention ever; The Apple Newton. A precursor to the modern tablet, The Apple Newton was a handheld device which was designed to serve as a digital personal assistant. The Apple Newton featured a touch screen which used handwriting recognizing software. While the device had great potential, the handwriting software required was complicated, a factor which significantly increased its price and ultimately caused the death of the Apple Newton.


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