The Worst Product Flops of 2012

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5. Nokia Lumia 900
> Company: Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)

The Lumia 900 was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show back in January, but sales were never able to take off. Although the phone debuted at just $100 with a two-year contract, AT&T soon dropped the price to $50 to improve sales — and even that didn’t work. A consistent criticism of the phone was that its screen resolution was weaker than competitor phones and, more importantly, that the Microsoft’s Windows operating platform had a shortage of apps. By November, Nokia started selling the Lumia 920, and early predictions for sales of the newer version were mixed. Nokia, once the world’s largest mobile phone maker, has steadily declined in recent years, losing significant market share to companies such as Samsung and Apple. In the third quarter of 2012, Nokia’s market share of smartphones was just 4.3%, according to Gartner Research.

6. “Pan Am”
> Company: Disney

Disney’s second product flop of the year comes from its television segment. “Pan Am,” which debuted in September 2011, was heavily promoted by ABC. With stars such as Christina Ricci, the show was meant to take off in the ratings. Excluding promotion, the cost of the pilot episode was $10 million. The show’s debut was strong, with more than 11 million viewers tuning in. However, by the time the last episode was aired in February, viewership was down to below 4 million. That same evening, 10 million people watched “CSI Miami” and 7.7 million people watched the season premier of “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Critics pointed to a host of issues, including a dull plot line and competition from other major shows. There were rumors that Amazon would pick up the show for its streaming service, but the contracts for the cast and crew had expired. The show was officially cancelled in May.

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7. Ultrabook
> Company: Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC)

When Intel released the Ultrabook, it looked to be the key competitor to Apple’s MacBook. That clearly has not happened. Earlier this year, research firm IHS had forecast that 22 million ultrabooks would be shipped by the end of 2012 and an additional 61 million would be shipped in 2013. However, by October, the firm changed its projections drastically, predicting that just 10 million would be sold this year, and only 44 million would be sold in 2013. The problem with the Ultrabook is twofold. Ultrabooks are highly expensive in a market where pricing is everything — the majority cost around $1,000. But the larger issue is the increasing movement to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. “There once was a time when everyone knew the ‘Dude you’re getting a Dell’ slogan,” IHS analyst Craig Stice said in the firm’s report. “Nowadays no one can remember a tag line for a new PC product, including for any single ultrabook.”

8. PlayStation Vita
> Company: Sony

Released first in Japan in December 2011 and then globally in February 2012, initial sales of the PlayStation Vita were encouraging. By the end of February, the company announced it had sold approximately 1.2 million units, followed by an additional 2 million units of software for the handheld game console. Yet sales quickly declined. From its release date to June 30, just 2.2 million PlayStation Vita units were sold, far less than the 3.6 million units Nintendo 3DS sold in just its first month. Recently, Sony has clumped sales of the Vita and its predecessor, the PSP, together to avoid highlighting embarrassing sales figures. Frequent complaints about the Vita were that the $300 price tag was too expensive and that its game lineup was both weak and small, especially given the availability of cheaper gaming through smartphones and tablets.

Samuel Weigley

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