The Worst Product Flops of 2013
1. Wii U
> Company: Nintendo
The anointed successor to Nintendo’s wildly successful Wii game console, the Wii U was launched late last year with all the fanfare expected of one of the three big players in the console arena. But the home of Super Mario and Donkey Kong found itself quickly falling behind in sales.
The Associated Press reported that while nearly 4 million units of the had been sold worldwide between November 2012 and the end of September, sales of Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One both surpassed 1 million units on just the first day of their respective launches. Wii U sales are also far short of the 9 million units the company said it would sell by the end of March 2014.
Following a drop in price, Wii U sales doubled to 300,000 units for the quarter ending Sept. 30. According to the company, the Wii U still has a negative impact on Nintendo’s profits, posting an $81 million quarterly loss.
Nintendo shares have lost more than three-quarters of their value since late 2007.
> Company: Lululemon Athletica
You could call this a case of bad exposure. Vancouver-based Lululemon had been riding the yoga craze for years, gaining traction with consumers for its stylish and high-end line of yoga clothing and accessories, along with other athletic apparel. But in March, complaints began to filter in about how the material used in some of the company’s costly (starting at around $100) yoga pants was so sheer it became see-through.
Lululemon quickly went into damage control mode, telling consumers the company was “100% committed to doing the right thing.” It pulled the affected product from both its stores and the company’s website and worked to replace the fabric in question. The recall cost the company an estimated $60 million — as well as a $17.5 million write-down on the affected inventory.
And that might have been the end of it, except that Lululemon founder Chip Wilson later told Bloomberg TV that, “’frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” when it comes to the brand’s yoga pants. That brief video clip soon went viral, much to Lululemon’s dismay. Wilson later apologized for his remark and ended up resigning as Lululemon’s chairman; the company also named a new CEO.
3. BlackBerry Q10
> Company: BlackBerry
After leading the pack for years in the smartphone market, BlackBerry has quickly watched its products become also-rans — falling behind touch-screen devices such as the iPhone and the Android-powered devices by Samsung. Launched over the summer of 2013, the keyboard-equipped Q10 — as well as its touch-screen sister, the Z10 — were considered BlackBerry’s last chance to get back in the game.
Industry analysts were, at first, encouraging. In a product preview, The New York Times technology blogger David Pogue even said that no smartphone on the market “offers a better combination of speed and accuracy for entering text” than the Q10.
But it appears the race may have been over before it even started, as consumers stayed away. In August, executives of wireless carriers and retailers told The Wall Street Journal that no one was buying the device. One owner and operator of more than a dozen Wireless Zone stores in the Midwest told the paper that he had to return most of the Q10s to the vendor after seeing “virtually no demand” for the device.
In September, BlackBerry announced it was cutting one-third of its staff, scaling back operations, and taking an inventory write-down of about $960 million for its fiscal second quarter.