Special Report

18 Worst Product Flops of All Time

Before Heinz EZ Squirt, ketchup was always varying shades of the same red color. To cater to kids, who were — and still are — among ketchup’s largest groups of consumers, Heinz began producing purple, green, and blue EZ Squirt ketchup in matching, vibrantly colored squeeze bottles. At first, the colorful ketchup was a huge success. With the company’s expensive promotion of EZ Squirt, which included a tie-in with the “Shrek” movies, Heinz ketchup’s market share rose to 60% in 2002 for the first time, according to the company. The novelty wore off quickly, however, and not long after its introduction, sales of EZ Squirt began to decline. In January 2006, less than six years after its debut, Heinz halted production of the colorful product.

17. TouchPad
> Holding company:
Hewlett Packard
> Year released: 2011
> Company revenue when released: $126.0 billion

The TouchPad was Hewlett Packard’s attempt to compete with the Apple iPad. Hewlett Packard unveiled the device in the middle of 2011 with an extremely costly advertising campaign. The rollout incorporated numerous celebrity contracts. The New York Times estimated the company’s marketing budget for the product at roughly $15 billion, which was the difference between the company’s $41.5 million marketing budget in the first quarter of 2011 and the $26.4 million budget in the previous year’s quarter. By late summer, however, box stores such as Best Buy were sitting on excess inventory, and HP began offering steep discounts. Many discounted TouchPads were sold at a loss.

18. Google Glass
> Holding company:
Google
> Year released: 2013
> Company revenue when released: $55.5 billion

Google first announced Google Glass — a head-mounted display with smartphone applications — to the public in 2012 in a post on the Google Plus social network. It began with a statement of principle: “We think technology should work for you — to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t.” After two years of disappointing sales, it was clear that consumers did not need Google Glass. Google stuck to its principle and in 2015 discontinued development on the technology. While Google would not release any official figures on Glass’ market performance, low sales were not the primary reason for taking it off the market. Privacy concerns, reported bugs, low battery life, bans from public spaces, and an inability to live up to the extensive hype it received all stymied public adoption of the technology. Google is currently developing a new version of the product.

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