Special Report

50 Worst Product Flops of All Time

Source: Het brein at Dutch Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

16. DH 106 Comet
> Company: De Havilland
> Year introduced: 1949
> What it was: Airplane

We now take jet travel for granted, but the development of a commercially viable jetliner involved a great deal of trial, error, and some utter failures. De Havilland, a British aircraft manufacturer, developed the Comet, the first commercial jet airliner. Unfortunately, within a few years of its 1949 debut, the Comet encountered several unexplained fatal crashes, including planes overrunning the runway and one exploding in midair. The Comet’s reputation plummeted, and while De Havilland scrambled to redesign the plane, American companies Douglas and Boeing took over the industry.

Source: Jeremy from Sydney, Australia / Wikimedia Commons

17. DeLorean DMC-12
> Company: Delorean Motor Company
> Year introduced: 1981
> What it was: Sports car

In 1973, auto executive John DeLorean left General Motors to form the DeLorean Motor Company. After years of production delays, the DeLorean DMC-12 was released in January 1981. The car’s unique design was poorly received, however, and by 1982 less than half of the 7,000 DeLorean units produced had been sold. The DeLorean is widely recognized due to its use as a converted time machine in the “Back to the Future” series. However, the first of these films was released in 1985, far too late to save the ill-fated brand. DeLorean filed for bankruptcy in 1982.

Source: Courtesy of Heinz

18. EZ Squirt
> Company: Heinz
> Year released: 2000
> Company revenue when released: Ketchup

Before EZ Squirt, ketchup was always varying shades of red. 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. 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 product.

Source: Mike Russell / Wikimedia Commons

19. United States Football League
> Company: USFL
> Year introduced: 1982
> What it was: Sports league

Conceived as a way to satiate America’s appetite for football in the spring and summer months, the United States Football League was introduced in 1982. The league originally consisted of 12 teams, one of which, the New Jersey Generals, was owned by President Donald Trump. The league was beset with problems, not the least of which was finding stadiums to play in. Ultimately, over half a dozen teams folded when the league’s brain trust decided to compete directly with the NFL by scheduling games in the fall. By 1985, the league was finished.

Source: Courtesy of Facebook

20. Home
> Company: Facebook
> Year introduced: 2013
> What it was: Mobile phone app

With rising mobile phone use and social media engagement, Facebook in 2013 decided to launch a family of apps that combine these trends. Facebook Home converts the home screen of a smartphone into the Facebook news feed. While most of Facebook’s over 1 billion users log in to their accounts on a smartphone, the social media giant’s new product never caught on. Early users cited clunky operation, the inability to toggle between Facebook Home and the original phone interface, and lack of options for customization, among other snags.

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