Special Report

The 25 Biggest Product Flops of the Decade

Samuel Stebbins

Source: Joe Scarnici / Getty Images

25. MoviePass
> Company: Helios and Matheson Analytics
> Year introduced: 2011
> What it was: Movie ticket subscription

Though MoviePass was founded in 2011, it did not receive widespread public recognition until 2017, when it introduced a plan that would allow subscribers to go to the movie as many times as they wanted for just $10 a month. The company planned to generate revenue through the data it gleaned from users, but revenue never kept pace with expenses. MoviePass had 400,000 subscribers within a month of the change, over a million within two months, and 2 million in four months. By spring 2018, the company was losing $20 million a month and was forced to restructure plans for subscribers, restricting the number of movies they could see. Problems continued for the service until it ultimately shut down on Sept. 14, 2019.

24. Galaxy Note 7
> Company: Samsung
> Year introduced: 2016
> What it was: Tablet phone

Samsung, which recently overtook Apple in the smartphone market, also had one of more recent product flops. The Note S7, a tablet phone that launched in August 2016, was initially well received. However, it had a serious flaw. A problem with the battery software resulted in the phones catching fire on several occasions, including once on a Southwest Airlines flight, which had to be evacuated. Soon, the Department of Transportation made it illegal to bring a Note 7 on a commercial flight. By October, after an extremely expensive recall, Samsung suspended production of the Note 7 worldwide. The company lost billions of dollars due to the debacle.

Source: Lululemon / Wikimedia Commons

23. Astro Pants
> Company: Lululemon Athletica
> Year introduced: 2013
> What it was: Yoga pants

Astro Pants marked a major misstep for women’s athleisure brand lululemon. The form-fitting yoga pants became effectively translucent when wearers bent over. The gaffe resulted in the Vancouver-based company recalling 17% of its yoga pants and an estimated $67 million in lost revenue. Even after the company attempted to address the issue, problems lingered with customers complaining that the pants — which sold for about $100 a pair — were still too sheer.

Source: South_agency / Getty Images

22. The Daily
> Company: News Corp
> Year introduced: 2011
> What it was: Digital newspaper

The Daily — not to be confused with the popular New York Times’ podcast of the same name — was media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to cash in on the growing popularity of tablets. Produced News Corp, the media company Murdoch founded, The Daily was a subscription-based, tablet-only newspaper. First only available to iPad users, The Daily was eventually introduced to other tablets, like the Kindle. However, the virtual newspaper never caught on and was scrapped after less than two years. The project cost News Corp an estimated $30 million.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

21. PlayStation Vita
> Company: Sony
> Year introduced: 2012
> What it was: Video game system

The Nintendo Wii U is not the only video game console to make this list — Sony’s PlayStation Vita also ranks among the decade’s worst product flops. The handheld system, introduced in North America in 2012, was Sony’s attempt to maintain a foothold in the handheld gaming market that was booming with the proliferation of smartphones. Despite a wide variety of available games, however, the Vita could not keep up with the competition. Critics said the system lacked innovation found in more popular handheld gaming systems like the Nintendo DS.

The system’s demise was a long time coming. Sony stopped publishing unit sales in investor reports in 2013; stopped developing games in 2015; and ended game production in 2018. Production of the system officially ended in March 2019.