There are gadgets that change everything (the iPhone, the first Intel Centrino laptops, Bose’s noise-canceling headphones), and then there are devices that are so spectacularly bad that they should be immortalized in their own way. The last few decades have seen all kinds of flops, from a not-so-world-changing scooter to Nokia’s attempt to beat Nintendo and Sony at their own game.
More recently, we’ve seen a smartphone that’s likely the fastest to go from $99 to 99 cents and a Death Star-like media player that doesn’t do much other than look menacing. To make our list of all-time gadget flops, the product had to do more than fail to execute. It had to have serious hype behind it—enough to help make that crash and burn all the more satisfying. Here are our Top 25 Worst Gadget Flops of All Time.
Other than the original iPhone, very few gadgets in history were hyped this much before launch. Dean Kamen's Project Ginger had all sorts of praise heaped upon it by those who previewed the new-age scooter. Here's what Steve Jobs reportedly said about the Segway in a book proposal: “If enough people see the machine you won’t have to convince them to architect cities around it. It’ll just happen.” Oops.
Priced at a staggering $5,000, the Segway didn't even come close to living up to its expectations. Sure, it was nifty that the Segway was self-balancing, but that wasn't nearly enough to overcome the sticker shock or the sheer geek factor of this vehicle. The final insult came when President Bush fell of a Segway in 2004. Today, you'll see these scooters ridden by some police officers and postal workers, but that's pretty much it.