We’ve all dreamed of becoming the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. In fact, after the internationally renowned release of The Social Network, I’ve been dreaming of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg. It all seems so easy. One day, a couple of college guys came up with a great idea, and somewhere a light bulb turned on. A few months later, they moved to Silicon Valley to roll around in a bunch of c-c-cash. In Mark Zuckerberg’s case, he moved to Silicon Valley to drink apple martinis and face a whole bunch of lawsuits. He still came out ahead, with a $12.5 billion net worth.
Luckily, creativity pays off in most capitalist countries. If you come up with an idea or technology that makes people’s lives easier, you will be rewarded. Wait, but what happens when you think you came up with a great idea, and you really didn’t? There are a few things that can happen to you. These include (but are not limited to): bankruptcy, unemployment, and depression. However, there is one feeling that will be hard to overcome: extreme shame. Here are some shameful inventions that had a lot of hype surrounding them before release, but unfortunately, the hype proved to be completely unnecessary. Consumers didn’t show any overwhelming interest or excitement towards the following products.
1. The Electronic Cigarette: Have you seen that guy smoking an electronic cigarette INSIDE the mall? What about the episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills where the psychic smokes an electronic cigarette in Camille Grammar’s mansion? There are two common characteristics shared by both the guy at the mall and the psychic woman in the mansion. Nobody likes them. Nobody really likes the electronic cigarette either. There was so much hype around it before it came out. It was supposed to help a lot of smokers quit harming their health for good. The truth is, it helped only a handful of people, and was banned in most countries. In fact, it still has nicotine in it. Many doctors are speaking out against it, saying it could be dangerous for children as well. The invention basically demonstrated: Smoking is bad for you, and always will be bad for you.
2. Betamax: Some say that Betamax may have been a better product than VHS. In fact, at the time of its release, they never thought anyone else could come up with anything remotely better. Unfortunately, consumer spending showed they preferred VHS format over Betamax. There are some technology geeks who argue VHS beat out Betamax because of better marketing strategies. However, the format was not without its flaws. The recording format didn’t last as long as VHS format could. Plus, VHS offered a much smaller product, making it easier to record things at home. Betamax tried to change its product and take a share of the market back from VHS. However, VHS had 70% of the market share by 1970. Betamax was left with 7.5% of the market by 1986. In 1988, Sony finally admitted defeat.
3. 3D Televisions: We all enjoyed watching Avatar in 3D, did we not? Putting on some 3D glasses for a few hours to experience special effects doesn’t seem like too much of a burden. In fact, we pay extra at the movie theaters to do so. However, putting them on every time you watch television doesn’t sound appealing to most people. In fact, it seems unnecessary and weird. This is why most consumers haven’t been too enthusiastic about buying 3D televisions. At the moment, companies are trying to come up with a way to watch 3D televisions without the glasses. That may have better outcomes. Until then, High Definition televisions may be just high-tech enough.
4. Dell DJ Ditty: If an MP3 player promises to kill the craze for the iPod, shouldn’t it be named something better than DJ Ditty? Aside from its corny name, this product didn’t exceed expectations or even meet them halfway. The product had frequent glitches, and Dell didn’t come up with a service interface as good as Apple’s. If you want to compete with Steve Jobs, you have to put your money, time, and services, where your mouth is. Unfortunately, Dell couldn’t do this. In 2006, they announced they’d stop producing the DJ Ditty.
5. Apple Ear Buds: Ok, so the iPod, iPad, and Apple computers are selling like hotcakes. Everyone wants one, and most people have at least one Apple product. However, the $80 Apple ear buds are not one of those products. Although Apple claims these earphones incorporate the latest technology, most people won’t pay $80 for something they can get for $5-10. Plus, many critics have said the ear buds don’t offer much better sound quality than normal speakers or headphones. Apple will have to either make these cheaper or better to convince consumers to fork out that extra cash.
6. Oakley Split Thump MP3 Sunglasses: Although some Oakley fans may be trying to pull this off as cool, most people think spending close to $200 on sunglasses doesn’t seem worth it. Plus, unless you are an athlete or Olympic runner, using regular headphones isn’t too bad. The product is also known to have very short battery life, and very little fashion sense.
7. Amstrad Em@iler: The inventor of this product must have really thought he’d be the next Bill Gates. However, with the mass number of Smartphone products flooding the market, the Amstrad Em@iler just didn’t measure up in value or cost. This was basically just a landline phone with a computer attached to it. You could check your email on that screen, but at a ridiculously high cost. Why wouldn’t I just use my phone, and then walk less than a second away to my computer? Amstrad couldn’t answer that question. The product flopped, and is no longer available.
8. Twitter Peek: Here’s another product that doesn’t hold a candle to a Smartphone. It is basically a device that helps you use Twitter at all times. You can use it wherever you go, and quickly tweet to “Twitter verse.” Wait, but how is that different from a Smartphone? Well, it’s the same as a Smartphone, except you can’t use anything but twitter on the device. Plus, you have to fork over $100 to get one, and pay $8 a month for the service. Sorry Twitter Peek, No one is interested in staying connected that bad.
9. I Like Computers so Much, I Want to Wear One: Have you ever heard anyone say that? Me neither, which is probably why no one bought the Zypad. Unless your girlfriend thinks you look handsome wearing a computer on your wrist, you probably are unlikely to buy one in the future. Perhaps the inventor of the Zypad thought he looked good wearing a computer, but overall the product seems unnecessary and too wired. After all, no one thinks it’s cool to update your Facebook or Twitter every five seconds. Perhaps if that computer was literally worn on your wrist, even your social network friends would castigate you. If you can carry a computer (laptop) already, is it more convenient to literally wear it? Consumers didn’t think so. Unless the Zypad can offer something more than a laptop or Smartphone, it is unlikely to gain much credibility.
10. Zune MP3 Player: This article basically describes the last breaths of the Zune MP3 player. This product was also expected to compete with the iPod, but its unsuccessful service centers, all abroad, couldn’t help save consumers from constant glitches and skipping tracks. The Zune’s market share fell to about 2% in 2009, and many believe it is because Microsoft failed to update its software. After so many complaints, it seemed unnecessary. The product had enough bad PR, and no one could save it from drowning. Good try, Microsoft. Hopefully someday, a company will be able to do MP3 players as well as Steve Jobs does.