The most impressive thing about Microsoft’s failed Kin mobile phone project is how quickly Microsoft canceled it once the company had figured out it was a bomb.After announcing the Kin 1 and Kin 2 social networking phones on April 12, Microsoft confirmed it was killing the Kin on June 30, just 79 days later.
It was the right move. And while it was a huge waste of money to develop and market the Kin right before killing it, at least it’s no longer a distraction for the company.
If anything, companies should learn how to discontinue failed products faster, rather than letting them drag out for several months or years, as is all too common in technology.
Launched: Jan. 5, 2010
Death announced: May 14, 2010
Google launched its Nexus One web storefront to 1) sell Nexus One phones and 2) disrupt the mobile carriers' retail- and subsidy-based mobile phone sales and distribution systems. Google's long-term vision, we argued, was to eventually get carriers to compete over customers through Google's platform.
It didn't do either. Google didn't sell many Nexus One phones, and it didn't disrupt any carriers. So Google shut down the project in May.
Launched: Dec. 7, 2009
In the era of a In the era of a $499 Apple iPad, an inferior tablet computer that also costs $499 is toast. (You may remember this device from its previous title, the CrunchPad.)
But JooJoo backer Fusion Garage continues to tinker -- after its messy divorce with TechCrunch -- and has received investment from Malaysian mobile device maker and distributor CSL Group.
Launched: Jan. 2006
Discontinued: Sept. 2006
The idea was that ESPN would exclusively sell a phone that offered exclusive ESPN content and video, leasing network access from Verizon Wireless. But ESPN only had one phone at launch, a Sanyo device selling for $400.
No one bought it, and ESPN quickly shut down the service, instead providing content to Verizon's mobile Internet service.
Launched: Sept. 14, 2006
Microsoft launched the Zune in 2006 trying to ape the success of Apple's iPod. Instead, it quickly learned how challenging the gadget business is.
One of the big mistakes Microsoft made was designing the first Zune as a rival to the old-school iPod classic instead of the iPod mini and nano, which became Apple's bigger successes.
The Zune is no longer the butt of every gadget joke, and the latest Zune is technically decent, but it still isn't much of a hit. Microsoft just seems to be stuck 1-2 years behind the iPod.
When the economy went down the toilet, those dreams faded fast, and Google quickly pulled the plug.
Introduced: Oct. 2003
Death announced: Oct. 2009
Nokia, the world's largest phone company, was way ahead of Apple when it came to trying to disrupt the likes of Nintendo and Sony with a mobile gaming device. But it never really took off.
Launched: March, 2006
Killed: March, 2008
Sponsored mostly by Toshiba, HD DVD was supposed to become the hi-def successor to the DVD.
But the Sony-led Blu-ray faction ended up winning the format war when Warner Bros. announced it was dumping HD DVD for Blu-ray on Jan. 4, 2008.
About a month later, Toshiba said it would shut down its HD DVD efforts.
Microsoft Bob was supposed to be a user-friendly interface for Windows, a project that was at one point managed by Bill Gates' now wife. Microsoft quickly killed it.
'Unfortunately, the software demanded more performance than typical computer hardware could deliver at the time and there wasn't an adequately large market,' Bill Gates later wrote. 'Bob died.'
Launched: Sept. 2007
Sold for scraps: Nov. 2009
Joost, originally known as 'The Venice Project,' was supposed to be a peer-to-peer TV network for the future, invented by the European geniuses behind Skype. The company recruited a rising star -- Mike Volpi -- away from Cisco to become its CEO. It got a deal with CBS. Joost was supposed to reinvent the way we consumed professional video.
Instead, Hulu, a joint venture between News Corp. and NBC -- and now Disney -- became the go-to site for TV episodes-on-the-web.
Meanwhile, Joost had all sorts of problems with its P2P architecture, its bulky software player, its content library, etc. And it never took off, with its scraps selling in late 2009.
Other notable tech flops include the Apple Newton, virtual currencies like Flooz, PointCast, :CueCat, Apple's hockey-puck iMac mouse, and most of the ideas hatched around the peak of the dot-com bubble.
For more, don't miss: The 50 Worst Gadgets Of The 2000s →