The Biggest Tech Flops Of 2012

Mark Zuckerberg

Photo: Julie Bort/Business Insider

This year saw surprisingly few big, fat failures from tech companies.Normally when we put together a list of the biggest tech flops of the year it’s not all that hard to come up with a list. This year was a bit harder than in the past.

Perhaps tech companies —we’re looking at you, Google — are getting smarter about launching products?

But, just because some companies are better at not screwing up, it doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of flops. Here’s our list of the biggest flops in tech for 2012.

In general, we try to keep our list focused on companies or products that launched and failed in the last twelve months.

#15 Oprah's love of the Microsoft Surface

Oprah was telling everyone to buy a Surface, because it's a 'Mercedes Benz.' Only problem with that? She seems to actually use an iPad. This is a bad sign for Microsoft. Even its paid endorsers prefer the iPad.

#14 Facebook's Reach Generator

On March 1, Facebook held a big fancy event in New York City to roll out a new ad product called a Reach Generator, which would increase the frequency with which brands posts would hit users' news feeds. Then, six months later, Facebook killed the product because it was too complicated.

#13 BlackBerry 10

RIM's attempt to catch up with Apple and Google in the smartphone wars was supposed to be out in the Spring. It was then pushed to the fall. We're allegedly going to get it in first quarter of next year. Uh huh...

#12 Apple's terrible Genius ads

Remember this?

#11 colour's exit

We had colour on this list last year. It's a first time we've had one company on this list twice in a row. So congrats are in order, we guess? Anyway, it's on the list for its spectacular flame out this year. It sold to Apple for a reported $7 million after raising $41 million, and now it's ensnared in a nasty lawsuit.

#10 John Browett running Apple retail

Tim Cook first major hire as CEO of Apple was a big flop. John Browett came to Apple from Dixons, a pretty crummy electronics retail operation in the UK. He tried to put his own stamp on one the most successful retail shops in the world by cutting back employee hours to make the stores more profitable. That didn't go over well, and a few months later Browett was gone.

#9 Google's Nexus Q

The Nexus Q was supposed to be an innovative home entertainment device. Instead it was a buggy mess. It was so bad Google pulled it before it sold it to consumers.

#8 Zynga's Draw Something Acquisition

Draw Something was the hottest mobile game on the planet earlier this year. This led Zynga, which was struggling in mobile, to buy it for $183 million in cash. Turns out this was a mistake. Users fell off, and Zynga wrote down $85-$95 million of the acquisition a few months later.

#7 Yahoo's patent war with Facebook

In Scott Thompson's short run at Yahoo he did one thing of real significance. He filed a lawsuit against Facebook claiming patent infringement. That lawsuit went nowhere, but did manage to make Yahoo, and Thompson, laughingstocks in the Valley.

#6 The Nokia Lumia 900

Nokia and Microsoft launched their first major phone together in the U.S at the beginning of the year. Virtually no one bought it. And now Microsoft has a smaller share of the smartphone market, and Nokia is even closer to death. Nokia is already trying again with the Lumia 920, but it's probably DOA, too.

#5 Zynga's IPO

Zynga IPO'd last December. And from there it's been all downhill. The stock has cratered. Users have gone away, and there's been a lot of executive shake up.

#4 Apple Maps

You know it's a bad product when the CEO says, 'At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.'

#3 Facebook's IPO

Facebook's IPO was supposed to be the highlight of the year for tech. Instead, it became a serious low-light. The IPO was priced at $38. On the first day of trading it went nowhere. Then it collapsed over the next few months. Now it's stuck in a range around $20. A lot of Facebook employees who thought they were going to be mega rich merely became rich. And investors who thought they've made a quick buck are now in it for the long haul.

#2 Sean Parker's Airtime

Airtime was an insanely hyped startup from Sean Parker, the former president of Facebook and founder of Napster. Airtime was supposed to revolutionise communication by offering random video chatting through Facebook. That didn't happen. It never got users and now Parker is trying to save the company.

#1 Scott Thompson

Yahoo shocked the tech world when it announced Scott Thompson as CEO in January. Then Dan Loeb rocked the tech world by saying Thompson had fudged his resume adding a non-existent computer science major. Thompson was ousted shortly thereafter. It was a brutal episode for Yahoo, but it led to Marissa Mayer becoming CEO, something that has investors excited.

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