There has been no shortage of successful product launches in 2012. Think the iPhone 5 and “The Avengers.”In order for companies to have successful launches, they must invest a great deal, ranging from thousands of development hours to millions in marketing costs.
Yet, sometimes, despite the best efforts and the large investments, the products fail. 24/7 Wall St. editors reviewed 2012 product launches to find which were the biggest flops.
To be considered a flop, the company that rolled out the product must have invested significant resources in its development and marketing. Once the product was released, the failure had to have happened quickly.
None of the products on our list were on the market much longer than a few months before they were regarded as a flop. Finally, once the products failed, the companies took a sizable hit to both their reputation and, in some cases, their bottom line. One company, Sony, has two products on this list.
These products failed for several reasons. Some of the flops were due to significant company errors that caused the product to be faulty. Apple Maps, one of the worst flops of the year by any measure, was riddled with egregious flaws such as mislabeled buildings, streets and even cities. Sony’s unusual clamshell shaped tablet sold so poorly the company stopped offering it on its American Website.
Competition from popular rivals also played a major role in these flops. ABC’s “Pan Am” initially started off with strong ratings, but the novelty quickly wore off, and the series did not have enough to offer to viewers over other popular shows or sports.
Sony’s PlayStation Vita had trouble competing with the popular Nintendo 3DS, never mind competition from smartphone and tablet gaming. The Nokia Lumia 900, which operates on Microsoft’s Windows operating platform, just did not stand a chance against the strong branding of app-heavy Google Android and Apple iOS-based phones.
The intense competition that many of these products faced made pricing difficult. AT&T, which carried the Lumia, had to cut the price of the already inexpensive phone due to lackluster demand. Intel’s Ultrabook was widely panned as too expensive, especially with more people taking advantage of cheaper mobile options.
These are the worst product flops of 2012.
Company: Apple Inc.
When Apple upgraded its operating platform to the iOS6, the company decided to dump rival Google's Maps system and replace it with its own product.
When the service debuted in September, though, a host of problems arose. Users quickly noticed incorrect information, such as confusing Greenland with the Indian Ocean. Some images were only in black and white, and some points on the map were obscured by clouds.
The fiasco was so bad that Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a public letter apologizing for the mess. When Apple's senior vice president of iOS software, Scott Forstall, refused to sign the letter, he was shown the door.
As the company tried to solve the problem, it recommended using its competitors services. This month, Google maps returned to the iPhone and became the most downloaded app in the iTunes store less than a day after its release.
Company: Nokia Corp.
The Lumia 900 was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show back in January, but sales were never able to take off.
Although the phone debuted at just $100 with a two-year contract, AT&T soon dropped the price to $50 to improve sales -- and even that didn't work.
A consistent criticism of the phone was that its screen resolution was weaker than competitor phones and, more importantly, that the Microsoft's Windows operating platform had a shortage of apps. By November, Nokia started selling the Lumia 920, and early predictions for sales of the newer version were mixed.
Nokia, once the world's largest mobile phone maker, has steadily declined in recent years, losing significant market share to companies such as Samsung and Apple. In the third quarter of 2012, Nokia's market share of smartphones was just 4.3%, according to Gartner Research.
Released first in Japan in December 2011 and then globally in February 2012, initial sales of the PlayStation Vita were encouraging. By the end of February, the company announced it had sold approximately 1.2 million units, followed by an additional 2 million units of software for the handheld game console.
Yet sales quickly declined. From its release date to June 30, just 2.2 million PlayStation Vita units were sold, far less than the 3.6 million units Nintendo 3DS sold in just its first month. Recently, Sony has clumped sales of the Vita and its predecessor, the PSP, together to avoid highlighting embarrassing sales figures.
Frequent complaints about the Vita were that the $300 price tag was too expensive and that its game lineup was both weak and small, especially given the availability of cheaper gaming through smartphones and tablets.
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