18 Overhyped Inventions That Were Total Flops
Kinect was supposed to change the way we interact with our TV. It didn’t. For the most part, the Xbox accessory remains an expensive and impractical novelty. Voice recognition doesn’t work well, motion control is clunky, and worst of all – it gave us Kinect Star Wars, the most disappointing Star Wars game since the Trials of Obi-Wan debacle.
Sometimes, designing software from the ground up creates something fresh and innovative. Occasionally, it creates a product that tells you to drive into brick walls.
After splitting with the far superior Google Maps, Apple decided to integrate their own mapping software in all their devices. The move puzzled tech experts, who questioned why Apple would undergo such a risky venture when there were other well-established mapping services they could have utilized, like Yahoo! and Bing maps.
The service was plagued with bugs at launch, and gave poor and sometimes dangerously incorrect directions to users. Apple has stood by their lemon, however, and the app’s default integration into their OS led to Apple Maps overtaking Google’s service in number of downloads.
The CueCat was a computer accessory used to scan specially designed barcodes, called “cues”. Cues were printed in magazines and newspapers, and when scanned would direct the user to a relevant web page. Despite a much hyped launch, and cues appearing in major magazines like Forbes, Wired, and Parade, the little gadget was a commercial failure.
It didn’t help that industry critics hated it. CueCat was accused of being useless. Since it needed to be plugged into a computer, users could just as easily type in the web URL themselves.
In some ways, the CueCat was ahead of its time. It predated the modern use of QR codes, which likewise load webpages after being scanned, by ten years. It just took smartphone technology to make the idea practical.
You aren’t looking at a children’s game. You’re looking at Microsoft Bob, a cartoon-themed operating system launched in 1995. Billing itself as a user-friendly computer interface, it took the form of a virtual house with virtual cartoon pets, who used speech bubbles to guide you through the already painfully simple interface. As Time magazine’s Dan Fletcher put it, “Imagine a whole operating system designed around Clippy.“
“It looks like you’re reading LolWot. Would you like some help?”