Biggest Tech Flops of 2015

Category: Reference

The tech world is filled with promises. “Your life will be easier, cooler, and more fun. Your personal productivity will soar.” Blah, blah, and so on... Sometimes these promises pan out, and sometimes the best-laid plans of mice and men go awry. And that's what we'll be looking at in today's article...

What Went Wrong in the Tech World This Year?

Hoverboards, the self-balancing two-wheeled electric scooters that are the skateboard plague of the 21st Century, have been selling like hotcakes - and bursting into flames or even exploding. Amazon and Overstock have banned most models. Airlines won’t allow them on flights. The Consumer Products Safety Commission says it’s working “non-stop” to figure out what the problem is. Hint: cheap foreign knockoffs often use faulty lithium batteries and lack protection against overcharging.

Volkswagen was caught cheating on pollution emissions tests with software that disabled emission control systems except when a car was being tested. About 11 million diesel vehicles are affected worldwide, including 500,000 in the U. S. where Volkswagen has canceled all diesel sales plans for 2016.

Chrysler had to recall 1.4 million Jeeps after hackers demonstrated to a Wired magazine reporter that they could remotely take control of a vehicle’s dashboard functions, steering, transmission, and brakes - leaving a terrified reporter nose-down in a ditch. Jeep owners won’t have to taket their hapless vehicles to dealers; the software patch will be sent to them on a USB drive that plugs into the car’s diagnostic port.
Tech Flops of 2015

The car industry isn’t the only one with shameful security scandals this year. The U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management let the in-depth background checks of 20 million job applicants and their spouses get out the door. The Stagefright flaw discovered in Google Android put nearly a billion users at risk.

Over 30 million people, not all of whom were actually cheating on their spouses, were betrayed by lax security at AshleyMadison. Just last week, Juniper Networks discovered a three year-old hidden backdoor in the software that powers its high-capacity routers, widely used by the U. S. government. Essentially, everything we own that has an IP address allows hackers to own us.

Microsoft managed to mess up critical software updates, causing headaches and heart attacks among many users. MS had to recall and re-issue four patches, in January, February, November and December. Windows 10 upgrades disabled user-installed applications, drivers, and settings, prompting widespread anger.

Consumers fell out of love with “daily deals” sites such as Groupon, which plans to lay off 1,100 people in 2016. Amazon shut down its deals site, Amazon Local. And LivingSocial, one the oldest players, announced layoffs of 200 workers, or 20% of its workforce. Amazon also closed its Amazon Destinations hotel booking site only seven months after it opened. Seems folks don’t want to pay full price for weekend getaways within driving distance of their homes.

The Apple Watch’s sales are down 90% from its first frenzied month, indicating that early adopters are not convincing mainstream consumers to buy. Apple won’t even talk about Watch sales figures. The two things that have made Apple wildly successful - simplicity and elegance - simply aren’t up to snuff in the Apple Watch.

Peeple is supposed be “Yelp for people,” an app that lets anyone rate your personality, professionalism, and dating skills for all the Internet to see. Oh, and you can’t approve or rebut what’s posted, and you can’t opt out if you don’t want to be rated. Needless to say, Peeple is still “in beta” and unavailable to download. Meanwhile, the other Peeple, the nifty digital door peephole, is catching undeserved flak for a horrible idea it has nothing to do with.

The Coolest Cooler, a $499 ice chest tricked out with Bluetooth speakers, WiFi, a blender, and more geekery, raised $13 million from 60,000 Kickstarter contributors who were supposed to receive their coolers starting in February, 2015. So why is the cooler selling on Amazon before contributors’ orders are filled? “To keep the lights on,” says Coolest CEO Ryan Grepper, who vows all contributors will have their units by April, 2016.

I wrote about the “Final” credit card project in October, 2014, calling it “at best a gag, a joke, a troll.” The revolutionary payment card was supposed to launch in February, 2015; it hasn’t. Don’t sign up to receive email when it’s available; you’ll probably end up sold to spammers.

The HP Sprout, a gorgeous all-in-one desktop PC that combines a 3D scanner, projector, and keyless keyboard, looked pretty enticing when it debuted in late 2014. But today, I can find only 1 customer review on Amazon, 3 on, and none at

The Firefox browser is all but dead, though though its bloated corpse staggers on. The federal government's Digital Analytics Program (DAP) reports that Firefox’s share of visitors to government sites dropped to 9.7% in December, 2015, down from 11% in October. Political infighting at the Mozilla Foundation and a horribly mistaken attempt to make FireOS an alternative to Android and iOS contributed to the browser’s decay into irrelevance. (FireOS was officially killed this month.)

In the category of “comedy is tragedy that happens to someone else,” I found two winners this year: The much-hyped biopic “Steve Jobs” was dumped by over 2,000 theaters just three weeks after it opened having earned just over $16.7 million. And PC World magazine published “How to stop autoplay videos” on January 1, 2015. Today, despite dozens of derisive comments, that Web page still sports an autoplaying video.

Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Can you think of any websites or tech gadgets that flopped, or failed to live up to the hype? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Biggest Tech Flops of 2015"

Posted by:

21 Dec 2015

Windows 10 the worst thing Microsoft has ever done. A real joke.

Posted by:

21 Dec 2015

Good article Bob. I did not know about Groupon as I must have missed this news. I liked Groupon and bought several Groupons in the last few years. In fact I tried several new restaurants and enjoyed them. I'm not sure I would have gone and tried them if not for Groupon. It's sad to see people get laid off for sure. In the last few months, Groupon was hammering me with emails so I opted out. Now I maybe know why!

Posted by:

21 Dec 2015

Hoverboards ;-( They make even a chocolate fireguard look sensible/ I) They don't hover. They don't even look as if they're hovering. 2) I've seen a few in use and they don't look 'cool', they just look unutterably daft. In fact they are so daft they almost make the damned ugly Segway look useful.

But I have a horrible feeling that most marketing departments know that no matter how silly a product may be there will always be people gullible enough to buy it.

It's a pity really. A genuine 'hovering' board would indeed be be a cool and wondrous device for anyone who had survived skateboards and remembered the skills. I'd try it ;-)

Posted by:

21 Dec 2015

Good article. Oh, I see a 'typo' in the article, by the way. . .

Posted by:

21 Dec 2015

Mark: You may have had good luck with Groupon but many people didn't.
I got a couple good deals on it but also know people who got burned.
Restrictions on B&B reservations that made it basically useless and places that pushed hard selling them when they knew they were shutting down.

Posted by:

21 Dec 2015

I never would have suspected Firefox was "all but dead" if I hadn't read it here. I'm still using it. I haven't found a better option, although, I must admit that I haven't really been looking.

Posted by:

John Silberman
21 Dec 2015

Although FireFox OS was a flop, I wouldn't say the browser is all but dead. I feel FF browser is far safer than Chrome or IE.

Now what is not mentioned is the CISA Surveillance Law which was quietly passed into law on Friday which some may consider "What Went Wrong in the Tech World This Year". Maybe Bob can post an article on this new law.


Posted by:

21 Dec 2015

I agree with Chris about Firefox. I really like it for wonderful add-ons like AdBlock, which is essential to me.

Posted by:

Ken Maltby
21 Dec 2015

I continue to use Groupon, Living Social and Travelzoo for short breaks and meal deals and absolutely love the savings, when they are real. Like shopping in Costco not everything is good value so do your research. I have noticed the selection available has diminished, in recent months, for where I live in BC, Canada.

Posted by:

Steve Jones
21 Dec 2015

OK, so how do we, the easily duped, suckers dump Win10??


Posted by:

Gene De Lorenzo
21 Dec 2015

I've been using Pale Moon for about 4 months, and find it head and shoulders better than Firefox. Less glitchy, and supposedly more secure. I have no way of determining the latter, but I also have no evidence of security problems. 99% of the extensions that I've accumulated for Firefox work just fine on Pale Moon. Has anyone run into any problems with this browser?

Posted by:

21 Dec 2015

Firefox, SeaMonkey, Pale Moon, K-Melon, all good. If only Internet Web Site Publishers would keep to the defined design rules so the page layout is viewed as it should be!!!!!!!

Posted by:

22 Dec 2015

So, how to revert to win. 7.? How was Edge allowed to be soooooo slow.No acknowledgement from M.S. and it is impossible to download the Nov. download-tried everything- so frustrating.


Posted by:

23 Dec 2015

Both Cyberfox and Pale Moon, Firefox clones, work better than Firefox.

Posted by:

27 Dec 2015

I've been very pleased with Pale Moon.

Posted by:

28 Dec 2015

Aavast also have a bowser, your thoughts? I use Opera browser and Chrome for work

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