Three of the Most Spectacular Product Failures in History

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Markets have delivered a plethora of products and technologies to consumers and others. Take a look around the average American home, and you’ll find countless products and technologies that folks would have scarcely been able to dream up a hundred or even just thirty years ago. That said, while many products have succeeded, many products also fail. Some flop so hard that they earn their place in the history books. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest product failures of all time and the impact they had. We’ll also look at some positive developments, like how product failures lead to lemon laws, such as the Georgia Motor Vehicle Warranty Rights Act.

The Ford Edsel

The Ford Edsel was labeled the “car of the future” by its maker and was named after Henry Ford’s son, Edsel. These days, the Ford Edsel is iconic, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s considered one of the greatest flops in history.

So why did it fail? The biggest issue was probably reliability and quality control. Faulty welds, power steering failures, wiring issues, and even leaky trunks plagued the Edsel. Some cars were actually delivered to dealers unfinished. The good news is that the Ford Edsel helped pave the way for lemon laws, which protect drivers from poorly manufactured cars.

Each state decides how to implement lemon laws. You can learn about the laws in your area by typing in say lemon law Georgia, for example. Georgia’s lemon law is entitled the Georgia Motor Vehicle Warranty Rights Act. Keep in mind that with lemon laws, dates and mileage are crucial. In Georgia, for example, cars are only covered by lemon laws for two years or 24,000 miles after purchase (whichever comes first).

New Coke

Georgia may be known as the Peach State, but you could also call it the Coca-Cola state since the famous company is based in Atlanta. Coke is an American icon the world over and the company has enjoyed tremendous success over the years. Yet New Coke would go down in infamy as one of the biggest product flops of all time.

In the 1980s, Coca-Cola saw its beverage market share shrinking. At the time, Pepsi was on the upswing and taste tests suggested that consumers preferred Pepsi’s sweeter taste. So, Coke tried to get with the times and introduced a sweeter formula. The can featured “New!” on it and thus the drink quickly became known as New Coke.

Turns out, consumers are fickle, and regardless of blind taste tests (which New Coke performed well in), many people resisted change. Coca-Cola was bombarded with complaint letters and sales stumbled, leading to the company reintroducing the original formula within just a few months.

Windows Vista

Microsoft Windows is the most popular computer operating system in the world. While Apple, Google, and other parties have put together potent competing operating systems, Windows still accounts for more than 60% of the market, according to Statista.

That said, Microsoft has suffered some Windows flops over the years. The biggest flop was arguably Windows Vista. The operating system was rather bloated and known for running poorly on many computers. In particular, Vista was known for gobbling up RAM. If you didn’t have high-end hardware, the OS was often sluggish and unresponsive.

Vista also suffered from compatibility issues with software and drivers. Apple was gaining momentum as well their marketing campaigns targeted Vista. Ultimately, many computer users simply stuck with Windows XP, which was more familiar, reliable, and offered a better overall experience in the eyes of many consumers.

We can be sure that more products will flop in the years ahead. Some, like the Ford Edsel, could help pave the way for major, positive changes (i.e. Lemon Laws). Others will be forgotten in the dustbin of history, and an unfortunate few may become a joke within popular culture.

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