If at First You Don’t Succeed, Your Failures Could End up in Sweden
The Museum of Failure is a collection of products that, for one reason or another, all failed miserably.
The idea for the museum came from Dr. Samuel West, a former innovation researcher who “got tired of companies only talking about their success.”
“It is boring,” West told Travel + Leisure. “Failure is more interesting and offers us more to learn from. Eighty to 90 percent of all innovation projects fail - and we need to start learning from these (often very expensive) failures.”
After visiting the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia, West was inspired to open his own physical Museum of Failure.
The items that West has curated for the collection were chosen based on their ability to tell a story to visitors. He said he also seeks out products from large brands — Apple, Google, Coca-Cola — to show that “even the Big Boys, the largest and most successful companies often fail with innovation.”
West got most of the products from eBay or classified ads, but he has started receiving donations of failed products from all around the world.
“I want people to understand that failure is essential to innovation success,” West said of his collection.
The museum will open on June 7 in Helsingborg, Sweden.
Rejuvenique Facial Mask
This mask, released in 1999, was supposed to make the wearer more beautiful by delivering mild electric shocks to their face. It was meant to “exercise” the facial muscles, thus plumping the face and getting rid of wrinkles.
This video-rental service was a success...until it wasn’t. Blockbuster opened its first location in 1985 in Dallas, Texas. By 1992, there were over 2,800 stores around the world. But as video streaming and Netflix’s home delivery DVD service grew in popularity, the store did not adapt. Blockbuster closed all their U.S. stores in 2013.
Nokia released its combo smartphone/gaming device in 2003 as a competitor to the Nintendo Gameboy. But consumers were not impressed and by 2005, the device was discontinued.
In 2009, a company called Peek wanted to jump on the latest social network, Twitter. The Twitter Peek, from which Twitter users could send tweets (and that was it), retailed for $200. Nobody wanted to spend $200 on a Twitter machine when smartphones (which did a lot more than send tweets) started to take off.
Not every Apple product has been a success. In 1993, the tech giant launched Newton, a “MessagePad” and digital assistant. Critics say the device was unsuccessful mainly because of its high price. At the time, the Newton cost $699, which comes out to about $1,178 today after adjusting for inflation.
Kodak DC40 digital camera
Kodak’s first digital camera was a great success when it was released in 1995. But, as digital cameras and online photo sharing began to take off, Kodak failed to adapt their business model. The company went bankrupt in 2012.
Amazon Fire Phone
In 2014, Amazon tried to expand on the success of the Amazon Fire tablet with the Amazon Fire phone. The product failed after less than a year because of its incompatibility with many popular apps and its expensive price point. Less than two months after it premiered for $200 (with a two-year contract), carriers dropped the price down to 99 cents.
Trump: The Game
Trump: The Game is just one of the numerous business failings from Trump. The board game was released in 1989 and, like Monopoly, players had to buy and sell properties. Manufacturers only sold 800,000 copies of the game out of an expected two million. It was discontinued within a year.
When Google Glass launched in 2013, it was expected to change the world of wearable technology. Alas, that did not happen. The device (which cost $1,500) was criticized for its lack of aesthetic appeal, no official product launch and a low battery life.
Those who remember video tapes should remember the Sony Betamax. When it launched in the 1970s, it was touted as the superior VCR for its speed and clearer picture. However Sony failed to expand the Betamax product into video rentals and the JVC VHS took over.
Bic For Her
A pen made for women. Because women need different pens. It was launched in 2012 and did not last the year.
Want some chunks in your drink? In 1997, manufacturers premiered Orbitz, a “texturally enhanced alternative beverage.” The Canadian fruit drink had colored balls of gelatin inside and tasted like cough syrup. It did not see 1998.
When Coca-Cola launched Blak in 2006, it was meant to combine two of everybody’s favorite things: Coke and coffee. However, it combined these two things only to discover that not only does coffee and coke not taste great, it gives you TOO much energy.
Sometimes you just have to leave a good thing as is. In 1984, Coca-Cola tried something new with “New Coke” or “Coke II.” But consumers did not like the taste and within months, began selling the original formula again. The company sold Coke II until 2002.
Legendary Harley Davidson
When the motorcycle brand tried to become a lifestyle brand, they tried cologne. The scent, launched in 1996, contained notes of wood and tobacco. But customers didn’t like the smell.
Lego Technic Fiber Optic Multi Set
Not every failed product is a bad idea. Lego’s Technic Fiber Optic kit, launched in 1996, failed because the “fiber optics” (which were actually just clear plastic tubes that connected to a battery LED-light pack) cost more to produce than the price of the entire kit.
Bofors Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride was once heralded as the savior to cleaner, whiter, healthier teeth. However after the Swedish Dental Association came out with a report casting doubt on the effects of fluoride (and raising some health concerns), consumers stopped scooping up fluoride toothpaste.
Before there was the smartphone there was the TeleGuide Monitor. Part phone, part computer, you couldn’t take it anywhere because it was too heavy. The product premiered in Sweden in the 1980s and never really took off.
The Itera bicycle was an attempted to reinvent transportation in Sweden in the 1980s. However, the plastic bicycle frustrated customers because, when the bikes arrived, they required assembly and not every part was in every box. The bike stopped manufacture after three years.
Of all the products in the museum that failed, West said the failure that surprised him most was the Segway. When it premiered, many thought that the transportation device would completely change how everybody got around cities. It did not and today the only real use the Segway gets is for tourists.