The worst product flops of 2012

None of these offerings were on the market much longer than a few months.

By 247 Wall St. Dec 28, 2012 11:58AM

Brick wallBy Samuel Weigley, 24/7 Wall St.34/7 Wall St. on MSN Money

 

Plenty of successful products were launched this year, from the iPhone 5 to "The Avengers." All launches require investment, ranging from thousands of hours of research and development to millions of dollars in marketing expenses. Yet success is not guaranteed. Editors at 24/7 Wall St. took a fresh look at 2012's launches to identify the biggest flops.

 

To be considered a flop, a product must have a significant level of investment behind it. Once the product was released, the failure had to have happened quickly. None of the products on this list was on the market much longer than a few months. Finally, the consequences of the failure had to be measurable, in terms of a company's reputation and, in some cases, the bottom line. 


One company, Sony (SNE), has two products on the list. 


Here's a look at some of the worst product flops of 2012.

 

1. Apple Maps

Company: Apple

 

When Apple (AAPL) upgraded its operating platform to iOS6, the company decided to dump Google Maps and replace it with its own product. When the service debuted in September, a host of problems arose. Users quickly noticed incorrect information. Some images were only in black and white, and some points on the map were obscured by clouds. 


The fiasco was so bad that CEO Tim Cook wrote a public letter of apology. 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 competitor's services. This month, Google Maps returned to the iPhone and became the most downloaded app in the iTunes store within a day of its release.

 

2. Dodge Dart

Company: Chrysler

 

Chrysler placed a great deal of emphasis on the Dart, hoping it could compete with other compact cars, such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus. The company began its marketing campaign during the Major League Baseball All-Star game with an ad featuring NFL quarterback Tom Brady. Even though Chrysler aimed for the fences, the Dart appears to have struck out.


Initial sales were as low as 200 units a month. And although Chrysler managed to sell 4,500 Darts in November, it was well below sales of the Civic and Corolla, which sold 30,075 and 22,255, respectively, during the period. Chrysler did not have experience selling compact cars in the same manner it had selling Jeeps and trucks, analysts at Edmunds.com said. Consumer Reports denied the Dart its "recommended" rating due to powertrain deficiencies.

 

3. 'John Carter'

Company: Walt Disney

 

"John Carter" was touted by Walt Disney (DIS), but the ingredients for success were never there. The director, Andrew Stanton, had not previously directed a live-action feature. The executives producing the film had minimal experience running a movie production. The reviews were, to be generous, mixed. The science-fiction movie, which cost $250 million to make and another $100 million to promote, opened with a meager $30.6 million in U.S. ticket sales. Foreign sales helped, but those sales quickly fell. Disney said shortly after the release it would take a $200 million write-down on the movie, making it the biggest box-office dud ever.

 

4. Sony Tablet P

Company: Sony

 

Sony (SNE) designed the Tablet P to make mobile computing more portable. The P features a clamshell design that allows the device to fit into a pocket. This feature, however, resulted in a flaw that ruined the device for most users. In order to fold, the screen is split in half by a large, black hinge, which makes playing games and reading incredibly awkward. 


Because of the screen split -- as well as complaints about the operating system and touchscreen sensitivity -- the P garnered horrible reviews. In response to poor sales, the device was sold at a steep discount -- dropped from $549 to $199. In August, Sony announced it would be updating the Android operating system to the latest Jelly Bean version for the Sony Tablet S, but that the P would not be updated. The company is no longer selling the tablet on its U.S. website.


Want to see more of the year's worst product flops? Head over to 24/7 Wall St.