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. 

 

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

40Comments
Dec 28, 2012 2:31PM
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@KarenKull--

The original Dart was a mid-sized solid car available as a sedate Grannymobile with 4 doors and the indestructible 225-Slant Six, or a 2-door 6, or a 2-door firebreathing dragon with anything from a 318 2-barrel to a 340 4-barrel to a big-block Hemi. You could even mail-order one with aluminum panels and no interior for a not-street-legal drag strip racer. It RULED the drags in the late 60's. The original Dart had few frills, but it was an 'economy' car back when that mean it didn't cost much. I had a friend who had one with a 318 and 3-on-the-tree that would sit still at stop signs smoking the tires all day. I had 2 of them myself, a 6 and a 318.

They absolutely didn't care if you ever changed their oil.

Not even the vaunted Japs can build a car like that today...most Jap cars have such highly-machined tolerances that missing just 2 oil changes can send them to the junkyard.

Carmakers should have learned by now, but apparently there is no shortage of stupid. Hey, Detroit: Don't jack around with the buyers when you name a new car. We A) remember the original, and B) remember the original. Slapping a classic nameplate on a rattle-trap death-box is poor PR. Just like the Jap cracker-box that GM rolled out in the 80's with the "Chevy Nova" nameplate on it.

Disgraceful.

Dec 28, 2012 7:07PM
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Wait.... my wife was getting lost using her Apple map when she was driving me around in my Dodge Dart while I was watching John Carter on my Sony Tablet.
Dec 28, 2012 5:26PM
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I actually liked the movie John Carter. Maybe the acting wasn't the best but it was a fun movie to watch!

 

Dec 28, 2012 5:30PM
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Sorry, but I really enjoyed "John Carter". It was pretty faithful to ERB's story. On top of that, you could see just how much George Lucas and Spielberg ripped ERB off in their movies. Don't understand why the movie flopped.
Dec 28, 2012 3:29PM
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When they have the Fiat 500 which is fun and cheap, why would they try to sell the Dart?

And, I saw John Carter - this had to be a criminally bad marketing job, as this was a really enjoyable popcorn flick

And the computer things were obviously never beta tested - ya gotta work te bugs out before you bring it to market, no matter how much you feel the competition breathing down your neck!

Dec 28, 2012 1:14PM
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DART's first problem was it's name...not like the legacy was anything to brag about.
Dec 29, 2012 12:17AM
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I really liked John Carter it was a good movie

 

Dec 28, 2012 4:03PM
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None of these flopped for infrastructure reasons... they flopped because the companies that made them are still high on Kool Aid and not paying attention to what's happening to the consumer. Note that these initiatives aren't geared for ultra rich people who get diarrhea just leaving a tip, they expect the decimated middle class to still have cash. FIRE the marketing folks and restore commonsense or it will keep costing more to fail.
Dec 31, 2012 1:54PM
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I think they missed the biggest flop of all.  It should be number one!  The biggesf flop of 2012 is the movie, FISCAL CLIFF, 2012.   It stars Barack Obama and John Boehmer.  It is a most expensive movie but delivers disappontment from beginning to end.  It is of the poorest quality.  It has about 536 actors and actressess and is produced in Washington D..C.  After many delays, it is expected to be out today, December 31, 2012.  There should be BREAKING NEWS almost any time now, to announce a "compromise" by the actors in which congress persons will come out bragging of how they saved us in the nick of time.  But, of course there will be a need for highter taxes on all working people of America.  Freeloaders will still get a free ride. Air Force One will be funded for endless flight...The BREAKING NIEWS should be coming soon!
Dec 31, 2012 11:20AM
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I suspect that the big reason the new Dart flopped, is that NO ONE at Chrysler asked ANYONE who ever drove one what they liked about the car.  The new dart is a dressed down import knockoff, and its too expensive for the market that bought the original.  Hint for future re-use of brands, if the new design doesn't make everyone in the room stand up an go HOLY S#%T!, that's GREAT!  Walk away.
Dec 28, 2012 6:22PM
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"Actually, as a flop, I'd say Romney Ryan campaign. Incredible amount of money for a product that didn't find traction."... bob in ia.

 

Let's not forget the fool behind the wheel-- KARL ROVE. Karl... you ARE the biggest LOSER.

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Interesting, as I continued to read more articles on MSN I came across the best New car introductions for 2012
And the New Dodge Dart is listed
Dec 31, 2012 2:52PM
Dec 28, 2012 5:01PM
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dodge hasn't made a decent car since thee 1960's
Dec 29, 2012 12:58PM
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I still have Sony's Clie in my junk. They discontinued the product after a short period. I expect the same with their tablet. 
Dec 28, 2012 11:00PM
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What about that goofy toy doll from some movie that was supposed to be huge for xmas?  The one with the guy and the big forearms.  Someone told me that they couldn't give the things away.
Jan 8, 2013 9:42PM
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Please tell the logic in this. The USA is building a $500 M dam  hydroelectric system in Afghanistan . In two years alone $800M was earmarked for other projects. The USA has spent $23BILLON on goverment  development in Afghanistan since 9/11,plus there's even more money going over there. How can these Slim Balls in Wash. DC exept us believe SS is in trouble! We have money for these uneducated peice's of sh%t in the middle east but not for this country.
Dec 28, 2012 9:14PM
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Classic failure move on Sony's part. Put out a good idea at a ridiculous price w/o getting good feedback...Drop the price. PS3 anyone? Yeah, let me pay $700 for a CONSOLE GAMING SYSTEM when an Xbox 360 can be purchased for less than HALF of that cost. It took them too long to realize that their price was retarded. Oh - and their attempt @ the Wii/Kinect deal? Pathetic.

This was a lackluster list.
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