The loss of Vic Gundotra — an eight-year company veteran and the executive in charge of G+ — is sending signals that GOOG’s commitment to the platform is waning.
Google+ has been seen as a failed product not necessarily because it was awful on its own, but because it has failed to challenge Facebook in a real way.
Google assumed that it had the clout to launch its own social network and steamroll Facebook. After all, it has massive online reach thanks to Google Search domination, not to mention the ability to direct people to G+ through other popular services like Gmail and the hundreds of millions of smartphone and tablet users running its Android operating system.
With GOOG’s reach and the rise of social media stars like Facebook and Twitter (TWTR), it probably made sense to give it a shot rather than be left behind. But it didn’t work. Facebook remains a juggernaut while G+ is littered with inactive accounts, with its chief apparently abandoning ship and employees moving to other Google projects.
G+ is just one example of a tech flop that resulted from a company taking its momentum for granted and user base to roll out a product in a new category … only to see it stumble. We’ve put together a gallery of 10 other high-tech failed products that resulted from similar assumptions.
Failed Products: Nike Fuel Band
One of the more recent examples, the Nike (NKE) Fuel Band is what happens when a successful sports equipment and shoe manufacturer tries to leverage its popularity by expanding into the world of fitness tracking wearables.
While the software and a successful partnership with Apple (AAPL) will apparently live on, The Nike Fuel Band was dropped just weeks ago after several years of fighting it out with the likes of FitBit — and before the expected arrival of expected segment killers like Apple’s “iWatch.”
Failed Products: Motorola Xoom
Advantages like producing the Razr and other best-selling smartphones, having a close enough association with Google to be the first tablet running Android Honeycomb, and even a SuperBowl commercial weren’t enough to make the Xoom the hit tablet Motorola thought it would be.
First released in 2011, it survived to a XOOM 2 — which can still be found languishing in big-box store bargain bins.
Failed Products: Microsoft Zune
If Apple could come out of nowhere and take the portable music business from Sony (SNE), then why couldn’t Microsoft (MSFT) leverage its massive Windows clout to hit the digital music market in a huge way?
The Zune was Microsoft’s answer to the iPod, and while it wasn’t a terrible device (although the chocolate brown color choice of the 2006 original was a questionable move), the Zune was too little, too late and lacked the advantage Apple had with its iTunes Store. MSFT finally threw in the towel in 2011.
Failed Products: Apple Pippin
Apple has had its share of high tech failed products over the years and one of its most spectacular mis-reads of demand was the video game industry.
Apple decided that the popularity of its Macintosh personal computers would give it the cred to release the Mac-based Pippin video game console in 1996. Established players like Sony’s Playstation and the Nintendo (NTDOY) 64 ate it alive and the Pippin sold fewer than 100,000 units before AAPL beat a hasty retreat.
Failed Products: BlackBerry PlayBook
BlackBerry (BBRY) — then known as Research in Motion — had every reason to believe it knew enterprise better than Apple at the time the iPad was released. So it rushed its own tablet to market, expecting BlackBerry owners and corporate customers would line up to buy the PlayBook tablet.
Failed Products: Google Nexus Q
Tired of seeing AAPL’s dominance of the portable music scene extending into “Made for Apple” speaker docks and streaming music, GOOG decided to release its own streaming media hardware, the Nexus Q.
Amid complaints about its high price tag and a realization that the growing popularity of Bluetooth wireless speakers would help level the playing field for its Android devices, Google quietly shelved the Nexus Q after shipping pre-orders.
Failed Products: Apple Ping
Google isn’t the only company that felt it had the users, the critical mass and the cool factor to launch its own social media network.
Apple tried to leverage its huge iTunes user base with Ping, a service that combined music recommendation with social networking. Ping launched in 2010; Apple wrapped it up in 2012, shifting to Facebook and Twitter integration instead.
Failed Products: Garmin Nuvifone
If you’re a company that has built its business on GPS devices, what do you do when GPS-equipped smartphones equipped with map apps start to destroy your market? That was the dilemma facing Garmin (GRMN) as the iPhone and then Android phones began to kill demand for hand-held and automobile GPS devices.
Garmin’s response was to try to find room in that exploding smartphone market with its own offering, 2008’s Garmin Nuvifone. The move makes a certain amount of sense — Garmin had name recognition, a large base of users and expertise in making mobile devices.
But it didn’t pan out, and the Nuvifone line was abandoned in 2010.
Failed Products: IBM PCjr
IBM (IBM) may be better known for enterprise services these days, but before selling the division to Lenovo (LNVGY), personal computers were its future. However, Apple and PC clone makers were threatening to take over the growing home computing market and to push more expensive IBM PCs out of the office.
IBM figured its name and clout as the world’s largest PC maker would let it release a cheaper PC — the IBM PCjr — that would capture home computer sales while cementing its position as the business computer of choice.
But the PCjr wasn’t actually fully PC-compatible, Apple’s Macintosh was proving popular, and IBM set the price too high — making the PCjr one of the industry’s biggest flops.
Failed Products: Dell Venue
As Dell faced years of tough slogging in a softening PC market, it looked to one area that was going gangbusters: smartphones. Dell wasn’t a mobile phone veteran, but neither was Apple, and those guys had done alright with the iPhone. Besides Dell, had close ties to enterprise and had ambitions of unseating the BlackBerry as the smartphone of choice among enterprise users.
However, the Venue and VenuePRO smartphones failed to crack that market and were “retired” by a struggling Dell in 2012.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.