Juicero may just be the ultimate symbol of technology run amok. The Wi-Fi connected, $699 juice press recently announced it is shutting down operations just 16 months after launch.
But Juicero is far from the only bad product we saw in the last 12 months. Technology companies have always been good at building excitement for their latest and greatest products, and industry trade shows like CES help to fan the flames and build that buzz. Yet plenty of these gadgets fall embarrassingly flat.
Things have gotten even more ridiculous in consumer technology thanks to crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter. Anyone with an idea can produce and sell what they hope will be the next must-have gadget — so long as they can build enough interest in it to get people to fork over their cash.
Throw social media and a tech press that’s always looking to uncover skunkworks projects in the mix, and you have all the ingredients needed for high tech products that generate a ton of buzz. Then suffer a spectacular product fail once consumers actually get there hands on them.
It’s a recipe that clearly can add up in disaster. But even so, it’s staggering to consider how many truly awful ideas we saw in the last year — some of which even make Juicero look good.
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Juicero
Starting off this parade of high tech product fails is the one that’s been making headlines for the past year –and most recently, for all the wrong reasons.
The Wi-Fi connected Juicero was hyped as a smart juice press and launched at an astounding $699 price tag. During the hype cycle, the company managed to raise $100 million from investors and hired 70 employees.
Within a year the price was cut to $399, an investigation showed the proprietary juice packs could be just as effectively squeezed by hand and Juicero imploded, shutting down for good on September 1.
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Kodak Ektra Smartphone
Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE:KODK) actually put its name on a smartphone in 2017, and it was as bad a move as you might think.
The Kodak Ektra hit U.S. store shelves in May, to the sound of crickets.
Who needs another smartphone option? Especially one with mediocre specs, low rent “faux leather” plastic construction, poor battery life and a massive camera bump to house a 21MP shooter that fails in its job to take great photos. Reviews note poor color reproduction, bad low light performance and autofocus that sometimes fails to work.
On its face, it was a pretty bad idea. But at $445, this smartphone earns a spot as one of the worst tech products of 2017.
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Faraday Future FF91
It may be unfair to label the Faraday Future FF91 as one of the worst tech products of the year. After all, the car doesn’t really exist other than as a prototype.
But after all the hype about this supposed Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) competitor, Faraday’s missteps in 2017 make it hard to not scoff at the FF91.
The company has been struggling, and in July it abandoned plans to build a $1 billion assembly factory in Las Vegas. AT CES 2017, Faraday Future unveiled the FF91 and the prototype failed to perform its self-parking demonstration in a very public fashion –with the company’s chief investor on stage to oversee the debut.
With Tesla way ahead and mainline automakers rapidly catching up, if you’re going to launch a high-tech car in 2017 you better get it right. Faraday didn’t.
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Griffin Connected Toaster
The Internet of Things has brought some interesting and useful products. For instance, there are now home security cameras you can check from your smartphone to see what’s going on in your house when you’re away.
Then there is the Connected Toaster, introduced by Griffin Technology at CES 2017.
The $99 Connected Toaster is Bluetooth-enabled device that aims to prevent you from messing up toasting bread by making it an app-controlled exercise. This is a classic example of a high tech solution for a problem that just doesn’t exist.
I’ll take my 20-year-old $10 model that works just fine, thanks
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Galaxy Note 7
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy Note 7 just may be the most expensive product failure –high tech or otherwise — of the past 12 months.
The company was forced to recall its flagship smartphone shortly after launch in the fall of 2016. Customers weren’t fond of the big smartphone’s tendency to burst into flames.
Samsung started off 2017 by apologizing for the Galaxy Note 7, and held a press conference to announce the findings behind its investigation into the battery failures. Needless to say, after losing over $5 billion on the Galaxy Note 7, even Samsung will admit it was one of the worst tech products released in the past year.
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Pebble 2
Like the Galaxy Note 7, the Pebble 2 smartwatch began self-destructing in late 2016 and was a full-fledged dumpster fire by the time consumers took note in 2017.
Primarily, this device belongs on this list because it marked the end of the Pebble, the smartwatch pioneer, and ended up disappointing a lot of fans.
The Pebble 2 was the followup to the smartwatch that made Pebble famous. But with money challenges, the company once again turned to crowdfunding to finance the Pebble 2, raising $12 million.
The Pebble 2 was to start delivery in January, 2017. Instead, Pebble shut down in December 2016 and shortly after sold its assets to Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT). Refunds were eventually issued, but the Pebble 2 saw the company that helped kick off the smartwatch industry go out with a whimper that also tarnished crowdfunding on its way down.
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Nokia Kerastase Hair Coach
The Kerastase Hair Coach from Nokia Corp. ADR’s (NYSE:NOK) Withings isn’t even for sale yet —it’s coming later this year— but I’m going to go out on a limb and name it one of the worst tech products of 2017.
This is a $200 connected hairbrush. It has sensors that perform a “hair analysis” and a “hair coach” that teaches you how to brush your hair.
Most people can get by with a $5 hairbrush from the drug store and a little practice.
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Samsung Bixby
Samsung makes the list a second time, for Bixby, the company’s own personal digital assistant, a la Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.
Why is Bixby one of the worst tech products of 2017? For starters, the company couldn’t get it working in English in time for the launch of its new Galaxy smartphones –despite a dedicated Bixby button.
Bixby voice support finally began rolling out to U.S. Galaxy S8 owners as a beta at the end of June. But the reception to Bixby has been less than stellar, to the point that Samsung released a software update that lets Galaxy S8 users disable the Bixby button altogether.
Hopefully the functionality will improve with time –heck, Siri is far from perfect after six years– but for 2017, Bixby is pretty underwhelming in comparison to competing voice assistants, landing it on the list.
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Lily Drone
Drones have been a hot product category, and everyone wants to get in on drone camera footage. Unfortunately, not all drones live up to the hype…
Lily Robotics’ camera drone was on the receiving end of tons of buzz because of its promise to be the ultimate accessory for selfie-loving, action sports types who wanted a drone to film their adventures. Throw the Lily drone in the air and it would fly itself, following the owner’s wrist-mounted beacon.
Investors pitched in over $15 million in funding, customers ponied up $34 million in pre-orders, then in January everything came crashing down. The awe inspiring camera footage used to sell the drone turned out to be shot with an action camera from GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO), and the drones weren’t actually ready for production. Oops.
Lily announced it was shutting down and a lawsuit against the company was launched.
The Lily drone is now back –sort of (another company relaunched the website and slapped the Lily name on a more pedestrian drone)– but the Lily drone stands out as one of the worst tech products of 2017 because it never actually got off the ground.
10 Worst Tech Products of 2017 – Yahoo Mail
It’s Verizon Communication Inc.’s (NYSE:VZ) problem now, but Yahoo’s e-mail deserves a spot on this list of the worst tech products of 2017.
There aren’t a lot of fans of the product itself, but Yahoo Mail has earned a whole new level of notoriety over the past 12 months. Two separate data breaches were announced in September and December 2016 –both had occurred several years ago, but the company took years to notice…
The first hack affected 500 million Yahoo users, the second compromised over a billion. That’s a terrible tech product and simply re-setting your password doesn’t make it any better.