The Dark Side of Innovation

FAILURES

With the pursuit of any new invention comes the markings of failures and even unintended consequences such as data leaks and excessive waste – the ‘dark side of innovation’ that is often not considered when designing the solution and kept as a taboo. 

We’ve gathered together some of the most iconic failures in business…

Colgate Frozen Entrees

Brand extension is a marketing strategy in which a firm marketing a product with a well-developed image uses the same brand in different product categories. The new product is called a spin-off. So why would a toothpaste brand know anything about microwavable food?
In the 80s, Colgate launched Kitchen Entrees, a line of frozen food products, in the US in 1982. They hoped to capture the growing market for ready-to-eat meals. Maybe they also hoped that customers, after enjoying their frozen meals, would go out and buy its toothpaste as well?

Kodak

Kodak, a technology company that dominated the photographic film market during most of the 20th century blew its chance to lead the digital photography revolution after inventing the world’s first digital camera.

In 1975, Steve Sasson, a Kodak engineer at the time was the first to create a digital camera, shot down by management as “cute”. Former vice-president of Kodak Don Strickland said; “We developed the world’s first consumer digital camera but we could not get approval to launch or sell it because of fear of the effects on the film market.”

In 1982, Kodak introduced the disk film camera (featured to the left) as the future of photography – a product that would produce small, low-quality images that soon passed the honeymoon fad phase. The management was so focused on the film success that they missed the digital revolution after starting it. 

Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Vine

Vine was a popular video sharing social media platform built around the offering of sharing just 6-seconds of video, a limitation that spurred creativity and humour. The popularity of Vine skyrocketed, launching it into the public as one of the most popular social media platforms in 2013 and 2014. However, Vine had a very short run as a combination of lack of clear direction, no monetisation for creators and competitor cloning resulted in a catastrophic crash in popularity. As Instagram (and oddly Vine’s parent company Twitter) released capabilities to upload 15-second video (later expanded to 60-second), creators collectively moved to other, more lucrative platforms. Although Vine’s most iconic videos are continually referenced by Millennials, the platform couldn’t keep up with more popular platforms with competitive offerings.

Microsoft's Kin Phone

Kin was a short-lived mobile phone line from Microsoft designed for users of social networking. Microsoft described the phones’ target demographic as men and women between ages 15 and 30.

The Kin ONE and TWO went on the market on May 14, 2010. Within two months, Verizon stopped selling the phones because of poor sales.

Google Glass

By all accounts, Google Glass failed to gain commercial success. Google Glass didn’t fail because of the technology, rather because it wasn’t clear to the customer what problem it solved or why they needed it. The built-in camera also raised privacy and piracy concerns as it could be recording or taking a photo at any time. On top of this Google Glass just didn’t look aesthetically appealing to wear…
Ultimately, the downfall of Google Glass was bad marketing, where the product was released in a small batch to exclusive “explorers” for $1,500USD. Early adopters were mostly tech geeks and journalists who, in the end, made a pretty bad investment.

No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky was a highly ambitious concept that promised infinite exploration of worlds and environments – the incompletable game. Among growing hype and expectation, what was presented on release date was a less than half-cooked, static game, missing key features and a very lonely storyline. Gamers who were eagerly anticipating an innovative, industry-changing game were so furious at the false advertising and low production that the developers were bombarded with death threats for months following. The game has since gone through 3 major updates over 2 years…but bad pr management has left the company with a very small audience.

Design Strategy

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