No company has a perfect track record when it comes to product launches. But when a company takes as many swings at new ideas as Google, there are bound to be some epic fails along the way.
Here are the 5 biggest product flops in Google history:
1. Google Wave
What it did: Created by the same engineers who built Google Maps, Google Wave was an ambitious attempt to re-imagine email.
Google Wave allowed users to build and collaborate on documents — or “waves” — where images, video clips, polls and more could be included. Eager users were quickly confused by Wave and active development on the product ended in 2010. If you’re still interested in how Google Wave worked, here’s an hour and twenty minute product demo that explains it all.
2. Nexus Q
What it did: Google’s Nexus Q was a streaming video player that made it possible to play YouTube and Google Music on a TV — kind of an early predecessor to the Google Chromecast, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV devices that are so popular today. It sported a funky, spherical design.
The product was unveiled at Google’s 2012 I/O developers’ conference, and given to attendees. However, it was slated to retail for a whopping $299, which reviewers including The New York Times’ David Pogue slammed as way too expensive for its very limited functionality. Google decided to discontinue the Nexus Q before it was ever sold publicly.
3. Google Glass
What it did: Perhaps a bit too early for its time, Google Glass overlaid digital information, like Google Hangouts calls and emails, over the real world.
However, Glass was expensive ($1,500 per pair), had software issues, and in general, looked pretty nerdy. (” The Daily Show” did a proper job of documenting the debate over Google Glass at the time.) In 2015, Google ended sales of the first generation of Glass, though the company is slowly rolling out a revamped enterprise version of the glasses today.
What it did: Acquired by Google in 2005, Dodgeball was a service that let users check in at locations via text message. Dodgeball co-founders Alex Rainert and Dennis Crowley left Google in April 2007 amid frustrations with the company. Crowley announced the duo’s departure on Flickr, slamming Google for what he saw as not giving Dodgeball the attention it deserved. Crowley went on to found Foursquare in 2009 — the same year Dodgeball was shuttered.
What it did: Knol was Google’s response to Wikipedia, and even had the same font as its entrenched competitor. Knol, a term made up by Google to mean “unit of knowledge,” was supposed to consist of user-generated articles on a wide variety of topics. But without enough users actually generating content, Knol failed to take off and was ultimately discontinued in 2012.