Don't believe the hype: The 21 biggest IT flops

Overhyped 'Next Big Things' of the technology business

The runners-up

Not all flops were as spectacular as the ones mentioned above. Many were momentarily successful or technically adept -- or they simply weren't hyped as much as our main flops. Here we present six additional flops that we consider also-rans -- but perhaps you'll think differently.

Apple Lisa

Before the Macintosh, there was the Apple Lisa, released in early 1983. Unlike the Macintosh, the Lisa went nowhere fast.

It sported a graphical user interface and supported multitasking, but it was slow, slow, slow and expensive -- just under US$10,000 at first. Its demise was hastened both by the growing popularity of the IBM PC and by the release of Apple's sleeker, less expensive Macintosh in 1984.

Dreamcast

Sega was an important early player in the game console business, but its fortunes had faded by the late '90s. It hoped its Dreamcast system, launched in the U.S. in late 1999, would help it regain its place in the game console pantheon.

But even though the device sold more than 10 million units, Dreamcast fell victim to other game consoles, most notably the PlayStation 2, which was released in spring of 2000.

NeXT

If it's possible for a failure to be a huge success, this is it. Launched by Steve Jobs in 1985 after his exile from Apple, NeXT's platform and high-end computers didn't sell well.

But when Jobs sold NeXT to Apple in 1996 for a reported US$400 million, the NeXT operating system eventually became a significant part of Mac OS X.

OS/2

This operating system wasn't a true failure, but its hype far exceeded its success.

When it was released in 1987, OS/2 was a joint project between Microsoft and IBM, but when that marriage hit the rocks -- about the time Microsoft released Windows 3.0 -- IBM decided to go it alone with OS/2. Remarkably, even though IBM's interest in OS/2 faded out in the '90s, it only stopped supporting the operating system at the end of last year.

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David Haskin

Computerworld
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