15 disastrous product launches that were quickly killed

Monday morning, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that Qwikster is no longer.

Hastings decided to listen to shareholders and consumers and kill Qwikster before even giving it a chance.

Was it the right move?

Netflix shares plunged around seven per cent Monday while the rest of the market rallied. Investors clearly aren't impressed, but they may just be responding to the company's acknowledgement that Qwikster was a failure. Long term abandoning a bad idea could help the stock.

Plenty of other big companies have abandoned products after disastrous launches. We picked out some of the most quickly cancelled products in history.

Ford Edsel: 3 years

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The name "Edsel" is synonymous with "marketing failure." Ford invested $400 million into the car, which it introduced in 1957. But Americans literally weren't buying it, because they wanted "smaller, more economic vehicles," according to Associated Content:

Other pundits have blamed its failure on Ford Motors execs never really defining the model's niche in the car market. The pricing and market aim of most Edsel models was somewhere between the highest-end Ford and the lowest-end Mercury.

It was taken off the market in 1960.

Joost: 2+ years

Joost, originally known as "The Venice Project," was supposed to be a peer-to-peer TV network for the future, invented by the European geniuses behind Skype. The company recruited a rising star -- Mike Volpi -- away from Cisco to become its CEO. It got a deal with CBS. Joost was supposed to reinvent the way we consumed professional video.

Instead, Hulu, a joint venture between News Corp., NBC and Disney became the go-to site for TV episodes-on-the-web.

Meanwhile, Joost had all sorts of problems with its P2P architecture, its bulky software player, its content library, etc. After launching in Sept. 2007, it never took off, with its scraps selling in late 2009.

Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water: 2 years

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This was an interesting experiment in brand extension. Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water launched in 1990, and didn't fare well. Turns out beer drinkers only want one thing from their favorite label: beer.

Cosmopolitan Yogurt: 18 months

Cosmopolitan made an interesting decision to launch a brand of yogurt in 1999. Needless to say, the yogurt market was already saturated, and Cosmo's readers were content enough reading the magazine.

HD DVD: 2 years

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Sponsored mostly by Toshiba, HD DVD was supposed to become the hi-def successor to the DVD when it launched in March 2006.

But the Sony-led Blu-ray faction ended up winning the format war when Warner Bros. announced it was dumping HD DVD for Blu-ray on Jan. 4, 2008.

About a month later, Toshiba said it would shut down its HD DVD efforts.

Pepsi A.M. and Crystal: Both 1 year

In 1989, Pepsi tried to target the "breakfast cola drinker" with Pepsi a.m. It only lasted a year.

In 1992, Pepsi tried again, this time with a clear cola, "Crystal Pepsi." No dice -- it died in 1993.

McDonald's Arch Deluxe: 1 year

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In 1996, McDonald's introduced the Arch Deluxe. It was intended to appeal to "urban sophisticates" -- outside of its target demographic. To reach this group McDonald's spent $100 million, which makes it one of the most expensive product flops in history.

Microsoft Bob: 1 year

Microsoft Bob was supposed to be a user-friendly interface for Windows, a project that was at one point managed by Bill Gates' now wife. Microsoft killed it one year after launching it in 1995.

Why?

"Unfortunately, the software demanded more performance than typical computer hardware could deliver at the time and there wasn't an adequately large market," Bill Gates later wrote. "Bob died."

Orbitz soda: 1 year

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Although the soft drink, which looks like a lava lamp, appealed to young kids, it was not tasty (people compared it to cough syrup). It disappeared off shelves within a year of debuting in 1997.

However, Orbitz is still sold on eBay for a premium.

Mobile ESPN: 8 months

Mobile ESPN, introduced in January 2006, was one of the biggest flame-outs of "mobile virtual network operators," or MVNOs, last decade, which also included Amp'd Mobile, Helio, Disney Mobile, and others.

The idea was that ESPN would exclusively sell a phone that offered exclusive ESPN content and video, leasing network access from Verizon Wireless. But ESPN only had one phone at launch, a Sanyo device selling for $400.

No one bought it, and ESPN quickly shut down the service, instead providing content to Verizon's mobile Internet service.

JooJoo: 11 months

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In the era of a $499 Apple iPad, an inferior tablet computer that also costs $499 doesn't work. (You may remember this device from its previous title, the CrunchPad.) It came out in 2009 and was gone by 2010.

But JooJoo backer Fusion Garage continues to tinker and it's coming out with another tablet, which will also flop.

Google Lively: 4 months

For some reason, Google thought it had to compete with Second Life in mid-2008, with a virtual world called "Lively," which came out in July 2008. (Except unlike Second Life, Lively was supposed to be sex-free.)

When the economy went down the toilet, those dreams faded fast, and Google quickly pulled the plug by November 2008.

RJ Reynold's smokeless cigarettes: 4 months

In the 1980s, just as all the anti-smoking campaigns were heating up, RJ Reynold's put $325 million into a new product: smokeless cigarettes.

They didn't work, and people weren't buying them -- so four months later, they were gone.

New Coke: 77 Days

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In the early 1980s, Coke was losing ground to Pepsi. So it tried to create a product that would taste more like Pepsi.

While New Coke fared OK in nationwide taste tests before launching in 1985, it turned out those were misleading.

Coke abandoned the product after a few weeks, and went back to its old formula. It also gave its product a new name: Coca-Cola Classic.

HP Touchpad: 49 Days

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After just a month and a half on the market, HP gave up the TouchPad and its mobile OS, WebOS in August.

The tablet was no iPad killer, selling just 25,000 units for Best Buy over the 49 days it was on their shelves.

Where does this put the TouchPad in the pantheon of tech flops? Well, it lasted one day longer than the Microsoft Kin phones, another recent flop.

So it's not the worst flop ever.

And, in fairness to HP, the TouchPad wasn't that bad. It was rough around the edges, but those could have been smoothed in the coming months. It just didn't really do anything better than the iPad, which means it's just like every other tablet out there.

Qwikster: 23 days

In September, Reed Hastings announced that Netflix would spin off Qwikster as a DVD rental business. This move met tons of criticism, and Hastings backtracked on his statement 23 days later.

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