Product Design Fails

We learn from our mistakes.  Everyone from your parents to your teachers has tried to tell you that, but we don’t always listen.  Even in the design world, manufacturers sometimes ignore the lessons of history and create a product that seems so mind-bogglingly stupid that one can’t help but wonder what these designers were thinking…

We learn from our mistakes.  Everyone from your parents to your teachers has tried to tell you that, but we don’t always listen.  Even in the design world, manufacturers sometimes ignore the lessons of history and create a product that seems so mind-bogglingly stupid that one can’t help but wonder what these designers were thinking in the first place.  These are just a few examples of designs gone awry.  Since StudioRed handles a lot of technological product design, this article focuses on notable technology design gaffes; however, design fails like these can be found in nearly every industry.

Google Wave – This was an online collaboration tool designed by Google in 2009.  It was gone in less than three years, and there’s no confusion as to why it didn’t last.  The basic concept of it was reasonable, but the user-interface was unnecessarily convoluted, so users had no idea how to use the thing.

Macintosh TV – In 1993, Apple tried to put a computer and a television in a single unit.  The result was the short-lived Macintosh TV.  Combining the two technologies created inferior versions of both, but the real killer was the incredibly unappealing boxy design that resembled something out of an Orwellian nightmare.

Nokia N-Gage – Once again, combining two technologies was the problem here.  The Nokia N-Gage attempted to combine a hand-held gaming console with a phone.  Today, that’s hardly a new concept, but at the time it was revolutionary.  Unfortunately, the design was unwieldy.  Changing the game required that you removed the battery, and the speakers for the phone were on the side of the device, forcing consumers to hold the device awkwardly if they actually wanted to use it as a phone.

Google TV’s Sony Remote – An example of providing way too many options, this remote included every button imaginable, two game pads, and a full keyboard.  One would have to concentrate more on the remote than the TV in order to make it work.

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