Oakley-Thump-2004There are a number of gadgets that have sold millions, made their inventors household names and changed our day to day lives. But for every iPhone there are dozens if not hundreds of gadgets that have failed to live up to their hype. These are 6 gadgets that didn’t quite manage to change the world in the way that they might have hoped. 

Oakley Thump (2004)

We’re sure that the initial idea of merging sunglasses with an mp3 player seemed like a good idea, but the designers should have had second thoughts once the problems started piling up. For a start, the storage capacity was quite small, forcing wearers to choose between listening to the same songs repeatedly or spending time transferring music to and from the sunglasses. Then again, even if you had a large music library you wouldn’t be able to easily find the songs you wanted to listen to. Oh, and they were really expensive. Nevertheless, Oakley Thumps are still on sale - while the storage capacity has increased and the price has decreased, the sunglasses are ultimately still a gadget for an increasingly niche audience.

N-Gage (2003)

Nokia’s N-Gage was supposed to challenge Nintendo’s hugely successful handheld gaming systems by merging a powerful gameplay device with a mobile phone. Being capable of online play as well as music and video playback, it had an abundance of features compared to Nintendo’s rather basic Game Boy Advance – so why was it outsold by 100 to 1 in its first week on the market? Because of one fundamental flaw: it was lousy at playing games. Unimpressive sales meant the N-Gage was pulled from shelves within several years, although Nokia should at least be commended for realising the potential of mobile gaming years before the launch of app stores.

Amstrad E-m@iler (2000)

Lord Sugar is rightly regarded as one of the UK’s most significant entrepreneurs, but his telephone-email device wasn’t his greatest moment. Owners of the phone were able to access emails on an LCD screen, which doubled as an advertising portal, but the extortionate rate for checking these emails (a call to a premium telephone number was required) hindered any chance the device had of becoming popular and the poor performance of the gadget led to a series of poor financial results at Amstrad. CEO Bob Watkins even resigned over the device, apparently because he disagreed with Lord Sugar’s insistence on flogging the failing machine. Even Lord Sugar couldn’t make the E-M@iler a success, and in 2011 the service ended for good.

HD DVD (2006)

Like Betamax before it, there was nothing inherently wrong with HD DVD – it just couldn’t compete with its more popular rival, Blu Ray. The deciding factor wasn’t ultimately down to the big movie studios, but video game consoles – while Sony’s Playstation 3 was Blu Ray compatible out of the box, the Microsoft’s X-Box 360 required a costly attachment to play HD DVD. Sony’s Blu Ray playing Trojan horse gave it the momentum it needed to succeed and in 2008 Toshiba, the biggest backer of HD DVD, announced it was dropping support for the rival format.

Virtual Boy (1995)

In 2011 Nintendo released the 3DS, a handheld console able to display stereoscopic 3D images, but this wasn’t their first foray into handheld 3D gaming. That honour goes to the Virtual Boy, a console that wasn’t even released in Europe because of extremely poor sales in North America and Japan. Within a year of its initial release Nintendo stopped selling the system completely. While the Virtual Boy failed to sell, it showed that Nintendo wasn’t afraid to take a risk – a strategy that paid off massively for later consoles such as the Wii and original Nintendo DS.

This article was written on behalf of helpucover. helpucover is a trading style of Cardif Pinnacle, an insurance company who offer a range of cover including Income Protection, Pet Insurance, car GAP insurance and Gadget Insurance. Visit us online at http://www.helpucover.co.uk