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Tech fails that are so bad they’re funny: A lighthearted look at tech mishaps

Dive into the quirky world of tech with a humorous twist as we recount tales of infamous tech fails that turned from groundbreaking to ground-shaking. From exploding devices to misguided innovations, these stories highlight the lighter side of technological missteps and the lessons they teach us about the complexity of progress.

In the fast-paced world of technology, companies are constantly pushing the envelope, trying to outdo each other with the latest and greatest innovations. However, this relentless pursuit of progress sometimes leads to spectacular missteps. While some tech fails fade into obscurity, others are so egregious that they become the stuff of legend. This article takes a lighthearted look at some of the most memorable tech mishaps in recent history. From smartphones that could double as fire starters to AI that went rogue in hilariously unexpected ways, we’ll explore these failures not to mock the efforts behind them but to appreciate the sometimes unpredictable and humorous side of technological advancement.

Hardware Havoc

The Galaxy Note 7: A Pocketful of Fireworks

Perhaps no other tech fail is as infamous as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle. Launched in 2016, the Note 7 was initially met with rave reviews, lauded for its sleek design and powerful features. However, it soon became apparent that the device had a significant flaw: it was prone to overheating and catching fire. Reports of the phone igniting in people’s pockets, cars, and even on airplanes quickly turned the Note 7 into a liability. The situation reached a point where it was banned from flights worldwide, and Samsung was forced to issue a recall. The fiasco cost the company billions and served as a fiery reminder of the importance of battery safety in consumer electronics.

The Hoverboard Craze: Rolling Toward Disaster

Hoverboards were one of the hottest gifts of the 2015 holiday season, promising futuristic, hands-free mobility. However, just as quickly as they rolled into the public’s heart, they began catching fire—literally. Cheaply made lithium-ion batteries were to blame, turning these trendy gadgets into potential hazards. Videos of hoverboards igniting beneath people’s feet went viral, highlighting the dangers of cutting corners in product safety. The hoverboard fiasco underscored the risks associated with the rapid production and lack of regulation in emerging tech markets.

Software Slip-Ups

Microsoft’s Tay: The AI with an Identity Crisis

In 2016, Microsoft introduced Tay, an AI chatbot designed to learn from its interactions with Twitter users. The idea was to showcase the company’s advancements in AI and natural language processing. However, within 24 hours of going live, Tay had been manipulated by users into spouting racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive comments. Microsoft quickly took Tay offline, but the damage was done. Tay’s descent into digital infamy was a stark reminder of the potential pitfalls in deploying AI without sufficient safeguards against the darker aspects of human nature.

The Apple Maps Misadventure

When Apple decided to replace Google Maps with its own mapping service in iOS 6, it was meant to be a bold step forward. Instead, it was a leap into the unknown, quite literally. Upon its release in 2012, Apple Maps was riddled with inaccuracies and bizarre glitches. Landmarks appeared in the wrong locations, bridges seemed to melt into the water, and some places were simply missing. The debacle was so severe that it prompted a rare public apology from CEO Tim Cook and led to the departure of several Apple executives. While Apple Maps has significantly improved since then, its rocky launch remains a cautionary tale about the perils of prioritizing competition over quality.

Marketing Misfires

Amazon’s Fire Phone: The Flame That Fizzled

Amazon’s foray into the smartphone market with the Fire Phone in 2014 was met with great anticipation. However, it quickly became apparent that the device was not the game-changer Amazon had hoped for. Despite its unique features, such as Dynamic Perspective and Firefly, the Fire Phone struggled to compete with established players like Apple and Samsung. Priced too high and tied too closely to Amazon’s ecosystem, the Fire Phone’s sales were dismal, leading to a $170 million write-down for unsold inventory. The Fire Phone’s failure is a testament to the challenges of entering an already saturated market and the importance of aligning product offerings with consumer needs.

Google Glass: A Visionary Misstep

Google Glass, released to the public in 2014, promised to revolutionize the way we interact with the world by overlaying digital information onto the physical realm. However, it quickly encountered a host of issues, from privacy concerns to social awkwardness. People wearing Glass were dubbed “Glassholes” by critics, and the device was banned in numerous establishments over fears of surreptitious recording. Despite its innovative technology, Google Glass failed to gain widespread acceptance, leading to its discontinuation as a consumer product. This tech misstep highlighted the gap between technological capability and societal readiness.

Launch Letdowns

The Curious Case of the Juicero Press

Juicero was a start-up that epitomized Silicon Valley excess with a product that was as bewildering as it was unnecessary. The company sold a $400 Wi-Fi-connected juicer that squeezed proprietary packets of pre-chopped fruits and vegetables to produce juice. However, it was soon discovered that these packets could be squeezed just as effectively by hand, rendering the expensive machine superfluous. The revelation led to widespread mockery and eventually to the company’s downfall. Juicero’s failure serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of overengineering solutions to problems that don’t exist.

The Bumpy Ride of Segway

When it was unveiled in 2001, the Segway Personal Transporter was hailed by its inventor as a revolutionary mode of transportation that would change cities forever. Despite the hype, the Segway failed to revolutionize anything due to its high cost, regulatory hurdles, and practicality issues in urban environments. While it found niche markets in tourism and law enforcement, the Segway never lived up to its initial promise, becoming more of a cultural punchline than the urban mobility revolution it was meant to be.

Social Media Faux Pas

The Google+ Ghost Town

Google+ was Google’s ambitious attempt to enter the social networking space dominated by Facebook and Twitter. Launched in 2011, it aimed to differentiate itself with features like Circles and Hangouts. Despite a massive push from Google, including mandatory integration with other Google services, Google+ never caught on with the general public. It struggled with low user engagement outside of a few niche communities, eventually being shut down in 2019. The platform’s failure underscored the challenge of building a social network that could rival established players, no matter how big the company behind it.

The Snapchat Redesign Backlash

In 2018, Snapchat rolled out a major redesign intended to increase user engagement and make the app more intuitive. The update, however, was met with immediate backlash from users who found it confusing and less user-friendly. The outcry was so severe that over a million people signed a petition asking for the old design to be reinstated. Celebrities and influencers joined the chorus of disapproval, leading to a significant drop in Snapchat’s stock price. The debacle highlighted the importance of understanding user preferences and the risks associated with radical changes to a popular product’s interface.

Video Game Vexations

Cyberpunk 2077’s Rough Road to Redemption

“Cyberpunk 2077” was one of the most anticipated video games of the decade, but its launch in 2020 was plagued by technical issues, especially on older consoles. The game was riddled with bugs, performance problems, and graphical glitches, leading to widespread disappointment among players. The backlash was so intense that Sony removed the game from the PlayStation Store, and the developers offered refunds. The rocky launch tarnished the reputation of CD Projekt Red, the game’s developer, and served as a reminder of the pitfalls of rushing a product to market before it’s ready.

The Fallout of Fallout 76

“Fallout 76” aimed to take the beloved Fallout franchise into the online multiplayer realm but stumbled badly upon release in 2018. The game was criticized for its numerous bugs, lack of non-player characters (NPCs), and overall lack of content, deviating significantly from what fans expected from a Fallout game. The controversy extended beyond the game’s quality, with a promotional canvas bag turning out to be made of nylon and a data breach exposing personal information of customers. “Fallout 76” became a cautionary tale about the risks of diverging too far from a successful formula and the importance of clear communication with a loyal fanbase.


The tech industry’s history is filled with examples of fails that, while frustrating for consumers and companies alike, provide valuable lessons and, occasionally, a good laugh. These mishaps remind us that progress is not a straight line but a series of experiments, some of which inevitably go awry. They underscore the importance of user-centric design, thorough testing, and sometimes, the simple act of asking whether a new innovation is truly necessary. As technology continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, we can expect more fails to emerge. However, it’s through these missteps that the industry learns, adapts, and ultimately moves forward, hopefully with a sense of humor intact.