VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
No one could have predicted just how shocking the outcomes would be for these companies when they released these doomed products. For this list, we'll be looking at products that either led to brands going out of business or otherwise sullied their reputation. Our countdown includes Dreamcast, Pontiac Aztek, Kanoa Wireless Headphones, and more!
Top 10 Brands Ruined by One Product
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Brands Ruined by One Product
For this list, we’ll be looking at products that either led to brands going out of business or otherwise sullied their reputation
Did you purchase any of these products? Let us know in the comments!
Sega was once a fierce competitor in the video game market, with their Genesis console selling more than 30 million units. However, the Dreamcast was nowhere near as successful. Released in 1998, it kicked off the sixth generation of video game consoles. But it unfortunately ended up becoming a footnote. While sales were strong early on, they soon declined and the Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001. Though many consider the Dreamcast to be a strong console with a great library, the timing just wasn't right, especially not with competition from the PlayStation 2. For Sega, the Dreamcast ended up being something of a nightmare, and the company hasn't released any home consoles since.
For movie buffs, MoviePass offered a great deal. The subscription service offered various membership levels to see films in theaters, including an option to view unlimited movies each month. In 2017, the unlimited plan price was changed so members could see one movie a day for only $9.95 per month. Prices went down even more if members paid for an annual subscription. Unsurprisingly, their subscriber count skyrocketed, but the low prices became unsustainable. Add in price surges, password changes, and unauthorized credit card charges, and the writing was on the wall. In 2019, the MoviePass app was no more, and their parent company filed for bankruptcy the following year. Anyone else want to see a movie about this?
#8: Digital Convergence Corporation
While the internet was exploding in popularity in the early 2000s, it didn’t make magazines disappear. Digital Convergence Corporation, a Texas-based company, created the CueCat, a feline-shaped barcode reader that users could use for scanning magazines and accessing digital information. These were heavily promoted and were given away for free. But even then, it felt like a rip-off. The CueCat was derided as being useless and it appeared on many "worst inventions" lists. A security breach that exposed users’ personal information further damaged Digital Convergence Corporation's reputation. They say cats have nine lives. But the CueCat had one very short life.
#7: ImageMovers Digital
“Mars Needs Moms” (2011)
When Disney releases a new animated film, they often do blockbuster numbers. That wasn’t the case with “Mars Needs Moms,” their second and final collaboration with production company ImageMovers. Made with motion-capture animation, many found the appearance of the characters to be unsettling. Critics weren't impressed and audiences weren't interested, and "Mars Needs Moms" became a massive flop, losing more than $100 million. It's likely Disney saw the writing on the wall, as they announced the end of ImageMovers Digital a year before the movie's release. While ImageMovers has continued to produce live-action films, their mo-cap days may be permanently in the past.
#6: Ouya Inc.
The Ouya was a microconsole launched in 2013 that ran on Android software. Users could purchase games and apps from the Ouya store. While this system wasn't targeted towards hardcore gamers, it seemed even casual gamers would rather use their phones or existing systems than try the Ouya. The system was financed via a Kickstarter campaign that raised $8.5 million. However, reviews were tepid at best and sales were even less impressive. The Ouya was discontinued in 2015, and the company's software assets were bought out by Razer Inc. Ouya? More like "oh no."
Kanoa Wireless Headphones
There are many wireless headphone brands on the market, so don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize this one. Kanoa was a company started via crowdfunding that wanted to be the next big thing in the headphone marketplace. Instead, they ended up being the next big flop. To generate hype, they sent units out for review, including one to prominent tech YouTuber Cody Crouch, a.k.a. "iTwe4kz." Crouch's review was brutal and showed viewers exactly why they shouldn’t bother with Kanoa. He also accused them of bribery in exchange for a good review. Only four days later, Kanoa was done. Say what you will about the other products on this list, but at least they made it to retail.
#4: Silicon Knights
“Too Human” (2008)
It took nearly a decade for game developer Silicon Knights to finally release “Too Human.” And when it finally dropped, few found it was worth the wait. This action RPG was plagued by behind-the-scenes difficulties, with development bouncing from PlayStation to GameCube to finally the Xbox 360. Silicon Knights also sued collaborator Epic Games for breach of contract. However, Epic Games counter-sued and were awarded $4.45 million. Mediocre reviews were a death knell for both "Too Human" and Silicon Knights. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2014, and "Too Human's" only legacy is as one of the biggest blunders in video game history.
Pontiac was once one of the proudest brands under the General Motors umbrella, but it's been defunct since 2010. While the Aztek alone might not have killed Pontiac, it certainly didn't help matters. Released in 2000, this SUV looked like an unsettling minivan, with one reviewer likening its front to an animal's snout. In addition to its ugliness, the Aztek was hardly cheap. Sales fell way below expectations, and the Aztek Empire fell before it could even start. It did receive some good reviews for its driving performance. If only it had a better design.
#2: DeLorean Motor Company
Thanks to “Back to the Future,” the DMC DeLorean will always have a place in pop culture. But both the car and its parent company were both kaput years before the first movie even came out. Issues with the DeLorean went beyond cosmetic problems. Essential car parts like brake rotors, speedometer, and toe-in were not properly functioning. Worse still, there was no official service manual, so DeLorean drivers were often out of luck when it came to repairs. After debuting in 1981, DeLorean production ended the following year, and its gull-wing doors flew up to “Bad Car Heaven.”
#1: Atari, Inc.
“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)
Atari is one of the most important names in video game history, with arcade games like "Pong" and "Space Invaders" paving the way for so much innovation in the field. But competition from Mattel and Coleco caused tension, and one game became a punchline. While a video game based on the beloved film “E.T.” might seem like a surefire success, this one was rushed into production and was universally trashed. While it might not have killed Atari outright, it was considered an instigator of the 1983 video game crash. Atari Warner Communications sold Atari in 1984, and we learned just how quickly fortunes can reverse for a company.