Liftoff with Jason Snell and Stephen Hackett - Listen

Not all tech products succeed once on the market, and some are killed off with little warning. Flashback looks back at failed tech products to see what we can learn by studying their demises.



Latest Episodes

#10: Pebble

June 18th, 2020 · 47 minutes

The smartwatch movement didn't start with Apple or Google, but a little company named Pebble. Through a series of hugely successful Kickstarters, the company put out several well-reviewed products before being steamrolled by the platform-makers.

#9: The Apple III

June 4th, 2020 · 46 minutes

The Apple II was a big hit, but before the Macintosh took over, Cupertino shipped a couple of duds, the worst of which was the ill-fated (and kinda melty) Apple III.

#8: The Microsoft Kin

May 21st, 2020 · 34 minutes

Microsoft was late to the smartphone party, and its first entrance, the Kin, was designed for teens and young adults who didn't want or need an iPhone, Android phone or Blackberry. The only problem? That audience didn't really exist.

#7: AOL Instant Messenger

May 7th, 2020 · 41 minutes

It is time to add Stephen and Quinn to your Buddy List.

#6: The Be Computer Company

April 23rd, 2020 · 41 minutes

Started by former members of Apple's leadership team, Be was formed to take on the Mac and other computers of the mid-90s. The company wrote its own operating system and shipped dual-CPU towers before failing to be bought by Apple and slowly fading away.

#5: Three Failed Game Consoles

April 9th, 2020 · 57 minutes

On this episode, Quinn and Stephen explore three failed game consoles: the Apple Pippin, Nintendo Virtual Boy and the Ouya.

#4: webOS

March 26th, 2020 · 73 minutes

With its webOS hardware, including the Pre, Pixi and more, Palm (and later HP) tried to take on the giants of the early smartphone wars. While webOS was hugely innovative, it wasn't enough to break into the most important market in consumer electronics history.

#3: The GM EV1

March 12th, 2020 · 63 minutes

Electric cars may seem like a 21st century phenomenon, but they are far from modern invention. Along the winding path to the present was the GM EV1, the first purpose-designed electric vehicle. It went on sale in 1996, but within a decade, General Motors had recalled and crushed almost all of them.

#2: The Microsoft Zune

February 27th, 2020 · 51 minutes

In the 2000s, the iPod was a true juggernaut, simply dominating the portable music player market. Microsoft wanted a piece of the pie, and launched the Zune 30, which eventually spread into a line of both hardware products and software services. However, it barely made a dent in Apple's commanding lead. This episode, Quinn and Stephen look into wh…

#1: The Newton

February 11th, 2020 · 42 minutes

Today, Apple is well known for its mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, but in the 1990s, the Macintosh-only company invented the Personal Digital Assistant. Its PDA was the Newton, a family of handwriting-based devices that promised mobile productivity. However, after five short years, the whole line was cancelled. This episode, Stephen and Q…