A recent survey undertaken by Channel 5′s The Gadget Show to uncover ‘the biggest gadget disaster of all-time’ has ironically ended with a device sharing a name with the network, as the ‘Sinclair C5′ vehicle finished first in a poll of 1,000 technology fans.
The survey was created to promote the upcoming ‘Gadget Show Live‘ tour (taking place in Birmingham (England) between 3-7 April), and amongst the list was also ‘Rabbit Mobile’, ‘Betamax’ video (a video tape format from Sony which lost out to JVC’s more popular ‘VHS’ format), MiniDisc (another media format attempted by Sony), the Sega Game Gear console, and Laserdisc, amongst others (and surprisingly not a segway in sight).
The C5, devised by electronics entrepreneur Sir Clive Sinclair in 1985, is a ‘battery and pedal-powered’ tricycle that is road-legal, carrying a top speed of 24km/h (15mph, not enough to attempt time travel in), and often sporting a tall flag to alert other motorists of its low-based presence.
Only selling 20,000 models throughout its history, the C5 was considered by those surveyed to be the biggest failure in the history of ‘gadgets’, and while second-placed Rabbit (a mobile phone system which only worked in close range of a ‘Rabbit box’) would later find success as French telecommunications giant Orange, other items on the list (including ‘Pizza Scissors’ and the ‘Amstrad Emailer’) were not so fortunate.
Gadget Show Live’s marketing manager Sally Bent gave her opinion on the results, stating: “Gadgets like the Sinclair C5, Pizza Scissors and e-mailer telephone failed to take off because they misjudged consumer demand and were designed to solve problems that simply didn’t exist. But there are many other reasons why gadgets fail and it’s not always because the products are poor. The Betamax, for example, was widely acclaimed to be superior to VHS, but a lack of marketing prowess pushed it out of the market. Sony’s MiniDisc and Sega’s Game Gear were great bits of kit that were simply overtaken by competitor products.”
While only an elite few items will ever be remembered through history for their success in the technology industry, the many that fail to make a lasting positive impression would probably rather fade away gracefully than be considered for this list, but will there be anything of a similar ‘failure level’ that makes the C5-style grade in the future?