What’s in a name? If we’re talking about some of the products on the list you’re about to read: some really bad ideas. While not all of History’s 15 Worst Named Tech Products failed because of their christening, they certainly didn’t help themselves out by choosing the names they did. From bad hygiene admissions to inadvertent racism, we proudly give you the worst of the worst.
1. DigiScent iSmell
The DigiScent iSmell has gone down as one of the 25 Worst Tech Products Of All Time, according to PC World Magazine. We’re not sure if that’s right in the scents (sorry) that we never got a chance to try it, but we’ll certainly admit that the name stunk. The product itself was designed to emit a coded and digitized odor with each website that you would visit. It came with 128 “primary odors” on a cartridge. We suppose there’s a reason you can no longer buy one new.
2. Burning Love Pouch
The Burning Love Pouch was a furry or felt iPod holder that limited control and screen access while leaving much of your device exposed. It didn’t quite catch on with the masses despite being priced at around $15. It was part of a so-called “sock” craze that sites like iLounge often railed against (basically: devices that hid the iPod from its owner). Today people want to be able to interact with their devices without going through a big production just to gain access. As for the name, our best guess is that Elvis came on the radio right around the time company execs were trying to think of a good one.
Netflix is a company built on great ideas, but even the best occasionally have a misfire. The company’s now infamous decision to split its DVDs-by-mail service off from the streaming service, and then slap this hastily thought-up moniker on it, was quickly met with derision. It eventually forced them to do a 180 and rescind among falling stock prices. Considering that it caused the stock to tumble from 300 to 50 in a few months, we would say it was a good call, especially now that it’s back over 400.
4. Eee PC 1101HA
While this 2009 Netbook was okay — CNET commends its battery life, screen size, and resolution — it ultimately suffered from being slower and more expensive than most of its competition. And what are we supposed to do with that name — scream it?
5. The GIMP
GIMP (or GNU Image Manipulation Program) isn’t the best photo editor around, but it’s free and flexible if you’re looking for a cost affordable way of editing images. However, the rather unfortunate name is made worse by a certain Quentin Tarantino film — specifically, a character from the hard-to-watch basement scene. (Please don’t make us say any more.)
6. Ogio Shling
Okay, golfers, we’ll admit that the Ogio Shling in itself is not a bad idea. It subverts the traditional shoulder strap for a double-strap system that evenly transports the load of your golf bag across your shoulders instead of burdening just one. This allows you to focus your energy and efforts on the game and having a good time. But “Shling” is just one replaced vowel away from being a juvenile synonym for a certain part of the anatomy, and that makes it a shoo-in for our list.
7. iMuffs Bluetooth Headphones
The iMuffs Bluetooth Headphones are one of many Bluetooth-enabled listening apparatuses built for iPhone and iPod. While we know where Wi-Gear was going with this name when they came up with it (earmuffs), we live in a culture that will take any opportunity it can to sexualize something. Unfortunately, this name makes it pretty easy to do.
8. The Pentax *ist Series
This model of Pentax DSLR is a 6.1 megapixel that comes equipped with a max resolution of 3008 x 2008, SD/MMC card slot, and a name that looks like it was picked by the MS-DOS Society. Seriously, what are we supposed to do with this? Is it pronounced “ist,” “eyest,” or “asteriskist”? Anyone’s guess. As for the camera itself, the company appears to have quit making it sometime in 2006.
9. Sony Bloggie
First, the feature set: 1080p video capture, 5x optical zoom lens, 2.5-inch swiveling LCD, rechargeable (and removable) lithium ion battery, mini HDMI connector, and the ability to charge via USB. Impressive. But what isn’t impressive? Bloggie. While it could have been worse, and at one time was — prior Sony names for their pocket camcorder line included NSC-GC1 and Webbie — we’re not sure where they were going with this.
The Chumby was actually a cute little guy, crafted from leather and plastic, running on Linux, and made to be fully customizable by the user. It resembled a clock radio with a small touchscreen and ran on AC power with a 9-volt battery connector for backup. The company behind it — Chumby Industries — axed the hardware line in April 2012. Platform support ended in February 2013. We’re not sure the name had anything to do with it, but considering that Wired called this one of the top gadgets of 2008, we’re betting it didn’t help.
11. Ecoxgear Ecoxbt
It’s a Bluetooth speaker, a speakerphone, completely waterproof, and we have no idea what to call it. Where does the logic come in naming your product something that is impossible for customers to pronounce? We have no clue. But if you find yourself in the market for one, we suggest ordering online, or, if at a store, just point to it. Bad name aside, it is a cool product, and you’ll be able to listen for 10 straight hours before ever needing a recharge.
12. The I’m Watch
“What your smartphone was missing before is finally here,” makers of the i’m Watch claim. Let’s see, what kind of special features set it apart? It “connects via Bluetooth, brings you calls, SMS, emails, notifications, and any app directly to your wrist.” Translation: it’s the same exact thing as a smartphone, except it has a much smaller screen and you wear it on your wrist. Nice try. We suppose you could do worse when it comes to smart watches, but it’s doubtful that you could find one with a worse name.
13. Sumvision Squircle
What the heck is a Squircle? Apparently, it’s a square with rounded edges. It’s also an ultra-cheap SD card MP3 player, quite dated, and no longer available, if Amazon is to be believed. As one reviewer stated, “It feels quite cheap, made of that … plastic that you can smell.”
Things started out so well for this little handheld console. The Gizmondo boasted many features that could not be found at the time in its bigger-named competitors (Sony PSP/Nintendo DS), including Bluetooth, a 1.3-megapixel camera, SMS/MMS, GPS and GPRS. Tech journalists expected big things, but a bad run of luck, poor management, and a name that sounded like a Luchador wrestler, led to a dismal showing of under 25,000 units sold. This caused GamePro to call it “the worst selling handheld console in history.” In February 2006, the company behind it — Tiger Telematics — declared bankruptcy. A year later, Gametrailers named Gizmondo “the worst console of all time.”
15. TrekStor’s i.Beat blaxx
In 2007, TrekStor immediately changed the name of their i.Beat blaxx MP3 player in response to an open letter condemning the name (and the PR department) from Gizmodo. A day after the letter appeared, TrekStor’s vice-president and CTO Gil Szmigiel responded:
TrekStor is shocked by the way our new MP3 player’s name ‘TrekStor i.Beat blaxx’ is perceived. Of course the word ‘Beat’ is not meant as a verb, but refers to the beats of the music you are listening to. More than 4 years ago, TrekStor introduced the i.Beat MP3 player series that today consists of more than 25 different players – all named individually. ‘blaxx’ was chosen, because the player is designed with an elegant black piano finish.
As a reaction to the bad connotation of the name, TrekStor decided to rename the product ‘TrekStor blaxx’ — effective immediately. We sincerely apologize to everybody whom we offended by the initial name of this product and want to emphasize that TrekStor condemns violence and any form of racism.”
Which of History’s 15 Worst Named Tech Products do you think deserves the cone of shame? And what do you think we here at Intertech should have included on the list? Sound off in our comments section below!