John Gibson, Netflix Canada User, Hit With $11,000 Bill
One Canada resident was shocked when he saw a mobile bill in excess of $10,000 after he let his grandchildren stream several Netflix movies during a family vacation.
As originally reported by CBC News Saskatchewan, John Gibson and his family recently went on vacation to Phoenix, Arizona. During the trip, Gibson let the children watch Netflix on a laptop, which was outfitted with Gibson's mobile broadband card. The children incurred a jaw-dropping fee of $11,336.62 for streaming Shrek, Spiderman and Curious George. Why? Because the card was issued by Canada-based SaskTel, which charges high roaming fees for data usage outside the country.
The mobile provider cut the bill down considerably, but Gibson still has to pay $1,000.
"It's sort of my fault," he told the CBC. "I'll pay the thousand bucks and — lesson learned."
Netflix launched in Canada in September 2010 as a streaming-only service that costs $7.99 per month. One year later, the company's U.S. branch had begun to aggressively phase out its DVD-by-mail service.
“We launched in Canada to see how would streaming-only perform? Is broadband good enough that streaming only, without DVD, is a good enough product to catch on?” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told Canada's Globe and Mail in September 2011. "We launched streaming-only in the U.S., which we did because of Canada, and that took off really fast. Those two things made us say, DVD’s a great business but it’s a different business. And we should put it in a separate brand, in a subsidiary called Qwikster."
The idea to spin off the company's DVD service proved ill-conceived, and in October 2011, only one month after announcing plans for Qwikster, Hastings decided to kill off the new site before it had officially opened. The extremely unpopular Qwikster plan followed an equally unpopular move by Netflix U.S. in July of that year, when the company split its $9.99 streaming and DVD-by-mail combo plan into two standalone plans. Each of the service plans were priced at $7.99 per month, but a combo plan would now cost 60 percent more than it previously had. By the end of Q3 2011, Netflix had lost 800,000 U.S. subscribers as a result of the repricing. The company regained 600,000 subscribers in the U.S. during the fourth quarter.
[Hat tip NY Daily News]Netflix's Qwikster debacle ranks among the biggest flops in technology from 2011. Take a look at the slideshow to see other mega-fails from last year.
If there is one lesson to be learned from The Great Qwikster Debacle of 2011 it is this: Don't take your perfectly good service and make it more expensive and then harder to use. In July, Netflix <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/12/netflix-price-subscription-plan_n_895779.html" target="_hplink">unbundled their DVD rental and streaming plan,</a> effectively forcing customers to pay $6 more for the combo plan they had grown accustomed to. Then, in September, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/19/qwikster-netflix-streaming-dvds_n_969135.html" target="_hplink">Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced</a> that DVD rentals and streaming would become two totally separate services. The streaming service would retain the name "Netflix," while the DVD branch would be called "Qwikster." Reactions were predictably negative, and on October 10, before Qwikster had even launched, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/10/qwikster-dead-netflix-kills_n_1003098.html" target="_hplink">Netflix ended the failed experiment. </a> But the company has paid dearly. In October, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/netflix-account-losses-q3-2011_n_1029269.html" target="_hplink">Netflix announced</a> that it had lost 800,000 subscribers during the July - September quarter. In November, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/22/nflx-netflix-hits-20-month-low_n_1108357.html" target="_hplink">the AP reported</a> that the company had lost 75 percent of its market value. Hastings, who is largely blamed for the blunders, will see his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/22/reed-hastings-netflix-stock_n_1166059.html" target="_hplink">2012 stock options awards cut in half</a>. <em>Image via AP</em>
HP's Attempted Spinoff Of PC Branch
In August, Hewlett-Packard stunned customers when it announced plans to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/hp-will-keep-pc-unit_n_1043709.html" target="_hplink">spin off its entire PC unit</a> in order to focus on enterprise software. This move was part of then-CEO Leo Apotheker's plan to reinvent HP, currently the world's largest PC maker in terms of market share. Apotheker's new direction would have steered HP away from hardware and toward "enterprise information management." But it wasn't to be. In September, former eBay President and CEO <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/22/meg-whitman-hp-ceo_n_976062.html" target="_hplink">Meg Whitman replaced Apotheker at the helm of HP</a>. A month later, <a href="http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1821731" target="_hplink">research firm Gartner found</a> that HP's PC market share had grown by 3.2 percent during the third quarter of 2011, despite upheaval inside the company. Soon after, the plan to shed personal computers was dead. <a href="http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2011/111027xa.html" target="_hplink">Whitman issued a statement</a> in late October regarding the reversal. "HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG. It's clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees," she said. Apotheker's botched reinvention plan also involved axing smartphones and tablets running webOS software, including the HP TouchPad, and possibly selling off webOS. The company now plans to retain webOS and will open-source the platform's code. <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/09/hps-whitman-well-make-webos-powered-tablets-in-2013/" target="_hplink">Whitman also told TechCrunch</a> that the company aims to manufacture new webOS-powered tablets by 2013.
If the saga of the BlackBerry PlayBook were a book, it would be the saddest story ever told. In an odd choice, PlayBook developers excluded apps for email, contacts and calendars from a tablet that parent company RIM billed as the "<a href="http://us.blackberry.com/business/software/playbook/" target="_hplink">world's first professional-grade tablet.</a>" Popular apps for social networking and entertainment, such as Facebook and 'Angry Birds,' were also absent from the tablet at launch. To make matters worse, RIM has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/26/blackberry-playbook-os-2-delay-rim_n_1033536.html" target="_hplink">delayed the PlayBook OS 2.0 update</a>, a software upgrade critical to the tablet's survival, until February 2012. As the holidays approached, RIM <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/22/blackberry-playbook-price-drop_n_1107941.html" target="_hplink">slashed the price of the PlayBook</a> to $199. Just six months earlier, the tablet had launched with a $499 price tag. <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/12/rim-to-take-485-million-loss-on-playbook-inventory.html" target="_hplink">According to the Los Angeles Times,</a> RIM said in early December that it lost $485 million due to unsold PlayBooks.
Playstation Network Outage
In April, the Sony Playstation Network experienced a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/26/playstation-network-hacker-stole-user-data_n_854106.html" target="_hplink">massive data breach</a> that forced the company to shut down the cloud-based platform for nearly a month in order to fix the security issues. The company informed customers that the names, addresses and possibly even credit card data belonging to the PSN's more than 70 million users <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/sony-playstation-network-hack-how-to-protect-yourself_n_854293.html#s269979&title=Change_Your_Password" target="_hplink">had already been compromised.</a> Unfortunately, Sony had waited in silence for a week before taking the network offline. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/08/sony-hack-problems_n_873443.html" target="_hplink">Hackers continued to target the PSN</a> when Sony began bringing it back online in May. All PSN services were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/02/playstation-store-back-online_n_870147.html" target="_hplink">fully restored by early June</a>. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/23/sony-playstation-network-hack-cost_n_865432.html" target="_hplink">According to the Associated Press,</a> Sony spent $170 million on the fallout from the debacle.
Coming from a company best known for bluetooth headsets and the popular <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2011/11/23/holiday-gifts-iphone-ipod-speakers_n_1110109.html" target="_hplink">Jambox speaker,</a>the November launch of<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/jawbone-unveils-up-wristband_n_1072535.html" target="_hplink"> Jawbone's Up fitness tracker</a>was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/jawbone-unveils-up-wristband_n_1072535.html" target="_hplink">awaited with anticipation.</a> The Up was marketed as a device which, when worn around the wrist, would track the user's sleeping, eating and exercise habits, which it did -- sometimes. As the folks at Engadget, who went through two dud wristbands during their testing process, <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/06/jawbone-up-review/" target="_hplink">wrote in their review</a>: "It's a shame the Up wristband is breaking all over the place, because it's otherwise a promising idea for a gadget." <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/09/tech/gaming-gadgets/jawbone-explains-up-failures/index.html" target="_hplink">So many users reported malfunctioning devices</a> that in December Jawbone decided to refund anyone who was unhappy with their Up -- no questions asked. At that time, <a href="http://jawbone.com/up/guarantee" target="_hplink">according a statement released by Jawbone's CEO,</a> the company had "temporarily paused production" of the device to engineer a fix for two errant circuit board capacitors which appeared to be the cause of the problems.
When it launched in February, Motorola billed the Xoom tablet as an iPad killer, and many people, <a href="http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/12/2011-tech-fails-oof?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_campaign=twitterclickthru&pid=2778" target="_hplink">including Wired's Mike Isaac, really wanted that to be the truth.</a> Isaac writes, "I wanted the Xoom to kick ass. I really did. But, alas, the Xoom was all but D.O.A. before hitting retail shelves." Though the device offered promising features --Google's Android 3.0 (aka "Honeycomb") and 4G LTE connectivity -- Motorola <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/motorola-xoom-shipments-q3-2011_n_1062664.html" target="_hplink">managed to ship only 100,000 Xooms in the third quarter of 2011.</a> How many iPads shipped in the same time period? 11 million. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/26/motorola-xoom-tablet-sales-_n_853754.html" target="_hplink">Initial reviews were mainly positive</a>, but there are several reasons why the Xoom failed to thrive. Honeycomb, for one, was labeled <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/26/motorola-xoom-tablet-sales-_n_853754.html" target="_hplink">"unstable" and "incomplete"</a>. The price was also a deterrent: $600 with a two-year wireless contract, $800 without.
Nintendo's $250 glasses-free 3D portable gaming device launched globally in March to lackluster sales, thanks in part to the device's high price tag and a limited selection of 3D games. In order to boost sales, Nintendo announced in July that it would <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2011/07/28/nintendo-3ds-price-drops-from-249-to-169-august-12th-current/" target="_hplink">slash the price of the 3DS</a> down to $170. <a href="http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/12/2011-tech-fails-oof?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_campaign=twitterclickthru&pid=2777" target="_hplink">It worked,</a> but Nintendo paid dearly for the discount. <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/242701/nintendo_takes_927_million_loss_far_worse_than_original_forecast.html" target="_hplink">In October, the Japanese game-maker said</a> it would post its first annual loss in three decades.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/24/facebook-axes-places-who-_n_935082.html" target="_hplink">The death of the Foursquare-esque check-in service, Facebook Places,</a> was quietly announced in August, at the end of <a href="http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=10150251867797131" target="_hplink">a blog post detailing Facebook's new privacy features.</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/19/facebook-places-features-_n_687504.html#s128538&title=How_To_Check" target="_hplink">Facebook Places was one year old. </a> The check-in service is survived by the roughly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/24/facebook-axes-places-who-_n_935082.html" target="_hplink">30 million people who actually used it.</a> Though Places as a service flopped, Facebook began offering more location-tagging options for wall posts, photos and status updates. In December, the social network <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/05/facebook-gowalla_n_1129720.html" target="_hplink">acquired check-in startup Gowalla</a>. Facebook will discontinue the smaller company's mobile app and will incorporate Gowalla employees into the Timeline team to focus on more location-based features, <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2011/12/02/technology/gowalla_facebook/" target="_hplink">sources told CNN Money</a>.
In 2010, <a href="http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/introducing-google-buzz.html" target="_hplink">Google launched Buzz</a> as a way for Google users to share content across platforms like Twitter, Picasa, Flickr and Gchat. Unfortunately, most of the buzz generated by the service was negative. Shortly after the launch, some users noticed that Google Buzz made their most frequently emailed contacts public to other users. <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-31322_3-10451428-256.html" target="_hplink">CNET called the glitch a "privacy nightmare." </a>Google apologized to users and <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/189329/google_apologizes_for_buzz_privacy_issues.html" target="_hplink">quickly fixed the issues,</a> but trust in the service had been irreparably damaged. In October 2011, several months after the highly successful launch of the more privacy-centric Google+ network, the web giant <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/14/google-buzz-igoogle-fall-sweep_n_1011306.html" target="_hplink">announced that it planned to shutter Google Buzz for good</a>.
Logitech CEO Guerrino De Luca pretty much said it all <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/11/logitech-ceo-on-google-tv-revue_n_1088168.html" target="_hplink">when he told investors in November</a> that the Revue, Logitech's Google TV set-top box, was "a mistake of implementation of a gigantic nature." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/11/logitech-ceo-on-google-tv-revue_n_1088168.html" target="_hplink">Logitech partially blamed</a> the year's $100 million operating loss on the <a href="http://www.logitech.com/en-us/smartTV" target="_hplink">"TV of the future"</a> gamble. In July, thanks to "negative sales" (more returns than purchases), Logitech <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2389344,00.asp" target="_hplink">dropped the Revue's price from $300 to $99</a>. But Google TV project isn't dead yet. Sony is still selling its <a href="http://discover.store.sony.com/internettv/#/home" target="_hplink">smart TVs and Blu-ray players with Google TV built in</a>. In October, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/28/google-tv-v2-software-update_n_1063956.html" target="_hplink">Google TV version 2</a> began rolling out to Sony and Logitech devices. Google plans to <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/11/22/google-tv-is-dead-long-live-google-tv/" target="_hplink">add even more hardware partners in 2012</a>.
Of course hindsight is 20/20, but it's still sort of fun to smirk at <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/23/color-social-network-bill-nguyen_n_839865.html" target="_hplink">this statement from a partner at Sequoia Capital,</a> one of the companies that helped Color Labs raise $41 million in funds: "Once or twice a decade a company emerges from Silicon Valley that can change everything. Color is one of those companies." Not exactly. When Color launched in March, the photo-and-video-centric location-based social networking app was immediately slammed by reviewers. <a href="http://appadvice.com/appnn/2011/03/color-app-universally-slammed-reviewer" target="_hplink">According to App Advice,</a> out of the 697 early reviews in the App Store, 70 percent had rated Color as "poor." After the initial flop <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/22/color-reborn-fused-with-facebook-the-41m-social-photo-app-is-back/" target="_hplink">Color went quiet for 6 months</a>, only to reemerge in September as a <a href="http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/22/color-recasts-itself-as-a-facebook-photo-and-video-app/" target="_hplink">photo and video app deeply integrated with the Facebook platform</a>. Initial reviews were <a href="http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-09-22/tech/30188331_1_mobile-app-android-facebook-friends" target="_hplink">cautiously positive.</a> <em>Image via Color</em>
'Duke Nukem Forever'
After 14 years of rumors about an updated "Duke Nukem" game, the real deal underwhelmed consumers when it was finally unleashed this year. Even fans of the "Duke Nukem" franchise thought the game was rampantly mysogynistic, gross and stupid. <a href="http://arstechnica.com/gaming/reviews/2011/06/duke-nukem-forever-review-barely-playable-unfunny-and-rampantly-offensive.ars" target="_hplink">Ars Technica said in its review of the game</a> that it "makes you feel dirty." <a href="http://www.joystiq.com/2011/06/10/duke-nukem-forever-review-fail-to-the-king-baby/" target="_hplink">Joystiq described</a> a sequence in which the player is tasked with "spanking a woman into submission" as "as painful as it sounds." <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/gamesblog/2011/jun/10/duke-nukem-forever-game-review" target="_hplink">The Guardian called the game "shamelessly inappropriate."</a> Unsurprisingly, <a href="http://playstationlifestyle.net/2011/07/06/analysts-disappointed-in-duke-far-less-sales-than-expected/" target="_hplink">sales of "Duke Nukem Forever" were lackluster.</a> <em>Image via Flickr: i eated a cookie</em>
In April, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/12/cisco-flip-camera-killed_n_847962.html" target="_hplink">Cisco killed the Flip camera,</a> its line of mini video-recording devices that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/13/technology/13flip.html" target="_hplink">The New York Times referred to as</a> "one of the great tech start-up success stories of the last decade." The move was part of a plan to restructure the company and included <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/12/cisco-flip-camera-killed_n_847962.html" target="_hplink">laying off 550 employees.</a> Cisco had purchased Pure Digital Technology Inc, the original maker of the Flip camera, in 2009 for $590 million. Although some suggested that the move was due to smartphones making mini video cameras obsolete, sales of such cameras, led by Flip, <a href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/04/15/cisco-ditches-flip-camera-biz-whats-the-future-for-mini-moviem/" target="_hplink"> actually grew from $4.5 million in 2009 to $5.7 million in 2010</a>, according to a report from the Consumer Electronics Association. Though Cisco wouldn't disclose the reason for the discontinuation, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/13/technology/13flip.html" target="_hplink">The New York Times reported</a> that the popular Flip cam never made sense for a company known primarily for its enterprise networking services. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/13/technology/13flip.html" target="_hplink">As one analyst told the Times,</a> "I don't think there's an analyst on the planet who thought that Flip was a good acquisition." <em>Image via Flip</em>