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Flashback Friday: The Edsel

by Sean P. Aune | December 13, 2013December 13, 2013 11:00 pm PST

We hear a lot of hyperbole from tech fans about how a product they dislike will be a disaster, or could bring a company down, but what about examples of products that nearly did that? What about the Edsels of the world?

In the 1950s Ford started working on a new series of cars that was supposed to be for those looking for a vehicle priced in the mid-range of the market. What they came up with has gone down in history as one of the biggest disasters in the history of automobiles: The Edsel. Named for the son of Henry Ford, the Edsel has earned a place in the history books for losing the Ford company $350 million dollars when the line was canceled in 1958, or approximately $2.8 billion when adjusted for inflation. Only 118,287 of these cars were ever built, but that was enough to live on long after the last one rolled off the production line.

From a combination of poor marketing, being over priced for the target market, hitting dealers at the beginning of a recession and choosing possibly the worst car name in history, the Edsel pretty much designed the blueprint of how to not launch a product.

You know you’ve done something special when your product name becomes synonymous with failed products.

So next time you think a company has launched a poorly thought out product, take a moment and think, “Well, at least it’s not the Edsel.”

Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...