The Museum of Failure celebrates why mistakes make us better.

Published: August 17, 2021
Author: Steven Thomas

In Stockholm, Sweden, Dr. Samuel West has curated a fascinating collection of "innovative" products at The Museum of Failure.

Each one gives a valuable lesson in where we can all go wrong when creating our next product or service. Perhaps the most important lesson of all though is that no work is wasted.

Everything involved in a project that "fails" can influence where we go next.

Mobile ESPN

Back in 2006 ESPN launched their mobile-only service in the pre-iPhone era. They leased cellular coverage and released a purpose-built phone that customers would need to purchase to supposedly access "all sports all the time in the palm of their hand".

According to the exhibition listing at MoX: "The phone gave exclusive access to score updates, video content, highlights, and continuous sports news, but apparently, sports fans weren’t given much credit for having taste. The phone was an ugly, clunky, flip phone, and customers weren’t willing to pay for the expensive plans that ranged from $65 – $225 per month. Talk about a fumbled pass!

Mobile ESPN failed 9 months after its launch, and cost the company millions of dollars. ESPN should have listened to Steve Jobs when he told the company’s president “Your phone is the dumbest f***ing idea I have ever heard.”

Leveraging failure

The biggest product failure in ESPN's history would actually provide them with a head start in delivering digital sports coverage to a mass market. Mr Jobs might also admit that the type of features ESPN imagined (24-hour coverage, push notifications and exclusive content) may well have directly influenced what iPhone and its associated content services would go on to become.

The Museum of Failure has a number of global pop-up exhibitions including Shanghai and Hollywood.

Their collection is also free to view online.


Before you go...

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