Sweden to open 'Museum of Failure' showcasing flop products

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Sweden to open 'Museum of Failure' showcasing flop products
Bic's "for her" pen is one of the flops set to be displayed at the museum. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Helsingborg in southern Sweden is set to become the home of a museum dedicated to some of the biggest flop products of all time, including the Betamax player, the Harley Davidson perfume and an ill-advised "female" pen.


Those are just three of the items that will be on display at the new Museum of Failure when it opens its doors on June 7th, before becoming a touring exhibition throughout Sweden at a later date.

"Companies are innovative, but they don't learn from their mistakes. And they keep them secret," explained Samuel West, a psychologist and innovation researcher who is contributing his own collection of 50 failed innovations to the museum.

He argues that the key to success is for companies to make sure not to punish their employees if they fail in an attempt. The most innovative companies like Amazon, Google and Apple have a long list of flops, West notes:

"They have failed so crazily much and it has cost them billions. Being innovative means you are taking a conscious risk, and everything can fall apart."

One item the museum will display is the Twitter Peek, a small electronic writing box used exclusively to tweet on that was launched in 2008.

Aside from the screen being too small to read an entire tweet in one go – it could only display 22 characters at a time – the surge in popularity of smart phones thanks partly to the release of the first Iphone the year before rendered the gadget useless before it even got going.

IN PICTURES: The flops in the Swedish Museum of Failures

Trump: The Game. Photo: Björn Lindgren

Then there was the infamous Bic "for her" pen, a pen "designed to fit comfortably in a woman's hand". Women understandably weren't interested in paying extra cash for a pen just because it came in pink or purple, and the product was a disaster.

A third flop in the museum's collection is the Harley Davidson perfume, a fragrance launched in 1996 by the motorcycle manufacturer. The brand didn’t think that one through, according to West, who pointed out that motorcycle fanatics aren’t known for being passionate about perfume.

The aim of the museum isn't to mock those flops however. The hope is that by highlighting them, others can learn from their errors.

"Some fail because the products should never have existed, it was wrong from the start. Others fail when the product is designed, or in marketing. You can fail at any point during the process. It's better to have a lot of cheap mistakes early in the process, than to do so on a large scale. Then it costs billions," West concluded.

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