Last night (or very early this morning, more like), Sony pulled off the greatest tech-troll of all time — they didn’t actually show off the PlayStation 4 at the PS4 launch event. Twitter nearly got overloaded by the wave of outraged tech journos. They’re not alone, though — here are ten product launches that have been cocked up worse.
1.) Apple’s Facetime Demo
Apple launched Facetime alongside the iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference in 2010. Only thing was, Apple didn’t bother putting in a good Wi-Fi network, so the Facetime demo crashed and burned. Steve Jobs got angry. And the whole thing was recorded for posterity on YouTube. This wasn’t a one-off, either — there’s a whole compilation of Jobs keynote fails. Maybe he wasn’t such a master of the product launch after all.
2.) Microsoft’s Surface Launch
Poor Steve Sinofksy. Not only was he given the task of launching Microsoft’s most innovative product for a decade, but the demo model he was given to show off how you can “browse smoothly” froze up in the middle of the demo, resulting in a minute-long awkward silence and a mad dash to change out the malfunctioning device.
3.) That Time When Windows Blue Screen of Death-ed on Bill Gates
Bill Gates took to the stage for the 2005 CES keynote with a young Conan (kinda like the American version of Graham Norton) to demonstrate the awfulness that is Media Centre. Only, he never really managed to inflict that on anyone, because the remote control failed, and then the whole rig did a classic Windows Blue Screen of Death. Thankfully, it leads to the best line ever heard at a product demo: “just imagine that I’m customising my car”. Because Microsoft might be powerful, but your brain is always better.
4.) That Other Time When Windows BSOD-d Bill Gates
Windows doesn’t actually like Bill Gates. In this demo of Windows 98′s fantastic Plug and Play (yeah, remember that thing?), Bill Gates plugs in a scanner, and BOOM, Blue Screen of Death ruins everyone’s day.
5.) Gizmodo Turning Off TV Screens at CES 2008
Ok, so we’re really sorry, but at CES 2008, Gizmodo got given a bunch of TV-B-Gone remotes, and, well, we couldn’t really help ourselves. We shut off everything from Motorola’s displays during a product demo, to Panasonic’s entire wall of TVs. Oopsie.
6.) Sony Sacrificing a Freshly-Slaughtered Goat to Launch Gods of War II (Yes, Really)
The PS4 launch might’ve been even more anti-climatic than Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but at least there weren’t any dead animals there, unlike at the launch of Gods of War II. At that particular feast of inappropriateness (there were burly men dressed as cave men and topless booth babes in addition to the dead animals, Sony slaughtered a goat, gutted it, and then invited attendees to eat the still-warm offal. Apparently, it was a test of what extremes people were willing to go to to get their blood-soaked hands on a PS3. I think it was just punishment for unruly games bloggers.
7.) Qualcomm’s CES Launch 2013
We’re still not really sure if this was a fail or a roaring success (people are still talking about it, after all), but it’s fair to say that Qualcomm, who took over the CES keynote reins from Microsoft this year, were definitely on something when they dreamed up this event. Highlights included: acting worse than in Titanic II; Big Bird dancing around on stage; The Internet of EVERYTHING; Steve Ballmer shouting BORN MOBILE (hoorah); and an archbishop, because, well, just because.