There’s nothing more dramatic and effective than a great product demo. Think Steve Jobs’ silky smooth presentation of the iPod, for example. A great demo convinces buyers of the effectiveness and value proposition of the product or service, and really is the pivotal moment when a buyer makes that choice whether to move forward.
Having said this, there have been some epic failed demos, so join us as we look at the Top 5 product demo fails of all time!
#5: Elon Musk Bulletproof Glass Gets Shattered By A Rock
Elon Musk is known for a lot of things, but being shy about himself or his products is not one of them. As confident as ever, Musk took the stage to present Tesla’s Cybertruck. With much fanfare, he demonstrated how hammers just bounced off the Cybertruck’s bodywork, or how easily other trucks’ glass could be damaged.
Then came the pivotal moment, the coup de grace: Musk invited his assistant to throw a weight at the truck’s window, live on stage. Everyone expected it to bounce off. It didn’t. The truck’s window stood there, smashed, with Musk doing his best to move the show along.
#4: Steve Jobs iPhone Not Connecting To Wi-fi During Their Annual Event
Usually when we think Apple demos, we think of Jobs pulling a sleek product out of his pocket to a receptive audience, and new features being seamlessly demonstrated. Except in this case. Jobs, eager to show the phone’s internet browsing capabilities, opened up the New York Times live, with his phone reflected on a massive screen behind him.
Only, the phone failed to connect, displaying a massive error screen behind the slightly embarrassed Apple founder.
#3: Volvo Brake Test Fail And Parking Fail
Volvo. Known for safety and reliability. Right? Well…
In our first case, Vovlo was demonstrating its car’s automatic braking abilities. In front of a packed house of journalists, a Volvo sped towards a parked truck. Everyone expected the Volvo to stop automatically, in the nick of time. Yet as the split seconds rolled by, awe turned to shame as the Volvo plowed straight into the truck at full speed, wrecking the car.
Yet this wasn’t the end for Volvo and their product demo fails. Now demonstrating the new Vovlo’s automatic parking abilities, journos lined up around a Volvo SUV, cellphone cameras out, as they were about to witness it park itself. Unfortunately for the journalists however, the car just accelerated quickly and plowed into the gathered scribes, with limbs and cameras flying everywhere.
#2: Microsoft Surface Gets Stuck
“I can browse smoothly…” are famous last words. Steven Sinofsky, the president of Microsoft’s Windows division was one presenting Microsoft’s Surface tablet, its answer to the iPad, in Los Angeles. As he said these famous words, he swiped the Surface...and nothing happened. Flustered, he tried again. To no avail.
He continued with his practiced speech, but the writing was on the wall. Turns out the Surface wasn’t the iPad killer Microsoft so desperately wanted.
#1: Bill Gates Windows 98 Blue Screen Of Death
It’s one of the most famous product demo fails of all time. Bill Gates is presenting the USB functionality of Windows 98 live, and everything seems to be going smoothly...until “Whoah”.
The Blue Screen of Death, so common that it’s known as the BSOD. In the middle of the live presentation, the BSOD took over, spelling the end of what was looking to be a promising launch.
Bill managed to make light of the situation, but this fail is so epic, so iconic, that it’s still spoken and studied today.
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