It's never pretty and it's always expensive (but the launch parties are always great!).

I can't resist jumping in on this one. Computerworld has been nursing this topic for a few weeks now, first by compiling a list of the 25 biggest tech flops of all time. And this week they came out with the top five tech flops, as voted on by their readers.

Quite frankly, I had forgotten all about Microsoft Bob (topping the reader's poll) and the Apple Newton.

Here's my personal list:

1. The Lisa by Apple. My Mom had one. It came out my first year of college and cost about the same amount.

2. The Pennyfarthing bicycle. Obviously, before my time. Good thing. I would have killed myself on that thing. What were our gg grandparents thinking?

3. AOL TV In a previous career life, I actually worked on this project. Ouch!

4. Every attempt at speech recognition, so far. We all want it, so everyone keeps trying.

5. 8- track tape players. No one from my generation wants to hear a ka-chung in the middle of Stairway to Heaven.

Is there a lesson to be learned from all this for business owners? Absolutely! I firmly believe we can learn a lot more from a mistake than a success. When you look at some of the big busts of technology, sometimes it's the technology itself. But, not necessarily. We all know how forgiving early adopters can be. So, clearly it takes more than a bad product to really blow it. As I look at my list and Computerworld's, I see some common threads: bad timing, bad pricing and a bad eye for seeing what people really want, need and are willing to put up with while they wait for version 3.0. Just something to think about as you groan thinking about how much you spent buying that WebTV for your mother-in-law back in 1999. Did she even take it out of the box? Mine didn't.