Every year sees its share of lousy products and 2017 was no exception. In fact, as the Internet of Things (IMHO one of the dumbest ideas of all time) becomes more popular, the challenge is choosing from a plethora of god-awful devices.
However, the worst product of 2017--and a candidate for a future list of the worst products of all time--comes from none other than Amazon, a company that despite its relentless consumer focus has apparently gone off the cultural deep end.
1. Amazon Key
Except when it comes to the personal lives of their executives, high-tech firms aren't big on privacy. And to tell the truth, most of us have let these companies compile detailed dossiers on everything we do, because, gee, that can't go wrong.
Anyway, it's not surprising that Amazon--after Facebook, probably the most electronically intrusive company on earth--thinks the hoi polloi (that's you and me) are so stupid that we'll give total strangers access to our locked homes. I don't think so.
2. Fyre Festival
The Fyre Festival promised to be the coolest, most expensive, most exclusive event of the year, drawing the attention (and putative attendance) of Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski, most famous for appearing nude in the 2013 music video "Blurred Lines."
Unfortunately, even with the apparent support of these "celebrities," the conference organizers (if that's the right term) massively underestimated the effort involved in putting on a major event. It petered out in a flurry of rain, stranded guests, and finger-pointing.
3. The Smart Toaster
There's a certain kind of tech-head who believes that any product can be improved by sticking a computer on it, even if the "features" add virtually nothing to the usefulness of the products.
Nowhere was this Internet of Things stupidity more evident in 2017 than with the Griffin Smart Toaster. Because the entire world was waiting for a toaster that you can control with an app on your phone. Say whut?
4. The Lily Drone
This one is just sort of sad. As originally pitched a few years ago, the Lily Drone was a very easy-to-use device you could throw into the air and it would follow you around, filming you (for example) while you played an outdoor sport.
The crowdfunding effort was a huge fail that wasn't able to put the device into production. Nonetheless, somebody thought it would be a good idea to revive the tarnished brand name for a pedestrian product, which doesn't do what the originally Lily promised.
5. The Smart Hairbrush
Again with the "stick a computer on it" insanity.
6. Yves Saint Laurent Stiletto-Skates
I'm not 100 percent sure this is an actual product the fashion firm expects people to buy (in which case, it's really stupid) or a promotional product to catch the eye of people who attend Xanadu re-screenings, in which case, it's still dumb.
7. The Smile Mirror
Based upon conversations I've had with multiple women, one of the most obnoxious things that men do on a regular basis is order them to "smile" as if they (the women) have some obligation to look sweet.
Similarly, in business, one of the most horrible management fads of all time is the insistence that employees smile while they work, even if they don't have customer-facing jobs. Totally creepy.
Here's the thing: forced smiles aren't smiles--they're grimaces. And a mirror that forces you to smile before functioning is a recipe for your face freezing into a staring, unnatural rictus grin.