Site: Cuil and Mobile Me
Category: Editors' Choice, Failure to Launch
A lot of Web services fizzle on launch. The "beta" label often provides a line of defense against launch hiccups. But every now and then companies overhype new products that simply aren't close to ready for prime-time launch. The two big winners of the Failure to Launch award for this Webware 100 are, clearly, Cuil and Mobile Me.
Cuil as launched as a competitive search engine to Google, built by ex-Googlers. Early demos looked good, but when the site actually opened to the public, it was a flop. It wasn't that it just did not work, but rather that it gave results that were bizarre and wrong. Unlike most services that simply shut down when they get overloaded, Cuil kept on chugging. It shouldn't have. The site is a lot better now, but it may never recover from its embarrassing launch.
Apple also got a black eye when in launched Mobile Me, its .Mac replacement, in July of 2008. Subscribers had trouble accessing the site, and some even lost e-mail. Steve Jobs fessed up, "It was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store," he said in an e-mail. "We all had more than enough to do, and MobileMe could have been delayed without consequence."
This should not be too hard for a search engine.