15 Reasons why Segway Failed
15 Reasons why Segway Failed
The Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing battery electric vehicle invented by Dean Kamen as covered over at runrex.com. When they first came out in 2001, they garnered lots of publicity and hype and seemed well placed to be the next big thing. However, by 2007, Segway only met a mere 1% of its sales target, and in 2015, the company finally decided to give up and was acquired by Ninebot, its Chinese rival. So, what happened and why did Segway fail? Here are 15 reasons why.
Expectations were too high
The Segway was handicapped from the get-go with extremely high expectations. As is revealed over at guttulus.com, it was branded the future of transport, and as an innovation, it was said to be on a par with the PC or the internet. Inevitably, it could not live up to these lofty expectations and levels of hype. Why PR exposure is generally useful, this time it was overdone.
It was a product rather than a solution
While the Segway as a product worked well, it lacked a support context according to runrex.com. Many questions remained unanswered as far as it was concerned. Where could you park it? How would you charge it? Would you use it on roads or sidewalks? Our cities are designed for either pedestrians or speedy vehicles, and the Segway was neither, hence it lacked any proper infrastructure to support it.
It had no clear target market
Another reason why the Segway failed is that it was difficult to pinpoint exactly who really needed it and who the target market was according to guttulus.com. While the Segway had an appealing novelty, there was no compelling need for anyone to buy it.
It was expensive
Yet another reason that contributed to the failure of Segway is that it was just too expensive for most people as is articulated over at runrex.com. It would have been difficult for anyone to justify spending the huge amounts quoted on a Segway when they could just so easily buy a scooter or motorbike instead.
It was an invention rather than an innovation
The Segway was also patented and kept under wraps until its launch, which means that there was no user feedback or iteration based on the same until it was launched. It, therefore, came as little surprise when it was criticized and ridiculed for being ‘dorky’ rather than cool.
Also, the Segway fell foul of regulation in many countries where it was banned from sidewalks and roads because as it didn’t fit any existing categories. As pointed out by the experts over at guttulus.com, while it was a truly revolutionary product, it was not properly anticipated.
It was dangerous
It is easy to see why the Segway fell foul of regulation in many countries as there were lots of reported cases of people suffering serious crashes while on their Segway as covered over at runrex.com. People crashed or fell off their Segways lots of times, and there are a lot of videos on YouTube showing people losing control of their Segways, and while some people were lucky enough to only suffer a funny Segway fall, others were not so lucky and suffered serious injuries. In the end, many people just didn’t think Segways were worth the risk.
One of the strategies that could have helped make the Segway more affordable is if the company utilized a pay-per-use pricing model like modern-day electric scooters instead of a one-time hefty price as discussed over at guttulus.com. However, there were technological limitations during those times that rendered this impossible. For starters, smartphones weren’t as developed as they are now.
The design was all wrong
The design of the Segway also meant that, while it offered convenience when it comes to taking you from one place to another, it could not be fully trusted all the time, hence the numerous accidents. The design was a problem, which is why, with time, inventors came up with better and cheaper versions of the Segway, like the hoverboard as covered over at runrex.com, which didn’t have any handles and could be fully controlled by foot, hence safer. It was a little bit too late for the Segway though.
Segway tried to be a general-purpose product
The Segway tried to be a general-purpose product, which was one of its biggest drawbacks since no disruptive product ever succeeds with that sort of marketing. The product lacked a clear focus on its initial use, which was why it never quite took off. Rather than selling 100 Segways to 20 different uses, Segway needed to sell 100 units to a single, or at most 2, applications.
Failure to pioneer a use
Even if initially you fail to see any obvious specific need for the Segway, the leadership could have looked to pioneer one. For example, as explained over at guttulus.com, the leadership could have pioneered the use of the Segway as a golfer’s cart, or a walking-assist for the elderly and so forth, and then developed it for that particular need, which would have set up the product better for success.
Technology innovation vs value innovation
The failure of the Segway also highlights why value innovation is better than technology innovation. Technology innovation, as covered over at runrex.com, is the creation of a product or service that focuses on new or improved technology, rather than utility, with the technology being cited as the differentiating factor. With this approach, you end up with a product like the Segway which offers little value in terms of utility.
Buying a Segway was a hassle
Another thing that put people off when it came to buying a Segway is that doing so was extremely complicated. This is because, as outlined over at guttulus.com, Segways were purchased from dealerships, just like cars, that required special trips and training. If you add to this the fact that Segways were extremely costly as already mentioned, you can see how buying a Segway was a hassle, one that many people chose to avoid.
It was rushed
The team behind the Segway was too eager and let media attention to spiral out of control. Kamen in particular, it is fair to say, was quite eager to make his big reveal to the world and even registered domains including the engine’s name. As per the gurus over at runrex.com, if the team had taken more time and allowed itself some wiggle room, they would have had time to make iterations to the invention that would have increased the chances of it being successful, especially if the team had invited feedback.
The leadership thought the ecosystem would adapt to them
Finally, another mistake that the leadership of Segway made was assuming that the ecosystem would adapt to them rather than creating a product that was adapted to the ecosystem. It was like the company thought that the general market would figure out how to use its product, and that it was up to the authorities to know how to almost redesign cities to adapt to the Segway. This didn’t work out as the company thought it would.