Launch date: 2000
Fatal flaw(s): Security suspicions, lack of a market
Nowadays, QR code scanners are all the rage. Companies and stores promote sales, special offers, and deals when someone uses a smartphone to scan a QR code related to their product. It's big business. Other companies, like eBay, now allow shoppers to scan the barcode of an item to see if it's available from its inventory. We're sure you have scanned more than a couple codes. For that, you can thank CueCat.
Introduced in 2000, CueCat was heralded as a revolutionary technology. It was a little white plastic cat with a built-in infrared sensor that would plug in to your comuter's PS2 port and scan special barcodes (and regular barcodes) which would then take you to a related website. Companies like RadioShack published its catalogs with many CueCat codes strewn about. To get the device in the hands of consumers, Digital Convergence, the company that owned CueCat, mailed 'em out to subscribers of high profile tech magazines like Wired. Everyone thought it was going to be huge. But it wasn't.
What happened? Well, there was shit ton of bad press related to a discovery that CueCats were sending information on its users back to its servers. Some hackers posted instructions on how to stop it from reporting your info back to Digital Convergence. In response Digital Convergence threatened to sue the hackers. It was a mess. But the real reason it didn't pop off was because it just wasn't that appealing of a product at the time. Unlike your phone, the CueCat was tethered to your desk and in 2000 the interactivity of the Internet wasn't what it is today. The market just wasn't ready; and neither was the product.