museum of failure

Nokia Ngage

What do you think the featured image above is? What do you think this gadget was used for? Do you like the design? How old might it be? Do you think it was a failure or a flop back then?

Display the image on a screen or else print a handful of copies with the image for the students to share and see and let them discuss these questions in pairs or small groups and then elicit answers.

Then let the students know that this device was called Nokia N-Gage and it combined features of a telephone and a handheld game system. It was released in 2003 and was discontinued just a couple of years later. If your students are allowed to use Internet connected devices, give them a couple of minutes to quickly read the entry on N-Gage on Wikipedia and scan for the reasons why this gadget didn’t do well commercially. Otherwise, you can let them know this (quoting from the Wikipedia article):

“Around 2000, gamers increasingly carried both mobile phones and handheld game consoles. Nokia spotted an opportunity to combine these devices into one unit. Nokia announced in November 2002 that they would develop the N-Gage, a device that integrated these two devices. ” “N-Gage attempted to lure gamers away from the Game Boy Advance by including telephone functionality. This was unsuccessful, partly because the buttons, designed for a telephone, were not well-suited for gaming, and the original N-Gage was described as resembling a taco, which led to its mocking nickname “Taco phone”.”

Next, tell your students that there is a Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden, that showcases a Nokia N-Gage, among other failed products. They are going to watch a short video with the curator of the Museum showing some of these products. What is he showing and why did the products failed? Play the video twice and then have them pool answers. Finally elicit answers and play the relevant bits from the video where this information is found. It is a good idea to rewind and play a few times and ask the students if they can report verbatim what they hear (thus focusing on decoding sounds and connected speech).

Allow the students to explore the site for a few minutes, if they can use the Internet, ( and/or get them into groups to discuss this question: What would you showcase in your Museum of Failure?

Sony Bloggie. Careful owner. Hardly ever used.

Personally, one gadget that I would showcase would be this camera that I hardly ever used, as the smartphone that I bought soon after performed the same functions and many more.

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