What can we learn from the Segway technology flop ten years after the public release of the Segway?
Tell no lies
The first lesson is to not lie to the public. The Segway was hidden from public view during development and the marketing
lied, you choose, that the Segway would replace the car. The Segway could not replace the car for any use. The best the Segway would ever do was replace the bicycle for a small number of uses and the motorbike for a very small number of uses. Segway eventually released complicated expensive add-on components to make the Segway look like it could replace the motorised scooter for some uses.
The Segway can carry only one person and a tiny bit of luggage. A car might carry only one person and a briefcase on a commute to work but the car can pick up a fellow traveller, carry the weekly shopping, carry home the 30" monitor your boss bought you for your work at home, pick up your neighbour's kids from school because their parent has to stay an extra night in Woomera testing missiles, convey to your abode the groupies who watched you perform during the open mike night at the local bar, or carry home the case of beer/wine/chocolate you purchased because none of the above happened and your night will be boring.
The Segway is, at best, a potential replacement for other two wheel devices, not four wheel devices. If the marketing people told the truth, the Segway might not have suffered extreme ridicule when released.
Be honest with pricing
The Segway was a poor cousin to a bicycle. At the time of release of the Segway in Australia, a cheap commuter bicycle was under AU$300 and the Segway over AU$7000, or 20 times the price. For $500 you could add a petrol or battery driven engine to a bicycle or a scooter, a saving of $6300 compared to the Segway. The Segway was clearly over priced.
The Segway has no special components worth anything. The drive system may have unique hardware construction but all the components, motion sensors and everything else, are used in machines as simple and cheap as washing machines. The Segway is no more complicated or as expensive as an $1100 direct drive washing machine.
The massive price of the Segway was similar to the excessive price of Apple products at the time but there was one difference, Apple products were only twice the price of the competition, not twenty times the price.
Is the Segway useful for anything?
The Segway cannot be used on normal roads because it is too slow. The Segway cannot be used on normal footpaths because it is too wide and lack controls. The only successful use is by security guards in shopping malls, as demonstrated in a movie, but the only reports back from shopping mall security guards point to the Segway being to difficult and too dangerous. The perfectly flat surface of a shopping mall floor is the only surface suitable for a Segway but the surface cannot be wet or freshly waxed or anything else.
Why did they not try to improve the design?
The Segway can carry you and your lunch but not anything else, making the Segway unsuitable for most trips. An attached carry trolley would make the Segway better for most trips and the extra wheels could be attached to make the Segway safe for human transport. Why did they refuse to release a four wheel Segway?
Every other product on the market went through evolution. The least smart car in the world, the one branded as Smart, was quickly expanded from a two seater motor cart to a four seater car. The Segway just needed the option of four wheels to keep people walking in the door, where they might choose to buy the two wheel version.
A seat would be next. A four wheel Segway with a seat would fit the aging population. Segway could have been in the massive market for motorised transport for old people with walking difficulties. It would not matter that their products are grossly over priced. Hundreds of years of fashion shows us that anything useful can be sold at many times the real value because there are many customers that just want to buy the most expensive, no matter how inferior the product might be. Witness the iPod.
When you introduce a new product, your marketing people will lie about the product. They should lie to the right customers, not to the completely wrong market.