The Top 5 Worst Apple Products of All Time

In honor of the new iPod shuffle I thought I’d put together a list of the 5 actual worst Apple products of all time.

5. Original iMac “Hockey Puck” Mouse

The original iMac was an amazing machine. I have one. It still stands up today as a functioning Mac that is a capable beast. The original USB mouse that came with it, however, is (and always will be) one of the worst things Apple has ever created.

It is uncomfortable in your hand, very cheap feeling, and all around poorly designed.

4. Macintosh TV

You would think that something called the “Macintosh TV” would actually let you watch TV on your Macintosh…i.e. while the OS was running. Not this thing, though. It was a black all-in-one Mac with a 14 inch CRT that you could “switch” to a TV mode.

The product sold 10,000 units before Apple dumped it.

3. Twentieth Anniversary Mac

In 1997 Apple decided they wanted to celebrate in style with a device that, while innovative, was a complete rip-off to the customer. When it was released at a price of $7,499 most people balked at it (and its limo delivery service).

So much so that within a year Apple was charging $1,995 for it – and even went so far as to give people that purchased it at full price a high-end PowerBook as compensation for the price drop.

2. Apple ///

Let’s see – how about we design a computer for business users that’s insanely expensive, not compatible with our previous machine, and then we’ll fill it with factory defects just for good measure?

Sure, no one at Apple said that out loud in a meeting, but someone must have been thinking it, because that’s what they released with the Apple ///. The business machine was expensive, and so filled with defects that the first 14,000 units released had to be replaced by Apple outright – free of charge.

1. Pippin

The Pippin is yet another example of Apple selling an under-powered, but over priced device. This one was released by Bandai in the US in 1996. At the same time as the Playstation, Saturn, and N64 were making their way onto the stage, this machine was playing games that paled in comparison to titles on those other systems…and the unit itself was twice the price.

It’s amazing that they managed to sell 42,000 of them.


Comments

  1. is there an iMuseum for this stuff? very cool…

  2. These products are ancient history.

    IMO, a title like “Top 5 Worst…” requires a daring list, with more controversial picks than you’ve chosen.

    One thinks of the Apple Cube (which was functional, yet limited), those huge CRT monitors that had a habit of occasionally exploding, the earbuds on the original iPod which were sized for monkey ears… and if you really want to stir the pot, you could put the yet-to-be-released iPod Shuffle on here!

    Anyhow, these lists tend to make people think Apple is being picked on, (which is far from the truth these days…) Especially when the products listed are like digging up 3rd grade report cards. Just sayin…

  3. Nice review! Appreciated the look back into Apple’s history!

  4. Yes, well-researched and written. Definitely.

  5. The 20th Anniversary Mac was incredibly ahead of it’s time in design, but the cost to make it was extremely high…thus the price and the Sub woofer’s size took away from people appeal to the small footprint. I wish they had had enough pre-orders for this thing and we may have never seen the original CRT bondi blue Revision A iMac. Imagine what the new iMac I am currently typing on would look like if this 1998 design had had a bandwagon to take off on?

  6. “The Five Worst” and that’s all you could come up with? The Pippin certainly deserves to be on the list, and the Apple III probably dose. But the others…

    The hockey-puck mouse was loved by many. You were obviously not one of them. The Apple TV was what it said it was. The technology was not really there to let you watch TV and use the computer at the same time. That doesn’t make it a bad product. It had utility in a dorm room. I only ever knew one person to have one, and he liked it. (If you think you should have been able to watch TV in one window and use apps in another, you need a better understanding of cooperative multitasking, and remember Microsoft Word was very greedy with processor cycles, as were a lot of apps back then).

    And the 20th Anniversary Mac was an absolute thing of beauty for the time. A year later, the price was down to $2k… yeah, so what? It was a 1-year-old computer at that point. It wasn’t purchased by everybody and his dog, but it wasn’t expected to be. How many TV shows did I see where they had one of those on a guy’s desk to show he was a tech hotshot? Quite a few, actually. It was quite a drool-worthy machine in it’s day. How many Pippins did I see? uhhh…. You know I never saw one in my life, except in articles like this.

  7. and what about the newton?

  8. Reed Richmond says:

    I used to use a MacTV (still have it though not using it) and YOU COULD WATCH TV while working on something else. I actually got it so I could be writing while watching the TV reduced to a small size in the left corner of the screen. Attached to my cable TV outlet and watched anything I wanted to. Don’t know where you got your information. Not the best Mac product ever, but not the worst either. BTW: I also owned the original Mac portable (lugable) which often makes these lists. It did what I needed it for but it was heavy.

  9. The 5 worse Microsoft products of all time:

    1) DOS
    2) Windows 1.0
    3) Windows 98
    4) Zune & Zune Store
    5) Windows Vista

  10. the Pippin wasn’t made by Apple and wasn’t marketed by Apple but it was designed by Apple. It was a :Bandai product running the Mac OS.

    see wikipedia.

    I wouldn’t include the 20th anniversary Mac or the MacTV in the list. People I know that had them loved them. the Black MacTV was the second non-beige Apple computer – the first being the Apple II comptuer made for Bell & Howell.

    I think the 20th anniversary Mac despite its price was way ahead of its time and disappointingly to me anyway is that Apple never came out with a true 20th anniversary Mac in 2004 or even a 25th anniversary Mac in 2009 (the 20th anniversary Mac was really a 20th anniversary Apple Computer – Apple being started in 1977 and the 20th annivesary being in 1997 when the anniversary Mac came out). It was brought out by Gil Ameilio too

    For twenty years, Apple design engineers have been building bridges between what people dream about and the amazing new technologies that can take them beyond those dreams. It’s our magnificent obsession. It’s about working and playing and listening and learning and creating and communicating – sometimes all at the same time. It’s about the delight of doing things faster and better and easier. It’s about turning your back on conventional wisdom and finding new ways. Now, it’s about celebrating the last twenty years, and heralding the next twenty. It’s about the most beautiful thing we’ve ever built. It’s the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.” Gil Ameliio – wikipedia

  11. Joe Anonymous says:

    I don’t think Pippin belongs here. You are comparing it to game consoles, but that’s only half the story. It was also a full-fledged Macintosh computer at a fraction of the price (OK, slower than the desktop machines, but perfectly usable for web browsing, writing memos (using anything but MS Word), and so on. For not much more than a game console, you got a game console AND a computer. At the time, this was truly revolutionary.

    Too bad Bandai never really marketed it (I lived in a town of over a million people at the time and never saw one in person in the entire city. Nor did I see a TV ad for it. Nor did I ever see an ad in a magazine or newspaper. In fact, I’m not sure it was ever officially released–but it should have been.

  12. ok article…GREAT COMMENTS

    i really hate articles like these…because it really takes away from what apple is all about and all the great things they have done…

    would you want someone to write an article stating all the mistakes you have made…im sure it would be much longer than 5

  13. Opie's Dad says:

    I always enjoy these lists for the history, but I’ve never seen a list for Microsoft, until these comments. The TAM was beautiful, expensive, ahead of it’s time, but one of the worst? It was for the Ferrari drivers, and made us yearn to be that successful! MacTV was just that, as a commenter said, with great points! How does that get it onto this list? Where is the list of the BEST 5/10/15/20+ things from Apple??? HUH??? And what percentage would one get if you took all the really bad products vs. the really good ones? Really bad vs. all the rest of the successful ones? Again, compare that to Microsoft. Now look at these lists and compare them to all the other computer companies in light of each companies percentage of market share! Here is Apple with less than 10% market share, yet is near or at the top of the list of most recognizable company names, never had a year with Steve Jobs when they lost money (I think that is correct). The best TV ad in history??? 1984 Mac Superbowl. The absolute most innovative computer company ever, and add Woz to that fact! When Mac OR pc users look at your monitor, use your mouse, punch keys on your qwerty/typewriter style keyboard instead of punching a “punchcard”, use your computer that is NOT hooked to a mainframe, – feel free to chime in for those that can add to this list – we need to thank Steve Wozniak. Thank GOD he is a better designer/engineer than dancer, but he actually is correct when he said that he is the perfect example a non-dancer simply enjoying the experience, having fun and doing the best he can by giving it all he has! I think that is actually what the show is about. I was entertained and enjoyed his participation better because he really put himself into it! Sorry for the rant.

  14. I’m one of the people who loved, and continue to love, the hockey puck mouse! I do most of my computing with my PowerBook and iPhone these days, but I still use a G3 iMac with original keyboard and mouse and have never even considered replacing them. Sure, it sucks that it’s connected to the computer by a wire, and the trackball is very retro second millennium, but it feels PERFECT in my hand, exactly as mice should have been designed from the beginning.

  15. @ Ird:
    I’m not sure if I would include Windows 98 on that list. Windows 98 SE was the most stable version of Windows Microsoft has ever made to date. If at all, Windows Me Should be on that list.

  16. The hockey puck mouse??

    Sure it felt strange to begin with but in fact once you got used to it, it felt just right. Not to everyone’s taste but a poor product it was not.

  17. Clydicus says:

    I can’t believe there are people here defending the hockey puck mouse. Jeesh. What a terrible terrible design. The one essential function of the physical design is that it should be easy to keep oriented. That’s why most mouse designs are oblong, and why people bought oblong plastic attachments for their hockey pucks. I’ve seen little kids use the hockey puck mouse, and it is a disaster. The puck gets turned 15degrees in their hand, and they can’t figure out why the pointer isn’t going where they want it.

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