In the years since Apple’s inception the company has created some of the most amazing devices the world has ever seen. Apple, however, is not without it’s stinkers…and the products on this list were undeniable failures (financially, at least) for Apple. Most of them lead to much better products down the road, and all of them are interesting in their own ways, but these eight Apple creations show us that the company doesn’t hit it out of the park every time. This list is not in an ordered number of least failure to greatest failure (although, I doubt many people will argue that the Pippin deserves the top spot), it is merely a collection of Apple’s least successful products that I came across while working on my Apple’s Top 10 Innovations article. Some of them, like the Newton, were highly influential on the industry…but none them made a nickel…some of them even ended up in landfills unsold, and unloved.
Power Mac G4 Cube – The Power Mac G4 Cube as a beautifully designed computer. It was the computer that first sparked my interest in Macs, but the 8x8x8 Cube didn’t fair well with the public…primarily because of it’s extremely high price point. The Cube was scrapped after only a year. It’s failure was so great that Apple’s stock took a dive that it hadn’t been at since before theiMacs were initially released…and the stock wouldn’t recover until the introduction of the iPod . The Cube was an amazing piece of design, but it was too expensive to justify a purchase for most users. Now, the Cube lives on (sort of) in the Mac Mini – another impressively small Apple Computer…this time, however, the price reflects the size of the machine.
Apple Lisa – The Lisa did a lot of amazing things…but at $10,000 a pop, most people never got a chance to see those amazing things. The Apple Lisa was the first Apple computer to use a GUI and a mouse, and it was a very powerful machine. It was just too darn expensive. Lisa flopped, but the Macintosh was just around the corner, and it was just as amazing as the Lisa – plus it was something people could actually afford. Which is why I’m typing this on a Mac Mini instead of a Lil Lisa.
Apple QuickTake – Launched in 1994, the QuickTake was one of the first consumer digital cameras available. The clunky camera was capable of taking photographs at a whopping 640×480 (which was great for the time). Apple missed the boat, however, as Kodak, Fujifilm, Canon, and Nikon entered the digital camera market at much the same time. Each of those 4 companies were already associated with photography…Apple wasn’t, and consumers let the QuickTake fade into obscurity.
Pippin – Voted as one of the 25 worst Tech products of all time, the Pippin was designed by Apple and manufactured by Bandai in 1995. The oddly shaped machine didn’t know what it wanted to be…it was kind of a computer, and kind of a gaming console…and it wasn’t particularly good at being either of those things. The system was released at a $599 price point that was great for a computer, but way to expensive for a gaming console…which is what most people thought it was (and rightly so…I mean, LOOK at it). The Pippin didn’t stand a chance against Nintendo, Sony and Sega, and console/computer love child died a quick, and much deserved, death.
Macintosh TV – Macintosh TV was Apple’s first attempt at Computer/TV Intergration…and the results were amazingly “eh”.
Essentially all the Macintosh TV consisted of was a Performa 520 a built-in 14″ Sony Trinitron CRT Monitor that could switch to being a cable ready TV. It was met with a resounding “big whoop”, and discontinued a year later.
Apple Interactive Television Box – I have already talked about the AITB in detail here at Apple Gazette, but – in a nutshell – this set top box was similar to a modern day satellite receiver with interactive content. The device was never mass produced, and thankfully so. It is nothing like the upcoming Apple set top box code named “iTV”. The only value this still born Apple project has these days is as a collector’s item due to it’s rarity.
Newton – Ah, the Newton. I look at thee and think, “What might have been”. The Newton was the first handheld computer coined a “PDA”, and it’s influence on the PDA market cannot be denied, but the system itself was a complete failure for Apple when it was released in the early 90s. Primarily due to poor handwriting recognition (and I personally think having Steve Segal use it in one of the worst movies ever didn’t help it either), the Newton limped along for a few years, but was ultimately not a success for Apple.
Macintosh Portable – Does that thing look portable? Um…not really. In the same way the Powerbook 100 series showed the world what a portable computer SHOULD look like, the Macintosh Portable showed the world exactly what it SHOULDN’T look like. The computer was released in 1989 and continued on for a few years – ultimately being put down in October of 1991. Apple learned a lot from this bold experiment, though. The Powerbook arrived soon after, and forever changed the way people perceived what a portable computer could be.