Apple’s sleek, swish products are some of the most commercially successful inventions in the history of technology. Apple has more cash than the USA, and every teenager from London to Los Angeles wants an iPhone 5 to feature on his Christmas list. But it hasn’t always been that way – even Apple, creator of the iPod and iPad, has made some gargantuan errors in its products of the past.
Apple Bandai Pippin, 1995
Marketed as the Pipp!n, this little machine was supposed to be a low-cost internet-enabled gaming computer. Packing a 66Mhz processor and a 14.4kbs modem, the unassuming little console was practically a pioneer in its use of a 4x CD tray while its contemporaries lumbered around with clunky cassettes. The problem was, it retailed at nearly $600 and only 18 games were made for it. The modem was a bit of a waste of time because when it was released, not many people really knew about the internet or computer networking.
The Apple III, 1980
Retailing at up to $7,800 back in the 80’s, this computer did not represent good value for money. In a decade when that sort of cash would buy a fairly reasonable car, Apple were going to have to convince customers that this business-oriented desktop model was worth the money.
Unfortunately it wasn’t. It was woefully underpowered, even for 1980, and there were several crippling design flaws which ensured its entry into this list. It would regularly overheat (thanks to Steve Jobs insisting on no fans or air vents) and the components would fail after prolonged use.
The iMac Mouse
This is the iconic mouse released at the end of the nineties. The one that was supposed to look like a hockey puck with multicoloured facets? It had just the one button, which confused many, but it was also uncomfortable and difficult to use.
The USB port on the iMac G3 was moved from the centre to the left, meaning that right-handed people found the mouse difficult to use. We know that left-handed people encounter a lot of discriminatory design features when they use tech, but we reckon this is a step in the wrong direction.
This isn’t exactly an Apple product on the outside, but its main selling feature was that it came with Apple’s iTunes player built in. This was quite a big deal back in 2005 when smartphones hadn’t really kicked off, but sadly the Motorola ROKR was destined to fail from birth.
It could only store about 100 songs which, although more impressive than CDs, is still not much when compared to the already-established iPod range. And the clunky interface and general iTunes skulduggery meant that transferring music was a lengthy ordeal.
Unlike a lot of tech fails which can simply be left in a warehouse and forgotten, Apple actually went to the lengths of making a secure landfill site in Utah and disposing of all the unsold Lisas there. Although this was for tax reasons, it’s still the embarrassing result of a damning consumer backlash.
It wasn’t as big a commercial failure as the Apple III, and it did give rise to some internationally useful software. But its high asking price (a whopping $10,000) and fairly mediocre specifications made it something of a laughing stock. Apple had to literally throw 2,700 of them away.
Despite their overlooked failures, Gerri is a tech mistress and devours all things Apple. She also writes on behalf of a high-end furniture retailer based in the US.