Apple’s Biggest Hardware Flops of All Time

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These days Apple is related to the iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacE-book – game-changing merchandise so wildly profitable that they’ve modified the best way we reside. But even essentially the most invaluable firm on the earth has had its fair proportion of advertising and marketing missteps and {hardware} blunders.

Apple wasn’t all the time as worthwhile as it’s in the present day, and the failure of some of its earlier merchandise would have doomed most different tech corporations to the annals of historical past. Here we have a look again at some of Apple’s most notorious {hardware} flops. See in case you agree, and tell us within the feedback of every other questionable Apple gadgets that you just suppose should be named and shamed.

Apple III

Apple III

The Apple III was the end result of a venture initiated in 1978 after Apple grew to become involved that the recognition of its Apple II, launched in 1977, would ultimately wane. Originally constructed with hobbyists in thoughts, the Apple II was surprisingly common with small companies, however Apple was conscious that IBM was engaged on a private pc particularly geared toward enterprise customers, which solely made Apple extra desperate to consolidate its maintain available on the market. The Apple III due to this fact needed to be the entire system – all issues to all customers – and a cheap addition to any workplace or dwelling.

A committee of engineers was assigned to the Apple III venture, making it the primary Apple pc not designed by Steve Wozniak. As it turned out, everybody had their very own concepts about what options the Apple III ought to have, and all of them had been included. The venture was purported to be completed in 10 months, however ended up taking two years consequently.

In November 1980 the Apple III lastly launched, beginning at an eye-watering $3,495, and providing twice the efficiency because the Apple II and twice as a lot reminiscence (128KB of RAM). It was the primary Apple pc to have a built-in floppy drive, and ran a brand new working system known as Apple SOS, that includes a sophisticated reminiscence administration system and a hierarchical file system.

apple III ad

An advert for entry to well being data through the Apple III

Unfortunately, none of these improvements might save the Apple III from its flawed chassis design, and Apple was pressured to recall the primary 14,000 machines produced resulting from severe overheating points, induced partly by Steve Jobs’ insistence on not together with a fan within the case. The drawback was so unhealthy that thermal growth would usually trigger the chips to come out of place. Apple even advised prospects to elevate their machine a number of inches above their desks after which drop it to reseat them. A revised mannequin underneath the title Apple III Plus was ultimately launched in 1983 that addressed the widespread failures, however the harm to the pc’s repute had already been achieved.

The Apple III was discontinued in April 1984, whereas its successor was dropped from Apple’s product line in September 1985. The firm bought an estimated 65,000–75,000 Apple III computer systems, with the Apple III Plus taking the full as much as round 120,000. Jobs later mentioned that the corporate misplaced “infinite, incalculable amounts” of cash on the Apple III, and its poor reception induced hundreds of US companies to purchase IBM PCs as an alternative.

Apple Lisa

apple lisa

Released in 1983, Lisa formally stood for “Local Integrated Software Architecture,” however was really a backronym invented later to suit the title of Steve Jobs’ daughter, Lisa. Apple positioned it as a enterprise pc and a substitute for the Apple II. While earlier computer systems relied on text-based interfaces and keyboard enter, Lisa was the primary private pc to characteristic a graphical UI and mouse, interface improvements each first seen in motion by Jobs throughout a go to to Xerox Parc’s analysis lab in Silicon Valley.

Despite this, beginning at simply shy of ten grand (round $29,905 by in the present day’s requirements), the Lisa was prohibitively costly for all however the wealthiest of households, and the pc was a flop. By 1986, Apple had solely managed to promote round 100,000 items, and your complete Lisa platform was discontinued. Apple was even pressured to dispose of some 2,700 Lisas in a landfill in Utah. Fewer than 100 Lisa computer systems are believed to exist in the present day.

Apple Lisa business starring Kevin Costner

Looking again, Jobs felt that Apple had misplaced its manner. “First of all, it was too expensive — about ten grand,” he mentioned in an interview with Playboy in 1985. “We had gotten Fortune 500-itis, trying to sell to those huge corporations, when our roots were selling to people.” Jobs really bought kicked off the Lisa venture in September 1980 as a result of of his unstable temperament, however as destiny would have it, he subsequently joined the group that ended up growing the primary Macintosh.

Apple Newton

apple newton

In May 1992, Apple CEO John Sculley unveiled the Newton MessagePad to a rapt CES viewers. He known as the smooth black handheld gadget, which was concerning the measurement of a VHS cassette, a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). The Newton PDA, he mentioned, was a totally new class of gadget. It got here with a stylus and may very well be used to take notes, retailer contacts, and handle calendars – commonplace features of any modern-day smartphone, however revolutionary in 1993. Users might take it out, ship a fax, and return it to their pocket, with out ever going close to a desktop pc.

The actually killer characteristic, nevertheless, was its handwriting recognition. Or no less than, that was Apple’s authentic plan. What the viewers did not know was that it barely labored. Apple shipped the primary Newton MessagePad 14 months later for $900, however by that point different corporations had already rushed rival PDAs to market, and the Newton nonetheless had huge issues translating handwritten notes into textual content. After the unfavourable opinions, it was broadly derided within the media – the cartoon Doonesbury devoted an entire week to lampooning its handwriting recognition points, and the gadget even grew to become the butt of a joke in The Simpsons.


Doonesbury cartoon lampooning the Newton (Image credit score: Universal Press Syndicate)

Apple battled to make successive variations of the Newton successful, and with the discharge of Newton OS 2.0 in March 1996 the handwriting recognition had been considerably improved. But it was too little, too late. The model simply could not shake its abysmal debut efficiency. Worse, Steve Jobs hated it, for 2 causes: It got here with a stylus (“God gave us ten styluses,” Jobs would say, “Let’s not invent another.”) and it had been Sculley’s pet venture. Upon his return to Apple in 1997, Jobs pushed for the product line be killed off. It was discontinued a yr later.

“Lisa On Ice”: Episode of The Simpsons making enjoyable of Apple’s Newton

Newton went by eight variations of the {hardware}, with Apple spending $100 million on its growth. Only an estimated 200,000 had been ever bought. But it wasn’t all a waste. The similar considering behind the PDA would ultimately convey us the ‌iPhone‌.

Macintosh TV

macintosh tv

In an age the place watching streaming video in your cellphone or PC does not even increase an eyebrow, Apple’s authentic computer-television hybrid now looks as if an answer in search of an issue. But when it launched in 1993, the concept of watching TV in your Mac was utterly forward of its time.

The black chassis of the Macintosh TV was primarily an LC 520 fused with a 14-inch Sony Trinitron CRT. It got here with a CD-ROM drive and distant management, whereas a built-in tuner card with connecting coax cable allowed broadcasts to be displayed in 16-bit colour. Unfortunately, customers had to decide on to both watch TV or use their Mac. It could not show TV in a window (Picture in Picture hadn’t been invented but) and it was not possible to seize video, though customers might save nonetheless frames of broadcasts as PICT recordsdata.

On the face of it, the Macintosh TV provided sooner efficiency than the standalone LC 520, because of a 32MHz Motorola 68030 processor. In actuality although it was bottlenecked by a 16MHz bus. Also, the 5MB of RAM was solely upgradeable to 8MB, whereas the LC 520 might max out at 36MB. Costing $2,099 at launch, Apple’s TV-Mac mashup was not low-cost, and it did not catch on. It was discontinued in 1995, two years after its launch, by which period Apple had shipped simply 10,000 items.


Pippin Main

Launched in 1996 with the assistance of Japanese sport firm Bandai, the Pippin was Apple’s notorious stab at a CD-ROM based mostly sport console, nevertheless it was badly marketed, poorly supported, and vastly overpriced. The Pippin arrived on the top of the console wars, a time when dwelling computer systems had but to change into commonplace. Apple’s ill-fated plan was to shift the market dynamic with a hybrid computing/gaming gadget.

On the face of it, the Pippin was simply that, boasting some distinctive options that every one different console rivals lacked. Based on Macintosh structure from the early-to-mid ’90s, the Pippin ran a simplified model of Mac OS 7, making it sooner than different consoles. It was additionally outfitted with a veritable choice of ports, supporting not solely modem and printer connections, but in addition providing customers the power to attach exterior peripherals like keyboards and mice.

Unfortunately, Apple’s intention to provide Pippin customers a computer-like expertise in a console type issue was partly the explanation for its downfall. Costing $650, the Pippin was round $400 costlier than main rivals such because the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. And regardless of Pippin’s quick efficiency, competing consoles had the sting in phrases of software program, with many sporting intensive video games catalogs, whereas solely 25 titles had been launched for Pippin owing to poor third-party developer help on the half of Bandai, a comparatively unknown title among the many gaming neighborhood.

Bandai Apple Pippin Console Back

Apple did not plan to launch Pippin by itself, meaning to make the platform an open commonplace by licensing the know-how to 3rd events, just like its licensed Mac clone program within the late ’90s. However, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he canned the corporate’s clone efforts and subsequently shut down Pippin growth, main Bandai to halt the manufacturing of all fashions of Pippin by mid-1997. Apple had hoped to ship half 1,000,000 consoles a yr, however solely bought a complete of round 42,000 within the gadget’s brief lifespan.

twentieth Anniversary Macintosh

tam on black

Released in March 1997 to mark Apple’s twentieth yr in enterprise slightly than the anniversary of the Mac, the “20th Anniversary Macintosh,” or TAM because it grew to become identified, would possibly look odd by in the present day’s requirements, nevertheless it was a singular machine in its personal proper.

Its strikingly skinny and upright “all-in-one” design housed a number of novel options, together with a built-in 12.1-inch LCD flat-screen show, vertically mounted CD-ROM and floppy drives, and an built-in TV/FM tuner. The TAM ran a modified model of Mac OS 7.6.1 to manage these options, whereas a 250MHz PowerPC 603e CPU and 64MB of RAM ensured efficiency was nothing to smell at. It even had a customized Bose sound system with two accompanying audio system and a subwoofer constructed into the exterior energy provide.

TV business for twentieth Anniversary Macintosh

Delivered to prospects through a direct-to-door service undertaken by tuxedoed concierges, the TAM was marketed as an govt machine, however at $7,500, the chief pricing proved an excessive amount of of a turn-off, and gross sales had been poor. In the ultimate weeks of its availability, Apple slashed the worth of the TAM to $2,000, however this solely served to anger individuals who had paid full worth, and Apple was pressured to reimburse early adopters with a brand new PowerE-book.

Only 12,000 TAMs had been made, many of which had been by no means bought. The system lasted barely 12 months in Apple’s product lineup and was discontinued a yr later in March 1998, shortly earlier than the launch of the iMac G3, which provided related specs however a bigger display, and all for simply $1,299.

Power Mac G4 Cube

apple g4 cube

Unveiled on July 19, 2000, the Power Mac G4 Cube was an engineering marvel and a press release piece of Apple industrial design. At lower than one fourth the scale of most PCs out there on the time, the fanless machine represented a completely new class of pc, that includes a strong G4 PowerPC processor, discrete Nvidia video card, AirPort card for Wi-Fi, and a DVD burner, all packed neatly into a sublime eight-inch dice suspended inside a clear molded acrylic case. Steve Jobs known as it “simply the coolest computer ever,” and occurring first impressions, it was arduous to disagree.

But the Cube was doomed nearly from the beginning. Upgradability was restricted – a deal with within the backside of the Cube allowed customers to drag the innards out of the case, offering entry to 3 RAM slots and area to insert an AirPort card, however there have been no PCI slots and the proprietary video card was shrunken down to suit into the tightly enclosed area. It was additionally too costly, even by Apple’s requirements. The lowest-priced mannequin price $1,799, which was $200 greater than the way more upgradeable Power Mac G4.

Apple promotional video for Power Mac G4 Cube

Apple bought fewer than 150,000 items in 349 days, and on July 3, 2001, Apple introduced it was suspending manufacturing of the Cube indefinitely. “Cube owners love their Cubes,” mentioned Phil Schiller, Apple’s then vp of product advertising and marketing. “But most customers decided to buy our powerful Power Mac G4 minitowers instead.” Apple CEO Tim Cook would later describe the G4 Cube as “a spectacular failure.”

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