Apple’s failures: you don’t know the worst products from the brand that created the iPhone

Hardware news Apple’s failures: you don’t know the worst products from the brand that created the iPhone

If you think Apple is nothing but successes, you’re far from the mark: the company that created the iPhone, MacBook and iPad has a share of failures, some of which are even more bitter. Here are Apple’s coolest flops.

Summary

  • The Macintosh Portable (1989): 7kg to carry
  • Newton MessagePad (1993): the ancestor of the iPhone and iPad
  • Macintosh TV (1993): The Apple TV of the 90s (or almost)
  • The Apple III (1980): the first real failure
  • Pippin – or Pipp! N – (1996): the cursed console
  • Ping (2010): the social network dedicated to music
  • iPod Hi-Fi (2006): the speaker is connected before its time

100 million iPhone 12s sold in 7 months, 23 million Macs sold in 2020, 450 million iPods worldwide … Apple’s successes sometimes have a limit of insolence and one would sometimes wonder if they knew the company has already identified the real failures. Think yes, and still be happy: with more than 46 years of existence, the California company has launched many products and services, some of which leave little trace of the history of the technology, or others for the wrong. factors. Here you will discover or rediscover the strange, bizarre, more advanced or poorly made products, which cost several million dollars to the company founded by Steve Jobs.

The Macintosh Portable (1989): 7kg to carry

Credit: Rama, Wikimedia Commons

In 2022, you might get a MacBook Air M1: a very good 1.2 kg ultraportable with a bright color screen and 15 hours of battery life. 33 years ago, Apple launched the first portable computer, in a somewhat different format. The Macintosh Portable actually weighs 7 kg (!) Inside the Macintosh Portable there is a Motorola 68000 processor clocked at 16 MHz, similar to the Amiga 500 or Atari 520 ST. Sold for $ 6,500 when it launched, this first attempt at a “portable” computer from Apple failed: too expensive, not powerful enough, too big… It didn’t appeal to anyone. Two years later, Apple released the PoweBook 100, which looks like a “real” laptop, as it weighs only 2.3 kg. The formula starts to hold.

Newton MessagePad (1993): the ancestor of the iPhone and iPad

Credit: Apple

Apple’s failures: you don’t know the worst products from the brand that created the iPhone

When Steve Jobs worked on the iPhone concept in the mid-2000s, he didn’t start from a blank page. Apple’s founder was actually inspired by one of the company’s most beautiful failures: the Newton. Released in 1993, Newton was formerly known as a “personal assistant”. You probably know this type of product through Palm Pilot, which is even more popular. So Newton is the ancestor of touch pads and uses a stylus (yes, like the Galaxy Note). The screen is black and white, the format rather than an A4 sheet folded in half, the whole thing weighs 484 grams without battery (the iPad Air now weighs 461 grams) and offers diary, calculator, functions. notepad and e-mail… what smartphones (and more) will be offered 15 years later. Newton’s main argument was the handwriting recognition system, which was sold as revolutionary by CEO John Sculley (Steve Jobs would only return to power 4 years later). But the latter is more capricious and Newton will never find its audience.

Macintosh TV (1993): The Apple TV of the 90s (or almost)

Credit: Apple

Apple’s failures: you don’t know the worst products from the brand that created the iPhone

Suppose Apple only sells 10,000 copies of a new product, before stopping production after 6 months. Unthinkable now, but that’s what happened to Machintosh TV. Launched in October 1993, it disappeared in April 1994 and is now unique and sought after. It’s a Mac with a TV tuner and remote control, all in a design that can fit in a living room or dorm room. The “computer” part is similar to the Performa 520 that was released a few months ago, but the screen is a 14 -inch screen made by Sony, with all the connectors to display the TV. But be careful: you have to select one or the other function and it is not possible to display the TV in a Mac OS window. An unsuccessful attempt, at a time when Apple is launching many (too many) products “just to be seen”.

The Apple III (1980): the first real failure

Source: Alexander Schaelss/GNU

Apple’s failures: you don’t know the worst products from the brand that created the iPhone

Let’s go back to the context of the time: in the late 70s, Apple had wind in its sails and experienced its first success with the Apple II (1977), a pioneer in consumer microcomputing. This computer is for the most part a gateway to programming and video games. But the company was quick to think about sequentially and logically considered the Apple III. Released in 1980, it is very “professional” and includes many productivity tools. The concern is that the design stage is delayed and the computer comes out with a lot of technical problems: buggy OS, defective chips … All for the entry price set at 3400 dollars. The failure was frightening and forced the manufacturer to make its Apple II take longer than expected. It is estimated that only 75,000 copies of the Apple III have been sold in 4 years, while the Apple II – all models combined – would have sold more than 12 million copies.

Pippin – or Pipp! N – (1996): the cursed console

Credit: Apple

Apple’s failures: you don’t know the worst products from the brand that created the iPhone

The mid-1990s were already very important for video games: Super Nintendo and the Mega Drive were a hit and Sony was about to change the market with the first PlayStation. And next, there’s Apple, which is taking it in its head to release its home console in partnership with Bandai. The first takes care of the hardware and ecosystem (PowerPC under System 7) and the second creates the design. Pippin also has a CD-ROM drive, and it all has a unique controller. Available only in Japan and the United States (at 599 dollars in all), Pippin was already out of competition at the time of its release and hadn’t sold more than 45,000 copies. We even remember the “game” Exotic Sushi, which teaches you how to prepare and taste a special Japanese based on raw fish.

Ping (2010): the social network dedicated to music

Credit: Apple

Apple’s failures: you don’t know the worst products from the brand that created the iPhone

Do you have any memory of a social network that Apple launched twelve years ago? Neither are we, but the research for this article sheds light on this remarkable failure. Launched in 2010, Ping was described by Steve Jobs as “a blend of Facebook and Twitter dedicated to sharing music”. It allows people to know their music preferences all around them… On the only condition that they use iTunes on a computer or in a dedicated iPhone or iPod Touch application. Apple’s gas plant had to be used to access Ping, cutting it to 80% of its potential audience. Apple still maintained the service for 2 years, before stopping the charges in 2012.

iPod Hi-Fi (2006): the speaker is connected before its time

Credit: Apple

Apple’s failures: you don’t know the worst products from the brand that created the iPhone

Apple’s flagship product in the early 2000’s was undoubtedly the iPod. The pocket music player was a hit and would greatly contribute to the democratization of nomadic music, like Sony’s Walkman before it. But in 2006, Apple offered an unprecedented “accessory”: a large speaker that could accommodate an iPod thanks to a dedicated port. The idea is far from evil… but it is too late for the company to arrive. There are already many “compatible” products of the same class, good quality and above all cheaper. At 380 euros per unit, you can tell that most of the public prefers to resort to alternative solutions. Result: production of the iPod Hi-Fi stopped a year ago.

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