With the success of the iPod, the subsequent resurgence in popularity of the Macintosh platform, and the recent iPhone smash hit, it’s hard to imagine that Apple was once a company that tried to enter every market possible, leaving a trail of flopped products in its wake. Forbes lists ten of them, and we take a look at some of them, and add one of our own.
The Forbes article starts off with the Apple Lisa, developed more or less in the same timeframe as the original Macintosh. The Apple Lisa indeed turned out to be a commercial failure, there’s no doubt about it. However, looking at the grander scheme of things, the Lisa played an important role in the development of the Macintosh, Apple’s landmark computer that introduced normal folk to the graphical user interface. Some of the concepts of the Macintosh were pioneered by the Lisa team, such as Quickdraw, one of the fundamental components of the Mac OS. In addition, as the stories on Folklore.org point out, the competition between the Mac and Lisa teams propelled both teams to excel at what they were doing. From this perspective, the Lisa wasn’t a failure at all.
Forbes also dares to include the PowerMac G4 Cube. As regular readers will know, I am a huge admirer of the Cube, which, despite its numerous hardware flaws and high price, is a design masterpiece that really shows just how brilliant Jonathan Ives can be when he’s given more or less a carte blanche. The Cube is, as far as I’m concerned, still the most beautiful computer ever made – and many agree with me, as it found its way to the New York City Museum Of Modern Art.
Taligent is also on the list, but it’s not the only Apple operating system that turned out to be vapourware. Back in the ’90s, before Apple aquired NeXT, it thought it could modernise the classic Mac OS to face the challanges of the new era, but it kind of failed. Copland became a massive failure, prompting Apple to go shopping for another operating system to base their next-gen system on. An Apple failure list is never complete without Copland.
and none of those flops affected the computer i’m using right now. apple might have made some mistakes, but at least it didn’t screw me.
but it’s fun to read about apple hardware i never knew existed.
They began with the Lisa, Apple’s first flop was the Apple III. The Apple III was an attempt to sell a business machine for Apple, in contrast to their market of home and education computers at the time.
The Apple III definitely should have been on that list. I was still working as a computer tech back then. We used to call them popcorn makers. Steve Jobs didn’t allow the designers to use a fan, cause he thought they were too noisy. The result was the things ran so hot the motherboards literally warped and would pop chips out of the sockets. Apple actually sent out a tech bulletin that suggested sometimes lifting the unit a few inches off the desk and dropping it would be enough to re-seat the chips and restore normal function.
The Macintosh Performa should probably be on that list as well, as it was largely a flop. It was a consumer level machine that did very poorly and was not marketed well.
Didn’t Apple also create a limited edition gold colored Macintosh once on one of their anniversaries? That almost no one bought because the color was so hidious? (it’s a collector’s item now though IIRC).
Edited 2008-10-30 21:47 UTC