Top 10 Apple Flops

Anonymous's picture

Top 10 Apple Flops

 

 

5. Puck mouse: Anyone who rushed to the stores in 1998 to purchase a Bondi Blue G3 iMac was at the very forefront of a revolution that brought the personal computer from the floor to the desktop, and changed the way we stored files, surfed the Internet, listened to music, pointed and clicked. The iMac was the first computer to ship without a floppy drive and was ahead of the USB curve, shipping a matching USB keyboard and odd-looking mouse in every package. Apple lore has it that the mouse was designed by Jobs himself, who wanted a pointing device that would fit comfortably in his hand while he sat on top of his desk, and he promised the puck-shaped clicker would be “the coolest ... most wonderful mouse you’ve ever used.” Most users, however, used different adjectives to describe the mouse, most of which cannot be printed here.

 

 

4. Copland: The worst case of vaporware in Apple’s history officially kicked off in March 1994 alongside the original Power Mac, the first Cupertino computer to use a PowerPC processor. Intended as a dramatic rethinking of the System 7, Copland was originally slated to ship in beta form in late 1995, and as a full release in mid-1996, then fall, then January 1997, and finally, “sometime.” Pieces of Copland would eventually find their way into System 7.6 and OS 8, but Apple failed to deliver the operating system’s revolutionary features in any cohesive package; instead, NeXT and its fledgling OS was acquired from Steve Jobs, and the rest is Cocoa history. In the end, Copland was just too far ahead of its time --- so far, in fact, that many of its ambitions have become some of OS X’s greatest innovations.

 

 

3. Newton: While Copland’s failures were, for the most part, hidden deep inside Apple’s laboratories, Newton was the rare Apple product that crumbled under the weight of public scrutiny. Announced in May 1992 with great fanfare, the world’s first PDA hit the ground running, but had slowed to a crawl by the time it finally landed in stores some 15 months after its auspicious unveiling --- and it didn’t help that the handheld’s handwriting recognition immediately became the butt of jokes by Gary Trudeau and Matt Groening. Of course, Newton got better with subsequent revisions, but the world around it never quite caught up to its genius, and various models sat on shelves for several years before the project was ultimately killed in February 1998 by, you guessed it, Steve Jobs.

 

 

2. Macintosh Office: Hot on the heels of its wildly successful 1984 Super Bowl commercial for the Macintosh, Apple tapped Ridley Scott’s brother, Tony, to direct a follow-up TV spot to air during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XX. Titled “Lemmings,” the 60-second ad depicted a mindless line of blindfolded businessmen walking toward (and off) a cliff in rhythm to an erie rendition of “Heigh-Ho.” Somehow, this was supposed to sell viewers on the idea of The Macintosh Office as a solution to their day-to-day business needs. Needless to say, the ad generated more disgust than interest, and Apple learned a valuable lesson: Don’t kill PC users in your ads. Plus, Macintosh Office struggled to impress without a bona fide file server, which didn’t arrive until 1987.

 

 

1. PowerPC: In 1994, everything changed for Apple. Despite Newton’s initial stumble, the company was still enjoying tremendous success as an industry leader and innovator, running neck and neck with Microsoft ahead of the blockbuster release of Windows 95. But instead of turning a corner, a decision to team with rival IBM and Motorola to create a new computing platform set the company back 10 years and eroded virtually every bit of success it had built over the previous 18 years. PowerPC was quickly eclipsed by Intel’s Pentium offerings (despite the latter’s weaker performance) and Apple’s Mac platform gradually lost market share, despite Jobs’ undying efforts to prove the megahertz myth. Apple finally abandoned the rebel chip in 2005 after the G5 stumbled out of the gate, and by late 2006, all new Macs were shipping with Intel processors.

 

61

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

NSX

hey i used a cube too it's awesome, the drawback at the time was apple's greed. if it were at mini prices it would have been a monsterous hit.

the mini is no flop but it is going the same way the cube is up in price.

avatar

Walker Quine

PowerPC is not a flop, we are talking about a chip line that somehow (beyond my reasoning) managed to beat intel and other competitors in performance for nearly its entire life span.

avatar

Kendall Tawes

As a Mac user in the early 90's I can tell you that the PowerPC chip wasn't just losing ground in the early half of this decade but also had an abysmal release. This was certainly not a fault of the hardware itself which even would run OS 9 well but it was a fault in the software it was to run.

Unfortunately System 7 ran wonderfully on 680x0 cpus but it was quite slow on the PowerPC. This was mostly due to Apple's poor planning. They were banking everything on completing Copland shortly so very little optimisation was done to System 7 and to mac apps in general. At the time it all seemed rushed to market and was too buggy and slow. This was mostly due to emulation which ran slower than a Mac Plus or 512 most of the time, and compatibility issues plagued the system. I barely could make use out of the PowerPC models for more than a whole year until OS 7.5 and 7.6 came out as the platform finally matured but by then the damage was done and many people were switching to Windows IBM clones since they were so much cheaper. Mind you some people knew that Windows was buggy but they figured since PowerPC and System 7 were so mismatched for each other why not get the cheaper hardware. Plus all of the platform shift stuff was scary sounding to people who were very new to computers at the time. Microsoft did a great job milking it for all it was worth with all the made for Windows 3.1, 95 games and software stickers out there making people even more confused and scared off from Mac OS or anything else than before.

Interestingly enough even OS 9 relied on some 680x0 code until it's eventual demise making OS X the first fully PowerPC optimised operating system only to be running another architecture a few short years later.

Using that logic PowerPC was a flop even if it really wasn't the hardware's fault at least at first.

avatar

John Croshan

Power PC was a flop for the Mac. Towards the end of its lifespan, Intel caught up and passed it. Motorola could never figure out how to push the G5 past 3GHz, nor could they figure out how to lower the heat it generated (the main reason why the Power Mac/Mac Pro chassis is so huge is because the Power PC needed elaborate cooling schemes). Plus, Motorola lagged WAY behind Intel when it came to R&D.

avatar

Jeff CDO

Mac Mini a flop??? I found it the perfect affordable introduction to the Mac world for my Mom who doesn't use computers that much.

avatar

ultimateluigi987

I agree, if you already had the equipment, it was the cheapest option. But, the puck mouse was good and comfortable...

avatar

Lindemann

I agree with the above commenter that the definition of "flop" in this column varies from entry to entry. That said, the puck mouse was beyond awful. So was eWorld. And why isn't the mac mini more compelling?

avatar

cybs

What a load of opinion. Eworld was great. mac mini is great, puck mouse is fine. speaker system works fine. Not every product gets mass appeal. Does that make it a flop? What is a flop? Seems we ar eapplying a variety of criteria to determine what a flop is.

avatar

Anonymous

seriously, the puck was the worst mouse ever created. It was the ergonmic equivalent of the iron maiden torture device. How many young designers ended up with claw hand because of that thing?

avatar

MacAddict4Life

I didn't completely agree with a few of these, particularly the mini (people bought them, unlike some of the other things on the list) and Copeland (if it never came out, it didn't flop)... But the presence of the PowerPC is ridiculous! It was a phenomenal chip line and a great success for YEARS before the problems that lead to the Intel transition.

Also, where's the original Apple TV? There are a lot more mini's in the wild than Apple TVs in my experience... which one's the flop?

Log in to Mac|Life directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.