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Top 10 Apple products which flopped

by Dhiram Shah


Apart from phenomenal products like the iPod, iMac and Macbooks, Apple in its 30 year old history has churned out super flop products too. Here is a list of 10 products in reversing order from Apple which fizzled in the market.
No 10 – Apple Cyberdog
Apple’s to answer to Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator was the Cyberdog an Internet suite developed to work on the Mac OS. Introduced in Feb 1996 in beta stage, Cyberdog was an OpenDoc-based suite of Internet applications, including email and news readers, a web browser and address book management components, as well as drag and drop FTP. The components could be reused and embedded in other documents by the user. However Cyberdog was a memory hog and sucked up more memory than both the web browser and mail applications in other suites. Also saved documents were not viewable from applications which did not support OpenDoc’s Brento format and as web standards evolved Cyberdog became obsolete. It was replaced a year later in May 1997 with Internet Explorer for Mac as the default browser till Safari made debut in October 2003.
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No 9 – Taligent
Apple joined forces with IBM (really surprising) in 1988 to develop the next generation operating system to replace Mac OS. In 1992, Taligent Inc. was formed as Apple-IBM joint venture to complete the software codenamed Pink, an ambitious object-oriented operating system. The only product it shipped was CommonPoint which comprised more than 100 object-oriented frameworks, providing developers with a powerful platform-independent model that supported interactive collaboration. By 1995 Apple did not have an OS capable of running CommonPoint and by the end of 1995 it became a wholly owned subsidy of IBM which was later dissolved in 1998.
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No 8 – Apple EWorld
In 1994 Apple partnered with AOL to develop EWorld which was intuitive and easy to use and included services like email (eMail Center), news, and a bulletin board system (Community Center). Users of the service were referred as ‘EPeople’. The service was heavily GUI dependent was based around a “town hall” theme where each of the serviceĆ­s branches were individual “buildings”. The town hall metaphor made eWorld simple to access and provided users with a strong sense of community. However Apple kept the prices very high and did not advertise the product. It came preinstalled on new Macintosh’s but was buried away several folders deep on a default installation which majority of the customers could not find. After 2 years on March 31 1996 the service was officially shut down,
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No 7 – Apple Pippin
Apple Pipin was the technology for a multimedia player marketed by Apple, it was powered by a 66-MHz PowerPC 603e processor,had a 14.4kbps modem and ran a cut-down version of the Mac OS. Apple’s aim was to create an inexpensive computer to play CD-based multimedia titles and mainly games, however the timing couldn’t be worst as it was released in a market already dominated by Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64. Only 42,000 of these ill fated devices were sold before a silent death.
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No 6 – 20th Anniversary Macintosh
20thannivmac.jpgTo mark the company’s 20th anniversary Apple released the TAM (Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh) in May 1997. At a time when CPU speed was still measured in Megahertz the TAM was pretty futuristic, it had a 12 inch TFT-LCD monitor (800 x 600), 250 Mhz processor, ATI 3D Rage II video chipset and ATI 3D Rage II video chipset. It had a vertically mounted 4X CD-ROM drive and Bose speakers with a sub woofer which doubled as a power supply. The TAM ran on Mac OS 9.1 and had a 2 GB hard drive, it was discontinued in March 1998, less than a year from launch due to the huge $7,499 price tag.
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No 5 – Motorola ROKR
itunes_rokr_phone.jpgTechnically speaking the iPhone is not Apple’s first cell phone, in 2005 it partnered with Motorola for the ROKR phone. As with any Apple product it was widely expected, it featured an MP3 player with an interface similar to the iPod interface and allowed users to playback music purchased from iTunes store. The phone had decent specs in its times – 512 MB memory, Bluetooth, bright display and Micro SD card for memory expansion. It still flopped mainly due to awefully slow transfer rates compared to dedicated music players and a firmware which limited only one hundred songs to be loaded at any time.
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No 4 – Macintosh TV
MacTV.jpgThe limited edition Macintosh TV introduced in 1993 was one of only a few Macs to come in black, it came with a cable-ready TV tuner card, and included a CD-ROM drive. The Macintosh TV was essentially a Performa 520 which could switch its built-in 14″ Sony Trinitron CRT from being a computer display to a cable-ready television. It had a 32 Mhz processor, 4 MB RAM and 160 MB hard drive. Reasons for its failure were its inability display television feeds in desktop window and mediocre graphical performance.
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No 3 – Macintosh Portable
The Macintosh Portable was Apple’s first portable computer, launched in 1989 it was powered by a Motorola 68000 processor at 16 Mhz and had 1 MB of RAM (expandable to 8 Mb). It featured a black and white active-matrix LCD screen and a full keyboard. However the Lead acid batteries added to the bulk, it weighed in at 15.8 pounds (7.2 kilograms) and was a bit bigger than a briefcase. Other than the mammoth size also in question was the $6,500 price tag which lead to the doom of the Macintosh Portable.
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No 2 – Apple Lisa
Way back in 1983 Apple released the Lisa one of the first commercial personal computers to have a GUI and a mouse. It was powered by a Motorola 68000 CPU at 5 MHz and 1 MB of RAM. The Lisa operating system featured cooperative (non-preemptive) multitasking and virtual memory, then extremely advanced features for a personal computer. The use of virtual memory coupled with a fairly slow disk system made the system performance seem sluggish at times. One of the main reasons of Lisa’s failure was its astonishing price of $ 9,995 dollars ($ 21,500 in Feb 2007 dollars).
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No 1 – Apple Newton
Released much ahead of its time in 1993, the Newton (official name was MessagePad) was touted as the future of computing. It would be the first in a new line of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). The Messagepad was the first pen based system running on the Newton Intelligence OS. It was powered by a ARM 610 processor at 20 MHz and 640k RAM / 4 MB ROM. It sported a reflective black and white touchscreen with a resolution of 336 x 240, PCMCIA card slot for expansion and Infrared port for communication between MP’s. The main capabilities of the device was its communications and organizational features. It could fax messages, send e-mail, had applications to organize names, dates, phone numbers, etc, printing, wireless paging and perhaps the most important of all it could supposedly read and recognize handwritten words on the screen. The Newton’s astronomical $ 1000 price tag, poor handwriting recognition, large size (did not fit any pocket) and the “Doonesbury” comic strips by Gary Trudeau pushed it towards failure, however the Apple Newton was produced for six years.
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Honorable Mention – Apple Puck Mouse
Apple_iMac_USB_mouse.jpgIntroduced with the original iMac in 1998, it has only one button but figuring out where that button was and orienting the mouse without looking down created an ergonomic nightmare. Apple did a small indentation in a later version so you could figure out where to put your finger, but you still had to find the indentation. The Puck Mouse was discontinued a few years later.

131 Comments

  1. Top 10 Apple Flops

    What!? No, say it isn’t so, but it is. Apple did produce a lot of crap and newlaunches was kind enough to pile all of that Apple crap together for one craptacular list. Most of the items consisted of some…

    Reply
  2. takn

    you forgot to add Safari, Mac OsX, ipods, ibooks, imacs and everything with an i in front of its name. apple sells overprice, dumbed down crap.

    Reply
  3. David

    No. The Newton was one of Apple’s BEST products ever, not worst. Try to understand the impact that it had.

    Reply
  4. r_y_a_n

    Lame list. The ROKR wasn’t Apple. And the other items on the list were from 12 to 20 years ago. LAME.

    Reply
  5. 42

    I wouldn’t call the Lisa a flop seeing how it pretty much kicked off the whole Mac thing, despite its price. It did sell to image-conscious companies, sort of like how it was sooo cooool having a black NeXT cube on your desk because it meant you were a real swinging dick. I even sold a few of them to university profs with too much grant money.
    However I’d sure call the Mac XL a flop. By the time that boat anchor came along it was already an obsolete lump of crap ready for the landfill (and yeah I know Apple scuttled most of the leftover Lisa and Mac XL carcasses in a landfill somewhere).

    Reply
  6. Josh Ourisman

    Say what you will about CyberDog, it was a pretty good email client. I used it until it became too much of a pain to install OpenDoc on my computer.

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  7. Dimmer

    Hey, I have a Pippin, a MP 100, a MP 2100 (used daily) and a Mac Portable (all in good shape, the Pippin is even in Apple colors (beige and rainbow apple) not Bandai.
    It’s worth pointing out that AOL was a derivative of AppleLink Personal, and to call the Portable, Lisa and Rokr “flops” is a huge over staement: the rokr continues to be a good, high end Moto phone; no Lisa = no Mac; no Mac Portable = no PowerBook.
    The frequent quotes of “high price tags” also need to be taken with a grain of salt: at the time, compared with other hardware offerings, there was nothing outrageous about the prices.
    Oh, and the 20th Anniversary Mac, that came with a guy/gal to install it in your home? That wasn’t really supposed to be a blow-the-doors off sales monster.

    Reply
  8. gordon

    I owned a few of the items on this list and even though they weren’t successes they were still great products. As someone in the process of starting my own company, you really need to fail once or twice before you get it right. Look at the products you see on this list and compare them to current apple products you probably own.
    http://www.gordonphoto.net

    Reply
  9. Jack Jenkins

    For the record, the Newton did NOT fail due to poor handwriting recognition. In fact, it wasn’t until a couple years ago that an other PDA came close to the ability of the Newton.
    It was, however, ridiculously expensive, and largely ahead of its time.

    Reply
  10. taio

    what a terrible work?!?!!? yes some things are true but it looks like you got informations in the trash can of a junkie idiot and elaborated them with the inteligence of a gay squirrel…. Macintosh Portable ??? 20th Anniversary Macintosh ???? Newton ??? sorry but was Leonardo da Vince a failure beacouse the helicopter and planes he tought of did not fly in 15th century?? Newton in particular was an economical failure but one hell of a good idea and 14 years later everybody is tryng to do something similar… The portable was THE portable and 20th Anniversary Macintosh, was not made to be sold in lot of units, it was a commemorative computer made for few, with a concept study for the future.
    Sorry for the english… i’m italian…

    Reply
  11. Tony

    Looks like most of these things flopped due to marketing issues or cost. Some of these items are pretty amazing (e.g. Lisa).
    If this is Apple’s worst, they sure did better than the list of Microsoft’s worst I saw a month or two ago.

    Reply
  12. Grant Hamilton

    The Newton was such a failure that there is still active development for it. In all honesty, the MessagePad 2100 was the best computer I ever used. It was never in the way. Totally transparent.
    http://dmoz.org/Computers/Systems/Handhelds/Newton/

    Reply