Apple's 4 best and 4 worst products

Beijing Apple Store
Michael Kan (One-Time Use)

Apple's 4 best and 4 worst products

Apple IIe
Martyn Williams

Apple II

The Apple II was Apple's first computer designed the for the mass market and went on sale on June 10, 1977, a year after the debut of the kit-based Apple I. Designed by Steve Wozniak, it was used by a generation to learn programming and computer skills. Its success helped define the personal computer market and made Apple a company to be reckoned with in the PC space. The computer remained in production until 1993 when the Apple IIe (pictured) finally went off sale.

ipod list

iPod

When the iPod launched in 2001, it immediately became the gold standard by which all other digital music players were judged -- not bad for a company fresh into the market. The combinaton of the iPod and iTunes made buying, owning and listening to digital music easy and enabled Apple to quickly pass competitors like Sony, which had products on sale several years earlier. The success of the iPod laid the ground for a decade of success at Apple and would eventually push the company to develop the iPhone.

macosx10 0screenshot

OS X

The arrival of OS X in 2001 marked a big change for Apple Mac users and laid the base for more than 15 years of software innovation. It's based on software from NeXT, where Steve Jobs went after leaving Apple in 1985, and the BSD OS. Annual upgrades from Apple have helped keep the Mac fresh and ahead of the competition and since Mavericks, those upgrades have been free over the life of a machine.

Apple iPhone first edition

iPhone

The importance of the iPhone, both to Apple and the electronics industry as a whole, is difficult to overstate. It redefined the smartphone market overnight, left competitors playing catch-up for years, pushed forward the mobile Internet and put Apple products into the hands of hundreds of millions of consumers who otherwise might never have owned them. It's also been Apple's best-selling hardware device ever.

g4 cube front

Power Mac G4 Cube

Looks aren't everything, as some owners of the Power Mac G4 Cube discovered. When the computer debuted for $1799 in July 2000, Apple had high hopes but it was discontinued a year later after lower-than expected sales. Putting aside the specs and limited upgradablility, perhaps it's best remembered for "cracks" discovered by users in the cases of their new machines. Apple said they were just mold lines, but in the court of public opinion the damage was done and the machine didn't last long.

apple iii
Alexander Schaelss (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Apple III

The Apple III goes down in history as Apple's first big flop to date. Aimed at business users, it cost between $4,340 and $7,800 when it debuted in 1980 -- a steep price to pay for a computer with few applications, buggy software and chips that wouldn't stay in their sockets. Legend has it that at one point, Apple told customers to drop the computer on a desk to keep the chips in place. The debut of the IBM PC a year later for $1,565 was just about the end of the Apple III.

apple eworld
Apple

eWorld

Before the Internet was common outside research labs and universities, there were online services. Apple's eWorld launched in June 1994 to offer mail, bulletin boards and limited access to Internet services. It competed with bigger services like America Online, the Microsoft Network and CompuServe and managed to gain about 100,000 subscribers before being shuttered two years after launch. A planned PC version never materialized and users were shifted to AOL when it closed.

apple newton
Apple

Newton

Sometimes you're just too early to the market. That's what happened with Apple's Newton, an early stab at a PDA (personal digital assistant) that helped pioneer handwriting recognition. But it suffered poor battery life and a high price. During Apple's 40-second highlight reel of its first 40 years, the name Newton appears and is scribbled out -- a reference to its hand-writing interface and cancellation in 1998.