Apple Disasters: A Look at the Products that Flopped

With the success of the iPod and iPhone, Apple has become celebrated for sleek devices that fly off the shelves. But deep in the annals of Apple history are a number of products that were commercial flops.


Remember the failures

With the unparalleled success of both the iPod and iPhone, Apple has become celebrated for sleek devices that fly off the shelves. But deep in the annals of Apple history are a number of products that were, put simply, commercial flops. With all eyes now focusing on the potential release of an Apple tablet, it might be a good time to take a look back at some of Apple's product disasters. More details on each of these products can be found on Yoni Heisler's blog, iOnApple.

Also see:

When Apple Flops you? A playful list of iPods

So you think you think you know Apple?

iOnApple by Yoni Heisler


Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh

In 1997, Apple unveiled a special edition Macintosh to commemorate the company's 20th year anniversary, aptly named the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh, or TAM. It featured a slick all-in-one design that measured only 2.5 inches deep, an LCD display with side-mounted Bose speakers and a vertically mounted CD-ROM drive. It also featured and astonishingly high price tag of $7,499. Despite drastic price cuts, Apple killed the product a year after launch. What was the TAM's biggest claim to fame?



In 1996, Apple released a video game console called Pippin. Pippin was positioned as a network computer that also had the ability to play games (though it was largely thought of as a video game console). It was a complete dud with an abysmal selection of games (fewer than 20 when the product was released), a 14.4kbps modem, and a 3-year-old processor that loaded up games at an aggravatingly slow pace. How many Pippins do you think Apple sold?


Apple Lisa

Apple's history of releasing overpriced hardware dates back to the early 1980s when it released the Apple Lisa computer. Technology wise, the Apple Lisa delivered the goods as it was the first personal computer to come equipped with a mouse and GUI. But with an original sticker price of $9,995 in 1983, Lisa computers didn't exactly fly off the shelves. When adjusting for inflation, what would the Lisa have cost in today's dollars?


Macintosh TV

The Macintosh TV was released in 1993 and was designed as a mix between an Apple Performa and a TV monitor. It sported a 14-inch CRT screen and came with a cable ready TV tuner card. In its attempt to integrate a computer with a TV, the Macintosh TV ended up being the worst of both worlds. As a computer, its specs were lackluster, and as a TV, it was way too expensive. How long was the Macintosh TV in production?


G4 Cube

The award-winning Apple G4 Cube provided users with a full-powered Mac in an extremely small 8x8x8 inch shaped cube. But in typical Apple fashion, its high price tag of $1,599 prevented it from actually generating a significant amount of sales. Who was the famous Apple designer responsible for creating the G4 Cube?


Apple hockey puck mouse

While Steve Jobs exclaimed that the "hockey puck" mouse was the best mouse ever created, it was in reality ergonomically uncomfortable and functionally inefficient to use. Thankfully, the circular form of the hockey puck mouse has disappeared, yet the mouse still makes cameo appearances in a variety of "Worst Tech Products in History" lists. Which Mac sported the awful hockey puck mouse?


Macintosh Portable

"Portable", however, might be a misnomer. The device checked in at an astonishingly heavy 16 pounds (in part because of heavy lead-acid batteries) and was as big as briefcase. When first released, the Macintosh Portable came with 1MB of RAM, a black and white LCD screen and a full keyboard. With an initial asking price of $6,500, the Macintosh Portable was not a successful product by any means. What year did Apple release the portable?



Apple's line of Newton OS products were supposed to revolutionize the PDA market when first released in 1993. Newton products were able to send e-mails and faxes, and also included applications that helped organize daily schedules and contact information. But the Newton's chief selling point was its handwriting recognition software, a feature that famously didn't always deliver accurate results and was subsequently lampooned in a famous "Doonesbury" cartoon. What cartoon TV series also lampooned the Newton?


iPod Hi-Fi

Apple introduced a Bose developed stereo speaker system in 2006. Called the "iPod Hi-Fi," the stereo system played music directly off of users' iPods but was quickly discontinued after lackluster reviews, a high asking price of $349, and disappointing sales. What part of Apple's claims about the Hi-Fi caused audiophiles to disagree?


Where's the Apple TV?

One conspicuously absent product from the list is the Apple TV, but Apple is still tinkering with its functionality and it's probably a bit too soon to declare it a failure.

What other products would you have put on the list? you? A playful list of iPods

So you think you think you know Apple?

iOnApple by Yoni Heisler

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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