Fresh rumours have started doing the rounds that Apple is going to launch a new version of the iPhone by summer, and most people are sure that whether it’s the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 5S or even possibly a phablet-sized iPhone Plus, it’s going to be a huge success—after all, from the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad, Apple’s track record in the last decade has been enviable.
History is, however, replete with instances when the mighty have fallen. Earlier this month, Apple launched a 128 GB iPad without much fanfare, and that had a lukewarm response. This is not the first time an Apple product failed to meet market expectations.
Whether the new iPhone version becomes a hit or not, we thought this might be the time to look at the success of the world’s most valuable company, and find the hidden failures most people would rather forget. We bring you a quick snapshot of some of the products created by the company that failed to excite even the Apple fanboys.
The Apple Lisa (officially named for Local Integrated System Architecture, and unofficially after Steve Jobs’ daughter) was the first personal computer to offer a graphical user interface (GUI) in what was meant to be an “inexpensive” machine aimed at individual business users. Before GUI, computers were controlled by complicated key combinations and typed commands. The GUI concept, which was first developed by Xerox PARC (then a part of the Xerox corporation) was mass-marketed for the first time through Apple Lisa. However, while the GUI-based system was considered a technical achievement, it was a sales failure.
Apple spent $50 million (around Rs.270 crore now) in developing the Lisa’s hardware and would go on to sell very few units, mostly because it ended up being far more expensive than was originally planned.
That said, the Macintosh released a year later, based on the same GUI platform, was a grand success.
Release date: January 1983
Introductory price: $9,995
Discontinued: August 1986
If you’re waiting for Apple to come out with its first Apple TV, you might find it amusing to know that Apple had actually launched a computer-cum-TV back in 1993. It was called Macintosh TV. The Mac TV was quite expensive and its graphical capabilities, while reasonable for the time, were not enough to justify the added cost to home users.
Mac TV was perhaps a bit too far ahead of its time. It came with a small credit card-sized remote control that was also compatible with Sony television sets. It was also the first Macintosh to be made in black and came with a custom black keyboard and mouse.
Mac TV came with a cable-ready TV tuner card, and included a CD-ROM drive. Only 10,000 Mac TVs were made before it was discontinued. However, its TV-tuner card later became a popular option on many LC and Performa series of Apple computers.
Release date: October 1993
Introductory price: $2,097
Discontinued: February 1994
Expected to be the successor to the Apple II computer, Apple III almost brought the company to its knees. Despite Apple’s attempts to improve performance and thereby sales, it was forced to discontinue the model. Apple II had to be kept alive to keep the cash flowing for the company.
Despite numerous stability issues and recalls, Apple was eventually able to produce a reliable and dependable version of the machine. That, however, didn’t help in improving sales. The Apple III was pushed by the marketing department and that, according to the company’s co-founder Steve Wozniak, was precisely the reason for its failure.
Release date: May 1980
Introductory price: $4,340-7,800
Discontinued: April 1984
Macintosh Portable was the first commercial off-the-shelf portable computer used in space and the first to send an email from space, in 1991, aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-43. That perhaps was not a good enough reason for it to sell on Earth. Apple Inc.’s first battery-powered portable Macintosh personal computer was received with excitement from most critics, yet consumer sales were abysmally low. Weighing 16 pounds (7.2kg) and 4 inches thick, the Portable was heavy and bulky. Lead-acid batteries, while providing long battery life, contributed to its weight. While the machine performed well, it was too heavy.
Release date: September 1989
Introductory price: $6,500
Discontinued: October, 1990
Apple Bandai Pippin
Whether or not Apple is working with Disney to come out with a new gaming console, it would be unwise to overlook Apple’s first attempt at launching one. Apple released the Apple Bandai Pippin in 1995. It was a multimedia technology console. The console was based on the Apple Pippin platform—a derivative of the Apple Macintosh platform. The goal of the Bandai Pippin was to create an inexpensive computer aimed mostly at playing CD-based multimedia titles, especially games, but also able to function as a network computer.
While close to 100,000 units were manufactured, Apple was able to sell only 42,000.
Introduced: March 1995
Introductory price: $599
Discontinued: June 1997
Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh
Apple was a tad late to its own 20th birthday party, as the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (Tam) arrived a year after its April 1996 fête. Aesthetically designed, Tam sported a green-and-gold case, a leather keyboard wrist rest, and Bose speakers. Despite an award-winning advertising campaign, not many of the 12,000 produced units could be sold.
Introduced: March 1997
Introductory price: $7,499
Discontinued: March 1998