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Business News/ News / Business Of Life/  Apple’s biggest failures
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Apple’s biggest failures

Amid rumours about the next iPhone, we stop for a reality check: the company has had its share of debacles in the past

Apple III: A disaster.Premium
Apple III: A disaster.


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.

Apple Lisa

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 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

Macintosh TV

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

Apple III

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

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Macintosh Portable: Heavy and bulky.

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

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Updated: 05 Mar 2013, 07:03 PM IST
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