Apple has long been known as a company that thinks “outside of the box,” but sometimes they completely miss the mark altogether. For a company that is famous for imagining products that no one else envisions, it is understandable that a few of their products have been just a little too strange for consumers to handle. Sometimes it feels like Apple is using us as guinea pigs to experiment on, handing us the weirdest devices and seeing whether we can make them work.
In other cases, however, it seems like Apple just dropped the ball completely, failing to make even the simplest of products work. Sometimes Apple is a little hit or miss, and although they hit they target a lot more than when they miss, when they do miss they miss spectacularly.
This list will go through the ages, from Apple’s humble beginnings all the way into the 21st century. We’ll take a look at Apple’s earlier, bizarre creations, and we’ll also look at more modern creations, too.
10. Hockey Puck Mouse
Ah, the infamous “hockey puck” mouse. Why did they decide to build a mouse in this shape? Who knows. What we know for sure is that literally everyone who used this mouse hated it. It came in the package of the G3 iMac in 1998. This was the first ever Apple mouse to use the USB connection instead of the outdated ADB, or Apple Desktop Bus. Talk to anyone who used this mouse and they will tell you that it’s not only the worst mouse they’ve ever used, but it’s one of the worst Apple products ever designed.
The shape is extremely odd, as it’s completely circular and extremely small. This resulted in clumsy performance and a tendency for it to slip out of the user’s grasp. It also had a ridiculously short cable. What made this worse was the fact that this computer and mouse was used extensively by graphic designers, who actually had to rely on the mouse to create graphic art more so than normal users. They all hated it.
9. Pip Pin
What’s this? Apple actually designed a gaming console? Maybe you didn’t hear about because it sucked. They thought they were going to sell over 300,000 units. Boy were they wrong. Apple actually teamed up with Atari to make this piece of junk, but even the Japanese expertise of the gaming industry couldn’t save this doomed device. This just goes to show that you should leave video games up to the experts.
The Pip Pin was pretty much a huge failure right from the start. Atari sold only 42,000 units before discontinuing the line altogether. They made 100,000 units, so a number of them were never actually sold. Only 18 games were ever made for this gaming console. This device actually took 22nd place in PC World’s “25 Worst Tech Products Of All Time.”
8. 3rd Gen iPod Shuffle
The iPod shuffle is a great product by Apple, bringing affordability to music lovers who wanted an iPod at a bargain. So why does this make the list? Because unlike the other models of the iPod Shuffle, the 3rd generation went completely and utterly wrong. You see, there was a major design flaw in this model, and it had to do with the fact that all iPod shuffles don’t come with a screen. However, this model in particular had no buttons whatsoever. The controls were instead placed on the headphones, which led to some pretty hilarious difficulties.
The fact that you controlled everything with buttons on the headphones was one major issue, but an even greater issue was the fact that there was only one button on the headphones. This meant you had to learn a number of different ways to change tracks. To go to the next track, you had to double-click the center button. To fast forward, you had to double click and hold the center button. To go to the previous track, you had to triple click and hold within six seconds of the track. Confused? Yeah, so was everyone else. To make matters worse, you had to buy the $30 headphones separately.
The Lisa was one of the first computers ever made by Apple. It was also one of their worst. This one was released all the way back in 1983, when “personal computers” were still somewhat of a novelty. It was the first ever PC to feature an integrated GUI, and was geared towards individual business users. With a price tag of over $10,000 (about $25,000 in today’s money), it isn’t hard to figure out why no one actually bought this thing. In fact, only 100,000 units were ever sold. This made it one of Apple’s biggest failures of all time.
Other than its high price cost, there were a number of other factors that made it unattractive to potential buyers. It only had a memory of 5mb, and it relied on substandard floppy disks. It also didn’t have that great of performance, especially considering its high price. People complained that it was sluggish – not something someone wants to experience after dropping that much money on a computer. For all its faults though, the Lisa’s failures helped to teach Apple lessons that they would then implement into a newer, less expensive model of PC, the Macintosh. That was the computer that assured Apple’s success.
The Apple Newton was an ancient version of today’s iPad. Some say it was too ahead of its time, that people couldn’t understand the use of such a device, that people just weren’t ready. But the truth was that it was a pretty bad product. It was only on shelves for about four years before Steve Jobs decided to cancel the whole thing altogether. Like the Lisa, it was massively overpriced, and plagued with technical difficulties. This was one device that Apple wanted to forget ever happened.
The problem with the Newton was that it was never ready to hit the shelves. The key feature of this early iPad was it’s handwriting recognition software – the problem was that it was never perfected and was prone to frequent (and often hilarious) errors. The idea was that you’d take the stylus and write on the screen as you would with a normal notepad, and the Newton would translate what you’d write into text. As it turned out, people were actually better off using an old fashioned pen and paper, as whatever you wrote seemed to get misinterpreted into the strangest words. For example, someone who was reviewing the product wrote the words, “Catching on?” with the stylus, and it was translated as “Egg Freckles.” The phrase “Egg freckles” became a huge joke all over the world, and everyone just pointed and laughed at this pathetic piece of equipment. Still, the Newton was basically the first seed that later grew into the iPad that we see today.
5. Apple Maps
With the release of the iPhone 5, Apple included a new feature – Apple Maps. This was an app intended to replace Google Maps and other related map software, as Apple was reportedly worried about Google learning too much information about iPhone users, like where they go and what they do. It is widely considered one of the worst Apple products ever created, and was plagued with so many bugs and glitches that it was eventually taken down and removed from all the iPhones. In the end, Apple recommended that iPhone users use other competing software like Google Maps instead, as they totally gave up on this abomination.
Apple diligently gathered as much mapping data as it could, using information from Yelp, restaurant sites, traffic sites and many more providers. Still, there was about 1% of all their mapping data that was totally wrong. Some of the addresses just weren’t in the places they were supposed to be, with some directions leading people off cliffs, into oncoming traffic, or other situations of extreme danger. For example, if you typed in directions to get to the Washington Airport, it would lead you into the path of a 747. Another example is the fact that on Apple Maps, Florida hospital shows up as a supermarket. And of course, there are tons of examples where Apple Maps actually directs you to drive off bridges. Apple apologized for this, and later left mapping up to the masters of maps, Google.
4. G4 Cube
The G4 Cube had it all – sleek design, a perfect cube suspended in a transparent casing with a definite futuristic vibe. It was a powerful computer full of incredible features – no fan, 450MHz G4 processor, 64MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM drive, and an internal 56 kbps modem. It was something no one had ever seen before – a prime example of Apple thinking outside of the box and trying to do something different. But in the end, Apple sold less than a third of these computers than they initially thought they would. This makes it one of Apple’s biggest commercial failures.
But why did it fail if it was such a great computer? Well, it turned out that this futuristic reimagining of a personal computer wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. First, there was the price issue. It was $200 more expensive than a normal Macintosh PC tower, and it actually had less processing power – not to mention you had to buy the monitor separately. Why pay more for a less powerful computer? The design, of course! But wait, there was actually some major problems with the cube’s sleek look. Cracks started to appear, literally. People opened up the packaging to find that the transparent case already had cracks on the corners. Apple claimed that these were “mold lines,” which just enraged Apple customers even more. Finally, the power button was placed in such a way that it was nearly impossible to put a CD in without accidentally shutting down the whole computer.
3. The Cables
If there’s one thing that causes the most hate towards Apple, it’s definitely the cables. You hear it all the time, and everyone who has ever bought an Apple product ends up ripping their hair out because of the cables. For a company that has a reputation for making quality, this seems totally out of character for Apple. Not only are the cables substandard, but they are incredibly overpriced, and sometimes you have to buy them separately. Nothing is more frustrating than having to go back to the store to buy another cable for your laptop after only a few months of use and having to pay huge amounts of money for it.
They fray, they rip, they stop working, they fall apart, they just. Don’t. Work. You know those “cheap” knock-off Apple cables from China? Yeah, they actually last longer than the real thing. Apple even lost a lawsuit because of fraying power cables. Apple’s infamous lightning cables are so shoddy that people worldwide are signing petitions and trying to sue Apple. So why is it that a company that has such a great reputation is able to get away with making such a dumb mistake? One dark theory that actually sounds pretty believable is that Apple is doing this on purpose so that customers will have to keep buying more cables, which cost up to $80. Another theory, also very believable, is that Apple wants to make their cables look nice instead of making them actually work properly.
2. Hi Fi
With the invention of the iPod, Apple completely dominated market for mp3 devices and portable music. There was, however, one realm that Apple still had to conquer: the market for iPod speakers. Since the first iPods hit the shelves, there has been a steady supply of non-Apple manufactured iPod speaker systems. By the time Apple turned its attention towards this area of the market, the art of designing these speaker systems had already been perfected, so Apple definitely had its work cut out for them. Even so, you would expect a company like Apple to come up with something better than this…
We can start by getting the obvious out of the way – this thing was massively overpriced. Are you noticing a pattern here? At $350 each, this speaker system was going to have to be pretty damn good to justify spending that kind of money. Which it wasn’t. It didn’t even have a radio. The iPod was placed precariously on top of the speaker system in such a way that tipping it or trying to move it would send it hurtling towards the ground. In a typical move by Apple, the Hi Fi didn’t work unless you used the latest iPod models, meaning to use this thing you had to buy a new iPod. It was discontinued after a year, with Apple recommending that their customers make use of the huge variety of non-Apple speaker systems instead.
We finish the list with a charming little camera made by Apple that wasn’t up to scratch. The Apple QuickTake was one of the first digital cameras ever sold to the public. It was a truly innovative product, with many people viewing this camera as one of the most influential devices of all time. It’s a real example of why Apple is such a leader in the technological field. It’s early Apple products like the QuickTake and the Newton that show just how ahead of the game Apple was decades ago, thinking of things no one could even dream of. If that’s the case, then why was the QuickTake a bad product? In short, it was simply was too far ahead of its time and had a price tag that scared people away. This resulted in a commercial failure for Apple.
The birth of digital film sent ripples through the camera industry, forcing many other companies like Nikon and Kodak to adapt or die. Apple broke into the digital camera market quickly, stunning other companies into a hurried frenzy with the release of The QuickTake in 1994. The first models looked very strange – Apple once again decided to “revolutionize” not only the camera’s technology but also its shape. This resulted in a camera that looked like a pair of binoculars. It took terrible pictures, extremely pixelated with just plain terrible quality. The project was scrapped after three years in 1997, but Apple made its mark on the digital film industry. Following Apple’s example, other camera companies started to move towards digital film, and Apple couldn’t keep up. Fast forward to today, and Apple is getting its revenge; the cameras on iPhones are now so good that people don’t even bother buying a digital camera from Nikon or Kodak anymore.