Apple has lost its top position on the list of the world’s most valuable brands to Google, a position that this amazing company has held since 2012. Apple deserved its reign at the top and it might reclaim its title in a few years, although there is no shame in being number two in the world. This ranking is an indication that Apple has been doing something right, and many businesses ought to study and learn from this company if they wish to achieve success.
Steve Jobs was, and in a way continues to be, the face of Apple – a company so great that it continues to thrive even without him. Since Apple is so successful today, most people who do not know much about its history may be tempted to think that Apple has been perfect since the first day the company began operations, but that is hardly the case.
Most people and businesses fail once or twice and then give up, never knowing that the road to the top is full of disappointments and failures that might result from dumb decisions. If people would realize the art of learning from their mistakes like Apple, then fewer companies would be shutting down and more would be succeeding.
Apple and even Steve Jobs have had some massive failures in the past – failures that have contributed to the present success that the company is enjoying today. This list contains just a few of those mistakes, some of which almost took the company down. Which of these failures do you think is the worst?
15. Macintosh Performa x200 Series
The Macintosh Performa series of computers were not all bad, since some including the Performa 630, were exceptional. This Performa 630 was exceptional because it had an LC Processor Direct Slot, a CD-ROM drive bay, a video I/O card or TV tuner slot, and a modem/Ethernet slot. However, when it came to the Performa x200, apart from the external design, which had no issues, the internal specifications are what have landed this machine on this list.
Apple learned the hard way that it was not a great idea to replace a 25MHz 32-bit 68040 CPU with a 75MHz 64-bit CPU without changing the motherboard. The CPU speed was two to three times the RAM, meaning that it would require four CPU cycles to load a 64-bit word, and the fact that Apple was using an IDE drive as opposed to a SCSI did not help the situation in any way. These are the main problems that resulted in the speed issues associated with the Performa x200 and its eventual downfall.
14. Apple Lisa
Very few people get the opportunity to name anything, so when Steve Jobs named one of his most important projects at the time after his daughter Lisa, it was both thoughtful and sweet. However, the Apple Lisa did not go the way the company had hoped and Apple would appreciate if we forgot everything about it. Lisa was also an acronym that stood for “Local Integrated Software Architecture,” and it was Apple’s first attempt to offering individual business users a graphical user interface.
However, most businesses chose IBM PCs over the Apple Lisa, leaving NASA as one of its few customers, with one of the biggest motivations to reject the computer being its steep price of US$9,995 at the time. Other factors contributing to the failure of this project included the poor performance of the machine as well as its unreliable floppy disks. Chances of the rumors that the Apple Lisa was such an embarrassing fail that Apple buried all remaining inventory in a landfill in Utah are true are very high, since that would be the sensible thing to do.
13. Apple Bandai Pippin
The Apple Bandai Pippin was a games console that Apple released in 1996 – a game that true fans of Apple must have heard of, but very few have had the opportunity to play. The failure of this product had nothing to do with the game itself because it was a game that was ahead of its time; the failure had everything to do with the commercial angle the company chose to take.
During the period that this game hit the markets, many other companies produced similar games and sold theirs at a fraction of what Apple was selling the Bandai Pippin. Apple had produced at least 100,000 units of this game console, but would eventually sell considerably less than half of these units because they were too expensive and they required a very good connection to the Internet. The market today belongs to Sony, thanks to many good decisions that have led to the popularity of the PlayStation.
12. Apple III
The Apple III was Apple’s first commercial failure, despite being Apple’s first attempt to entering the business market. The failure of the Apple III put the company into serious financial problems since its production took much longer than the company had anticipated, there were serious design flaws, and its operating system’s backward incompatibility with DOS 3.2 and 3.3 meant that there was no software available for it.
One of the worst problems with this computer was that its motherboard got too hot too fast, heat that caused the motherboard to warp and cause chips to pop from their sockets. Steve Jobs had a big role to play in the computer’s failure, demanding the removal of the cooling fan, claiming that it was “too noisy and inelegant.” In addition, using the Save command used to cause the computer to crash, which was very frustrating to users and the clock stopped working after a few hours of use.
11. Apple Newton
Anyone who knows Apple well knows that this company has been in the forefront of all forms of Information and telecommunication gadgets and advances. The Apple Newton or Newton MessagePad was Apple’s PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). Apart from the fact that this device was hard to use and had processing issues, the character recognition feature was what led to the failure of this MessagePad.
Although the character recognition feature was ahead of its time, the problems it experienced led to it becoming the center of many jokes. Apple had projected that they would sell at least a million units, but after three months it had only sold 50,000 units and chances of making more sales were slim. The design team eventually got the character recognition right, but the damage was done and people were no longer interested. Steve Jobs was not a fan of this gadget from the beginning, and he cut its production in 1997.
10. Apple G4 Cube
Everyone, including the critics, admitted that the Apple G4 Cube was a very beautiful machine, but the critics claimed that Apple chose design and style over functionality and power, which was not a good thing. Since this eye-catching desktop did not have some terrible flaws like most of the other gadgets on this list, apart from reports of cracks resulting from heating, it is hard to explain the reason for its failure.
The main reason for pulling this product from the shelves was the fact that people were not buying it. Yes, this and all other Apple products are usually more expensive compared to all other products in the market and this gadget had little upgrade potential, but selling less than a third of the expectation was alarming. People bought over ten times more Macs compared to the G4 Cube over a three-month period, a trend that forced the company to cut production.
9. Apple Macintosh Portable
The Apple Macintosh Portable computer makes it to this list because it had issues that people were not willing to deal with, issues that led to PC World’s 2006 edition rating it as the seventeenth worst tech product ever made. This “Portable” computer was anything but portable because it weighed in excess of 16 pounds, weight that no one felt comfortable carrying around especially with other lighter portable computers in the market. In addition, this machine cost an astounding $6,500, too much money for a computer that hardly worked properly or even booted up because of its faulty battery system.
Although the machine had some great features that other machines did not, the Macintosh Portable machine’s power supply did not have an output that could meet its demands, which made turning it on, a nightmare. The release of the Powerbook100 was a breath of fresh air, a lighter, smaller, and more affordable version of the Macintosh Portable.
8. Apple USB Mouse (and Mighty Mouse)
Although these two gadgets played the same roles and hit the market many years apart, they both were terrible fails. The primary role of a mouse is to move a cursor and click things on the computer, right? Apple can never go wrong with such a basic function; however, the USB Mouse, AKA “Hockey Puck” was a perfect circle, a shape that made holding and orienting it difficult. Since the Apple Mac was popular with graphic designers, they loved everything about the machine except its mouse.
The Mighty Mouse, on the other hand, had a single button that enabled downward scrolling. Using this mouse was a real problem for most people who were already used to two buttons. Steve Jobs wanted the mouse to resemble a dummy shell without a button. These two would have easily won prizes for their beauty, but their poor functionality has landed them here.
7. 20th Anniversary Mac
The 20th Anniversary Mac (TAM) was and still is a very beautiful computer introduced to the market in 1997. This computer was the first all-in-one Mac, the predecessor of the rounded iMac we know and love today. Its stylish design and inbuilt TV and FM tuner made it a hit design wise and its vertical design set the trend for the direction that Apple would take with regard to its iMac computers for very many years later.
This machine had slightly advanced features compared to the impressive Power Mac 6500 and it did not have any terrible aspects associated with it, neither was it exceptional. What killed this computer was its ridiculous price tag of $7,499, which was three times the price of the Power Mac 6500, with which they shared most specs. The TAM was pulled off the shelves within a year of its production and the designer, Jonathan Ive, moved to iMac.
6. Macintosh TV
Back in 1993, Apple was already thinking of how they can turn the computer and the TV into one device, a line of thought that was both noble and ahead of its time. This all-in-one computer system used the Macintosh Performa 500 case and it was Apple’s first step into people’s living rooms. Unlike today where it is possible to watch TV and use your computer at the same time with no inconveniences, the 1993 Macintosh TV could serve one master at a time; act either as a TV or as a computer.
Other problems with this gadget were that it ended up being much slower than other Mac computers at the time and it could only accommodate 8MB regardless of how much you wanted to spend on RAM. In addition, other problems included its high price, the small desktop window size, lack of video capture ability, lack of support for video capture, and a small hard drive space among others.
5. iPod Shuffle 3rd Generation
Apple described the iPod Shuffle 3rd Generation as “jaw-droppingly small”, and it truly was. This iPod was unique in the fact that a user could choose the names of the songs, artists, albums, or the contents of the playlist by speaking to it in any of the 20 languages incorporated. Third party headphones were not very effective when used with this iPod since its original headphones had three buttons for functions such as changing playlists, hearing song titles, playing, pausing, changing tracks and controlling the volume.
As great as this iPod sounds, it also failed because unlike all other devices, it had no buttons on it. Its buttonless nature made it hard for users to operate it because a single button on the headphones had multiple functionalities. This button-less approach was probably meant to redefine the iPod, but its failure led to Apple coming up with a fourth generation that had buttons.
MobileMe was Apple’s pioneering Web service infrastructure that went down faster than anyone expected. This application was to be an all-in-one solution for users for contacts, mail, calendar, sync functionalities for all devices, and other elegant-looking Web-based applications. With 20GB of storage space, MobileMe users would also use it as a Web host. MobileMe was such a huge fail that Steve Jobs fired the project manager after its launch.
However, according to engineers at Apple, Steve Jobs and the culture at Apple where employees could not express their concerns were to blame for the failure. Apparently, the engineering team approached the executives and expressed their lack of confidence on the completion of the application by the launch date, but the launch continued as scheduled. The main killers of this application were its terrible debut, its poor performance, the name did not catch on, and of course, it was too expensive.
3. Apple’s Retail Store Bag
When you go through a list of all Apple products, chances are that you might not come across this retail store bag, but it certainly exists. When you go to purchase a MacBook or any other product larger than an iPhone, you will receive an Apple carrier bag that some people have described to be terrible in so many ways. Since Apple is a world leader when it comes to functional designs and experience, one can only expect that even the packaging of the Apple products will follow suit.
The size of the strings on the clear bags that you are supposed to carry the products in does not make sense in that they are too long. People often find themselves wondering whether they will drag their purchase along the ground or whether to force the strings over their shoulders because there is sure no comfortable way of carrying them. Thank God, Apple has switched over to paper bags.
eWorld was a project launched in 1994 by Apple, seeking to link all Mac users in an online community and eventually become the world’s leading Internet Service Provider. The aim here was to isolate an online world for Mac users, where they could browse, send and receive emails, receive the latest headlines from leading news sources, and offer pretty much everything that AOL was offering at the time.
eWorld only attracted 115,000 subscribers, which was a total fail compared to the then industry leader AOL, which had 3.5 million subscribers. The interesting thing is that if you would compare eWorld and AOL, eWorld offered higher quality services, but it could not survive more than two years because it was far too expensive, imagine parting with $8.95 during off-peak for only two hours. In addition, eWorld was limited to Mac users only, a sure killer because it locked out so many people.
1. Apple QuickTake
It would be correct to conclude that Apple has tried building almost every technology gadget out there and realized that specializing in what works is probably the best way to do business. The QuickTake is a terrible camera that Apple produced in the early 1990s, which did badly because upon its release there were far more advanced cameras at the time. Sure, the camera in your iPhone is one of the best cameras you have ever used, but the QuickTake was just bad since it did not have basic features such as the zoom or the focus.
The fact that it could only store eight pictures was bad because you would be spending more time loading the photos on your computer compared to capturing the moments. Although Apple has some serious fans who would buy anything as long as it had an Apple logo, Apple has a responsibility to venture into technologies where they are sure to introduce new ideas, features, and improve user experience.