Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference Keynote is going on today in San Francisco. Apple CEO Tim Cook is attempting to fill the black turtleneck and New Balance sneakers of the late Apple messiah Steve Jobs. His task is to try and get people salivating over their new products. It's basically a white plastic and shiny steel electronics porn show for geeks. In a few months, nerds will wait in line in all kinds of weather to be the first to touch these beauties. I'm no better. I have been a dedicated Mac user for 18 years and using a Windows computer is physically painful to me. I may not have bought enough products to have put Job's kids through college, but I've definitely paid for some dorm fees and bankrolled one of Steve Woz's Segways. Still, for all the Macs, iPods, iPhones, and iPads there have been a few turds in Apple's long history. They may have pretty pieces of crap, but they were butt nuggets none the less. Here are 5 of Apple's biggest fails.
Between the iconic Apple II and the groundbreaking Macintosh, there was 1984's Lisa. Jobs named the computer after the daughter he had abandoned. I guess naming an overpriced hunk of plastic after her made up for being a deadbeat dad. The Lisa was ambitious and forward thinking but it just didn't cut it. It was one of the first mass produced computers that had a graphic user interface and the mouse. The problem was that it was buggy as hell and the GUI didn't work that well. Oh and it cost $10,000! 10K is a lot of money today much less in 1984. This came at a time when IBM clones were churning out cheap PC's and the Lisa couldn't keep up. When Apple released the Mac, the Lisa was soon abandoned...just like the real Lisa!
Again, Apple's vision outreached its grasp. The Newton was the great granddaddy of the iPad, one of the first tablet PC's. Apple created a specialized OS for The Newton that was the precursor in many ways of the iOS that runs your iPhone and iPad. Again, the technology in 1993 just wasn't there yet for such an ambitious project. The parts for The Newton were so expensive that it made it largely unaffordable. The Palm Pilot came out soon after as a cheaper alternative. Though the Palm Pilot was largely a rip-off of The Newton and and inferior product, price once again beat out Apple's pretty but pricey innovation.
The G4 Cube
Like many Apple products, the G4 cube is a work of industrial art. There is one in New York's Museum of Modern Art's design wing. Unfortunately, it didn't work all that well. Jobs always had a problem with computer cooling systems. Adding fans to computers makes them bulkier and noisier, but they are necessary to keep the processor from overheating. Early Apple I's and Apple II's were retrofitted by users with a chimney to distribute heat. The Cube had no fan and so it got hotter than Snooki in a Staten Island tanning salon. Also, several of the early models cracked under pressure. Plus you had to buy a separate monitor. Still, it is pretty. I've seen several of the G4 Cubes made into tissue boxes and fish tanks.
Remember when you had an Apple Quicktake camera? No, of course you don't. Apple worked with Fuji and Kodak in 1994 to create one of the first true digital cameras. Once again, Apple was way ahead of the times. The problem with the Quicktake is that you couldn't preview the photos, it had no focus or zoom, could only store 8 photos, and it only worked on Macs. In 1994, Apple was in serious trouble and had its lowest market share ever. Very few people owned Macs at the time. Soon, more versatile and universally compatible cameras left the Quicktake in the dust. This was the kind of thing that Jobs would soon phase out when he came back to Apple in 1996.
It takes big balls to call this thing portable. Forget for a second that it was 16 pounds, it was totally impractical. Much like a modern laptop, the Mac Portable was battery operated. The problem was that when the battery ran out, you couldn't just plug it in and boot it back up. The thing had to be completely recharged to work. Also, the screen was so dark, (to conserve battery power), that if you were in low light you couldn't see anything. Oh, and it cost $6500. In 1990, my uncle bought a nice used car for $6500.