Apple's Top Flops

mac20.jpgSure, Apple is everyone’s darling these days, but as Newlaunches describes, they’ve had their share of flops too. Read the list.

I’ll quibble with the 20th Anniversary Mac being on the list.  It didn’t do well in the market, but it was never intended to. It was a high-priced, snazzy looking limited-edition machine. It was not a flop in another way: it marked the transition from the Bob Brunner reign at Apple to the Jonathon Ive reign. You can see distinct elements of Brunner in there (the crease below the screen has Brunner written all over it), not so much of Ive just yet, but from what I recall reading in Paul Kunkel’s book on Apple Design, it was a collaboration of the two designers. It’s also got to be one of the first instances of Bose licensing its name on another company’s product, a practice that is now commonplace.

I’ll add a couple more flops of a more strategic nature to the list though: 

  1. The decision to stay with Motorola for CPU’s. They had occasional peaks (remember the snail ads mocking Intel? and the G5 was pretty hot stuff for a while), but mostly it was one long valley. Once the transition to Intel happened, we realized just how much Apple had hobbled itself with a subpar processor that no doubt kept it from competing in many high-end applications that have since passed it by.
  2. The decision to discontinue the clones.  The clone makers like PowerPC were putting the hurt on Apple, so it was an understandable call. However, it set back the growth of the overall Mac market and put Apple back into the realm of expensive niche machines again. The problem was compounded by the fact that this was a time when Motorola was delivering particularly slow processors compared to Intel.
There are other minor ones in more recent history - the Cube, and the initial miss of the mp3 revolution while Apple was too focused on home video. But they’ve made up for that pretty well.