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The Worst Apple Products of All Time 469

An anonymous reader writes "While Apple is frequently referred to as a leader in consumer electronic product design, the history of the company is filled with examples of poor design and questionable product strategies. This list of Apple's worst ever products includes some interesting trivia, including Apple's overpriced eWorld Internet service, their painfully bad attempt at a 'value' computer (the Performa), the much-loathed 'hockey puck' mouse, and the Apple Pippin gaming platform. The article also includes the infamous Apple III, which overheated so badly that it prompted one of the strangest repair techniques ever: 'Users were advised to pick the computer up a few inches off the ground and then drop it, hopefully jostling the chips back into position.'"
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The Worst Apple Products of All Time

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  • The List (Score:5, Informative)

    by c0mpliant ( 1516433 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:07AM (#31143092)
    10 QuickTake
    9 Pippin
    8 iPod Hi-Fi
    7 Power PC
    6 Mac OS9
    5 eWorld
    4 Performa line
    3 "Hockey Puck" mouse
    2 20th Anniversary Mac
    1 Apple III

    Honourable Mentions: Color Classic and the Mac Portable
  • Geomodem (Score:5, Informative)

    by slashqwerty ( 1099091 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:25AM (#31143210)
    Unlike other modems the GeoModem did not moulate and demodulate. Instead it used the modem hidden inside your CPU! By purchasing an adapter that cost as much as a real modem you could use the processor inside your computer to handle all the modulating and demodulating. On an OS that used shared multitasking this was not very reliable. Its one and only advantage is that you could upgrade the software. It went from 14.4kbps to 33.6kbps over night.
  • Re:The List (Score:5, Informative)

    by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:38AM (#31143286) Journal

    No Quicktime Player? It's a turd of a program on either OS, but the windows version definitely stand out as a major PITA.

    Beaten only by iTunes, also strangely not on the list.
    I don't care how cool iPods are, or how well the iTunes store works, the software is horrible on Windows.

  • by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:40AM (#31143296)

    Laptops without changeable batteries. Destops where it's almost impossible to change the hard drive. Etc, etc...

    I'm not sure what laptops you have, but all the apple laptops I've owned had trivially easy battery swap-out. Now, I've only owned a handful of iBook, powerbook, and Macbook lines (maybe the "air" has issues with this?) but it's certainly not standard for apple to do that. iPods, sure, but not for their laptops. As for difficult to replace hard drives, the only one I can think about is iMac bubble thing... and I'll give you that one. Again, that hasn't been even close to standard in my experience.

  • Re:Laptops (Score:2, Informative)

    by arizonagroovejet ( 874489 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:41AM (#31143308)

    It's strange that the early multi-coloured iMac laptops are not on the list.

    Given that you use laptop both in the title and body of your post, I assume you're refering to the first generation iBook [].

  • AOL came from eWorld (Score:3, Informative)

    by zerosomething ( 1353609 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:42AM (#31143316) Homepage
    eWorld and AOL never competed agains each other as the article would suggest. In fact AOL grew out of the remains of eWorld. [] Oh and the pricing wasn't really so bad compared to not being online or long distance dial up and membership fees for other BBS.
  • by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:44AM (#31143324)

    - i did RTFA (it happens!)
    - i know Apple history
    - i'm not Apple fan and don't own any Apple product (anymore) actually



    PowerPC was not a failure. PowerPC's were sold by IBM in their POWER architectures and had quite a bit of success there as well. They were quick, worked well, and they allowed the transition for Apple. If apple went x86 back then, there might have been no apple today. The only "failure" would have been the G5, or in fact, the lack of G6.
    Undelivered promises of updates, for 2 years, and Apple had to switch to Intel.

    MacOS 9:
    TFA is confusing MacOS 8 with Copland (MacOS 8 original codename).
    Copland was from-scratch operating system, with true preemptive multitasking and most of the things we're used to today.
    It took ages and never got completed (in fact, the failure here, was Copland).
    Apple released instead MacOS 8 and subsequent updates with partial features of Copland, but no rewrite. MacOS 9 was the last of the serie, nothing more, nothing less (MacOS 9.2.2). On top of that, it is the only MacOS that could run natively inside OSX. MacOS classic pionnered todays GUI.

    20th anniversary Mac:
    exclusive, high priced item, for collectors.. that the author has mistaken for a consumer level product. don't really need to say more. (actually ill quote: "the issue here is not the product but that it was released during a financial crisis" then "i know the financial crisis was not related to the 20th mac".. yeah well keep on contradicting yourself just to add 1 product to the list")

  • Re:The List (Score:4, Informative)

    by loutr ( 626763 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:56AM (#31143406)
    I think QuickTime X is only available on Snow Leopard, so it's preinstalled, you just need to install a codec pack (Perian [] is pretty good). After that it works quite well, the UI is minimalist yet pretty : the video takes up the whole window (including borders) and the controls fade in if you hover over the video.
  • Missing Option (Score:4, Informative)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:59AM (#31143428)

    The Lisa

  • Irrelevant quote (Score:5, Informative)

    by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:04AM (#31143462) Journal

    * Where does this often-quoted phrase make claims that the Ipod would fail or succeed in the market? It doesn't. As an opinion of the product, it's valid no matter how successful it is (or are you saying that criticisms of Windows are stupid, because Windows is the most used OS?)

    * "Slashdot" is not a single entity. There is no reason to judge squiggleslash, by a quote made by a different person, many years ago.

    * Just because Apple have one successful product doesn't mean the Istale will be, and that is no argument to dismiss his opinion.

    Putting it on a "worst apple products of all time" list is just ludicrously premature and speculative.

    I entirely agree - just as every blimmin story we get about it is ludicrously premature and speculative. Let's get back to covering story about actually released products, not speculation about vaporware.

  • by RavenofNi ( 948641 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:15AM (#31143554) Homepage
    You're probably thinking about the "pictures" mode it connects in using Picture Transfer Protocol, what the GP was looking for (aren't we all?) was a fully read/write data partition which I think you can only get w/ a Jailbreak.
  • by lisany ( 700361 ) <slashdot@th[ ] ['edo' in gap]> on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:15AM (#31143558)

    The non-unibody MacBook Pros take quite a bit of finicky work [] to replace a hard drive. It's my understanding that the Unibody designs made it significantly easier. But, that said, as a sysadmin in a primarily Mac shop I've only had to replace a MacBook Pro hard drive once and pull the drive out of a wet polycarbonate MacBook once. Strangely it's as if the quality of Apple gear is very good.

    That said the Dell laptop that had its failed hard drive replaced twice in a month had a very accessible hard drive tray. Maybe they intended the hard drive to be replaced so frequently.

  • Re:What, no iPad? (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:01AM (#31144058)

    you sir, sound like a typical mactard.

    You know, appending "tard" to the end of words doesn't make you sound clever. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Shouldn't you be serving someone fries right about now?

  • Re:The List (Score:5, Informative)

    by joeyblades ( 785896 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:22AM (#31144286)

    The author's main complaint on the PowerPC was that it was not the ubiquitous Intel... I hardly think that makes it a mistake by Apple. The change to the Intel architecture does seem to have been a good one, but that doesn't make the long time support of the PowerPC was a bad one.

    In fact, if Apple would have switched from the 68K architecture to an available Intel architecture at the time, it would have been crippling. There would not have been enough horsepower to support classic emulation. Until the MMX, the Intel architecture's pipelining was just not efficient enough and even then it was marginal. So in terms of performance, the PowerPC architecture was several years ahead of the Intel architecture.

    The author's comment about the PowerPC power consumption is mystifying. Compared to the Intel offereings at the time, it was best in class.

  • Re:The List (Score:5, Informative)

    by Coopjust ( 872796 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:28AM (#31144360)

    It is large and sometimes sluggish

    An understatement, to say the least. iTunes feature creep has made it a massive piece of bloatware- Bonjour, QuickTime, Mobile Device Service, iPodhelper, etc... not to mention the main applicaiton.

    The number of ways in which iTunes can break, just giving a cryptic error code is pretty pathetic.

    The UI is a little awkward but can be learned.

    Good UI shouldn't be awkward. Granted, for the amount shoved into iTunes, very few functions are completely broken interface-wise.

    It gets the job of searching, navigating, and organizing my large library done well enough.

    There are much better alternatives, trust me.

    Overall, it is functional and provides integration with the two entities you admit could have merit: iPod (iPhone) and iTunes store.

    I know you were talking to the OP, but I can't give you the latter. Foobar2k and numerous other players have full iPod support, are much less bloated, and actually write tags back to music instead of a database (so you can switch audio applications easily). I would have to give you the latter since Apple's move to lossless DRM free music.

  • Re:What, no iPad? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:56AM (#31144792) Homepage Journal

    Vista was hyped by Microsoft and under-delivered. The iPad was hyped by the press (not Apple)

    Perhaps. But perhaps not [].

  • by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @12:35PM (#31145294)

    Except that your memories and mine differ. At that time, Intel processors weren't speed demons, and the PPC ran much faster. This was because Intel was seriously limited by backward compatibility, and the PPC was a new RISC chip. At that time, if you wanted raw CPU speed in a consumer desktop (which was less useful than lots of people seemed to think), the Mac was the correct choice.

    Later on, Intel came up with ways to efficiently process a truly arcane instruction set, and CPU performance vs. memory bandwidth vs. increasing use of cache changed the balance of RISC vs. CISC desirability, and IBM and Motorola wouldn't continue to produce good PPC laptop chips, and Apple changed again.

  • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @02:14PM (#31146476)

    If you look back, the Power chips are RISC basic processors as opposed to CISC on the Intels. Throughout the 1990's, the PPC's were superior to vastly superior for the graphics and and audio worlds. The last time I knew anything, submarines used PPC chips for sonar analysis (not Apples, made by somebody else to custom specs) for that reason.

    Although things began to change in the early 2000's. For one, companies like Newtek began optimizing their renderers for x86 and it lead to the Intel chips to become the favorite. Also, at the same time, IBM and Motorola/Freescale kept making promises they couldn't deliver on the PPC side things. The G5 (PowerPC 970 series) simply produced too much heat and sucked down too much power to be used in Laptops. They also had problems delivering increased clock speeds. This was about the time that Intel announced their goal of performance per watt and IBM was demanding that Apple pony up $$$ for continued R&D of PPC line.

    So Apple made the decision to move to Intel, which worked out extremely well. I didn't know how well it was going to work and bought one of the last Quadcore PowerMac G5's off the line. I was heavily in the video world at the time and got my use out of the $8k machine. But once all the software was ported over to Intel, I've been extremely happy with my Intel iMac and Macbook.

    That being said, I am typing this from my 6 year old 12.1" Powerbook.

  • by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @03:29PM (#31147392)

    This is complete bullshit. While the Pentiums were introduced in 1993 they weren't actually available in volume until early 1994 which was about the same time the PowerMacs were released and available. PowerPC native applications (especially media/graphics ones) had a real-world advantage over their Windows/DOS counterparts since they could make use of the FPU on the PowerPC chips where on PCs couldn't rely on an FP coprocessor being available. It was a while after the Pentium came out that people shipping applications that depended on its FPU. PowerPC machines were actually available to customers and often performed at least a little better than Pentium based machines of the time. The PowerMac 8100 was a beast of a machine that shipped before a 100MHz Pentium part was ever available to people.

    The 68k emulation had nothing to do with "porting their OS properly" but everything to do with allocation of resources. The fast 68k emulation allowed Apple to use large amounts of code that was already written and working rather than throw it all out. Reimplementing a significant portion of the OS would have been extremely expensive and time consuming. This is even more ridiculous when you consider that the emulated code could run as fast or faster than it did on 68k chips. It also allowed customers to have a viable upgrade path. You could buy a new PowerMac and your old 68k applications would continue to work.

    PowerPC didn't start to have problems until the G4/G5 era when performance gains were relatively small with each iteration and Intel was locked in a performance battle with AMD. The first G3s were extremely fast and handily beat the Pentium IIs of the time in a number of areas. Once AMD bought the IP for the Alpha and started work on the Athlons Intel wasn't really pushing performance boundaries. Motorola easily kept pace with Intel and the two kept leap-frogging one another in performance. The Athlon changed that dynamic and Intel went ape shit with clock speeds and performance and largely left Motorola in the dust.

    To suggest the PowerPC was a failure because Intel eventually made chips that were way faster is to ignore or simply be ignorant of a lot of history. The Pentium line suffered a good deal from Intel's hubris while Motorola and IBM were very interested in making high performance chips.

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound