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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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  • What, no iPad? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:01AM (#31143070)

    Shame, guys... shame.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:07AM (#31143094)

    Okay, it's a cheap shot but Apple's worst product of all time is their marketing department.
    Seeking to create deep divisions between computer users over a proprietary OS using proprietary hardware, giving the illusion of quality by giving an unfair mark-up to components which are actually cheaper bought separately by the consumer.
    Urging artsy hipsters to look down their nose upon peons who don't understand the deep underpinnings of single-button mice and the ironic humor implied by the same device.
    Finally this whole culture where everything Steve Jobs shits out to pay for a new liver from a dead Cambodian girl will truly change the world and herald the liberal singularity is plain stupid but even dumber are the media outlets, online and print, who fall for the same gag year after year after year.

  • by dargaud ( 518470 ) <slashdot2@NosPaM.gdargaud.net> on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:07AM (#31143096) Homepage
    Once thing I've noticed about apple products, is that there's always one ore more important detail that is wrong and that makes the product a no-no for me. At the same time some people gloat over those details as if they were the best thing since sliced butter (or whatever). Examples:

    The no-button mouse. I hated that thing from the first second: I couldn't rest my big hand on it without clicking. On the other hand an admin giving a tour of the lab to some people asked me how much I loved the new great mouse from Apple (that was quite a while ago). I won't even mention single button mice.

    iPhones/iPads without SD card slots. iPhones that don't appear as a mass storage device when connected to a PC (I still don't believe this one, it seems so 1995).

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

  • And? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beh ( 4759 ) * on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:08AM (#31143102)

    Sure, Apple's had some really bad products over time - but what do you expect from a company that big which survived that long?

    And - how many open source projects died, never making it...

    Apple, like any other company, doesn't always just launch brilliant products - but, at least, they're not afraid to try new things and see how they pan out...

    Overall I think it's good that the DO dare making something entirely new; and more often than not fail with their products. Sometimes they even failed commercially, while still making a product people still care about (e.g. Newton).

    For myself, I know many people are critical of the iPad, on the other hand, I think I will still buy one - it looks like a cool ebook reader - whether it has multi-tasking or not.

  • I don't think eWorld failed because of its now-ludicrous-sounding pricing model. At the time (early/mid-90s), it was the norm for online services to have monthly fees that gave only a few free hours per month, and then cost significant amounts per hour after that. In the early 90s, AOL gave 2 free hours for $7.95/month and $6/hour thereafter, and was wildly successful, so eWorld's $8.95/mo for 2 free hours and $5/hr day, $8/hr nights thereafter doesn't seem like it was so far out of line as to kill it.

  • Re:The List (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:13AM (#31143122)
    No Quicktime Player? It's a turd of a program on either OS, but the windows version definitely stand out as a major PITA.
  • by MrShaggy ( 683273 ) <chris.anderson@[ ]h.com ['hus' in gap]> on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:14AM (#31143140) Journal

    I love Imac.

    Hated the the key-board and mouse. They gave me carpel.
    I use a 2 button mouse, and a pc-keyboard.

    They work fine.

    I don't mind paying extra for something that takes little to maintain.

    I just love the fact that all of my 'system maintenance' issues are gone.

    No more hours running virus checks. Which means more time for porn

  • Re:What, no iPad? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by carlhaagen ( 1021273 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:17AM (#31143152)
    Really, why tag this "insightful"? Doesn't the "grannies of /." have anything better to lunge at from under their stones? It's been just days since the iPad was unveiled, it has not even hit the friggin' market, yet some caveman of a "market expert" pulls a joke and, behold! other cavemen chimes in by second-guessing the product's outcome before its release. Much can be guessed when it comes to products, but what can be said for certain is that there just is no end to the naiveness and stupidity among the haters obsessed with this and that brand of product.
  • by remmelt ( 837671 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:25AM (#31143216) Homepage

    And still posting their biggest profit while the economy is crumbling around us.

    Seems like their marketing department is the best product they have... it's working fine indeed.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:26AM (#31143222)

    on windows 7 the iphone comes up as the iphone. you can copy and past pictures and videos off it to your computer easily. Don't really care about the SD slot since 32GB in a phone is enough for me. and i'm not one of the OCD people that has to carry their entire music collection everywhere.

    and a lot of people hate Apple Mice. on my Mac Mini i like to use a Microsoft mouse and the right click works perfectly

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:29AM (#31143234)
    For the article itself not being a clickfest of 1 paragraph pages! I nominate it for best top 10 list article of 2010!!
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:32AM (#31143254)

    A product can only be bad if it doesn't sell. No matter how worthless the functionality is, if a product generates a lot of sales and thus a lot of profits, it is a success from a business point of view. The pet rock is a great example. No utility, whatsoever. It is just a rock with goggle eyes glued on it. However people loved the thing, tons were sold, lots of money was made. It was a success.

    So, the iPad's status will be determined later. If it sells tons, then it'll be a success, even if the people who buy it just end up using it as an expensive cup holder. If it has few sales, it'll most likely be a failure since it doesn't seem to have anything that will generate any advances over all.

    You have to remember that can also be a factor in success. Just because something doesn't make money doesn't mean it is a failure. An example would be the original Xbox. Overall, MS lost money on the venture. However it was a success. Why? Because it established them as a legit player in the console market, which is extremely difficult to break in to (many, many companies have tried and failed). Thus it was still a successful product in the long run.

    So we can't say about the iPad till much later. Personally, I suspect it'll be a failure. I suspect it won't make much, if any, money (remember there's a lot of R&D to pay off) and it'll provide nothing to Apple overall in the long run. However, we won't be able to say for a couple years at least.

  • Re:The List (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:33AM (#31143256)

    No mention of the latest generation ipod shuffle? The one where they figured control buttons would "clutter up" the design, so instead you have to buy special, expensive apple earbuds/headphones that are all cluttered up with inline controls and only cost ten times the cost of normal headphones? So the shuffle plus a pair of "special" headphones costs more than a nano?

    I'd buy a shuffle in an instant, if it had volume up / volume down / play-pause buttons on the device.

    I know adapter cables are sold, and I guess I could duct tape / hot glue gun the adapter onto the shuffle, to make an almost usable "exercise ipod". But having to pay the "apple tax" and then whip out the duct tape and hot glue gun to make it usable is just going too far.

    Note I'm not an apple hater, I enjoy by nano for exercise listening and my ipod touch for PDA and video use, but the shuffle is just a design disaster.

  • Re:What, no iPad? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:35AM (#31143270) Homepage

    While the iPad seems pointless, it doesn't appear bad. The iPad predecessor the forgotten Newt would be more a much more likely candidate.

  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:39AM (#31143288)

    Love their products in general. MacPro and MacBook user myself but I hate their mice and their keyboards. They both have always sucked

    This is true.

    Missing item from the "worst" list is every Apple UK keyboard ever, which is just a US keyboard with the (#) key replaced by a (£) key, leaving all sorts of punctuation keys in the US positions. Fail.

    I think the mouse problem is that you really need to go out and choose a mouse that fits your hand - Apple are constrained to (a) only having one or two models (b) making it one-size-fits-all and ambidextrous and (c) being obliged to make something "different" and "designer-y". Fortunately, for ages now, any PC USB mouse has worked fine, including multiple buttons and scroll wheels.

  • Re:What, no iPad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@ g m a il.com> on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:39AM (#31143292)

    "No wireless, less space than a Nomad. Lame"

    Yes, I really trust the slashdot elite to predict the success or failure of a product that *hasn't even been released yet*.

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

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:41AM (#31143312)

    The article is just trying to point out that along with great successes, they have great failures too. The press as of late has been rather over the top fanboyish with Apple, hailing everything they do as amazing and generally projecting them as a company that makes bold decisions that are never wrong. This article seemed like a counterpoint to that. Showing that along with their successes, that everyone has heard about, there are plenty of failures, which many people have not. That will be true for any company, but in particular for companies that try something new.

    I think it is a good reminder over all, given the massive over-hype that surrounded the iPad launch. Much of the tech press had worked themselves in to a frenzy and had decided it was going to be the greatest thing ever, without knowing anything about it. This has then been followed by a good bit of letdown. They seemed to have the idea that everything Apple produces is an amazing winner of a product. I think it is a useful reminder to say that no, Apple has produced some real bombs in the past. They are a company composed of people like any other and people make mistakes. They WILL fuck up sometimes.

    I could add a few more recent products to that list, the cube being one, and Apple TV looking like another.

  • by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:43AM (#31143322)

    I love Imac.

    and FTFA:

    Built-in screens made sense at the start of the computing age but they have thankfully gone the way of the dinosaurs.


    That is the article author's opinion. I'd dare say with the explosion of laptops it's arguable that it's not the consensus either. Built in screens are still quite commonplace and it's not just Apple doing it. In fact, more and more desktops seem to be going back to that as components get small enough to fit into the screen bezels.

  • Re:What, no iPad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:13AM (#31143540) Homepage

    Nah. There are larger media players out there. They are even as much as $500 or more.

    They just aren't marketed as the second coming.

    It's not the device (so much). It's the mindless fanboy hype and lack of independent thought surrounding it.

  • Re:The List (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:14AM (#31143546)

    I disagree with OS9. While it certainly was the best of the original MacOSes, which one would hope being the latest generation, it wasn't a good OS overall given when it was released.

    The time had long passed since the whole "cooperative multitasking, no memory protection, static memory allocation," thing was a good idea in OSes. It was more than past time to move on. MS was in full swing doing that. Windows NT, released in 1993, went full on with features like that you should have in a modern OS. Windows 95, released in the year of its name was their attempt to start unifying the NT and old Windows lines. Though it wasn't perfect, it still had better protection and features than OS9. Windows 2000, which came out about the same time as OS 9, was fully based on NT but ran nearly all Windows 9x software. MS was basically entering the end of their transition period (Windows XP was what finished it) when Apple released a new OS that didn't even get started.

    It was just behind the times on a low level. The OS needed a low level update, Apple knew it and had been working on it, but had killed the project (Rhapsody) for some reason. Finally they did get OS-X, a new project with the same goal out but it was a rather painful transition if you remember.

    So while OS9 may have been the slickest classic MacOS, it wasn't a good product to be releasing then. Mac users wanted the long promised new MacOS, and this was just a rehash. Meanwhile it had to compete with an updated version of NT (Windows 2000) that was extremely stable.

    The problem with OS9 wasn't the user interface. To be honest, I'll never get why Apple tossed that with OS-X, it was one of their better features. The problem was the OS was unstable and had difficulty coping with things being asked of modern OSes. The low end, not the high end.

  • by goldaryn ( 834427 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:17AM (#31143570) Homepage

    A product can only be bad if it doesn't sell.

    [4 more paragraphs]

    Let me stop you there. Of course bad products can sell, the do all the time. You are talking rubbish.

  • Re:The List (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:28AM (#31143672) Journal

    Huh. My first computer was a recycled Apple III and I had a lot of fun with it. Never overheated once, although it wasn't until after several years I got curious and popped off the case, and discovered a second memory module which had been rattling around loose all the time I had owned it. And nothing says technology like a 5MB hard drive.

    I believe one of Apple's biggest failures was dumping that Apple line. They never made the Apple IV and moved the resources into the Mac. Granted, the Mac was good, but I still liked the "openness" of the Apple I's, II's and III's. You could open the case and put whatever you wanted into them. They were very powerful machines for their day and could have been a worthy competitor to all the "IBM clones" that came out shortly afterward.

    Unfortunately, they dumped it to keep it from competing with the new Lisa and Mac machines (competing on the market as well as competing for internal investment dollars). BTW, the Lisa didn't make the list for some reason. I think Apple could have filled two niches here. The Apple IV's could have been the enthusiast/server machine with the Macs acting as the end user stations both for home use and workstations in businesses. The Apple IV line would have been cheap, open, and scalable whereas the Mac line would have be the usual Mac-in-the-Box machines that were "what-you-buy-is-what-you-get" computers that they are today.

  • by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @12:00PM (#31144862)
    PowerPC really went bad with the G5 - while adequate for normal desktop systems, it was too power-hungry for use in laptops, restricting PowerPC laptops to the G4; also, IBM couldn't acheive the high clock speeds the high-end market demanded. I'd qualify the G5 as decent if they ever got the power usage down and/or the clock speed up.

    I'm not sure whether the G6 would have fixed those problems but Apple couldn't afford to wait: Their laptops were performance-starved and the G6 would probably have made them both extraordinarily expensive and extraordinarily late - and they had no guarantee it was going to be laptop-ready anyway. Another round of G4 laptops would have made Apple look positively ridiculous.

    PowerPC was a sensible choice in the days of the 601 but Intel was an equally sensible choice when the G5 failed to deliver and the G6 was failed to deliver.
  • by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @12:27PM (#31145186)

    Okay, you don't like Apple products. That's cool.

    You don't understand why people like them. That shows a certain lack of empathy, but still no problem.

    You then attribute it to marketing, which apparently is some mysterious force you can neither understand nor control, and stupid consumers. At that point, you've essentially said that you don't have a clue how to be commercially successful, but resent those who are. That makes you a loser, dude. Either lose the bitter attitude or get a clue.

    Apple products are generally easy to use, often do certain things extremely well, and are physically attractive. Moreover, the components don't have to be ordered separately and put together by the user, which lots of people don't want to do.

    Apple's marketing department has pulled some real boners, but Steve Jobs' sense of style and feel for the market are vital to Apple.

  • Re:What, no iPad? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Duradin ( 1261418 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @12:35PM (#31145284)

    So far the vast majority of the people claiming that the iPad is the second coming are the haters not the fanboys. I'd say most of the people doing Apple hype in general are the haters, just so they have something they can whinge about.

  • Wozniak (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 15, 2010 @01:57PM (#31146258)

    Steve Wozniak was the only good thing about Apple and its one truly great product line, the Apple ][. Jobs is a hack.

    Really guys, think back. The Apple ][ was the it when it existed. It wasn't some "elegant" piece of frippery - it was the best goddamned computer on the planet. Look what Apple has done since: the limp-wristed Mac (and straight-out-faggy iMac), then a hipster-friendly line of mere gadgets.

    Apple devolved when Woz left. It changed from a computer company to a boutique. Put him back in charge, kick Jobs out to Black Turtleneck Island, and maybe salvage what's left of a dying, formerly great brand.

    Never gonna happen. RIP Apple: you made great computers, then you became Starbucks.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982