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Learning from Apple’s Failures

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On August 2, 2018, Apple become the first company to hit a $1 trillion market cap. This was a remarkable feat for a company, as they were now worth more than some countries’ GDP. The 45-year-old tech giant has had its fair share of successes – the iPhone, iPad, MacBook – as well as a few uncalled-for failures. In this article, we will dive into many of the failures that set back the company – and what can be learned from them.

Apple III

  • The Apple III came after the major success of the Apple II. Unlike its predecessor, however, it failed to deliver. The computer was designed for personal computing for corporate America. The device’s failure can partially be placed on Steve Jobs, who supervised the device and insisted that the machine should not have a cooling fan as it was too noisy and not fashionable. This resulted in the computer being more vulnerable to overheating, which in turn resulted in major system malfunctions. 
  • While the device had a questionable design, it also was much more expensive than its IBM rival. 
  • Both of these factors resulted in the Apple III becoming a major flop, with estimates saying that Apple lost around $60 million dollars from this endeavor.

Macintosh TV

  • While new and interesting ideas might lead to game-changing innovations, the Macintosh TV was an exception. The product was Apple’s first attempt at integrating a computer with television. The Macintosh TV had potential, but it had two major flaws that went against it. For one, people had already begun connecting computers to TVs manually, so there was no serious demand for the product. On top of that, the product was expensive (at just over $2000 dollars!). Because of this, the Macintosh TV ended up getting discontinued just five months after it was released. 

20th Anniversary Mac

The 20th Anniversary Mac’s price tag was what doomed the product for failure. Even though the product packed just about everything that a person would want in a computer (LCD display, FM radio, and a TV tuner, CD-ROM drive, Bose sound system), it costed just about $11,432 (in today’s money), making it far too expensive for most consumers. Apple ended up reducing its price by almost 75 percent a year later and discontinuing it to clear out the stock. 

iPod Shuffle 3rd Generation

The feature that set the 3rd Generation of the iPod Shuffle for disaster was its inconvenient and too “futuristic” design. The music player had no buttons and made consumers learn a sequence of clicks to navigate through a playlist. Ultimately, this was way too confusing and troublesome, resulting in the product’s sales being disappointingly low.

G4 Cube

The G4 Cube had many unpleasant features. The boxy Mac, housed in acrylic glass, was expensive, didn’t come with a monitor, and needed external speakers. It came to no surprise to consumers that the product was discontinued a year later.


While gaming was never Apple’s niche, the company tried to enter itself into the industry through the creation of Pippin. The product however never stuck with buyers, software developers, or hardware markers that would license the innovative idea. The product was also expensive. It costed nearly triple the price of the Nintendo 64 console, a serious competitor to Pippin that also contained more games.


  • Newton was one product that had the capability of becoming revolutionary. The first-ever computer that could be handheld, the Newton was designed for portability. The product also contained a few features you would expect to find in a computer: the ability to take notes, store contacts, and manage calendars. However, one major thing going against it was its handwriting recognition feature, which was a major failure. A stylus had to be used to view the product, but the character recognition from the stylus was faulty, which overall gave the user an unpleasant experience with the device. The stylus’s poor performance ultimately saw the product swiftly discontinued.
  • Not all was lost with this product, however. Steve Jobs ultimately applied the lessons from the product to the iPhone and iPad (by having the device interact with users’ hands instead of a faulty stylus), and the rest is history. 

Wrapping Up

There were two major factors that could be shared with most of the products on the list that were responsible for the gadget’s failure. One major factor was the price. By having some products on this list be too expensive for the average consumer, Apple decreased its product’s demand to the point where it would not make a profit. What can be learned from this is that companies should be more careful with the price of their product, and make sure that it is affordable for their target audience. Another major factor was an error in a product’s design. Some of Apple’s failures had really faulty designs, which made the product nearly unbearable. What can essentially be learned from this is that before shipping a product or service, a business has to be extensively checked to make sure there are no major issues that greatly halter the device’s function. 


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