Apple’s Biggest Fails feat. the Mac Cube, iPod Hi-Fi & Bono

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Apple is a company known for its incredible design and killer products. The company has innovation in its blood, it seems. After all, they may not be the first to do something (MP3 players, for example) but they usually end up doing it the best.

But while many consumers and critics celebrate the company as a technology dream factory, it’s easy to forget that Apple has had a lot of misses too. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to see the Apple products that just never took off.

iPod Hi-Fi

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Back in 2005 and 2006 when the iPod was taking over the world speaker manufactures were getting rich from building docks to speakers that people could hook their beloved iPods up to for a bigger sound. As usual, Apple thought they could do speakers better than the speaker manufacturers who’d been doing this stuff for decades. This time they were wrong.

The product that Apple came out with was the $350 iPod Hi-Fi. Besides having a ridiculous name, the iPod Hi-Fi was a massive 14.5 lbs beast with handles. It’s as if Apple thought people were actually going to lug this thing around the room (it could also run on 6 D batteries, suggesting Apple really thought this was a possibility). And though the iPod Hi-Fi did sound good, it couldn’t compete with the other speaker systems that sounded just as good, but were a lot cheaper.

The iPod Hi-Fi was introduced in February 2006 and discontinued just 18 months later. 

Power Mac G4 Cube

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Riding high off the success the of iMac after Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, the company went design crazy and started trying any shapes they could to fit a computer into (the clamshell iBooks, anyone?). In July 2000 the company thought the next obvious shape to cram a computer into was a cube and unveiled the Power Mac G4 Cube. 

The Cube was a beautiful computer but it was clearly designed to be in a museum of design instead of actually being practical for most people. For starters, it was just too damn expensive at $1799 without a display. It was also one of those rare Apple products where form did overtake function. The Cube suffered from cracks at the seams and was very prone to overheating. In the end the Cube lasted only 13 months. Apple discontinued it in July 2001.

Apple Mighty Mouse

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Apple’s latest multitouch Magic Mouse is a thing of beauty. It’s the best mouse I’ve ever used. However, it’s also the first mouse Apple has ever got right. Until the Magic Mouse, Apple had a string of horribly designed duds. You may think the original iMac’s hockey puck mouse was bad, but that was nothing compared to Apple’s first Mighty Mouse.

The Mighty Mouse was an improvement over Apple’s other mice because the company apparently discovered some people like mice with two buttons. But the reason the Mighty Mouse was so bad was because of its main feature—the 360 degree trackball built into the top of it.

On the surface this track ball was amazing because it allowed the user to scroll and pan around documents with ease. The problem with the trackball, however, was that it was so easily clogged by dust and debris that it often stopped registering movements within a week of usage. You’d then have to open up the mouse, unclog the trackball, and in two to three days do that all over again.

The Mighty Mouse was more frustration than fun (as its name suggested). Apple discontinued it in 2009.

Apple QuickTake 200 camera

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Yes, Apple actually had made cameras before. Back in 1997 it released the Apple QuickTake 200—one of the first digital cameras on the market (and actually the third digital camera Apple released, after the QuickTake 100 and QuickTake 150). 

The QuickTake was ahead of its time. Digital photography didn’t really start catching on until 2001, and the QuickTake has such a low resolution—640 x 480 pixels—it couldn’t compete against even your most basic point-and-shoot films cameras of the day. The QuickTake 200 was quietly end-of-life’d within the year.

iPod U2 Special Edition

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Apple has done two special edition iPods before: the Project (Red) ones and a black and red monstrosity known as the iPod U2 Special Edition.

The iPod U2 Special Edition was first introduced in June of 2005 when Apple was having a love affair with Bono (I suspect they cared little about the rest of the band). Instead of the white body everyone knew and loved it had a black body and a red click wheel. Maybe it’s the colors that killed it. Maybe its the fact that the 21st century cool kids didn’t want to be seen being fans of a band that was big in the 1980s. Maybe it was the chicken scratch U2 “autographs” etched into the back of it. Whatever the reason, after a few more generations of it, Apple killed the iPod U2 Special Edition in September 2007.

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