10 Top Apple technologies failed

  1. OpenDoc (1992)
    Released in 1992, OpenDoc was an effort to change the metaphor of computing completely—no wonder it was destined to fail. Instead of an application-centric user experience, OpenDoc created a system where mini-applications contributed “parts” to generic, multipart documents. You’d start a blank document and then add a “drawing part,” an “audio part,” and a Web-clipping part, for instance. But OpenDoc used massive amounts of memory and processor power for the time, never mind the vast mental shift it required for users and developers. You can see OpenDoc-like thinking today in the way embedded media, Java applets, and Web applications work.

2. Cyberdog (1996)
Apple’s first official stab at a Web browser was much too ambitious, in part because it was supposed to be OpenDoc’s flagship app. Cyberdog included a browser, an e-mail program, a Usenet news reader, and an FTP program. Rather than conventional bookmark lists, it encouraged users to create “notebooks,” Web page–like super-documents of embedded Web content and links. The more-conventional Safari browser seems to be doing better in the marketplace.

3. HyperCard (1987)
HyperCard was not a failure. Released in 1987, it was a database, a hypertext system, a presentation program, and a software development platform. For millions of Mac users, it was their introduction to programming. I organized my comic-book collection in HyperCard at age 14; the original version of the best-selling adventure game Myst was written in HyperCard. The program’s heyday ran from 1987 to 1990, but it kept puttering on until Steve Jobs killed the project in 2000. HyperCard’s ideas ended up in things like HTML, JavaScript, AppleScript, Adobe Flash, and wikis. Maybe they aren’t all directly descended from it, but HyperCard came first.

4. Newton (1993)
Ah, the Newton. When it came out in 1993, we said it would “make you the life of the party.” And it wasn’t unique by a long shot: There were a whole lot of pen-based computers coming out at this time that ultimately failed (remember the AT&T EO?). But the Newton can be seen as the forerunner of the iPhone, a much more successful product. And the Newton had several innovations that still look futuristic: It automatically related different kinds of information and understood natural-language queries. (You can see some of that relational connection in the way Gmail offers to map the locations of your e-mail contacts.)

5. PowerBook Duo 230 (1992)
The MacBook Air of 1992, the PowerBook Duo was one of the first ultraportable laptops. At 10.9 by 8.5 by 1.4 inches and 4.1 pounds, it was thinner and lighter at launch than any competing model except for Gateway’s 286-powered Handbook. The Duo slid into a dock to achieve full desktop capabilities; the largest dock even included expansion slots, an FPU, and Level 2 cache for the processor! But the Duo didn’t capture consumers’ hearts the way more full-featured PowerBooks did. Will the MacBook Air succeed where the Duo failed?

6. Mac G4 Cube (1999)
A miracle of engineering, this small-form-factor desktop PC was nominated in 2000 for a PC Magazine Technical Excellence award for managing to shoehorn a full PC into an 8-inch cube. The Cube itself wasn’t a winner, but it inaugurated the entire small-form-factor PC market. Shuttle followed the next year with the SV24, and Apple came back in 2005 with the Mac mini.

7. eWorld (1994)
Could “AOL” have stood for “Apple On Line?” Apple’s eWorld was a cuddly, easy-to-use online service, originally developed by Apple and AOL. It included bulletin boards, support services, chat rooms, and even, eventually, a Web browser—powerful stuff for 1994. But Apple’s then-CEO Michael Spindler decided not to market or advertise it, and charged high prices. A promised Windows version never appeared. With few subscribers, eWorld shut its doors in 1996. We trust that MobileMe, Apple’s new online service, will fare much better.

8. Macintosh TV (1993)
In 1993, the idea of watching TV on your PC was pretty unusual. The Macintosh TV was basically a hack; a Performa 520 Mac running System 7.1 with a 14-inch Sony TV built into it. There was no real integration between the computer and the TV, and that bulky, underpowered Performa model wasn’t very popular anyway. This model came out during a period when Apple was spewing out dozens of PCs with confusing specs and product numbers, and it disappeared from the market quickly. Nowadays, of course, watching TV on your computer is considered a perfectly ordinary thing to do.

9. Mac Quadra 610 DOS Compatible (1994)
Before 2005, Apple and Intel were never to meet, right? Mortal enemies. Vile foes. Wrong. Apple actually released several Macs with Intel coprocessors during the dark years of the 1990s; the Quadra 610, released in February 1994, was the first. (That’s not counting third-party products like MacCharlie, a coprocessing unit from Dayna Communications released way back in 1985.) This model paired a 25-MHz Motorola 68040 processor with an Intel 486SX-25 and let users switch between Mac and DOS modes—a feature repeated 12 years later with Boot Camp, no coprocessor needed.

10. Bandai Pippin (1996)
Apple’s much-derided game-console platform, released in 1996, was an Internet-connected gaming and multimedia box that ran a PC operating system, Apple’s System 7. So, yes, you could argue that it was an Xbox, or an Apple TV. In 1996. But 1996 technology wasn’t ready for this idea; the Pippin was expensive and slow, and people didn’t really understand what it was for. It took Microsoft to succeed with the first truly PC-based, Net-connected game console, the Xbox, in 2001.

Courtesy : Quick 10


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