Top 10 Mac Failures

By Deane Barker on January 31, 2005

Top 10 Mac Failures: An interesting look at Apple miscues. Among them, the Flower Power/Blue Dalmation iMac and my personal choice of unforgiveable design, the round mouse.

Users were not universally pleased with the new mouse. It was now totally symmetrical, preventing many users from easily telling which way is up. Also, the smaller design made it difficult for large handed users to use it comfortably.

Man, I hate those round mice.

You know what’s not in here? The Newton, which supports my theory of a few weeks ago.

As for the patterned iMac, the whole colored-machine thing was flawed from the beginning. I worked at Best Buy in 1998 when the iMac hit the market. Best Buy was apparently told that they couldn’t order more or less of one color — they could only place an order for a set number of iMacs, and they’d get an equal division of each color in the shipment.

Consequently, one of the biggest electronic retailers in the country dropped the iMac from its shelves, and it’s never returned (not that it hurt Apple much…). The colors should have been snap-on shells, so you could swap them out if you ever got sick of them.

But, in the end, the color served its purpose. Think back to the original iMac and what do you remember? All-in-one design, no floppy, and colored cases. The last item on that list was what got all the press. Would the iMac be where it is today if they had all been in beige cases? Not a chance.



  1. Why is MS Word 6 on this list? Guilt by association? The blame for that should fall squarely on Microsoft.

    I’ll agree with you on the hockey-puck mouse. The guy/team that came up with that thing ought to be thrashed with a USB cable. Grab a round mouse with the cord off to the side instead of pointing straight forward and the cursor goes wild.

    You’re right about the colored iMacs; if you could pick the color and interchange pieces Apple would still be using that idea. The most sought-after color schemes in the used machine market are the Snow and Indigo machines.

    One thing that should’ve been on that list is the fruit-flavored iBooks. The rubberized case was almost as good as armor on those things, but no real man would be caught dead carrying a Tangerine or Lime iBook anywhere. The Graphite iBook SE is still popular though.

  2. While it is OK to look back at the failures a company has in its past, you have to have some perspective. Eworld was not much different than MS’s original MSN idea. They have both failed. (MSN has never made money, but they have a seeminlgy endless supply of moeny to keep fighting.) OpenDoc was not much different than ActiveX, (as the article states) but the requirements of most Mac users are too specialized for OpenDoc. I do not believe we would have ever seen a “Photshop Module” or a QuarkXpress Module”. In fact, those apps support of ActiveX is minimal. (Enough to get a Windows logo.)

    But what about MS’s knock-off of PostScript (named TrueImage) which was a big failure. Still in many of these cases for all these companies, the experience is directed into another more successful iniative. So while it is fun to poke fun at some of these losers, it is more helpful to think about how they fit into the flow.

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