Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Let me start my saying I am a huge admirer of Steve Jobs. His genius shaped and revolutionized personal technology, the animated film business, and the music industry. I use his products daily (yes, this blog is written on a Mac). However...Steve Jobs also had his share of failures. Often those failures paved the way for revolutionary new products, but sometimes they were just boneheaded ideas from the start. But hey, remember: Babe Ruth held the strike out record for decades, and Brett Favre had more interceptions than any other NFL quarterback...ever. Those who have never failed are those who have never tried. So here's to you Steve, we'll miss not having any more fantastic failures like these.
The Hockey Puck MouseWhen the iMac was introduced it was unlike any computer before it. Unfortunately, so was its mouse. Nicknamed "the hockey puck" because of it's shape, it was uncomfortable because it poorly fit the human hand, and continued that terrible Apple tradition of only having one button. Like many people did, I would relegate mine to file cabinet "junk drawer" the day I got any Mac that came with one.
The NeXT computerJobs started the NeXT company shortly after leaving Apple in the mid-80's, but the computer that came out of NeXt was a flop. Aimed at the education market, the high price of $6,500 was just too much for most educational institutions. Only about 50,000 were sold by the time the company was sold to Apple, who wanted it for the "NeXt Step"operating system, which eventually became the current Mac OS, OSX.
The CubeThe Cube was a beautifully designed computer, so much so that one resided on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The trouble was it's high price and lack of upgradability. It was more expensive than a comparably equipped PowerMac desktop computer, which offered the benefit of expandability. The marvelous design allowed the Cube to run without the need for a fan (a rarity for computers), but the top air vents required for this earned it the nickname of "the toaster". The unique shape also caused manufacturing headaches, and early models sometimes developed small cracks in the outer case. After a couple years of poor sales the Cube was scrapped.
The Motorola MotoROKRYes, this was not an Apple product. However, this was the first cell phone that Apple authorized to work with iTunes, and Steve Jobs had a hand in allowing this bad product to happen - heck, he even introduced it at one of his famous product launches. This was one of the rare instances where Jobs' infamous force-of-will did not win out, and as a result this subpar Motorola product tarnished Apple as if it were Apple's own. It was a very ordinary cell phone, and for some unfathomable reason Motorola had hobbled it by only allowing the phone to hold 100 songs. The experience so embittered Jobs that it drove him to have Apple create a cell phone of their own, the iPhone.
The "Lemmings" AdEveryone knows the iconic "1984" ad that introduced the MacIntosh computer during that years Super Bowl, but do you remember the follow up that aired in during the following years game? It was used to promote MacIntosh Office to business, but what it eded up doing was to cast aspersions at the very tech people meant to buy the product. Blindfolded business people blindly followed each other off a cliff to a morbidly somber version of "Heigh Ho". Awful.
The Lisa was the follow up to the Apple II, but was prohibitively expensive and sluggish to use. It contributed to the downall of Jobs at Apple, as he was eventually kicked off the development team. He came roaring back, however, when he then took over development of the very successful MacIntosh.
iPod SocksThe day that the iPod Photo and U2 version iPod were introduced, Jobs also debuted iPod socks. For $30 you could get a package of 6 differently colored socks to use as protective covers for you iPod. Never a popular item, they seemed to represent the company's greed in trying to get an add on sale with an unneeded, ill-conceived product.
The Pixar Image ComputerThe reason Steve Jobs bought Pixar after leaving Apple in the 80's wasn't because he saw the future of film animation in the company, it was because he thought that he could sell lease it's computer animation computer system to film studios and other businesses. The Pixar Image Computer (from which the company took its name) never made Jobs much money, but fortunately for Jobs the small movies they made to show off the system grew the company into a film studio powerhouse. Jobs eventually sold Pixar to Disney for 6 billion dollars, incredibly making him more money than he ever made from Apple.
AntennagateApple is known for great design, and unlike most companies their design group dictates products specifications to the engineers and not the other way around. Apple turns a famous design axiom on its head, and there function follows form. However, in the case of the iPhone 4, the engineers should have had more of a say when it came to the antenna. Unlike previous versions, the iPhone 4 incorporated the antenna into the metal band that surrounded the side edges of the device. Unfortunately this resulted in the signal being drastically reduced when a persons finger connected two sections of the band by simply holding the phone. Jobs initial response? "You're holding it wrong." But after numerous complaints, and after Consumer Reports issued a "Not Recommended" rating due to the problem, Apple offered free cases to resolve the problem.
In February 2006 Apple introduced the first Intel Mac Mini. At that same announcement the iPod Hi Fi was rolled out, but the product never went anywhere. Why? It was expensive at $350 (more than comparable devices), lacked an AM/FM radio, and the placement of the iPod dock on the top of the device left the iPod vulnerable to being knocked off. After just 18 months the iPod Hi Fi was discontinued.