Apple may have taken over the tech industry in the 21st century, but the company also had some pretty ‘questionable’ product ventures that sold (relatively) poorly.
Most people consider Apple to be one of the biggest and most successful companies of this century. The figures for sold devices speak for themselves. Since 2007, Apple has sold a whopping two billion iPhones. That number continues to grow, especially today when the iPhone 14 hit the market. However, not all Apple products were successful. For every successful product, there must be several ‘fired blanks’. That is completely normal.
For this reason, in the rest of the text, we will look at the six worst Apple products made in this century. You might be surprised by what is on the list…
iPod Shuffle (iPod minus the Screen), 2005
You might be shocked to see the iPod Shuffle at the top of the list, but wait; the iPod Shuffle was a relatively successful product in terms of sales, but it is one of the worst products Apple has made, in our opinion.
The iPod has a long history and was created before the iPhone. Today, the iPhone is also an iPod, but more on that another time. There have been many varieties of the iPod, but no iPod has been weirder than the iPod Shuffle. At just $49, the iPod Shuffle was the most affordable iPod you could buy. And Apple achieved that low price by ditching the screen altogether.
The lack of a screen means you cannot search for individual songs like you can on any other if you wanted to hear a specific song, you would have to listen to the beginning of the iPod. Instead, each song on the device until you found it. And now imagine that you had 500 or 1,000 songs on it.
Although the iPod Shuffle was Apple’s cheapest iPod, it was not even close to being the cheapest MP3 player on the market. Some cheaper MP3 players also came with a screen, albeit a very small and ‘primitive’ one.
Magic Mouse (Great in Design, Bad to Use), 2009
You can divide most people who use Macs into two groups: those who love trackpads and those who swear by physical mice. With the Magic Mouse, Apple decided to find a middle ground between the two options.
Instead of a scroll wheel like every other mouse on the market, Apple did something different by adding a multi-touch surface to the entire top of the Magic Mouse. This means that in addition to moving up and down like a traditional mouse, you have precise four-way control with the Magic Mouse while accessing functions such as pinch and zoom. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
The only problem is that the Magic Mouse is just awfully unpleasant to hold. While a traditional mouse fits your palm more or less perfectly, the Magic Mouse is so flat that you only have to grip it with your fingertips. This type of posture is not only uncomfortable but can also cause strain on your hand and wrist.
On top of that, Apple has faced criticism for the poor placement of the Magic Mouse’s charging port. Most wireless mice have a charging port on the front, allowing you to plug it in and use it as a wired mouse while charging. Unfortunately, the Magic Mouse’s charging port is located at the very bottom of the mouse, making it impossible to use while plugged into a charger. All these flaws are just additional reasons why the Magic TrackPad is better and more useful.
On the other hand, we have to give credit to Apple; Magic Mouse looks great. But your hands will thank you if you choose any other mouse.
Mac Pro (‘Trash Can’ or Powerful Computer?), 2013
The Mac Pro has been nicknamed the ‘trash can’ because of its strange shape/design. And maybe because of poor performance. The Mac Pro from 2013 could be summed up in one word: over-engineered.
When Apple introduced its second generation Mac Pro in 2013, people were shocked at how ‘different’ the redesign was. Instead of the full-sized tower PC that had defined the Mac Pro up to that point, the 2013 Mac Pro was a black cylinder that was a fraction of the size of the previous generation. To achieve that small form factor, Apple split the Mac Pro’s motherboard into three distinct sections and placed a single fan in the center of the computer to cool the entire system at once.
While it took some incredible engineering to pack a full-featured desktop into such a small package, that tiny size may have been what ‘ruined’ the Mac Pro. Not to mention the ‘special’ components glued to the motherboard, which made it impossible (or very limited) to replace parts. Worse, the Mac Pro was also prone to overheating and sluggish performance. Not good for a machine that costs over HRK 25,000.
Fortunately, Apple did not learn anything from that, and the next iteration of the Mac Pro was ‘normal’.
12-Inch MacBook (Heavy-Cost Mini Laptop), 2015
In 2015, Apple introduced a new basic model of a laptop computer, simply called MacBook. Although this 12-inch mini-notebook was very thin and extremely portable, it did not have the performance to justify its price.
The MacBook made headlines as Apple’s first fanless computer. But even though we are used to seeing fanless laptops like the MacBook Air these days, in 2015 the technology was not what it is today.
The 12-inch MacBook was powered by Intel’s Core M processor, a chip more common in a tablet than a ‘real’ computer. While it was fine for web surfing or simple tasks like writing texts/documents, the MacBook’s processor was too weak for much else.
The Mini MacBook started at $1,299, which put it on par with the MacBook Pro, causing many potential buyers to skip it altogether and buy the “Pro” version.
HomePod (Smart Speaker in the Shadow of Alexa), 2017
In 2017, Apple decided to jump into the world of smart speakers with the HomePod, an overpriced and insufficiently successful device, especially compared to Amazon Echo or Google Home devices.
The first Amazon Echo device hit the market in 2014; since then devices with Alexa have been leading in this segment. Apple was ‘late to the market’ game and played with the HomePod. One of the HomePod’s biggest drawbacks is Siri. Apple’s voice assistant just isn’t as smart as Alexa. The fact that the HomePod retailed for a whopping $299 did not help either.
Apple is known to have very loyal customers, but the fact that you could buy a smarter Amazon Echo device for a fraction of the price made the HomePod unnecessary.
In 2021, Apple discontinued the original HomePod, leaving the HomePod mini ($99) as the only option if you want a Siri-powered smart speaker.
AirPods Max (Are You Ready to Pay More for Less?), 2020
Sometimes Apple seems to have a ‘form over function’ philosophy, and the AirPods Max is a perfect example of that.
AirPods Max seems like an interesting product, with respectable sound quality and high-quality noise cancellation. But manufacturers like Sony and Bose offer headphones that provide better sound quality at a lower price, which has many wondering if the AirPods Max is worth the price.
Additionally, unlike almost all other wireless headphones, the AirPods Max does not have a power button and comes with a case that does not offer any protection. Instead, Apple’s flimsy “smart case” allows it to enter an ultra-low power state. That, mixed with the fact that they don’t fold, makes them harder to carry.
AirPods Max has a stylish design to help you stand out, but that is about it. The original AirPods changed the way we listen to music, while the AirPods Max did not bring anything new.
Apple’s Potential Failure That Is Not Related to Their Products
Apple recently banned advertisements for gambling and a few other categories from specific slots. What happened?
Apple’s decision to include more advertisements on the page of App Store listings is unlikely to please anyone (especially owners of top betting sites in Pakistan) but marketers, but the manner in which they did so raised concerns. Ads for questionable gambling apps swiftly took over the platform and started to show up in the “you may also like” part of regular apps, including at minimum one for managing gambling addiction.
Since gambling is one of the most user-predatory categories on the App Store and Apple takes a cut of the winnings and losses, it is already a contentious subject. Advertising the practice needs to be closely regulated because it is either highly regulated or outright outlawed in many nations or regions. It is a little uncomfortable that it is being given prime space on Apple’s platform right away.
The advertisement for Jackpot World, a slots game, in the advertisement position for RecoverMe, a gambling addiction support app, has to be the most egregious example. Imagine receiving a meth advertisement while looking for a rehab facility. Thankfully, Apple was keeping an eye on the chaos on Twitter and other platforms, and it banned gambling advertisements from these slots.
Of course, the drama is far from over. Even in the best-case situation, designers believe that they are effectively being taxed since if they do not buy the advertisement on their own application, their competition might. Deciding whether an advertisement is appropriate for its place is not an easy judgment to make.
Even Apple Can’t ‘Win’ Every Time
People make mistakes, but so do companies. Apple is no exception to this rule, despite being the biggest brand in the world. For every successful iPod or iPhone comes a failed HomePod or iPod shuffle.
Some say that every failure brings you closer to success. So while not all of Apple’s products were groundbreaking and ultra-successful, their willingness to take risks and try new ideas helped create some of Apple’s greatest successes. And achieving a company value of 2.4 trillion dollars (yes, you read the number correctly).