Today, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is often seen as the tech darling that can do no wrong. Under co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, Apple redefined the music player, smartphone, and tablet markets with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Current CEO Tim Cook kept that legacy alive by introducing the Apple Watch (the best-selling smartwatch in the world), improving the company's flagship products, and expanding Apple's stable of subscription-based services.
Every company, however, makes its share of missteps. Let's take a look back at seven forgotten Apple products that flopped.
The Apple II home computer was a tremendous success, having racked up more than 5 million sales between its release in the late 1970s and its discontinuation in the early '90s. However, its business-oriented successor, the Apple III, was a commercial dud. Launched in 1980 for the enterprise market, the Apple III cost between $3,495 and $3,815 ($9,863 to $10,766 in today's dollars) depending on the configuration, making it a massive investment for most businesses.
Second, early stability issues caused the first 14,000 units to be recalled, tarnishing the product's reputation for the rest of its run. Apple eventually only sold about 65,000 units over the next four years.
The Apple Lisa, which launched in 1983, was the first commercial computer that featured a GUI (graphical user interface) with clickable windows, folders, and files -- an idea which was "borrowed" from Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. Prior to the Lisa's arrival, all computers had used text-based command line prompts.
The Lisa, which was named after Jobs' daughter (though the name was also an acronym for the meaningless term "Local Integrated Software Architecture"), was a revolutionary device but had an astronomical launch price of $9,995 ($25,092 today). The upgrade paths were similarly pricey, and Apple only shipped 100,000 units before discontinuing the line two years later. About 2,700 of the unsold devices are reportedly still sitting in a landfill in Nevada.
The Newton line of personal digital assistants (PDAs) was the pet project of John Sculley, who served as Apple's CEO from 1983 to 1993. The touchscreen device was launched in 1987, but network connections at the time were sluggish, the price was too high, and there were early issues with its handwriting recognition capabilities.
Nonetheless, Apple kept the Newton in production for 11 years before discontinuing it, and it's widely believed that the iPhone wouldn't exist without this earlier blunder.
In 1994, Apple launched the QuickTake, one of the first digital cameras ever marketed to mainstream consumers. Three models were produced -- two by Kodak and one by Fujifilm. However, the QuickTake arrived long before digital cameras gained mainstream momentum, and Apple discontinued the device three years later.
Following Sony's successful launch of the PlayStation in 1994, Apple partnered with Bandai to create a gaming console based on Macintosh hardware and software. The resulting product, the Pippin, arrived in 1996 but was quickly forgotten among other "me too" devices like the Atari Jaguar, NEC PC-FX, and Philips 3DO. The Pippin was also poorly priced for that market at $599 ($952 today). Only 42,000 units were shipped before it was discontinued a year later.
The 20th Anniversary Mac
The 20th Anniversary Mac, released in 1997, was a high-powered all-in-one device aimed at the "executive" market. Like many other Apple devices on this list, it was ahead of its time, but again it was poorly priced at a whopping $7,499 ($11,573 today). Apple slashed the price to $1,995 just a year later, but the device never became popular with mainstream consumers. However, the influence of that design can still be seen in today's all-in-one iMacs.
The "hockey puck" mouse
The Apple USB mouse -- which was launched with the Bondi Blue iMac G3 in 1998 and subsequently bundled with all Macs over the next two years -- was shaped like a hockey puck.
The unusual design, which exemplified form over function, was widely loathed by the graphic designers who accounted for a large percentage of Apple's core user base. Apple eventually rectified that mistake by replacing the Apple USB Mouse with the more ergonomic Apple Pro Mouse in 2000.
Leo Sun has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.