It may come as a surprise to you, but not everything released by Apple in the post-Jobs’ return era was gold. There are some products that encourage nothing less than sheer bafflement, and make me wonder if Cupertino just released them to see how many devout fanboys there were around. I have to admit, I buy a lot of things designed by Jony Ive’s crew, but I never touched any of these – well – maybe one, but not the other four. (Try and guess which product I paid for in this list.)
1. 3rd gen iPod Shuffle (2009)
What’s worse than a stupid, tiny iPod with no proper controls? That’s right, a stupid, tiny iPod with no proper controls that talks to you. I mean, seriously, what was Apple thinking? I may be way off the mark here, but, I’m guessing that most iTunes libraries have song and album names in there, and that you were the one who uploaded them. Also, I’m pretty sure that when you hear a song start from your collection that you already know what it is. Why have a stupid computerized voice telling you the name of the song? Utterly pointless.
2. Original MacBook Air (2008)
When the original MacBook Air was launched I was amazed. It looked incredible. It was so thin, and light and had a pretty decent display. That’s where my wonderment ended. In its day, having no optical drive for DVDs/CD-ROMs was an insane idea. In fact, if you wanted to install programs only available via disk, there were two ways of doing it. Either you bought an external optical drive, or connected to another computer wirelessly. Don’t forget, the Mac App Store didn’t exist in 2008, so software wasn’t as readily available over the air as it is now. Even if it was, you’d be struggling to squeeze it on to the 80GB hard drive. That’s the same storage capacity as the iPod Classic I held at the time. Not to mention, it was also painfully slow, and painfully expensive. $1,800 for an Apple branded netbook? No thanks!
3. MobileMe (2008)
Before its relaunch in 2008, MobileMe had been sold under different names. It was a service that synced calendars, email and bookmarks as well as offering an online gallery and iDisk. All this would have been pretty revolutionary, if it didn’t cost. Apple charged a subscription of $100 per year to anyone who signed up, and to top it off, its launch was catastrophic. It didn’t work. This lead to the famous incident where Steve Jobs gathered the MobileMe team and hurled a tirade of unpleasant extroversions at the them. Even when the service kicked in, it made absolutely no sense that Cupertino thought it was charge-worthy, when Android devices were doing the same thing for free. Thank heavens that iCloud is here to replace it.
4. iAd (2010)
In 2010, during the launch of the iPhone 4 and iOS 4.0, Jobs unveiled a new standard in advertisements within apps. It was unobtrusive and didn’t take you outside the program you were working in. In theory it was great. Ads are irritating. But, when Apple gets involved you can guarantee two things: (A) They will try and control all the content and (B) They’ll take 30% of all the profits. Needless to say, ad agencies were not keen on Apple taking that much money or having that much power over artistic direction. iAd is the biggest flop of the modern iOS era.
5. Original Apple TV (2007)
Before the “Puck” came out a couple of years back, Apple had named this its “hobby” device. The original Apple TV was a big silver box (7.8″ x 7.8″) that ran a slimmed down version of Mac OS X Tiger. It was expensive, and didn’t offer much for the $350+ that you would need to slap down to own one. Essentially, it was a stripped down Mac that only allowed you to play video content from iTunes – unless hacked to run like a computer. If anything in recent history was an example of a product that fans only bought for the logo, this was it. Thankfully, the strategy was changed in 2010 and we now have a cheap, iOS running, box that fits in your palm.
Obviously, this is just my opinion. Maybe you have stronger opinions on devices like the first iPad, or the iPhone 3GS. Maybe you love the original Apple TV or 3rd gen iPod. Tell me I’m wrong or what I’ve missed out. Which are your least favorite Apple devices from the current era? Comment below, or tweet: @TiP_Cam