I predicted that some iPhone users would switch to Facebook Home devices, but followed that up with ‘I’m convinced that not many will.’ Looks like I’m right. Just weeks after launch, the HTC First, the first Facebook Home smartphone, is available for 99-cents. That spells doom. Clearly, for a variety of reasons, Home isn’t a hit. Has Apple ever had a similar product failure?
Blasts From The Past
The reasons for the upcoming demise of Facebook Home smartphones are many and varied. Remember, smartphone users are locked into multi-year carrier contracts, so mass movements to a new phone doesn’t happen overnight.
How does the Facebook Home flop compare to a few of Steve Jobs’ flops? What? Jobs had flops? Oh, yes. Read on.
Apple’s first success was the Apple II which begat the Apple III which begat Apple’s first big product failure. It was a technological dud and a sales dud.
A few years later the graphic user interface Lisa hit the streets with a $10,000 price tag. Steve Jobs was always proud of his products, but the Lisa wasn’t a hit with buyers, though it beget the Mac, and the rest is history.
Jobs was pushed out of Apple in 1985 and started NeXT and launched the famous NeXT Cube. More flop.
After Jobs came back to Apple the company went through a renaissance of sorts, with hit product after hit product. Well, almost. Remember the iMac’s hockey puck mouse? What was Jobs thinking?
Jobs design esthetic showed up on the Apple Cube, circa 2000. It was a clean enclosure with a clear plastic screen and it launched to rave reviews but few were sold. Why? It was too expensive. Remember, Jobs was always proud of his creations.
As much as the iPhone is a success, the iTunes iPhone– the ROKR, circa 2005, was a huge failure. Apple knew it needed to get iTunes onto a phone, and the deal with Motorola simply turned a phone into an iPod.
Some have placed Apple TV on the Apple flops list, but I disagree. Apple TV is a hobby, as Jobs stated. As many as 10-million have been sold through various incarnations, and at $99 each, that’s a decent accessory business, but not exactly successful by Apple standards.
One could add MobileMe to the list of Jobs-inspired flops, though the online service has morphed into the more successful iCloud service with a few hundred million users.
Apple was so disappointed in the Pippin video game console that it didn’t even make it to the U.S. Macintosh TV did make it to market but the claim to fame was failure, not sales. One of the first Macs I ever used was the Macintosh Portable. Actually, luggable was a better description. It was a horrid device, quickly eclipsed by the PowerBook line just a few years later.
What about the famed and storied Newton, Apple’s first attempt at a PDA? While many customers loved it, Steve Jobs wasn’t on the list, and had no trouble axing it upon his return to the company. Instead, he directed Apple’s efforts to the next great thing, which eventually became the iPad and iPhone.
Thank the digital gods that Jobs pulled the plug on the Newton. How long should a company wait before pulling the plug on an obviously anemic product? The sooner the better. Apple, though, is in a different position after having so many hit products in a short period of time. The company tends to nurse along products that are not quite ready. Apple Maps, anyone?