There is something refreshing about anyone who admits to making a mistake, and then takes steps to correct it. You don’t see that in Congress or the White House, and very seldom anywhere else these days.
Apple’s executives have admitted to making a big mistake. What mistake? The 2013 Mac Pro, Apple’s diminutive replacement for the much beloved aluminum cheese grater Mac Pro of yesteryear. Admitting a mistake is one thing, but shipping a replacement is something else again. The Mac Pro mistake won’t get fixed until next year, but it doesn’t rank as the company’s worst mistake ever.
Five or six years ago, someone at Apple came up with a radical new design for the once and future Mac Pro, the powerful and overpriced cylinder device that died on Apple’s vine. Such an idea, as ideas in business go, require an Excel spreadsheet and a PowerPoint presentation somewhere early in the idea’s life cycle. This is Apple, so it was a Numbers spreadsheet and a Keynote presentation that helped to convince the powers that be to get the Mac Pro launched.
That was then and this is now. The Mac Pro’s only upgrade came this week after Apple executives acknowledged the Mac Pro was a mistake and a new version is promised. Maybe next year.
Worst. Mistake. Ever?
No. Even the mighty Steve Jobs put a few duds on my Worst Apple Products Ever list. In order:
- Mac Portable – ugly, expensive, and almost worthless at $7,000.
- Apple III – big failure at every level and one that had Steve Jobs’ fingerprints all over it.
- ROKR – iTunes in a Motorola phone. There’s nothing else to say.
- Newton – the iPad before the iPhone became an iPad; it lasted almost a dozen years.
- Mac Cube – pretty, expensive, and Steve Jobs’ baby.
- Pippin – Apple had a game console before the iPhone; so bad it never made it to the U.S.
- iPod Hi-Fi – think of an iPod sticking out of a boom box. Steve Jobs again.
- iMac Hockey Puck Mouse – what were they thinking? Jobs again.
- Mac TV – can’t blame this one on Jobs, but it wasn’t exactly a hit.
- QuickTake – yes, Apple had a camera that was ahead of its time
That’s my personal Top 10 list of Apple’s Worst Products Ever. I would put the 2013 Mac Pro at #11, but only because I couldn’t think of any other products that were such disasters.
John Gruber’s The Mac Pro Lives article has all the details behind the Mac Pro’s demise, along with some insightful analysis, a few choice quotes from Apple executives, but the basics are obvious. Apple made a mistake. It took awhile, but Apple admitted the mistake and is working to correct it with a replacement line of Macs aimed at Mac users who require more power and functionality than available in the Mac Pro.
A few thoughts:
First, The Mac Pro, circa 2013, was an exercise in form over function; a beautiful machine to behold, but one that looked better on a Keynote presentation than it worked in the real world.
Second, Apple is pre-announcing product upgrades. That’s new. iPhone had to be announced months in advance, but it was a new product. In this case, the next generation Mac Pro is being announced perhaps a year in advance.
Third, in this case– the Mac Pro’s neglect for nearly four years– silence is not golden.