Companies are typically remembered for their successes as opposed to their failures -- and the same is true for Apple -- but the company has still had plenty of missteps that, while potentially frustrating at the time, can now be looked back on with a good chuckle.
iPod Shuffle (3rd gen)
An iPod without built-in controls... brilliant! Wait, no, the opposite. Unless you had compatible earphones, and many third party versions were not, you couldn't even control the volume of your music. Quite possibly the worst version of any iPod, ever.
Apple's strange venture in the world of living room computing, the Pippin platform was a failure almost before it was even introduced. The game console of the same name, which was produced by Bandai, ran on Apple's Pippin platform and retailed for US$599 at a time when Sony's PlayStation cost half as much. It was a joke in every sense of the word, and Steve Jobs crushed the program upon his return to Apple.
It's not clear what type of consumer Apple was after with the PowerCD. It was too big and had too poor of battery life to be considered a true portable music device, as a computer accessory it was big and awkward, and as a home media player it had too many cheaper competitors to be taken seriously. It was as though someone at Apple's Mac Like Things design group said "Hey, we should make a CD player! Ha!" during a meeting and the one dude who didn't get the joke put it on the top of the project list.
Apple USB Mouse
The "Hockey Puck" is easily the worst Apple mouse in recent memory. It's awkward, too small, and not even remotely ergonomic. It looks good, sure, and it certainly fit the "Look at me!" iMac movement of the late 90s, but as a functional accessory it falls flat on its face.
If Ping had been announced on April 1st, it would have been one of the best April Fools' jokes of all time. I mean, can you imagine? A social network based entirely on music, with sponsored artists chirping praise at the idea and everyone else nodding their heads. In fact, I'm still not sure if it ever actually existed at all. It may well have been a dream.
Another failed Apple venture into home audio, the iPod Hi-Fi made big promises and came with an even bigger price tag. At US$349, it produced quality sound, but the changing iPod landscape led to shoddy compatibility and made it a hard sell. And that's to say nothing of how laughable the massive speaker housing looked with a tiny iPod stuck into the top of it.
[Photo credit: Blake Patterson (PowerCD)]