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Insanely bad! 10 Apple duds of the decade

Not everything Steve Jobs does is insanely great

iPod nano v3 - naNO!

Apple iPod nano fat boy

The original iPod nano (September 2005) was a sleek beauty. Version 2 (September 2006) was a very dull version of it, but version 3 (September 2007) was quite the reverse. Gone was the long, skinny body in favour of something, well, stubby. It quickly got nicknamed "Fat Boy" - possibly in homage to the early nuke, so horribly did it tarnish the nano's former good looks. A year later it was gone, and the skinny nano was back.

Apple iPod reviews

Apple TV - brains turned off

Apple TV

Steve Jobs once put down the television as uninteresting: "We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on."

But along came Apple TV, a product that even today still feels half loved.

It was first announced in September 2006 as iTV - a product name that immediately damned it in the eyes of the Britsh, where national TV station ITV is famous for its lame dramas, dreadful comedies and even adverts!

Its name also clashed with a Mac accessory, Elgato's EyeTV. Everything about this product began to look a bit rushed and ill-thought out.

iTV/Apple TV was a telly-bound version of Apple's Front Row media centre Mac software. It got another mention the following January at Macworld Expo and it started shipping a couple of months later.

I'm always suspicious of Apple products announced well ahead of schedule, and the notion of Apple TV as a bold new product had certainly waned by the time of its release.

While our homes have welcomed DVRs such as the Tivo or Sky+ the Apple TV is probably found only in Mac journalists' dens. It lacks a TV tuner, which frankly cripples it from the off.

The Movies "Search" feature searches only iTunes Store movies. iTunes movie rentals can be transferred to any video-enabled iPod, iPhone or Apple TV for playing, but any movie rented on Apple TV must be watched on Apple TV.

To copy a movie purchased on Apple TV to a video-enabled iPod or iPhone, the movie must first be transferred to an iTunes-enabled computer on the network. Apple TV/iTunes is "not designed" to sync or stream content from networked drives to Apple TV.

Content that can be synced or streamed to Apple TV has to be on the local drive or an external drive directly connected to the iTunes-enabled computer.

Maybe Apple had its brain turned off when it was meant to be making this a great product. Frankly I'd rather watch ITV.

Apple TV review

MobileMe - MobileMe(ss)

Apple MobileMe logo

Apple started the decade with the release of some ace, free online services, called iTools. A year later it had changed this name to .Mac, and it wasn't free any more. In 2008 Apple changed its name again - never a great sign for a product's integrity or long-term prospects - this time to MobileMe. .Mac was never going to appeal to Windows users, although I'm not sure that MobileMe will either.

MobileMe was launched as the "Microsoft Exchange for the rest of us" - it wasn't Apple Marketing's greatest hour either, was it?

Changing a product's name is clumsy, but when that name is also part of your email address it becomes maddeningly stupid.

You could still use your @mac.com address at the same time as your new @me.com address, so at least there's some change delay built in. But it confused current users greatly - as did the removal of favourite services such as the fun and friendly iCards and tremendous HomePage web publishing.

Worse still, the MobileMe launch was surely Apple's most botched ever. For weeks after launch, over 20,000 subscribers weren't able to access their email through MobileMe.

The free trial of MobileMe inadvertently charged some Australian and European customers' credit cards, leading Apple to issue refunds and extend the free trial to four months.

It got so bad that even Apple eventually admitted it was a colossal cock up. Steve Jobs nearly said sorry.

In an internal email sent to Apple employees on August 4, 2008 Jobs admitted that MobileMe was launched too hurriedly and "not up to Apple's standards".

He wrote that "it was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store".

On August 18, 2008, it was announced that MobileMe subscribers would be offered a 60-day extension in addition to the one-month extension previously offered.

In a word, shambles.

Apple MobileMe 1.1 review

NEXT: More Apple duds of the decade...


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