Over especially the past decade, we have seen Apple single-handedly revolutionize the consumer electronics industry with products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. With all the success that Apple has had, most people aren’t even aware of the products that didn’t share in the same success as those devices, some of which could be seen as outright failures. So, let’s go through some of them right now, shall we?
Introduced in 2010, Ping was indirectly marketed as the ‘Facebook’ of iTunes. It was meant to be a place where you could share music, discover new music, and find out what your friends were listening to. At this point, you’re probably asking, ‘Why was this service not popular?’ The answer is rather simple: first of all, it was originally designed to incorporate Facebook integration, a feature that was pulled by Facebook soon after launch. This lead Ping to become a completely isolated social network that people had to sign up for themselves, which of course, few wasted the effort in doing. Second of all, this social network quickly became a breeding ground for spammers (within twenty-four hours from launch, in fact), even though Apple apparently implemented the appropriate spam filters to stop it from happening. Ping is expected to be put to rest in the next release of iTunes, with few planning to attend its funeral.
Before the age of smartphones and tablets, there was already a kind of ‘pseudo-cloud’ service that Apple offered, originally called iTools. It originally gave Macintosh users acces to a variety of tools such as an @mac.com email address, a web publishing service, an early version of iDisk, and a few other perks. As time went by and the list of services offered under MobileMe grew, Apple quickly saw it as an opportunity to make business out of it. While doing so didn’t directly cripple the popularity of the service, it did make people think twice as to whether it was worth it or not. Also, with the advent of mobile devices, many of the services offered under MobileMe were either not needed or just not compatible with them, hence the inevitable creation of iCloud, the successor of MobileMe. iCloud, in short, brought the best ideas that came out of MobileMe and gave them to nearly every Apple customer, free of charge. With the full implementation of iCloud came the shutdown of MobileMe, which occurred at the end of June this year.
Introduced in the iPhone 4S keynote late last year, Find My Friends is essentially Google’s ‘Latitude’ service for Apple customers. As far as privacy and security is concerned, the service was well thought out: for someone to access your location information, a friend request of sorts is sent to the person for approval. It even included the functionality of blocking your location to your friends with the press of a slider, presumably for the times when you have to attend to more ‘personal’ duties, if you know what I mean. However, despite the service being well-executed, there is an inherent flaw in the entire concept of such a service: most people aren’t that thrilled with the fact that others can find out exactly where they are whenever they want. After all, it’s one thing for a company to produce a cool new product, but it’s a completely different one to reassure customers that they won’t get stabbed in the dead of night by simply using it. And that’s something all companies have almost no control over.
4. Nike + iPod
Originally introduced in May 2006 to be compatible with the iPod range, Nike + iPod was designed to be the ultimate companion for the daily run. It kept track of all the information essential for someone to work out how effectively they are being in their daily exercise, including distance, calories burnt, and many other parameters. Later on, the iPhone and iPod Touch eliminated the need of plugging in a receiver into your device. A fitness guru’s dream right? But, exactly how many fitness gurus do you know? A few? None? This was one of the main problems with Nike + iPod. There aren’t really many people who would use it often enough to warrant the purchase. Another problem with it is that, well, when was the last time you saw an ad for it? You probably would have answered ‘a couple of years ago’, in which case, Apple haven’t simply devoted enough air time to actually tell people that this product even exists. You’re also limited to buying Nike running shoes with the space for that little red hockey puck that relays information to your iDevice, so forget about buying a pair of Asics or Sauconys.
It’s just been a simple case of people not needing or using these services
In conclusion, I’m not saying that any of these Apple products weren’t thought out well or were just bad ideas. They were all designed in the same way that you’ve come to know Apple and how they go about the design process. With all these products, it’s just been a simple case of most people not needing or using these services, and it is a bit of a shame, because all these services had the potential of world domination like the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. But with all this in mind, you can be sure that this isn’t going to stop Apple from continuing to ‘test the waters,’ with products and services which do come across as a bit primitive.