Failed Consumer Electronics Week: Apple’s Big Fail


In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re paying homage to the consumer electronics that broke our heart. They started out so promising, set hearts everywhere pitter-pat, but then crashed and burned, leaving us with a hunk of junk not even a pawn shop would touch. Love hurts.

It’s easy to think of Apple as a company that can do no wrong. From the iMac to the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple has usually been the reason other companies have launched failed consumer electronics.

But surprise! Apple had its own consumer electronics blunder. Remember the Newton?

There’s a reason you probably don’t.

The Revolutionary Tablet That Wasn’t

More than a clever pun on the name (an apple played a crucial role in Sir Isaac Newton developing his theory of gravitation),the Newton was supposed to be Apple’s revolutionary tablet—20 years before the iPad. The device would come with a special user interface, as well as handwriting recognition. It promised a portable computer unlike anything consumers had experienced.

The Newton seemed like yet another Apple product destined to revolutionize the industry. But no go. Ridiculed by the media for supposed inaccuracies in its handwriting recognition software, the Newton seemed doomed to fail even before its release. It just couldn’t justify its high price.

Apple executives have now admitted that the technology simply wasn’t advanced enough for their ambitious ideas; the Newton was shipped with major deficiencies, and never recovered from the negative reviews it garnered.

With Apple, Past Is Present 

Yet the Newton’s failure was prophetic for the consumer electronics industry. In 1998, Apple began working on the iPad—a tablet that has since revolutionized the industry in a way the Newton couldn’t.

But you can still make big bucks off your Newton, should you own one. Newtons are now considered collector pieces, rare examples of Apple products that were complete failures.

Failed consumer electronics offer a lesson in market inefficiencies. Happily, the market is now chock-full of devices that actually work as they’re supposed to. Contact us for the latest information on the hottest industry developments.



Justin Finkelstein

Co-Founder & CTO at Sourcely; server swiss army knife; flavor architect; the wildcard.