There’s a lot of excitement swirling around the iPhone event Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is holding on Sept. 12.
The day is expected to send AAPL stock to new highs, with the launch of the 10th anniversary iPhone 8 and iPhone 7s.
There’s also a good chance we’ll see a new Apple TV with 4K and HDR support, and a new Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular connectivity. Then in December, the iMac Pro and HomePod smart speaker arrive. Talk about a blowout holiday quarter!
What’s gotten a little less attention is the fact that just a few days ago, Apple quietly axed its popular annual iTunes Music Festival.
After a decade of boosting music and its iTunes business, the iTunes Music Festival joins a long list of products and services Apple discontinued — sometimes in their prime. As we prepare for the launch of a slew of new devices bearing the Apple logo, here’s a nod to 10 of its own products Apple killed over the years.
Products Apple Killed: iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle
Let’s start with two of the most recent victims: the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle.
On July 27, Apple’s website showed the iPod Touch, but the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle were conspicuously missing. An Apple representative told Business Insider that “Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup,” leaving only the iPod Touch.
When Apple discontinued the Nano and Shuffle, it effectively killed off the music-only iPod (the Touch is essentially a hobbled iPhone), a class of products that once sold over 22 million units a quarter.
Products Apple Killed: The Newton
A long time before the iPhone, iPad and iPod, Apple had another handheld device: the Newton.
First released in 1993, the Newton had a lot of fans (I still have one in my desk drawer). However, Apple’s personal digital assistant (PDA) had ambitions beyond the technology available at the time and it became infamous for its sketchy handwriting recognition.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the Newton was his first major victim and Apple discontinued the Newton in 1998.
Products Apple Killed: iPod Hi-Fi
Smart speakers are ramping up to be a killer product category. There is considerable buzz building around the new HomePod, the Siri-powered smart speaker Apple will release in December to take on the reigning champ Amazon Echo from Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
A lot of people forget that this isn’t the company’s first go at a premium speaker system. Just over a decade ago, the $349 iPod Hi-Fi was released to “redefine the home stereo.”
The iPod Hi-Fi lasted just over a year and a half. Apple axed it in 2007 after its high price and reliance on a physical iPod dock was crushed by cheaper Bluetooth wireless speakers.
Products Apple Killed: 11-inch MacBook Air
A year ago, rumors were swirling that Apple was thinking about killing the 11-inch MacBook Air. Doing so would mean eliminating its smallest and most affordable laptop — a student favorite — and a computer that remained a big seller for the company despite its aging design.
It turns out the rumors were correct.
At the end of October, new MacBook Pro models were announced, but at the same time Apple discontinued the 11-inch MacBook Air. This move was another classic example of AAPL ruthlessly trimming its own product line in order to push sales of newer models.
Products Apple Killed: QuickTake 100
The iPhone is often blamed for the death of the point-and-shoot digital camera. And with the dual camera system introduced with the iPhone 7 Plus, it seems like Apple has DSLRs in its sights too.
But did you know that Apple once made a digital camera?
Believe it or not, the company was actually a digital camera pioneer. The QuickTake 100 was among the first digital cameras aimed at the consumer market when it hit shelves in 1994.
Despite being early to the scene, the deck was stacked against the QuickTake 100 — it cost $749, images were just 640 x 480 pixels and its internal storage held just a handful of photos. AAPL released a few more QuickTake versions before exiting the digital camera business in 1997.
Products Apple Killed: Airport Routers
Apple had a long history of providing high performance, easy to use and visually attractive wireless routers.
They were especially popular with Mac fans and they were considered an integral part of the Apple ecosystem that kept people buying Macs, iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs.
With a growing rush by consumers to adopt first 802.11ac and then mesh Wi-Fi systems, the time seemed right for Apple’s Airport routers to be refreshed in 2016 to take advantage of the replacement cycle.
Instead, last November Apple axed its Airport product line and exited the router business altogether.
Products Apple Killed: Power Mac G4 Cube
The Power Mac G4 Cube was a precursor to Apple’s current high performance Mac desktop, the Mac Pro.
The G4 Cube was meant to make a statement. It was small for a desktop PC, with an upright form factor (a little too tall to be an actual cube), in a striking see-through acrylic case and featuring a silent, fan-less design.
The current Mac Pro makes a similar statement, although it’s a black cylinder instead of a clear cube, but many of the complaints about the Mac Pro were also made about the G4 Cube. Namely, that it was too expensive and too difficult to upgrade.
AAPL discontinued the Power Mac G4 Cube after just a year on shelves, in 2001.
Products Apple Killed: Printers
One of the keys to the success of Apple was the combination of Macintosh computers and LaserWriter laser printers that helped drive the desktop publishing revolution.
Apple released dozens of printers over the years, from dot matrix printers, to the highly successful LaserWriters and then a line of affordable, consumer-focused Stylewriter inkjet printers.
There was never any big money in selling printers (most companies make their money with the ink) and with traditional printer companies also selling to Mac users — ensuring the Mac wouldn’t be left without a viable printer option — Apple killed its printer business in 1997.
Products Apple Killed: The Pippin
When Apple introduced the 4th generation Apple TV in 2015, one of its big selling points was an App Store and the ability to play games on your television.
The move leveraged all those mobile games released for iPhones and iPads, in an attempt to turn the Apple TV into not just a video streamer, but a game console.
It hasn’t turned into an Xbox killer yet, but the Apple TV has done better than Apple’s first foray into video game consoles. The Pippin was based on Macintosh architecture and licensed to partners like Bandai. Launching in 1996 for $599, the Pippin was expensive, lacked games and was discontinued by Apple in 1997.
Products Apple Killed: Apple Monitors
2016 was a tough year for products that Apple decided were no longer part of its core business. The smallest MacBook Air and its Airport router business were axed last year.
So was another of the company’s longest-running product lines. When Apple discontinued the Thunderbolt Display in 2016, the move marked the end of an era. And the first time in decades that Mac owners couldn’t buy an actual Apple display to go with their Mac computer.
The Thunderbolt Display’s demise showed that nothing is sacred if Apple is looking to make cuts.
When the company shows off the latest iPhones and other new products on stage, you can bet it’s also looking at where the axe will fall next. The 13-inch MacBook Air, iPad Mini and Mac Mini are all rumored to be possible candidates.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.