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Death by Apple: Five Products Killed in the Name of Progress


Every so often, some poor Apple device gets unceremoniously binned by its maker.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL This holiday season comes at a critical time for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). With the release of the iPad Mini and the rise of rival tablets like the Google Nexus 7, the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface RT, and the huge number of e-readers that also compete in the tablet market, Apple is running into some stiff competition for holiday sales. But the company's announcement of the iPad 4 only seven months since the last one seems to indicate that Apple is running scared, following the market that it usually prefers to lead. The announcement also continues a habit of Apple's: a tendency to kill some of its own products.

Let's take a look at five Apple products that the company has ruthlessly rubbed out, starting with…

5. iPad 3
…this guy. Sure, iPad 3's sales were iffy at best (by Apple's standards, anyway), and the company was sitting on a surplus of units because of "stale" sales, but instead of giving the iPad 3 the usual product cycle (with the infuriating upgrade right after the back-to-school rush), Apple chose to axe the tablet and introduce the iPad 4 just seven months later. It was an uncommonly skittish move from the usually confident tech giant, which was perhaps worried about competing against Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 7 and Microsoft's Surface RT going into the holiday season. Whatever the reason, the iPad 3 was unceremoniously scrapped, and those who had bought it were less than pleased.

4. Newton/MessagePad
Spare a thought for poor Newton, the operating system that had to die so that Apple could become what it is today. Newton was a mobile OS that ran on various MessagePad PDAs. The MessagePad, a thoroughly '90s gadget, was part of the reason that Apple fanboys freaked out so wildly when the iPod came out: an unwieldy and asymmetrical black box that didn't sit right in the hand, the MessagePad was everything that Apple would eventually try to erase about itself and its own technology. In order for Apple to become the design juggernaut it became with the iMac G3 and the iPod, it had to trash Newton and everything it ran on. Speaking of which…

3. eMate 300
In some ways, the eMate 300 wasn't a failure. It prefigured both the original clamshell iBook (I mean, just look at it) and the iPad (a bigger, sturdier PDA that's quite a bit like a laptop but runs a mobile OS), and it was at the forefront of Apple's push to be behind the computer of choice for educators. It even had a cool internal memory expansion slot, making it more customizable than most Apple devices (a feature that some iPhone and iPad owners will miss).

On the other hand, the eMate was a terrible piece of junk that ran the Newton OS, looked like the love child of a typewriter and the world's least comfortable armchair, and had one-twelfth the processing speed of the iBook that replaced it less than a year later. As soon as Apple had something better (meaning almost immediately), it shut down the eMate with extreme prejudice.

2. iWork
I have been an Apple user for around 20 years. I've owned everything from an early PowerBook to a Performa to a MacBook Pro, and I've seen every operating system and piece of bundled software that this company has ever released. But I have never-and I mean never-used AppleWorks or its successor, iWork. I've never even seen documentary footage of anyone using them. It's all, once again, Apple's own doing, simply because Apple never insisted that its customers use AppleWorks, instead bending over backwards to incorporate Microsoft Office into even the most rudimentary machines (I even had Word and Excel on my ancient, Panzer-sized PowerBook). It's not even a bad set of apps ever since iWork replaced AppleWorks; Pages, the package's word processor, can work with Word files as well as PDFs and RTF documents, and Keynote has the same cross-functionality with PowerPoint. The problem? The original AppleWorks was so useless that everyone just used Microsoft Office, and nobody's made the switch back. By waiting until 2007 to release a decent set of office software, Apple killed iWork before it even got started.

1. eMac
The eMac is perhaps, and for no good reason, the least-loved computer since HAL 9000. Designed as the successor to the iMac G3, the eMac was the size and weight of a Dumpster and had the bad fortune to show up right as Apple changed pretty much everything about the way it designed computers. Big was out; small was in. CRTs were out; LCDs were in. PowerPC was out; Intel chips were in.

The eMac was a big PowerPC-driven desktop with a CRT display, meaning that it quickly became the red-headed stepchild of the Macintosh line. Apple responded by restricting sales of the eMac to educational institutions, which didn't want it. Apple responded to that by killing the eMac and dropping its price point ($800-$1,000) altogether and establishing a $999 baseline that they still adhere to today. It was sad that the eMac failed the way it did, given how good a computer it was; compare its 1 GHz processor and combo drive at $799 to the LCD iMac's 1GHz processor and combo drive at $1,299.

But the eMac, like many of these other products, was simply the victim of an Apple identity overhaul. If you want, you can get one now on eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) for $62.95. Go nuts.
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