Apple's Biggest Mistakes Since Steve Jobs Saved The Company

tim cook

Photo: Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A year after Steve Jobs died, Apple is getting fresh scrutiny.The catalyst is the ouster of Scott Forstall, which led to revelations of a company filled with infighting. It’s also led to a fresh round of criticism about Apple’s software design.

This was to be expected. Since Jobs returned to Apple the company was nearly perfect. Any errors after he died of any magnitude were going to used as proof that the company was losing its mojo.

However, it’s important to remember nearly perfect isn’t the same thing as perfect. As a reminder that Apple wasn’t always perfect with Jobs in charge, we’ve put together this collection of Apple mistakes.

Ping was Apple's failed attempt at a social network

Apple tried to make iTunes a more social product with Ping. It was a flop. Now Spotify, which is successfully building a social music product, is a threat to iTunes domination.

Apple trusted Eric Schmidt for way too long

Eric Schmidt was a board member at Apple while Apple developed its most important products -- the iPhone and iPad. Apple would totally dominate both markets if Google didn't build Android, which directly competes with iPhone and iPad. The fact that Steve Jobs gave Schmidt a front row seat to the development of those products is mind boggling in retrospect.

Apple stuck with AT&T for too long

Apple's relationship with AT&T was initially fantastic for the iPhone. Apple was allowed to do what it wanted, how it wanted with its phone. As a result we got a non-crapware loaded iPhone. But, the relationship ended up being bad for Apple because it was exclusive. Verizon customers looking for an iPhone bought Androids, which led to Apple losing its chance to own the U.S. smartphone market.

Small iPhone!

Spend a week with the iPhone 5. Then go back to the iPhone 4. You'll realise Apple screwed up by not making the screen bigger sooner.

Charging $499 for the iPhone

When Apple started selling the iPhone it charged $499 for the entry level phone. This was a big mistake, which is why it quickly adjusted its pricing, allowing consumers to get it for much less money.

Hiring Mark Papermaster

Papermaster was ousted from Apple after being there for only short period of time. Some blame Papermaster for Antennagate. We doubt it's entirely his fault, but hiring the wrong guy to run iPhone engineering is a big mistake.

MobileMe was Apple's odd attempt at an email service

It cost $100 and it didn't work. Walt Mossberg dissed it, and Steve Jobs chewed out his team over what a huge flop it was. Jobs even said it wasn't up to Apple's standards publicly.

Steve Jobs' initial response to Antennagate was awful

When people complained that the external antenna on the iPhone 4 was leading a weak signal Steve Jobs told a customer over email, 'Just avoid holding it in that way.' Big mistake, which he eventually rectified by giving out free cases.

Siri needed to be better

Siri isn't a mistake in that it cost Apple business. But it is a mistake in that it was a big dent to the company's sterling reputation. Siri just doesn't work as well as advertised. And, boy, did Apple advertise it.

The iPhone 4S*

There is some debate in our office about whether or not the iPhone 4S was a mistake or not. On the one hand, Apple sold a bajillion iPhone 4Ss, so it wasn't a told flop. On the other hand, it let Samsung and others catch up in the marketshare department. And it was sort of weird that the phone came out later than usual but wasn't a major overhaul.

Just whiffing on the Internet in general

Obviously Apple has done very well since 1997. But if there is one hole in the company's resume its web products. This could hurt Apple in the long run. Google's web services are a big selling point for Android. Also, its helping Google develop maps and its own version of Siri. Because of Google's years building big data-based web products it has an advantage over Apple.

The hockey puck mouse

What was Apple thinking?

...and now for the two biggies in the post-Jobs era...

Hiring John Browett

Apparently, Browett was a zero from day one. He was the wrong fit for Apple, and he's out of the company now. He was only running Apple's retail operations for six months so he didn't do too much damage.

Apple maps are worse than Google maps

This year Apple took Google Maps off the iPhone, replacing it with its own version of maps. Its maps are worse than Google's. They don't have transit directions, and they aren't as accurate. Apple knows they're not top notch, and it apologized.

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