Apple released a console in 1995. It was a flop

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The last 1980s and almost all of the 1990s were a turbulent time for Apple. With Steve Jobs fired from the company that he founded, Apple was left clueless and rickety, which accumulated a multitude of almost identical computers, with less and less ability to differentiate not only between them, but also what the market offered. In 1995, it launched almost 50 different computers..

At that time Apple also made more launches than ever before beyond computers. Cameras, computers embedded in tube televisions, PDAs… and even a game console. Was the Apple Pippin, which was also born with the aim of being something more than a video game console. A minicomputer capable of running more than just games, a kind of preview of what came two decades later with the Xbox One.

Too expensive to be a console, too cheap to be a computer

With a controller midway between a boomerang and a banana, the Apple Pippin cost $599… in 1995. Adjusting for inflation, its equivalent price today would be about $1,200. Not even the most loaded PlayStation 5 for sale on Wallapop in the midst of a chip shortage crisis reached those prices.

The paradox is that It would have been fairer to compare its price with that of the computers of the time, much more expensive, than with those of the consoles. But the frame of mind in which Pippin was fitted was the latter, not the former.

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Just as it boasted on the front of its case showing the logo, in a detail that would scare away the current Apple, it had a 66 MHz PowerPC 603e processor at its heart, a 14,400 bps modem (poor for loading web pages of the time) and a light version of macOS, at that time Mac OS, to run the titles that were installed via a 4x CD-ROM drive, something that already made it more advanced than that of the cartridges still predominant in the sector.

Apple, which by then was already in an increasingly compromised financial situation, was not looking for its own release of this console, but intended to license it to third parties so that others would be in charge of selling it and, incidentally, provide it with content. Bandai was the only one who took the step.

That way, Apple would make money on every title sold, not just hardware sales. Around twenty dollars per console, and about a dollar per game. However, the intention was to make it more than a console, and that third parties could pose it for the use they wanted. A kind of device-canvas.

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That versatile nature of a light computer and video game console all in one did not help its success. It made her too expensive. A little earlier, 3DO, which had tried to replicate that same model, was also unsuccessful with a price very similar to that brought by Pippin. Neo-Geo, the mother of all expensive consoles, was still a cut above.

Pippin wanted to be something abstract between a computer, a console and a device capable of offering any use that a developer wanted to focus on.

For the first months of Pippin’s life there were already much more successful and massive consoles, which concentrated the video game industry: PlayStation, Nintendo 64, arrival the following year; or the Sega Saturn, more established. All of them much cheaper.

The astute reader will have noticed the paradox: the Sega Saturn was its contemporary rival, not even the much later Dreamcast. However, the Dreamcast is considered the first console capable of connecting to the Internet to play online against other people. Pippin, at a minimum, offered a built-in modem.

Pippin’s catalog barely reached thirty titles, most with the Bandai seal, and yes, a multitude of accessories, in addition to other “titles” that reached a hundred but were more educational products than games as such. None of this prevented his failure. Although previously there was some product of some success in the video game industry with the seal of the Cupertino company, like the Apple II, this was Apple’s first major foray into the world of video games. And his first big failure

100,000 Pippin units were built. Not even half were sold, only 42,000. On eBay it is possible to find models for sale for between 300 and 1,000 dollars. In 1997, twenty-five years ago, Apple decided to permanently discontinue the project.

Nearly three decades after its original launch, Apple remains doomed in the video game industry: although earn a lot of money with them thanks to the purchases in-app of the match-3 games, turn-based battles and the like that populate the App Store, it has practically zero relevance compared to Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts and company. Will that change with any nearby acquisition?

Featured Illustration: Freepik.

The last 1980s and almost all of the 1990s were a turbulent time for Apple. With Steve Jobs fired from…

The last 1980s and almost all of the 1990s were a turbulent time for Apple. With Steve Jobs fired from…

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