The Worst Apple Predictions Through the Ages

by Devanshu Mehta May 09, 2008

The pundit-class in the media- you know who they are- have made a career out of making predictions based on flimsy facts but a very cool factoid that they have convinced themselves of. The classic example is Thomas Friedman who's "McDonalds Theory of Conflict Prevention" suggested that if two countries reached the state where they got a McDonalds, they would not go to war with each other. Needless to say, this is no longer true. But it sounds cool, and so Friedman keeps modifying his hypothesis- changing the goal posts for world peace.

The consumer products pundit-class has the same problem. With every new product or quarterly report, they find a bit of data that supports their grand hypothesis- that Apple will fail, iPods have saturated the market, OS X is for latte-drinkers and so on. Well, the Internet allows us to observe their folly in with hindsight and laugh. Here is a sample of some of the worst

Apple R.I.P.
Michael Malone for Forbes 10/5/2000

Key quote: "Steve Jobs can't run companies [...] Apple is a small fish, and the pond is going dry. And to make matters worse, the rise of personal digital assistants, palmtops, embedded controllers, etc. promises in the next few years to render the PC industry into a backwater business filled with commodity products--hardly the place to be a pricey innovator."

Yeah- that's an embarassing article to have written 16 days before the launch of the iPod. Well, at least he didn't write a book about it... no wait, he did.

Boot Camp will start exodus to Windows
Andrew Kantor for USA Today 4/14/2006

Key quote: "But the notion put forward by some Mac folks — that Boot Camp will improve the Mac's position in the business and gaming marketplace — is backward. Instead, it's more likely to convince Mac users to switch to Windows once they've used it long enough to be deprogrammed. [...] It seems that installing Boot Camp can kill OS X, thus instantly converting Mac users to Windows."

Yep, in the two years since this article, all OS X users discovered the marvel that is Vista and thankfully, the era of OS X is over.

Apple iPhone Will Fail in a Late, Defensive Move
Matthew Lynn for Bloomberg 1/15/2007
Key quote: "First, Apple is late to this party. [...] Next, the mobile-phone industry depends on cooperation with the big networks. [...] [Innovation] won't come from the iPhone. Apple will sell a few to its fans, but the iPhone won't make a long-term mark on the industry."

Lynn argues that Apple would not be able to change the fundamental structure of the mobile phone industry. In a way, Apple didn't- they played by some of the rules by teaming up with AT&T, but broke others by dictating the terms of that deal.

iPod Killers
Everyone in every publication, online and off for years

And so many more. Any time a consumer electronics company sends out a press release announcing their latest MP3 player, the media recycles the old headline. Is there any other industry where this happens? "Ubuntu Launches New Windows XP Killer" (they did!) or "Kia Launches New Toyota Camry Killer" and so on .

Note: The Apple Death Knell Counter at Mac Observer is a fantastic list of other dire predictions for Apple and its products over the past 13 years.


  • I would add two more:
    1. iMac doesn’t have a floppy drive? Who will buy it, then?
    2. MacBook Air doesn’t have a DVD drive and only 2 USBs? It will be another Cube…

    SwitchStoriesDotCom had this to say on May 09, 2008 Posts: 1
  • And who can forget:

    “The largest screen you’ll ever need is 15 inches.”—Steve Jobs

    “Video on the iPod is the wrong way to go.”—Steve Jobs

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 09, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Hah- I almost put in the ‘video on the iPod’ quote. But maybe next time I’ll do ‘the worst Apple predictions from Apple’.

    Devanshu Mehta had this to say on May 09, 2008 Posts: 108
  • Those investors who did not listen to the ‘Pundits’ , who have been predicting the death of Apple for at least fifteen years, have made a fortune on AAPL stock. That’s always been the true predictor of the success or failure of any publicly traded business. I wish I had the extra cash to have bought some shares when it fell to $120 a share in March.

    flyboy had this to say on May 10, 2008 Posts: 30
  • The Apple Cube is another issue:

    WSJ curmudgeon Walt Mossberg describing it as “simply the most gorgeous personal computer I’ve ever seen or used”.

    Jobs called these models “the ultimate desktop video machine.”

    Inside MacGames: “It is possible Apple created another design revolution with the Cube”

    MACWORLD: “Even with only 64MB of RAM, the Cube is the stablest Mac I’ve seen in years. I squeezed as much as I could into that 64MB and proceeded to do things that would have choked an older G4 tower. The Cube I tested was rock solid.”

    I bought one and soone found how unreliable it was despite the comments in the media.  Great concept but poor engineering at the expense of the consumer (yours truly).

    CPTKILLER had this to say on May 12, 2008 Posts: 3
  • I’d love to get a count of the times Mac fans predicted that this-or-that new Mac product would be the one that finally put the Mac OS ahead in the OS war.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 13, 2008 Posts: 2220
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