7 things Apple got disastrously wrong

Not all that glitters was gold for Apple, especially in the 1990s

5. It had no answer to Windows 95

In 1992, Apple took Microsoft to court over the 'look and feel' of Windows and its similarity to the Mac operating system. Apple lost - chiefly thanks to an ambiguous contract it had signed with Microsoft some years previously.

The court case set Microsoft free to develop its OS, eventually resulting in the release of Windows 95. Apple saw the threat coming, but simply couldn't answer it with any weapons of its own.

Apple certainly tried: Copland, announced in 1994, promised many features common to modern operating systems including protected memory and pre-emptive multi-tasking. It was abandoned two years later.

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Increasingly desperate, Apple contemplated buying up BeOS and even licensing Windows NT, before eventually settling on NeXTstep: a Unix-based operating system created by NeXT; Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' venture at the time. NEXTstep became the basis for Mac OS X.

6. It licensed the Mac OS to third-parties

One of the biggest mistakes Apple made during the 1990s was to license its operating system to third-party PC makers.

The reasoning seemed rational enough - Microsoft got big by licensing its operating system to PC makers, why not Apple?

The problem was that Apple was both a software and a hardware company, so all the Mac clones made by Power Computing and others did was cannibalise demand for Apple's own computers.

Steve Jobs kicked the clones to the kerb when he became interim CEO in 1997.

7. Apple forgot about its core business

Apple offered a bewildering array of products in the mid-1990s, ranging from over-priced, under-performing Macs (see above) to laser printers, digital cameras and even a touchscreen PDA in the shape of the Newton - most of which lost money.

Steve Jobs canned practically all of them in favour of the new iMac in 1998, cutting the crap and renewing Apple's focus on making great computers.


Now read 25 milestones from 25 years of the Mac

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