Rise and Fall of the Apple Pippin
Today, Apple is one of the primary manufacturers in casual gaming, with millions of people playing games on their iPhones and iPads. There have been persistent rumors that Apple will add gaming capabilities into their next Apple TV and turn it into an Apple branded console. However, what many people do not know is that Apple previously had a foray into the gaming market, over two decades ago: the Apple Pippin.
With a release date of 1995, the Apple Pippin represents the most troubled part of Apple's history under the leadership of Mark Spindler, whose speeches were notoriously rambling and incomprehensible. Under his direction, the company dabbled in a number of consumer products, such as digital cameras, portable CD players, speakers, and even TV appliances, spending $600 million a year on R&D of unsuccessful products. The Apple Pippin was developed as part of a program to allow other manufacturers to make systems that could run Mac OS, and it ran a simplified version of Mac OS, with a quick PowerPC processor and built-in internet access and a CD-ROM drive that meant it could serve as a versatile multimedia station, able to be used in business and education as well as gaming. The plan was to license out the Pippin to other manufacturers, especially video game manufacturers. The Pippin, because it used a version of Mac OS, would be easier to develop for, because developers could reuse code, than the major consoles made by Nintendo, PlayStation, and SEGA, for which developers had to learn entirely new programming languages when a new console came out.
For this initiative, Apple partnered with Bandai, which owned a large portfolio of popular intellectual property, as well as a lot of capital to develop and sell such a system. However, as the lack of knowledge shows, the Pippin was a flop. Lack of developer interest as well as a cost of three times that of the Nintendo 64 meant that the Pippin could never even rise to fall down.
The Apple Pippin was part of the 5th generation of consoles, although as mentioned above, substantially different from most other consoles. It had a 66 MHz RISC CPU with 6 MB of RAM, 128 kB of VRAM, and an integrated modem.
Although the Apple Pippin failed to be a successful product, its very lack of success is its most well-known characteristic today. Perhaps Apple will try the console market again with the 3rd gen Apple TV.