The brand name Apple is a very common and well known brand in 2019, selling one of the most popular mobile devices. This was not always true however, when they incorporated as Apple Computer, Inc. in 1977 they were still fighting to carve a place for themselves in the industry. While building their name they reached into different products/industries trying to find what worked best for them. One that interested me was the Apple Pippin, an open multimedia console that Apple wanted to sell to consumers as “an integral part of the consumer audiovisual, stereo, and television environment”.
In 1996 Apple released its first and only video game console, the PiP P!N. Apple had licensed the technology to two companies. The first being Bandai, a toy/game company, and the second a company called Katz Media. The idea of the PiP P!N was to create an inexpensive multimedia system that was aimed largely at playing CD-Based multimedia software, or more specifically games.
However it also functioned as a lightweight computer. It had an operating system that was a version of System 7.5.2, a processor based on a 66MHz PowerPC 603 with a 14.4 kb/s modem. It offered a 4x speed CD-ROM drive and a video output that allowed the user to connect it right to a standard TV.
When the console was released in North America there were only 26 games for it, with 6 of them included with the console. Bandai and Katz Media were responsible for the marketing of the system themselves, but was not allowed to use the term “computer”, as Apple did not want it being confused with their macintosh line.
At a price of US$599 on launch the device was considered too expensive by many people. They also struggled convincing larger companies to create third party games. These issues combined with them competing with players such as the Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn, and Nintendo 64 contributed to the ultimate failure of the PiP P!N.
The console only sold approximately 42,000 units and was then discontinued in 1997, only a year after being released on the market. While this was considered a failure, I personally still find it very interesting to take a look at previous work done by a large company like Apple. It can be exciting to see what Apple tried before carving themself a unique spot in the mobile market with the iPhone.