Does Steve Jobs’ have another "iFlop" on his hands?

September 15, 2007

Does Steve Jobs' have another "iFlop" on his hands? It would appear from all the articles this weekend in the major news sources, that Apple is everyone’s favorite whipping boy at the moment.

Poor Steve, he just can’t seem to catch a break.  No matter how many winners Apple brings to market, people seem to revel in the computer maker’s failures even more.  Never mind the success of the iPod, or how many billions of songs iTunes has sold, it’s all about the mistakes the company makes.

Scott Woolley of Forbes set his sights this weekend on the much maligned Apple TV, dubbing it “The iFlop“.  He points to the lack of sales data as a sign it is not performing well, and estimates it has sold only 250,000 units since the unit’s release more than a year ago.  Add in that back in May, Jobs’ referred to the device as “a hobby” and one has to think that Mr. Woolley is probably correct in his assumptions.

What is going on in Cupertino, CA though?  Apple has been taking hit after hit recently.  They have effectively lost Universal Music Group from iTunes, NBC jumped ship to’s Unbox service (effectively cutting the possible content for the Apple TV even more), the 20″ iMac is having display issues, the iPod Touch may be having video problems, Mac’s still only accounting for 3% of the computer market, and the iPod Hi-Fi died with a whimper.

Apple always announces their new products with much ballyhoo, but quite a few of them do not live up to the launch-hype.  For every iPhone, there is an Apple TV.

To say that the Apple TV is a total flop is possibly premature, especially with the rumors of iTunes adding movie rentals in the near future, but you have to wonder just how much life this product has in it.  With it being so tethered to iTunes content, the company did limit the potential market for the product.  Had they added the ability to push any downloaded content you had to it, they probably would have seen a lot more early adopters.  Imagine an Apple TV with native DivX support; the potential would have been endless.

If the Apple TV is, as Steve Jobs claims, “a hobby”, then the company may be perfectly content with the sales numbers, though it is doubtful it would be sad about having another hit on their hands.

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8 Responses to “Does Steve Jobs’ have another "iFlop" on his hands?”

  1. James Kirkland:

    I think this is basically happening because Apple is the new Microsoft. OK, it’s not as big as MS, but it’s certainly had a lot of success, and when companies get successful, that’s when they become the target of hacks trying to cut them down to size.

  2. Jon T:

    Agree about hack attacks on a successful Apple, but is Apple really the new Microsoft?

    I don’t think so!

    The DNA difference between Apple and MS is so hugely different. MS has the DNA of someone in prison for fraud. Apple has the DNA of a decent minded innovator.

    As for the Forbes Scott Woolley story, it is as well to read excellent this analysis before believing one word of it:,_Gets_the_Facts_Wrong.html

    And Sean, I think you need to think more carefully before leaping to expand on sensationalist gobbledegook.

  3. Raphael Salgado:

    I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I absolutely adore my Apple TV. It’s an iPod with out the inevitably replaced battery, which is something I always considered when buying an iPod. I’m actually thinking of getting one for my family car to rip out all the piles of DVDs collecting in the side pockets. After all, my 5-year-old can navigate the menus and if I can place all her favorite movies on there, not to mention the songs, their car trips are golden, and so are mine for that matter. The only downside is that it ONLY has HDMI and component, and my in-car DVD player system only has composite, which will obviously require some third-party converter.

  4. Sean P. Aune:

    Jon – If you notice I defend the Apple TV by the end of the article. I feel calling it an “iFlop” is a bit premature.

  5. Darius Pranckunas:

    It says that Apple has “sold only 250,000 units (Apple TVs) since the unit’s release more than a year ago”. You’re WRONG!! You’re probably referring to the announcement date, which was over a year ago – September 12th, 2006. Apple TV started shipping on March 21st, 2007 (according to Wikipedia). So, it’s on track to sell approximately 500,000 units a year, which is not too shabby, but I do agree that it could be higher.

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