What it was: A super-sleek Mac desktop computer in an undersized, fanless acrylic case. One of the most Steve Jobsian Apple products ever. I reviewed it at the time and pretty much bought into the reality distortion.
Announced: July 19th, 2000.
What they said when it was new: “The G4 Cube is simply the coolest computer ever.”—Steve Jobs, unveiling it at Macworld Expo in New York.
Died: July 3rd, 2001.
What they said when they killed it: “Cube owners love their Cubes, but most customers decided to buy our powerful Power Mac G4 minitowers instead.”—Apple’s Phil Schiller, in one of the few press releases anyone’s ever issued to announce a product’s failure.
Why it really failed: Because, um, most customers decided to buy Apple’s powerful Power Mac G4 minitowers instead. Which they presumably did in part because of the Cube’s steep price: $1799. But it was surprising to see Apple give up so quickly rather than releasing an improved version of what could have been a nifty machine.
Was it a tragedy that it bit the big one? No—the Cube had major problems, like a case that was prone to cracks and a design that made it hard to put a CD in the slot without accidentally powering down the system. It was a rare example of Apple favoring form over function.
The aftermath: In 2005, Apple announced the Mac Mini—a much cheaper, somewhat Cube-like computer that’s had a far longer, happier life.