Remembering That Time Apple Made A Proper Console

Image: Youtube (Snazzy Labs)

When you think of Apple pre-iPod and iPhone, people tend to think of the iMac, the Apple II, the original 128k, and other classics. What most people don't think about is the PiPP!N, a home console that looks a bit like a lovechild between a PowerPC and the Dreamcast.

The PiPP!N was a collaboration between the Japanese toy maker Bandai (which didn't merge with Namco until 2005) and Apple in the early 90's. It was borne out of an idea to license Apple's software onto third party devices to help the company's outside of its core hardware segment.

Unveiled in 1994, Bandai took care of the manufacturing and marketing for the console. Apple's responsibility lie in the research costs, and they maintained the licensing rights as well. But while both companies had big plans for the console, which was marketed as something that bring some of the functionality of PCs into households that hadn't jumped on board yet, it ended up being one of Apple's biggest failures.

Snazzy Labs took apart and played with a PiPP!N recently, which you can see below. It wasn't actually a bad piece of kit for 1996, with a 4x CD-ROM drive, expandable memory, up to 16-bit colour, and support for accessories like a keyboard and mouse. It was even region-free, although that didn't get around the console's biggest problems.

Apart from a complete failure on the marketing side - Apple was completely hands off with the PiPP!n in that regard - the console also launched into a heavily competitive market. The SNES, PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were all vying for attention. PC gaming was plenty big as well, and around the same time 3D accelerators were starting to become affordable. It also had the appeal of multiplayer shooters like Duke Nukem and Quake, which was a huge drawcard. That wasn't helped by a lack of developer support from Apple and Bandai, which harmed the console's game library.

When Steve Jobs returned as Apple's CEO in 1997, he killed the project, along with all other third-party Mac-based offerings. Bandai ended production of the PiPP!N by the end of 1997, with the remaining consoles rebadged as "Atmark" and sold at bargain prices.


Comments

    If Jobs didn't kill this then Bungie might have stayed with apple.

    Allegedly Halo was one of Jobs biggest disappointments and one of the reasons apple stayed out of gaming for some long.

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