The Apple Pippin is a game console from the Japanese toy company Namco Bandai and the American tech giant Apple. The console was introduced in 1996 and discontinued just a year later in 1997. Apple took care of the engineering and Namco Bandai the design, marketing and software support.
The Pippin prided itself on being powered by IBM’s PowerPC architecture. The console has a 66MHz PowerPC 603 RISC CPU. As far as pure computing power was concerned, this was much more powerful than the competitors PlayStation (33MHz R3000), Sega Saturn (28 MHZ) and 3DO (12 MHz ARM). In addition, the Pippin had, for that time, a respectable amount of 6mb RAM. However, this did not result in better graphics than its competitors. Clock speeds are not always leading, and this was exemplary for the Pippin. Games weren’t nearly as beautiful as those for the Sega Saturn and PlayStation, although the hardware was much more powerful. If we only consider the specifications of the Pippin, it can be concluded that the Pippin was a powerful gaming console, but a slow Mac. While competitors could use a lot of their processor power for games and, in turn, fine-tune these games to make optimal use of the hardware, it was different with the Pippin. The Pippin also ran macOS, and that same OS was also the basis for the Pippin software. Hardware and software could therefore not be fully coordinated. Ironical, something that Apple has become known for with the return of Steve Jobs. At this point, too, the Pippin was in two minds: being a Mac and being a gaming console. This bipolarity wasn’t beneficiary for the quality of the images that the device conjured up on the screen.
The Pippin was a failure from the start. The price was too high, the game library too small, and the computer functionalities too limited. Where the console wanted to appeal to a broad market, it could not really satisfy any of its intended target groups. The Pippin-adventure nearly bankrupted Bandai and made Apple even more receptive to the return of its creator and spiritual father Steve Jobs.
Nowadays, the Pippin has achieved a notorious, even mythical, status as the most flopped game console and also one of the worst Apple products of all time. This status has contributed to the fact that the Pippin is fairly rare today and a collector, in the year 2020, can easily pay 600 euros for a working specimen in good condition. Like the console, the Pippin’s games are costly these days. On eBay, you will not find many Pippin games under 100 euros. The limited supply and the limited lifespan of the Pippin will also have contributed to this.
The Pippin symbolizes the status quo within Apple in the mid-1990s. The Pippin is perhaps one of the greatest tech flops in the history of consumer electronics. The glorious track record that Apple has today, is in stark contrast to the dark period in which Apple brought the Pippin to the market. However, this contradiction certainly contributes to Pippin’s prominent place in gaming history.
|Introduction Price||49.800 yen/599 dollar|
|Processor||PowerPC 603 32 Bit Processor|