The Power Mac G4 Cube (2000)
Apple’s turn-of-the-millennium Power Mac G4 Cube is widely regarded as one of the company’s coolest Mac designs of that era, but it’s also one of the first examples of the Jobs-era Apple putting too much emphasis on form over function.
It’s hard to argue that the acrylic cube is one of the most artistic industrial designs that Apple has ever come up with, and it looked beautiful on a desk. Sadly, that sleek aesthetic was mostly skin-deep.
The clear acrylic case contained all the internal components save the monitor, keyboard, and speakers, but that elegant look was lost as soon as you needed to hang any other accessories off of it. More significantly, however, the casing easily showed “mold lines” that looked more like cracks, detracting significantly from the museum-piece quality of the design.
It also wasn’t upgradeable. At all. There were no PCI slots, and you had to buy the monitor separately. While that sounds a lot like today’s Mac mini, the cube was priced more like a Mac Pro.
The G4 Cube sold fewer than 150,000 units and stayed on the market for less than a year. Recently, Tim Cook called it a “spectacular commercial failure, from the first day almost,” but also used it as an example of how fast Steve Jobs could “abandon even a product dear to his heart.”