Bandai Pippin is one of the epic failure projects to have ever been undertaken by Apple Inc. According to Baker (2013), Pippin was expected to be a major project that would allow Apple Inc. to make an emphatic entry into the gaming market. After brief market research, Apple Inc. developed the design and Bandai started the production of this multimedia game console. The product was finally released to the market for the first time in Japan on March 28, 1996. On September 1, 1996, it was released into the North American market. The initial market research had predicted that Apple would sell over 300,000 units of the product in its first year (Egan, 2016). However, that was not the case. The company sold less than 42,000 units within the first year in the market. As it became clear that the product was not popular in the market, Apple Inc. decides to discontinue its production in 1997.
Description of the Product
Bandai Pippin was a gaming console that was unique from products of the rival companies in the market at that time. Its operating system was 7.5.2 version with a processor of 66 MHZ PowerPC 603 (Fox, 2013). It has a 14.4 kb/s modem that enabled its users to go online and a CD-ROM drive with a speed of x4. The console was designed in a way that it was possible to connect its video output to a standard television display (Curran, 2013). The figure 1 below shows the accessories in this product:
As shown in the figure, some of the important accessories of this console included an Applejack controller Pippin keyboard, Pippin modem, Applejack wireless, Pippin memory, Pippin Floppy Dock, ADB adapter, and Pippin to Macintosh adapter (Fox, 2013). It also had a 256 MB Pippin MO optical disc. These were unique features of a gaming console at that time.
Why This is a Project
Bandai Pippin was a project that was initiated by Apple Inc after conducting brief market research about the gaming industry (Kloppenborg, 2015). It can be distinguished from an operation or maintenance activity because it had a budget, a timeline, a team of experts led by a project manager, a set of goals that had to be achieved, and other deliverables common in a project. It was an initiative that was undertaken under the guidance of Gil Amelio who was the chief executive of the company at that time (Wesley & Barczak, 2016). The initiative was independent of other operational activities at the company. When it failed to meet the set goals, the project was discontinued after one year.
The Duration of the Project
The Pippin gaming console project lasted about one year. After the initial years of market research that started in 1995 and designing the product, it was finally introduced to the market in 1996. However, the poor performance and the associated costs of operation forced the company to discontinue its production a year later, in 1997.
The Unique Result Produced
The initial goal of this project was to develop an inexpensive yet sophisticated computer that could play CD-based multimedia software (Curran, 2013). The computer was primarily expected to be a gaming console, but at the same time functioning as a thin client (Wesley & Barczak, 2016). One of the unique characteristics of this gaming console was that it had a 14.4 kb/s modem that enabled its users to be online. It also had a 4x-speed CD-ROM and a video output capable of being connected to a television display (Curran, 2013). These were features that were unique compared with other products in the market at that time. It made it a multi-purpose computer that would be appealing to a broad base of clients.
The Key Challenges in This Project
Baker (2013) argues that Bandai Pippin is one of the epic failures of Apple Inc’s projects in recent history. The project faced numerous challenges that it was unable to overcome, leading to its failure. One of the biggest issues that led to the failure of this product was the wrong pricing. At $ 599, the Bandai Pippin was almost twice as expensive as other existing game consoles in the market at that time. Most customers did not believe that the product offered value twice as much as that of its rivals.
Poor marketing research was another issue that led to the failure of this project. The initial market research showed that the company would sell about 300,000 pieces within the first year. However, slightly more than 10% of the estimated sales were actualized. It was a clear indication that the team tasked with market research did a poor job. It misled the entire team, which can partly be blamed for the high price that the company charged for the product.
The name that was selected was not appropriate for a product that targeted North American youths. Baker (2013) believes that the name that a product is given in the market defines its ability to succeed, especially in the gaming industry that targets the younger generation. The name Bandai Pippin was not easily acceptable in the United States market. It resonated well with the Asian market but not in North America.
Bandai Pippin was not properly promoted before being introduced in the North American market. Fox (2013) also stated that Apple Inc assumed that the market would readily accept its seemingly superior product without making aggressive advertisements. The company spent very little in promoting the product in the market hoping that the strong Apple brand would help improve sales of the gaming console.
Baker (2013) says that the company made bad timing when introducing the product. Soon after it arrived in the market, a superior Sony PlayStation was introduced. The new product received massive acceptance in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia, limiting the chances of success for Bandai Pippin. Apple Inc had not anticipated an encounter with most of these challenges. Its reaction did not help in improving the situation, forcing the company to withdraw from the gaming market.
How the Challenges Could Have Been Addressed
It is important to note that most of the challenges that Apple Inc faced in this project could have been addressed to match the company strategy. Apple is known to offer premium products at premium prices. However, the company should have come up with a pricing strategy that is within the expectations of its target customers. The pricing should have been reviewed as soon as it was determined that sales were below expectations. The management should have commissioned two or more different teams to conduct market research. Most of the challenges that this product faced were a result of poor market research. The process should have been comprehensive. The naming of the product was also poor. Apple products have specific names that their clients can identify with, in the market. Instead of using Bandai Pippin, a better name reflecting the Apple brand should have been used. It is also evident that the company did not conduct effective promotional campaigns. Awareness creation should not be ignored, especially when introducing a new product into the market. Although the timing was wrong, Apple Inc had limited control over the decision of other companies to introduce similar products. However, it should have reinvented its products to offer its customers superior value.
Bandai Pippin was not a typical quasi-project. A quasi-project is one that arises accidentally from operational or maintenance activities, such as one that focuses on introducing a new surveillance system within a company. However, the Pippin project was a planned initiative that focused on enabling Apple Inc to make an entry into the gaming industry. It was initiated after market research.
Bandai Pippin is one of the worst failures of Apple Inc’s projects in its history. It was an ambitious project that was meant to help the company in making an emphatic entry into the gaming industry. However, the poor market research that was conducted led to a series of mistakes that resulted in epic failure. The company adopted a name that was not popular in the targeted market. The price for the product was too high, and the firm did not conduct proper promotional campaigns, factors that led to the failure of the project. It forced the management of this company to discontinue the project in 1997.
Baker, K. (2013). The ultimate guide to classic game consoles. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Curran, C. (2013). The anticipation of converging industries: A concept applied to nutraceuticals and functional foods. New York, NY: Springer.
Egan, J. (2016). 1000 Inspirational Facts. New York, NY: Lulu.com.
Fox, M. (2013). The video games guide: 1,000+ arcade, console and computer games, 1962-2012. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company Publishers.
Kloppenborg, J. (2015). Contemporary project management: Organize, plan, perform. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Wesley, D., & Barczak, G. (2016). Innovation and marketing in the video game industry: Avoiding the performance trap. London, UK: Routledge.