Apple Bandai Pippin - History


In 1993, Bandai wanted to deliver out a scaled down version Macintosh for CD-ROM game playing. At the time of this inception, the primary authoring and media player for the Macintosh-based CD-ROM games was produced by Macromedia Director, and Bandai wanted to deliver this gaming experience to the Asia market, primarily Japan.

In early 1994, Bandai approached Apple Computer and request it to design and deliver a scaled-down Macintosh Classic II 16 MHz Motorola 68030 with Mac OS with at least have the capability for running Macromedia Director player to facilitate CD-ROM game play. Apple's involvement would be to define the initial Mac OS version of Pippin, and Bandai would provide the casing and packaging; this was considered the fastest delivery solution to market at a very reasonable ROI for both Apple and Bandai.

In late 1994, after an initial prototype was created, a private invitation only conference was held in Asilomar Conference Grounds in Monterey, CA, and Apple and Bandai had gathered 30+ of the top CD-ROM game developers who were already using the Macromedia Director player as their game delivery utility. This Mac OS-based prototype was unveiled, along with game development specifications, and provided to these selected game developers. The costly tab for this entire event was picked up by Bandai. However, the most critical feedback from the attending game developers was Pippin's lack of a modem, which at the time was not an integrated feature of the Classic II. The reason for these game developer request to include a modem was that they wanted to participate in the same market as within the then popular first-person shooter Doom. This overwhelming request to include a modem was a major game changer for Pippin's delivery away from a cheaper off-the-shelf Macintosh Classic II platform to a more costly customized PowerPC platform, and other major scope creep, which killed any profitability for both Apple and Bandai.

By the time the Apple Bandai Pippin was released (1995 in Japan and in the United States), the market was dominated by the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and the (mostly Windows-based) PC. In addition, there was little ready-to-use software for Pippin, the only major publisher being Bandai itself. It cost US$599 on launch, and while touted as a cheap computer, the system, in reality, was a video game console. As such, its price was considered too expensive in comparison to its contemporaries.

Bandai manufactured fewer than 100,000 Pippins (reported sales were 42,000) before discontinuing the system; production was so limited that there were more keyboard and modem accessories produced than actual systems.

In May 2006, the Pippin placed 22nd in PC World Magazine's list of the "25 Worst Tech Products of all Time."

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