Top 5 ways Apple failed businesses in the 2010s

To say Apple failed at anything the past 10 years--with demonstrable market share growth, stock value, and new product lines--is admittedly a stretch; however, there's no debating these five failures.

1. No docking stations

Companies buying laptops from Dell, HP, and Lenovo can purchase matching docking stations. A properly designed matching dock permits connecting multiple peripherals to a laptop with the ability to disconnect the laptop via a single button push. Connecting power, Ethernet, local printers, wired mice and keyboards, external drives, and various other accessories are all simplified using a dock, yet Apple doesn't manufacture docking stations to accompany its Mac laptops. Subsequently, businesses are forced to turn to third-party providers, thereby requiring technology administrators to study up on power compatibility, interconnection options, potential port configurations, and vendors.

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2. No server-specific hardware

Businesses partial to Apple solutions sometimes try standardizing on Apple products, using everything from Mac desktops and laptops to iPhones, iPads, and iCloud--yet, Apple stopped producing server-specific hardware, leaving businesses in a bind that require back-office systems. Because Apple abandoned server-specific hardware--including its Xserve platform--businesses using Apple-specific technologies that need data center-based servers and storage must use other providers.

3. Bailing on networking gear

Once, businesses--small firms, in particular--could rely upon Apple for its hardware-based firewall, wireless networking, and basic network needs. With the suspension of manufacturing and support for the AirPort product line--including AirPort Express and Extreme and Time Capsule devices--Apple left businesses out in the cold. As with docking stations and server-specific hardware, businesses must turn to alternative, third-party providers. This is an oversight that shouldn't occur when business dependence upon technology platforms and integration is only increasing.

SEE: The 10 most important cyberattacks of the decade (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

4. Thunderbolt port focus

Apple is infamous for deciding when and how customers' port needs have changed. The firm changed the iPhone data and power connector, eliminated headphone jacks from iPhones, and continues to adjust the ports available on its Mac laptops. Even though the rest of the world is still using Ethernet RJ-45 jacks, traditional USB-A ports, DVI and HDMI outputs, and other common connections, Apple offers only Thunderbolt USB-C ports on its newer Mac laptops, forcing businesses to buy clunky dongles and adapters to maintain compatibility with corresponding peripherals. These port decisions--interpreted optimistically as necessary for pushing new aggressive, slim-focused design forward, and interpreted pessimistically as forcing businesses to purchase new compatible peripherals--are another example of Apple's failed businesses in the past decade.

5. No standalone displays

External desktop monitors are frequently paired with both desktop computers and laptops, yet Apple abandoned production of its Thunderbolt displays. Companies needing dual displays or external monitors with their Macs must turn to third-party providers. The lack of Apple display offerings is an admission by the company that it's uninterested in producing low-margin peripherals, regardless of the demand; otherwise, a variety of 20", 22", and 24" displays would be available for bundling with each Mac purchase.

What are your picks for the top five Apple failures?

Post your own Apple top-five business failures in the comments below.

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