Powerbook: The Dark Years (1994-2000)
Although initially popular, the Powerbook line started to feel tired as it aged. By the mid-90s it was no longer a popular device, having been overtaken by products from companies like IBM, which had much success with its Thinkpad line. Hardware updates were frequent as new processors and other components became available. The Powerbook did manage to offer an innovation that did stick, however – the trackpad. Although some earlier devices had used a similar technology it was the Powerbook that popularized the idea.
The Powerbook 2000/5000 series laptops hit the market in 1995. These laptops were supposed to be a godsend, as they used new PowerPC processors. Instead, the laptops were an unmitigated disaster for Apple. Battery recalls ran rampant due to their tendency to overheat and cause fires. Cracking plastic on the body and the hinges was another commonly reported problem. Even with those issues aside, the performance was simply mediocre. Some consider these Powerbooks to be among the worst Apple products of all time.
A new model was not introduced until 1997 when the PowerBook G3 hit stores. The first Powerbook G3 was a stop-gap that used the older case design but did use the newer Power PC G3 processor. The second wave of Powerbook G3s, released in early 1998, was completely redesigned. It was lighter, thinner, and more attractive. The defects that had hurt the Powerbook 2000/5000 products at their debut had also been conquered. As a result these models did better, although Apple was still clawing its way back. It was in 1997, the year before the release of the fully designed PowerBook G3, that Microsoft invested $150 into Apple to help keep the company afloat.