Project Failures: Apple’s Copland Operating System

June 30, 2016 by

We’re all familiar with the technology powerhouse that is Apple. Founded in 1976 and headquartered in the technology hub of California, the Steve Job’s (and Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne) brainchild has brought us some iconic products and operating systems.


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With the introduction of iPhones, iPods, Mac computers, an array of software and much more to the marketplace, Apple have cemented their position as one of the most innovative technology companies around. A wonder to behold.

Today, the company is one of the strongest in the world. Worth a staggering $586 billion, the makers of the iPad have experienced success rival organizations could only dream of.

But even the best companies fail sometimes…


The Project

Apple’s Copland Operating system was a project which began in 1994. It was to be an updated version of the Macintosh Operating System.

The project had relatively humble beginnings. Planned improvements were as follows:

  1. Protected memory
  2. Preemptive multitasking
  3. A number of new OS features.


As the project continued, new features were added to the operating system. Many of the updates to the next OS project were brought forward, increasing the workload.


Why it Failed

There has never been a better time to use the following paradox: Apple bit off more than they could chew.

As mentioned above, the workload for project Copland was increased as the project went on. This, in turn, pushed the finish date out further…and further…and further.

Several key dates passed with no sign of a release. In August of 1996, the project was canceled due to lack of progress and will forever be a blot on the Apple canvas.

The ultimate cause of failure? An unmanageable workload. Apple simply didn’t have the resources available to complete the tasks at hand.


Lessons Learned

If Apple were to go back and change one thing, what do you reckon it would be?

My guess? Spend more time on the planning of the project. Planning the tasks, planning the resource acquisition to complete said tasks and setting deadlines for the completion of the project.

So, without a doubt, the lesson to be learned here is to plan and plan well. Be realistic about your project and ensure you have the resources at hand to complete everything the individual project tasks on time.


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Ruairi O'Donnellan

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