Whether it’s wowing everyone with the MacBook Air, confounding industry expectations with the iPad, or trying to convince people that Ping isn’t a total waste of time, the Cupertino company never seems far from promoting the next big thing.
2010 was no exception, and so here are TechRadar’s highs and lows for Apple from the past twelve months; if we’ve not included your favourites, let us know in the comments.
Apple’s highs of 2010
Analysts cleverly predicted failure for Apple’s giant iPod touch and competitors scoffed; millions of happy iPad customers later and the entire industry’s trying to pretend they always knew the iPad would be huge, and competitors are trying to catch up. A combination of usability, quality components and a surprisingly low price has turned the iPad from a potential breakout hit to a possible future of computing, also giving Apple new inroads into business.
2. The App Store
It wasn’t a 2010 invention, but the App Store continues to be a huge win for Apple. The store passed five billion downloads in June (and a billion dollars paid to developers), Apple finally provided insight into the app-review process, and there’s a Mac equivalent due in 2011. Crucially, The App Store also sets iOS apart from competing platforms, which lack the quality apps found on Apple’s store.
3.Steam for Mac
It’s not been revealed how much work Apple and Valve have done together, but there’s no doubting Steam’s arrival on Mac OS X is a big deal for Mac gamers. Although the selection of games is dwarfed by that for Windows, new products are increasingly coming to Mac (Portal 2 will get a simultaneous release).
4.Record company growth
Apple’s numbers went crazy in 2010, with records falling by the wayside. In October, the company reported $20 billion in revenue and over $4 billion in after-tax earnings, both records for the company. Its market cap exceeded Microsoft’s in May, and it’s threatening to overtake Exxon, which would make Apple the most valuable company in the world. Part of Apple’s huge wealth will enable it to double its Cupertino HQ in 2011.
5.New Apple Stores
Industry rumblings had suggested Apple was to spend more time concentrating on major stores rather than typical mall outlets. Sure enough, 2010 saw Apple’s flagships go from merely impressive to jaw-dropping, most notably with the Shanghai store’s glass tower and the massive Covent Garden store incorporating a beautiful Grade II listed building.
6. iPhone 4
Despite problems we’ll cover in Apple’s 2010 lows, the iPhone 4 is an astonishing device. It’s powerful, with a screen resolution that makes digital text look like print, and a stills camera that can match point-and-shoots. This is a convergence device with few compromises, backed by a quarter of a million apps.
The iPhone 4′s Retina display is so crisp it looks like one of those stickers you peel off a device before seeing the real screen.
7. iOS 4 arrives
With multitasking, Game Center, iBooks, AirPrint and AirPlay, and improvements to the springboard, Mail, Safari and iPod app, iOS 4 dealt with the bulk of perceived shortcomings in Apple’s mobile devices. Major accessibility improvements also enabled disabled users top-quality access to content via Apple devices.
8.Macs crack ten percent
Although not a big global player, Apple finally grabbed a ten percent market-share in the USA during 2010, biting at Acer’s heels. Given Apple’s massive profits compared to its contemporaries, market-share is more a psychological boost than anything; and had iPads been added to the ‘PC’ mix, Apple would have been the US leader in terms of shipped units.
Many Apple products are evolutionary, but now and again something revolutionary occurs, shaking up the industry. The late-2010 MacBook Air is one such device, effectively merging the MacBook Pro and iPad, creating a super-light next-generation laptop with solid-state storage, long-lasting battery, great display and full-size keyboard and trackpad.
10.Steve Jobs alive and well
It might seem odd to highlight Steve Jobs’s health as an Apple ‘high’, but there’s no denying a fit (if rather more streamlined than of old) Steve Jobs is great to see. Jobs taking the lead on keynotes and announcements is part of what makes Apple Apple, and he offered great quotes in 2010 (“Notebooks aren’t better at anything,” for example, during the iPad keynote); long may he continue to do so.