Friday marks the one-year anniversary of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs's death. One year ago today, Apple came off the high of introducing its newest smartphone – the iPhone 4S – and was faced with saying goodbye to the man who made it all possible.
In the wake of Jobs's passing, there were many questions about how Apple might change - or survive - in a post-Steve era. Current CEO Tim Cook assured employees and fans alike that things at Apple would not change. Earlier today, he said that Apple's continued work on products that customers love is "a wonderful tribute to Steve's memory and everything he stood for."
Even though it's been a year, we probably haven't even seen what a real post-Jobs Apple looks like. In the last year, there have been a number of high-profile product launches – from the new iPad to the iPhone 5, but given the product life cycle, Jobs probably had at least a small amount of input on those gadgets back when they were in the planning stages. We'd probably do better to keep an eye on Cook and designer Jony Ive in the next year and beyond to see what they do with what Jobs taught them.
Products aside, however, Apple was not at a loss for headlines this year – from the record-breaking to the controversial. Let's take a look back at the triumphs, headaches, and conundrums with which Cupertino had to contend this year.
Recovering With iPhone 4S
Apple had to pick itself up after losing Jobs and get down to the business of selling the new iPhone 4S. But any disappointment over the fact that the device was not the much-rumored iPhone 5 was not apparent in the sales figures. In its first three days, people bought 4 million iPhone 4S smartphones, ultimately helping Cupertino sell a record 37.04 million iPhones during the fourth quarter. Still – as we're seeing with the iPhone 5 complaints – a few issues did emerge, from battery drains to people disappointed with Siri.
In November, Apple lost Ron Johnson – its vice president of retail operations and the father of the Genius Bar. Johnson left Apple to become the CEO of JC Penney, but despite a recent snafu with employee scheduling, Apple Stores continue to thrive. By December, Cupertino took the wraps off its massive retail store in New York City's Grand Central Station, and PCMag was there to take it in.
Going into 2012, Apple was sitting on billions in cash and prepping for the launch of the "resolutionary" new iPad with Retina display. This year also saw the launch of Mac OS X Mountain Lion, iOS 6, a MacBook Pro with Retina display, and the iPhone 5. But Apple was not always in the headlines for its products alone. The launch of that new iPad was delayed in China, for example, after a company known as Proview said it owned the right to the iPad name in the country. The two sides finally settled for $60 million, which seemingly emboldened a few other companies to sue over FaceTime and Siri, among other things.
In Australia and the U.K., meanwhile, regulators were up in arms over Apple's claim that its new iPad was a "4G" device, despite the fact that it did not run on 4G networks in those regions. Ultimately, Australia fined Apple $2 million in June for misleading consumers, and Apple changed the new iPad description from "Wi-Fi 4G" to "Wi-Fi cellular."
How its iDevices are produced, meanwhile, was a big source of controversy this year. Amidst reports from the New York Times and human rights' organizations that cited dangerous and inhumane conditions at Apple supplier Foxconn, Cook defended Apple's production processes and insisted that Cupertino cares about every worker. Still, Apple partnered with the Fair Labor Association (FLA), which conducted audits at Foxconn facilities. They did uncover incidents of excessive overtime and unsafe working conditions, but said Foxconn is taking steps to rectify these problems. Still, reports of trouble at Foxconn still emerge from time to time, like recent riots.
Patent Smackdown: Apple vs. Everyone
One of the biggest Apple stories over the past year, however, was Cupertino's patent fights with major tech firms like Motorola, HTC, and – in particular – Samsung. Judgments came down from all over the globe, but it was the Samsung vs. Apple jury trial in California – dubbed the Patent Trial of the Century – that had everyone watching. In August, a jury returned a stunning $1.05 billion victory for Apple, finding that Samsung had infringed on a variety of Apple patents. Samsung has appealed and even asked for a new trial recently, but nothing has been decided yet.
That $1.05 billion will likely help Apple hold on to its status as Wall Street darling. Also in August, Apple topped a record $623 billion in market capitalization, several days after it topped $600 billion for the first time amidst speculation about the iPhone 5.
Perhaps it will put some of those funds into its troubled Maps app. As part of iOS 6, Apple dropped the Google Maps app that had been pre-loaded on all iOS devices since 2007 in favor of its own mapping solution. But the Apple option wasn't quite ready for primetime, eventually prompting Cook to apologize for the half-baked offering.
Also making headlines this year:
- Apple's Rejection Spurred Demise of Flash Player for Mobile Web: In November, Adobe admitted that Apple's decision not to support Flash Player on iOS was one of the major factors in the demise of Flash Player for the mobile Web.
- Apple: Software Fix Will Require Permission to Pull Contacts List: In February, Apple said that iOS apps should not collect contact data without permission and pledged to issue a software update that would require that consent.
- Apple iOS Web Traffic Overtakes OS X for First Time: Also in February, U.S. Web traffic on iOS devices eclipsed traffic on Mac OS X computers thanks to a blockbuster fourth quarter that saw consumers snap up more than 52 million Apple iPhones and iPads.
- Apple OS X Leopard Update Tackles Flashback Trojan: In May, Apple released an update for Mac OS X Leopard that targeted the malicious Flashback Trojan.
- Apple Backs Down, Returns to EPEAT: In July, Apple reversed course and said it would return eligible products to the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) rating system.
- Anonymous Stole Apple UDIDs From Publishing Firm, Not FBI: Last month, it was revealed that a leak of Apple user IDs (UDIDs) was perpetrated via the hack of a Florida publishing firm, not an FBI laptop.
- NYPD Reports Spike in Theft of Apple Gadgets: Last week, the NYPD reported that thefts of Apple products in 2012 are up 40 percent from last year.
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