2011 was a bittersweet year for Apple. It debuted two headlining products among others, but also lost its leader and founder.
Steve Jobs' death hit his fans and the tech industry hard. Before his death in October, Jobs stepped down as CEO in August, handing over the reins to COO Tim Cook. At 56 years old Jobs left behind a legacy that impacted the lives of millions with devices that are used on a daily basis. Fans wrote tributes to him on the sidewalk outside of his Palo Alto home. And Apple stores became makeshift memorials to the entrepreneur.
Just a few days before his death, with his absence noted, the company introduced the iPhone 4S a phone, which externally is almost the same as its predecessor, but internally had beefed up hardware and improved software. Siri, the phones voice recognition software became a personal assistant for users, able to schedule appoints, find local businesses and answer questions.
As usual the phone went on to be a global hit and became the first iPhone to be on Sprint's network in the US. Fanfare at Apple stores has been more and more subdued each year, but still fans lined up around the world to be one of the first to get their hands on the gadget.
In one of his last public appearances before his death, then CEO Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance and introduced a thinner lighter and faster iPad.
We've been working on this product for a while and I just didn't want to miss today.
The iPad 2 was an instant hit with more than half a million sold in its first weekend. Tablets disrupted desktop, notebook and netbook sales, but they're also the driving force behind the growth in the PC market according to analysts. Apple's tablet shipments grew by 166 percent according to analysis firm Canalys, but it's share of the worldwide market fell from 96 percent in Q3 2010 to 67 percent in Q3 2011 as a result of increasing competition from rivals.
Apple’s iPad has become the tablet to emulate. Many companies this year played catch up to Apple and some like Microsoft aren’t even in the game yet. Microsoft plans to debut Windows 8 Beta in early 2012, which will run on both PCs and tablets.
Jobs made his final public appearance when he introduced the company's iCloud in June. iCloud stores documents, calendars, contacts, photos and music online and syncs them to multiple devices.
STEVE JOBS, CEO, APPLE
"Keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy. So we've got a great solution to this problem.
Apple joined Amazon, which by the time iCloud became available in October, Amazon had already made available its Cloud Player. Shortly after Apple, Google joined the pair and offered a similar service.
The company was caught up in controversy after it was revealed in April that iOS devices track their users even when location services are turned off. The iPhone and iPad were shown to have stored location data about users. Apple responded by saying that phones were maintaining a database of WiFi hotspots and cell towers to help iPhones more rapidly calculate its location when requested. Google's Android OS was also shown to log location data.
2011 was a particularly litigious year for Apple butting heads with Amazon over its app store and having a long tussle with Samsung over its tablet. A district court in Düsseldorf Germany blocked sales of the original version of Samsung's 10-inch tablet in September, after Apple convinced the judge that Samsung's product looked too much like the iPad. In the midst of the court battle we saw Samsung's tablet disappear from its booth at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. To circumvent the ruling, Samsung modified the appearance of the tablet to create the Galaxy Tab 10.1N. The modified tablet has a new bezel and speakers on the front of the device. But that didn't satisfy Apple. The company filed another injunction against Samsung in November with a hearing scheduled for late December. The filing in Germany came as Apple registered a loss in its legal battle with Samsung in Australia. The federal court there deiced to overturn the injunction that banned the sale of the Tab in the country.
That's a look back at Apple news from 2011. Be sure to check out our other year end reports. In Boston Nick Barber, IDG News Service.
IDG News Service
IDG News Service
Jason Snell, Macworld
Dan Moren, Macworld
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© IDG 2011