Macworld UK's top stories of 2010

One way to look back at 2010 is to observe the stories that gained the most page impressions on the Macworld UK website. Gathered together they certainly tell a tale, while there are some surprising inclusions, it does give some indication as to what information people were seeking in the year that bought us the iPad, iPhone 4, and iOS 4.0.

1. Apple iPad UK release date & pricing info

Back in January 2010 Apple announced the iPad would launching in March, at the time the company only revealed US pricing, so our story making an educated guess at the UK pricing was a hit. It was our most popular story of 2010.

At the time there was a lot of fuzzy maths in the newspapers, with the worst cases translating the US price directly, somehow assuming that VAT no longer applies in the UK. We at Macworld UK know the best way to estimate the price of an Apple product here in the UK. Our best rule of thumb is to take a product on the US store that matches the US price you’re looking at, then find the same product on the UK store and see how much it is. The more recent the product the more accurate the price.

Want to know how we fared? Based on the exchange rate at the time, Macworld UK estimated the following UK pricing for the iPad at launch:

iPad Wi-Fi: £417 (16GB); £500 (32GB); £584 (64GB)

Wi-Fi + 3G: £526 (16GB); £610 (32GB); £693 (64GB)

Actual prices:

iPad Wi-Fi: £429 (16GB); £499 (32GB); £599 (64GB)

Wi-Fi + 3G: £529 (16GB); £599 (32GB); £699 (64GB)

We weren’t far off…

2. BBC launches iPlayer for iPad Beta

Our second most popular news story of 2011 was news that the BBC had launched a beta version of its iPlayer for iPad. The news broke back in May.

The desktop version of iPlayer uses Adobe Flash technology, but due to Apple’s reluctance to allow Flash on the iPhone, the BBC created an iPhone compatible version of iPlayer that uses QuickTime. The announcement of iPlayer for iPad came as no big surprise, as the BBC has committed to bringing the service to as many platforms as possible. That said, the iPad version of iPlayer is still in beta seven months later…

3. Live Feed: Apple iPhone 4 press conference

In third place amongst the most popular stories of 2010 on Macworld UK was our live feed of the iPhone 4 press conference in July at which Apple CEO Steve Jobs admitted that “We’re not perfect and phones aren’t perfect either”.

Streaming live from San Francisco, Macworld’s Jason Snell bought us the news and commentary as it happened. From Jobs claim that the bars showing signal strength were wrong, to his assertion that all mobiles suffer signal degradation, to finally, his announcement that Apple would give all iPhone 4 owners who wanted one a Bumper case to cover the antenna and thereby solve the problem.

4. Vodafone reveals iPhone 4 handset price

Back in June what everybody wanted was an iPhone 4, so when Vodafone became the first UK carrier to reveal it’s pricing deals for the new phone, everyone rushed to read all about it, making this story the fourth most popular news story at Macworld UK in 2010.

The company announced it would be charging £189 for the 16GB model, and £280 for the 32GB model on contract. Customers would have to take out a contract starting at either a £25-per-month for two years, or £30-per-month for 18 months.

5. Apple answers Tiger to Snow Leopard upgrade questions

The fifth most popular story in 2010 was actually a story from 2009. It was however, a subject close to the hearts of Mac users - and proof that in a year dominated by the iPhone and iPad, we were all still interested in the Mac.

At the end of August 2009 Apple had released Snow Leopard, a £25 upgrade for users already running Leopard, or £129 for those still running earlier versions of the Mac OS on their Mac. The big secret was that even Mac users running earlier versions of Mac OS X could still install Snow Leopard from the £25 disc. The snag? Doing so breaks Apple’s end user licence agreement (EULA), as Alan Eyzaguire, director of software product marketing at Apple Europe told The Guardian.

“Technically, yes, it would upgrade a Tiger install,” Eyzaguire told The Guardian’s Charles Arthur, “but in the licensing, no.”

Judging from the popularity of the story on Macworld UK, many readers opted for the legally-questionable cheaper option once they had read the confirmation that it was possible to upgrade for £25.

6. WWDC 2010 live feed: Apple iPhone 4 keynote

On 7 June 2010 Apple CEO Steve Jobs took to the stage for a keynote address at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. In his keynote Jobs unveiled the iPhone 4.

Macworld was in San Francisco covering the event, with all the news and commentary as it happened and our live feed of the event was the sixth most popular story of 2010.

“Beyond a doubt, the most precise thing and one of the most beautiful things we’ve ever made. Glass on front and back, stainless steel around the edge. Precision on this thing…it’s closest kin is like a beautiful old Leica camera,” gushed Jobs as he introduced the new iPhone.

7. Inside Apple’s iPod factories

Somewhat surprisingly the seventh most popular story on the Macworld UK website in 2010 was from 2006. It was our story about the revelation that Apple’s iPods are made by workers who earn as little as £27 per month, as seen in the Mail on Sunday.

The Mail visited some of the factories and spoke with staff there. The report claimed that Foxconn’s Longhua plant houses 200,000 workers, remarking: “This iPod City has a population bigger than Newcastle’s.”

The Mail on Sunday report never appeared online, so Macworld UK was the first place to break the news about the iPod City. Soon after the news broke, Apple issued a statement saying: “Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible.”

Foxconn was in the news a lot in 2010 as the company (owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry) was targeted by human rights activists over long working hours, poor conditions and low pay.

Activists claimed factory staff worked up to 12-hour days for nearly two weeks at a time, in the six months before the launch of Apple’s best selling iPad.

Reports also appeared of a string of suicides at the Chinese Foxconn factories where Apple’s gadgets are manufactured.

8. Live Feed: Apple iPhone 4.0 event

Our live feed of the special event at which Apple revealed details of its iPhone 4.0 update was the eighth most popular story in 2010.

Steve Jobs discussed the seven “tentpole” features of the new update, slated for release in the summer. The highlighted features included: Multitasking, location services, push notifications, task completion (so Flicker could continue working in the background), fast app switching, folders, wallpaper, an enhanced version of Mail, iBooks, better enterprise features, Game Centre, iAd.

iPhone 4.0 - renamed iOS 4 - launched on 21 June for iPhone users. iPad users had to wait until 23 November before they were able to take advantage of multitasking, folders and other new iOS 4 features.

9. How to import an iPad from the USA to the UK

In ninth place in the line up of the most popular stories on Macworld UK this year was our advice on how to import an iPad from the USA to the UK that we published on 16 April, just after the iPad launched in the US, and many weeks before the device went on sale here.

We explained how to buy an iPad, getting it first shipped to a US address, and then getting it forwarded from the USA to the UK. Essential ingredients being a friend in the US, and a means to paying them.

However, essentially, our advice was to wait.

10. Apple offers free Bumper cases for all iPhone 4 users

Going back to Antenna gate, our tenth most popular news story was the announcement that Apple would offer free Bumper cases for all iPhone 4 users.

The offer ran until 30 September, and saw Apple dish out its £25 rubber band-like Bumper cases to iPhone 4 owners who wanted them.

Anyone who had already spent £25 on a case would apply to get their money back.

Apple knew that if users gripped the iPhone 4 a certain way that the bars of reception would drop, but didn’t think it would be a big problem, CEO Steve Jobs said during the 15-minute presentation in Cupertino, California.

11. Tesco iPhone 4 pay monthly, payg tariffs announced

Tescos’s announcement that it would offer pay as you go and pay monthly tariffs for the iPhone, in conjunction with O2 was our 11th most popular story of 2011.

Thanks to Tesco, UK shoppers could get their hands on the iPhone 4 for as little as £20 a month on a 12 month contract. £35 and £45 deals are also offered, while the iPhone 4 16GB will cost £479 or £569 for the 32GB model on pay as you go.

12. Grand Opening of Apple’s 300th retail store

Our coverage of the opening of the new London Apple Store in Covent Garden was our twelfth most popular story in 2010.

We described the new store as: “Less like a major retail outlet, more like a gallery space or museum to shiny Apple products.” It can be found at No. 1-7 The Piazza, London, WC2E 8HA.

13. iPhone 4.0 software update expected next week

Back in January 2010 we were reporting rumours that Apple was about to announce an iPhone 4.0 update. While a little ahead of itself (the actual iPhone OS software didn’t emerge until June) the rumour was spot on with the prediction that the update would include multitasking features with the ability to run apps in the background.

The reason the rumours arose in January was Apple’s announcement that it would hold a special event on 27 January. This was, of course, the unveiling of the iPad, iPhone 4.0 (or iOS 4.0 as it came to be known) wasn’t actually previewed until April.

14. Rumour latest iPhone 4 photos leaked online

One of the major Apple stories of 2010 was the discovery of a prototype iPhone 4 at a bar in San Francisco. Not surprisingly, coverage of leaked iPhone 4s was our 14th most popular story.

Somewhat surprising is the fact that the iPhone 4 story that got the most hits on Macworld UK wasn’t regarding the Gizmodo case (see below), but rather the release of photos of a black and white iPhone 4 as seen on 28 May. Those photos were released by a Taiwanese site and were pretty spot on, in hindsight.

Gizmodo paid $5k for a prototype iPhone 4 that was found in a bar and encountered the wrath of Apple following publication of the photographs to the point where computers were seized and legal action taken.

15. Unboxing the Apple iPad keyboard dock

Our 15th most popular story in 2010 was our unboxing of the iPad Keyboard dock with a photo gallery. Clearly the idea of being able to use an iPad with a keyboard, turning it into a laptop, was an appealing idea to many of our readers.

Our advice? We found it is quite feasible to use the iPad with any Bluetooth keyboard, with the added bonus of being able to use key combinations such as Command-C and Command-V to cut and paste.

16. Apple EU stores closed iPad UK price and pre orders today

This is an odd one. The 16th most popular story was published on 12 March 2010 when the Apple Store (www.apple.com/ukstore) went down in the UK, Europe, and the US.

When Apple takes its online store offline this normally precludes some exciting announcements, and we wait patiently to find out what they are, while offering some speculation as to what we think it might be. In the case of the 12 March online store hiatus we made the prediction that Apple would start allowing pre orders of the iPad, perhaps also revealing the UK price for the device.

It’s quite depressing to note that on this occasion when the Apple Store came back online there were no noticeable changes and certainly no Apple UK iPad pricing. The US store was, however, updated with pre-ordering ability for the iPad, begging the question: “Why did Apple have to take all its stores offline to make a US specific change”.

17. What we know about the UK Apple TV

Apple held another special event on 1 September - this time announcing the new line up of iPods. At the same event the company announced the new-look Apple TV. Following the UK announcement we evaluated the Apple TV from a UK perspective.

The problem with the Apple TV has always been lack of content and that the cost was far too high - for the device itself, and the content. With the new, lower-price, was the Apple TV a better deal.

First there was the discrepancy between UK and US pricing: with the device costing $99 in the US, and, um, £99 in the UK. We’re not sure which exchange rate Apple was using when it worked that one out. In fact the company obviously noticed the discrepancy, because they included a paragraph in the press release emphasising Apple’s usual line pointing out that it costs more to do business in the UK.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if you could actually get content for the Apple TV in the UK. In the US there are options for renting TV programmes and films, and a connection to Netflix for subscriber movie downloads. In the UK? Well there are a few films you can rent.

Unfortunately we are still waiting for the UK killer deals for the Apple TV. Still, £99 is a much better price than the previous £223.

18. Apple iPhone iOS 4 software update available today

Our 18th most popular story was the release of the iOS 4 software for the iPhone on 21 June. 19. Guide to buying an iPhone 4 in the UK

iOS 4 promised over 100 new features including multitasking, folders, iBooks, improved Mail, spell checker, wireless keyboard support and the ability to change home screen wallpaper, it changed the lives of our iPhones and made iPad users jealous.

19. Photogallery: iPad Launch Apple Regents Street Store

In 19th place was our coverage of the iPad launch at Apple’s Regent Street store. We were there bright and early, although not as early as some of the 300 people who had queued all night.

We also got the chance to talk to Stephen Fry who turned up to collect his own iPad.

Our photo gallery of the event was a popular destination for people wondering what it would have been like to be there.

20. Report: New Apple iLife coming 7 August

It was a red herring, but our 20th most popular story stated that iLife would launch on 7 August. The report, stemming from French site, Mac4Ever.com claimed that the update would include 64-bit compatibility and a “nouvelle application”.

Unfortunately the claims were wrong, iLife 11 didn’t launch until 20 October and when it did there was certainly no new application.

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