A lot happened in Apple’s technology sphere over the course of 2011. Products, leadership changes, and—yes—even lawsuits: All of these saw major shifts over the last year. We’ve covered 2011products and financials, and predictions for the year ahead, but to better illustrate the major events of 2011, we’ve compiled a collection of quotes from the last twelve months.
Though few of us like reading stories about them (and fewer of us like writing those stories), patent lawsuits saw a surge in 2011. Apple sued (and was sued) by HTC, Samsung, and Motorola; settled with Nokia; and continued fighting Kodak. (And that’s just covering the major bases.) Though the companies are undoubtably waging war on the fronts they think they need to fight on, to consumers, it comes out looking much like the quote above: pedantic, a little funny, and with just a smidgen of “if I hide in a corner and bang my head against a wall, will everyone just kiss and make up already?”
“Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license. There is no basis for Lodsys’ infringement allegations against Apple’s App Makers. Apple intends to share this letter and the information set out herein with its App Makers and is fully prepared to defend Apple’s license rights.”
— Apple’s response to patent troll Lodsys
This year, Apple wasn’t the only one in in the patent-fighting ring: App developers were brought into the fray, too, thanks to a little lawsuit-happy company called Lodsys. It warned—then sued—app developers, insisting that Apple’s in-app purchasing system infringed upon one of the company’s patents. To Apple’s credit, it intervened in the mess, declaring its app makers safe under patent licenses, but the situation has yet to be resolved; in August, developer Mike Lee put together a coalition to protect against current and future attacks by Lodsys and other so-called “patent trolls” on small businesses.
Apple and its products
“People come to the Apple Store for the experience—and they’re willing to pay a premium for that. There are lots of components to that experience, but maybe the most important—and this is something that can translate to any retailer—is that the staff isn’t focused on selling stuff, it’s focused on building relationships and trying to make people’s lives better.”
— Former Apple senior vice president of retail Ron Johnson
It’s been a heck of a year for the Apple Store: The company’s retail experiment turned ten this year, its senior vice president left for JC Penny, and it began rolling out the next wave of the company’s retail innovation efforts. Though the stores are steering without a captain at the moment (though 9to5 Mac reports that Peter Oppenheimer is providing an interim hand on the wheel), they continue to expand; in December, Apple opened a store in New York City’s Grand Central Station to large crowds.
2011: The year of the iCloud? Maybe not, but Apple’s newest service has taken its first step into a larger world. As Steve Jobs intimated on stage, the future of home technology won’t be about the devices—it’ll be about the information you push to them.
It’s hard to believe that before June of 2008, there was no App Store. (Heck, if someone had told the kid down the street that three years ago, Angry Birds didn’t exist, he might just have had a premature heart attack.) But Apple has made remarkable progress in the last 36 months or so, and this year was no exception: 15 billion downloads across iOS devices (and millions of iOS users, to boot). In January, Mac users saw the launch of their very own App Store (which has seen more than 100 million downloads), and Amazon followed suit in May with a store of its own (downloads unknown).
It may still be in beta, but any Apple product that can introduce itself is worthy of a mention. Apple’s new personal voice assistant was introduced alongside the iPhone 4S, with senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller querying “Who are you?”. Siri, of course, was only too happy to oblige.
For every Apple hit this year, there have been a few controversial misses—the company’s professional video suite among them. Redesigned from the ground up with a major price cut and as a Mac App Store-only app, Final Cut Pro X left many professional users upset and angry about missing features and its resemblance to iMovie. The app’s first update, released a few months after the software’s debut, brought several needed features back to the program, but moreover, it brought a promise from Apple’s pro team—that professionals would have to wait a little bit for things to fall into place, but that the company was committed to keeping them on-board.
In addition to everything else this year, Apple managed to release a major new version of OS X, Lion. Unfortunately, it happened to be lacking one particularly irking feature: support for PowerPC-scripted programs like Quicken 2007 and earlier versions of Microsoft Office. Users complained, and in late December, Intuit announced that it had decided to update Quicken 2007—an almost six-year-old program—to the Intel framework for Lion users. Of course, we’ll have to wait until spring of 2012 to see the fruits of Intuit’s labor.
“We are very confident that we will set an all-time record in the December quarter for iPhone sales. In our wildest dreams, we couldn’t have gotten off to a start as great as we have on the 4S.”
— Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to any sort of future forecasting, but Apple CEO Tim Cook felt confident enough to let this tidbit drop during October’s quarterly financial earnings call. Just what Apple means by “all-time record” we’ll have to wait until next year and see, but it’s certainly an interesting tidbit to salivate over.
During an interview session with the former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson wrote down this quote, which pertains to the oft-rumored Apple TV set (not to be confused with Apple’s currentApple TV). “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” Jobs reportedly said to Isaacson. “It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.” It’s hard to know when—or if—such a device might ever emerge from imagineering into reality, but the quote caught the eye of just about everyone in the technology sphere, sending them on a rumor-mongering spree unheard of since the pre-Verizon iPhone times.
Amazon’s new fleet of Kindles, released this past September, were priced at their lowest ever—from just $79 to $199—with the focus on integration with the company’s online stores. The $199 Fire focuses on content consumption, with direct links to Amazon’s Kindle store, newsstand, app store, music store, and video streaming library.
More tablets than you could tabulate came and went this year. HP both announced—and retired—its TouchPad within 9 months. Other companies couldn’t even get off the ground. And as we close out 2011, a serious iPad competitor has yet to appear, though many are trying. (Amazon, at least, appears to be seeing good sales of its new Kindle line.)
After a lengthy, years-long back-and-forth (with Steve Jobs himself stepping into the debate), mobile Flash is no more. Adobe made the announcement in November, citing HTML5’s prominence and abilities as factors in its decision. The company will now position Flash exclusively toward the desktop market.
Nothing’s going to change my world
“I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.”
— Tim Cook
After Steve Jobs resigned as Apple’s CEO in August, his newly appointed successor, Tim Cook, sent out this email to employees.
“There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”
— U.S. President Barack Obama
It was sad to hear about Steve Jobs’s third medical leave in January. Shocking to see him resign in August. And when the Apple visionary passed away on October 5, it was a stunning blow to people across the world—one, more likely than not, delivered on one of the devices he helped create.