An absent leader, an absent product, iPhone highs and legal woes
The closely-watched Apple never fails to deliver an eventful year. Seb Janacek looks back at the highs and lows of the past 12 months for the Cupertino company - and looks forward at what's to come in 2010.
The last 12 months have represented anything but a traditional year for Apple, with most of the focus being on an absent leader (Steve Jobs) and an absent product (the Mac tablet).
Traditionally, the Mac calendar year begins with the Steve Jobs keynote at the Macworld Expo, where the post-Christmas Apple goodies steal the spotlight from the rest of the tech industry, congregated at the CES trade show.
Not this year. Or indeed any other year hence.
The 2009 January address to the faithful was the company's last appearance at the event. And, adding insult to injury, Steve Jobs did not give the final keynote: speech duties were handed over instead to Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller. More interesting times lay ahead.
Jobs' health woes
The year began with Jobs announcing that he had been suffering from a "hormone imbalance" for a number of months.
In an email to company employees on 14 January, Jobs announced he was taking a six-month leave of absence to recuperate.
The Apple CEO shared his frustrations that the obsession with his health has proved a serious "distraction" for his immediate family and his extended family at the company.
He added that his health issues were "more complex" than originally thought and, in order to allow himself to recover and to allow the company to focus on product delivery, he would be out of action until June.
Rumours over who would succeed Jobs were put to rest with the news that Apple COO Tim Cook would take on Jobs' day-to-day responsibilities.
A few days later the company reported stellar revenues and profits. Despite talk that the recession and Apple's premium hardware prices would mean tough times for the company, it proved critics wrong. It was to be a trick it would repeat in subsequent quarters throughout the rest of the year.
The Phantom Mac
With the company figurehead on leave, Apple watchers became fixated on a phantom product. A product which Apple has never confirmed the existence of, yet which has become one of the most talked about products in its recent history. A mythical device that has been predicted since the demise of the Newton.
The fascination with the so-called Mac tablet reached fever pitch in 2009. Artists' impressions of the device flooded the web with vigour.
Analysts poked through inventory orders from the Far East like Roman soothsayers poking through bird entrails, divining for clues as to when the messianic product would be released.
The form factor leapt from six inches to 11 inches. One day it had this kind of solid state hard drive, the next week it contained a 3G chip and was subsidised by mobile carriers.
It's true there's been a certain level of uncertainty as to what it will look like. The only certainty has been that the tablet is absolutely, definitely a real product.