2011 Year in Review - Apple's year

A tour of the highs and lows of Apple's year.

As 2011 draws to a close, it's time to take a look at the year that's been. In this, the first in a series of 'Year in review' posts, I'm going to take a tour of the highs and lows of Apple's year.

Apple's year

Apple kicked off 2011 with an alarm bug that affected users who had alarms set for New Year's Day and January 2nd, but this glitch was quickly sidelined by news that Apple had opened the Mac App Store, which promised to make the ownership of multiple Macs cheaper through less restrictive licensing terms which allow software bought for one system to be installed on multiple systems.

Also during January, Apple also announced the long-awaited Verizon iPhone 4. This new handset, designed especially for the CDMA network, opened up the iPhone to a whole new market.

The iPad continued to go from strength to strength, and in March the iPad 2 was announced. While the hardware update was evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, it was more than enough to keep the competition at bay (although there were some teething troubles). This didn't prevent rumormongers from claiming that Apple would release the iPad 3 featuring a 'retina' display before the end of the year. This didn't happen because there was no need for it to happen. The only real competition to the iPad is Amazon's Kindle Fire, but this device's success is not linked to the iPad in any way as the two tablets appeal to a different market.

Another long anticipated Apple release this year was the white iPhone 4. Exactly the same hardware, but in a different colored shell. People went crazy over it.

2011 also saw the release of the iPhone 4S, which was initially expected to be called the iPhone 5. Apple broke with tradition and didn't announce this at the WWDC in June, instead choosing to leave it until October, despite Apple pre-announcing what would be covered during the WWDC keynote, this didn't prevent masses of speculation that there would be a surprise iPhone announcement during the keynote... there wasn't! There were also no shortage of silly iPhone related rumors and nonsense (but as ever, most Apple rumors are garbage).

There was a lot announced at WWDC 2011in June 2011 - 10.7 'Lion,' iOS 5 and iCloud. Lion was interesting not only because it was a long-expected release but also because Apple decided to make it available exclusively via the Mac App Store. Unfortunately, ease of access to the OS meant that a lot of people got their hands on a particularly buggy Mac OS X release and for me Lion was more painful than Vista was at its worse.

Also announced at WWDC was a new music service called iTunes Match which gave people the chance to convert their *cough … cough* dubiously-acquired music into legit versions for a small yearly flat-fee.

This year also saw Mac OS X targeted by malware, in particular a piece of malware called Mac Defender. Customers initially had to turn to Apple support, but by the end of May this malware had started spreading via Facebook. Apple responded to this threat by offering 'Snow Leopard' users a security update (anyone using an earlier version of Mac OS X was out of luck). Following a spate of updates from Apple, the malware scare subsided.

There was also sad news at Apple, as Steve Jobs, tech visionary and master at selling people things they didn’t realize they needed, passed away following a lengthy battle with cancer. Prior to this Jobs had stood down as CEO, handing the reigns of the company to Tim Cook.

Following the death of Jobs, his official biography was published. Walter Isaacson's book gave us an insight into Jobs - how he saw Microsoft, what he thought of Google Android, and how he felt depressed following the announcement of the iPad. The biography also added fuel to the rumor that Apple is planning to sell TVs (it's a nonsense rumor).

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Apple - 2011 timeline


1st - iPhone users hit by new alarm bug

This month kicked off with an annoying iPhone alarm bug that failed to get people up properly on New year's Day (maybe Apple thought you deserved an extra bit of beauty sleep!). It wasn't the first iPhone alarm bug either, and as it turned out, wasn't the last!

6th - Apple's Mac App Store now open

Apple throws open the doors to its brand new Mac App StoreThis is the day that made established Mac developers sad as a significant downward pressure was applied on applications prices, and also a day that made PC ownership suddenly seem more expensive than running a Mac.

7th - The Mac App Store makes multi-Mac ownership cheaper than multi-PC ownership

Apple strikes a blow again Microsoft by making multi-Mac ownership cheaper than multi-PC ownership by allowing Mac App Store apps to be installed onto any Macs that you own or control for your personal use.

7th - Mac Apps already cracked and pirated, malware likely to follow

It took hackers a few hours to figure out how to circumvent the protection mechanisms used by Apple to protect applications from piracy. Would malware follow?

11th - Verizon iPhone - All you need to know!

Finally, after endless speculation, Apple and Verizon announced the Verizon iPhone.

31st - Apple softens on water damaged iPod warranty repairs

Apple changed its policy on warranty repairs for water damaged iPods.


7th - Could Apple cut out the carriers from the iPhone equation?

Could Apple cut the carriers out of the equation? Or at least put the carrier into the background? It hasn't happened, but I still think this would be both interesting and very disruptive.

14th - Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

Lots of chat this day about the possibility that Apple was working on an 'iPhone nano.' One of the many, many stupid Apple rumors of 2011.

14th - It's too late for the late-comers to try to redefine tablet pricing

In this post I predicted the dangers facing tablet makers who tried to redefine the tablet pricing model established by Apple by thinking that there was a market for $1,000+ Android tablets. This was a view shared by my blogging colleague James Kendrick.

21st - It makes no sense for the iPad 2 to have a Light Peak port

Another insanely stupid Apple rumor, this one was so crazy that it deserved hitting with a spiky bat. It made so little sense for the iPad 2 to have a Light Peak port that I’m surprised at MacRumors even running the story. Perhaps it was a slow news day?

28th - Hey, Apple ... Don't start getting sloppy!

Apple gets way too enthusiastic with the thermal paste in its newly-refreshed Macbook Pro lineup.


2nd - iPad 2 - Here's what we know!

Everything you needed to know about the iPad 2, but were afraid to ask! Evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

3rd - Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

“Why wasn’t the iPad 2 a more impressive upgrade?” This is a question that I heard following Apple's iPad 2 announcement. The short answer is that it didn’t need to be any better - it was still more than good enough to toast the competition.

12th - iPad 2 - The teardown

The good folks at iFixit managed to get their hands on a brand new, hot off the production line iPad 2. Let the teardown commence!

14th - Does anyone care about the availability of the white iPhone 4?

Yes, the white iPhone was, at this time, a mythical beast much like the Yeti or unicorns.

14th - Light leakage affecting some iPad 2 owners

It wasn't all fun and games for new iPad 2 owners as some suffered from light leaking from around the bezel (a problem that had also affected the iPhone 4).

28th - Apple announces Worldwide Developers Conference 2011, iPhone 5 seems unlikely

I told you that there wouldn't be an iPhone 5 announcement at WWDC 2011 ... but many of you didn't believe me!


11th - 'Official' Steve Job biography coming in 2012

Publisher Simon & Schuster announced that an official biography of Apple CEO Steve Jobs written by Walter Isaacson would be published in early 2012. What I didn't write at the time was that I saw this as an indication that Jobs was gravely ill and that he was unlikely to see the publication of the biography.

18th - Yowza! Apple hits Samsung with lawsuit over iPhone clones

Apple fired a lawsuit in Samsung’s direction, accusing the electronics giant of copying “the look and feel” of the iPad tablet and iPhone for its Galaxy S 4G, Epic 4G, Galaxy Tab, and Nexus S handsets.

19th - Apple vs. Samsung - Blurring the line between paying homage and blatantly ripping off

Apple claims that, amongst other things, Samsung is infringing on several hardware, software and packaging dress elements. When does paying homage cross the line into blatant ripping off?

20th - iPhone tracks your every move - How worried are you?

This was the day that people discovered that their iPhone was tracking their every move, and secretly logging this information to a file kept on the handset.

26th - Say 'hello' to the white iPhone 4

Finally, the white iPhone 4 made an early appearance, and the rumor mill had one less rumor to churn.


5th - Microsoft: 'Do the math' before you buy a Mac

Microsoft encouraged potential Canadian Mac buyers to ‘do the math’ before buying. You can surf the web or surf in Hawaii ... your choice!

19th - Modern Mac owners need to ignore the dinosaurs and get protection

Mac Defender malware hits Mac OS X via poisoned Google Image search results, and that raised the question of whether Mac user need to install antimalware software.

24th - You have malware on your Mac and you call Apple support ... what happens next?

After much speculation in the media as to how Apple handled malware-related support calls, I decided to do the obvious thing and give them a call and pretend to be a mac Defender victim!

25th - Apple to issue update to 'automatically find and remove' Mac Defender malware

Apple released an advisory that describes how to both avoid and remove Mac Defender malware from affected systems.

31st - Steve Jobs to headline WWDC keynote, iOS 5 and iCloud inbound

Apple confirmed that Steve Jobs, backed by his team of execs, would headline the keynote speech at WWDC 2011. On the agenda was Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud ... no iPhone 5!

31st - Mac Defender malware now spreading virally via Facebook

Mac malware made the leap to Facebook and started spreading virally, claiming to be a video of IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

31st - Apple releases 'Mac Defender' security update

Apple released a security update for Mac OS X designed to detect and remove Mac Defender malware. But unless you’re running the latest ‘Snow Leopard’ version, you’re outta luck.

31st - Lodsys just went nuclear on iOS app devs

Lodsys, the firm behind the threateningletters sent to app developers, pulled the trigger and acted on its promise to sue iOS app developers who it believes are infringing on its patents.

31st - Apple's 'Mac Defender' update allows users to run known malware

Apple released a security update for Mac OS X ‘Snow Leopard’ users to protect them from ‘Mac Defender’ and associated variants. Problem over, right? Wrong!


3rd - Please, let this 'new iPhone at WWDC dream' nonsense die!

Despite Apple having actually come out and TOLD EVERYONE what to expect at the WWDC 2011 keynote, some outlets continued to dream about a surprise iPhone announcement that never happened.

3rd - Another day, another stupid Microsoft 'PC vs. Mac' comparison

It seems like not a week goes by anymore when Microsoft doesn’t feel it necessary to post up yet another lame Microsoft ‘PC vs. Mac’ comparison website that seem to say and accomplish nothing.

6th - Apple's WWDC 2011 Keynote - Live Analysis

What exactly went down at WWDC 2011. Exactly as Apple had said - Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud - AND NO IPHONE 5!!!

6th - One more thing ... iTunes Match

Did Apple give people the chance to convert their *cough … cough* dubiously-acquired music into legit versions for a small yearly flat-fee? Yes, it did.

6th - MobileMe customers confused by iCloud transition

Mobile Me users confused as to how the transition to iCloud would happen.

8th - Apple outlines new 12,000 capacity 'spaceship' campus

Steve Jobs presented his idea for a new Apple campus to the Cupertino City Council - a massive circular structure with capacity for 12,000 employees at a former Hewlett-Packard site.

9th - Apple backtracks on In-App Purchases/Subscriptions rule

Apple changed its developer guidelines relating to the pricing of In-App Purchases and Subscriptions on the App Store. Previously there was a requirement that any and all purchases or subscription had to be the “same price or less than it is offered outside the app” but this has now been removed.

15th - 'iPad 3 with Retina Display coming in 2012' rumors won't die

More stupid Apple rumors that won't die. This time that Apple was going to release the iPad 3 in 2012 and that it would feature a retina display screen like the iPhone 4.

22nd - Early adopters unimpressed by Apple's Final Cut Pro X

Apple released an update to its Final Cut Pro video editing software, taking it to version 10 (or X, since that’s cooler). Pretty soon early adopters began venting their frustration over changes and omissions compared to the previous version.

25th - Hey, Apple! Where's that 'server-grade' Time Capsule hard drive you promised us?

Apple markets its Time Capsule backup devices has having a ’server-grade’ hard drive. A teardown reveals a standard drive.

29th - Apple posts Final Cut Pro X Q&A, new features coming

Apple responds to Final Cut Pro X questions and assures users that new features are inbound.


8th - Friday Rant: The 'iPad 3/HD coming this fall' is the zombie rumor that refuses to die!

The iPad 2 had only been out 4 months, and yet this boneheaded rumor that Apple would release yet another updated version in 2012 kept floating to the surface.

8th - Sony to dump MiniDisc Walkman

The iPod claimed another victimSony  sold some 22 million MiniDisc Walkman devices between its launch in 1992 and March of this year. Just to put that into context, Apple sells more than 20 million iPods per year.

12th - Report: Mobile malware to affect more than 1 in 20 devices within 12 to 24 months

Over 1 in 20 of all Android phones and iPads/iPhones to become a cesspool of malware, claimed security firm Trusteer.

28th - Amazon's Kindle tablet doesn't need to be an 'iPad killer' to be a winner

Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle Fire and two entirely different devices that don't compete against each other.


3rd - Is Apple's way of dealing with malware attacks the best way?

Was Apple's response to the Mac malware outbreak the right answer?

5th - Users complain of Mac OS X 'Lion' bugs

Apple’s rollout of its latest Mac OS X release - 10.7 ‘Lion’ - didn't go smoothly for all concerned.

9th - Apple to Lodsys: Only we know how our technology works

Apple hits back and Lodsys and insists that it is allowed to intervene in the ongoing Lodsys vs. developers legal battle.

9th - Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?

Price cuts or innovation - which can help tablet sales the most?

11th - HP TouchPad now cheaper than the iPad

The last gasp of HP's answer to the iPad. Next stop ... oblivion.

11th - Nokia: 'We’re way ahead' of 'outdated' Apple and Google

Nokia claims that its next-generation smartphones will offer a better interface and far superior cloud experience than is offered by either Google or Apple.

16th - OS X 10.7 Lion is more painful than Vista

My beef was not with the deliberate changes Apple made to the OS, but with the colossal number of show-stopping bugs that were allowed to creep into this release.

17th - Best Buy has over 200,000 unsold TouchPads

A flourishing market for iPads doesn't mean that there's a market for Android tablets.

22nd - HP single-handedly destroys non-iPad tablet market

After getting a taste for $99 tablets, will consumers continue to stomach a $500 price tag? Probably not.

22nd - Mailbag: "Is the rumor [insert random iPhone 5 rumor] true?"

Listen, let me let you in on a little secret. Almost all of the iPhone rumors that you come across are … how can I put this … garbage.

24th - Steve Jobs steps down as Apple CEO

Steve Jobs steps down as CEO, and hands the top job to Tim Cook.

26th - iPhone jailbreaker becomes Apple intern

Comex, the hacker behind the iOS jailbreak site JailbreakMe.com, joined Apple as an intern.


1st - Toshiba goes head-to-head against Apple with tablet and ultrabook

Toshiba hoped to grab some attention (and possibly some customers from Apple) by releasing an Android-powered tablet and a slim ultrabook.

13th - 500 days of iPad ownership

After nearly 500 days of iPad ownership, how am I using my iPad today? Does the shine wear off the iPad after a few months of use?

20th - Mac OS X Lion flaw allows unauthorized password changes

Apple’s redesign of the Mac OS X left passwords vulnerable to attack and change. This is not the first password bug to plague Lion.

27th - Apple iPhone 5 event is a go for October 4

Apple started sending out press invitations to the iPhone 5 launch event ... which turned out to be the iPhone 4S!

30th - Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

Ahead of the official unveiling of the new iPhone there was a lot of speculation as to what the new handset would look like.


4th - Apple introduces the iPhone 4S

So we got a name for Apple’s new iPhone ... but the same old look!

4th - Apple pushes dodgy Lion stats

User adoption is just one metric, and in this case it’s not the most important one.

5th - The iPhone 5 stupid, it burns!

Proof that only Apple really knew what the next iPhone was going to be like, and additional proof (as if we needed any) that ’sources’ are stupid!

5th - Steve Jobs - 1955-2011

Steve Jobs, tech visionary and master at selling people things they didn’t realize they needed, passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer.

7th - Richard M. Stallman on Steve Jobs: "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone"

The vilest thing I read following the death of Steve Jobs.

12th - The iPhone 4S and the 100 hours of lost standby time

The iPhone 4 boasted 300 hours of standby time, but the iPhone 4S only offers 200 hours. Why?

14th - iPhones sales could beat the iPod this holiday quarter

Could there be more iPhones under the Christmas tree this year than iPods? I think so.

21st - Steve Jobs: Microsoft is 'mostly irrelevant'

Steve Jobs’ biography doesn't pull any punches when it comes to Microsoft and is CEO Steve Ballmer. Jobs thought Microsoft wouldn’t change as long as Ballmer was in charge.

22nd - Is Android a stolen product?

Excerpts of the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson shows clearly what Jobs thought of Google’s Android mobile operating system. 'I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.'

24th - Jobs 'annoyed and depressed' following iPad announcement, biography reveals

Isaacson recounts how Jobs had received hundreds of emails to his personal email account in the twenty four hours following the announcement and how ‘most of them were complaining.’

25th - Steve Jobs might have 'finally cracked' the simplest TV UI, but here's a problem he didn't solve

One tiny excerpt from Walter Isaccson in Steve Jobs’ biography (along with endless speculation by analyst Gene Munster) has the blogosphere is in an utter frenzy over the possibility that Apple has a TV in the pipeline (no, I don't believe this for one moment).

26th - Windows 8 sure looks like it violates Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent

So, Apple was granted a patent on the ‘Slide to unlock’ feature present on the iPhone and iPad. Where does this leave Windows 8 which features a similar unlock mechanism?

27th - Cracking the iPad 2 lock screen

A security vulnerability with the iPad 2 left the lock screen vulnerable to being bypassed using nothing more than an official Apple Smart Cover.


2nd - iPhone 4S battery drain - Is it the handset or iOS 5 that's at fault?

I’m hearing a lot of complaints from iPhone owners, specifically owners of the new 4S handset, who claim that they’re not getting good mileage from their battery. But is it the iPhone 4S that’s to blame, or iOS 5?

3rd - PANIC OVER! Apple confirms iPhone 4S/iOS 5 battery problem, promises fix

Apple has confirmed that some users of the iPhone 4S and iOS 5 are experiencing poor battery life as a result of a software bugs, and promises that a fix is on the way (a fix that we're still waiting for!).

4th - "Siri, why do some people not understand what 'beta' means?"

The web page over on Apple’s site that describes Siri clearly states that the service is a beta offering. Given this, why were tech pundits so shocked when the service went dark for a few hours?

7th - 'Siri, will you ever come to my iPhone 4?'

I’m here to tell you that it ain’t gonna happen. Not now. Not next month. Not next year. Not ever. If you want Siri, you gotta pay for her.

9th - Adobe listens to Steve Jobs, pulls plug on Flash for mobile

Adobe called it a day and announced that it was pulling the plug on Flash for mobile. Apple’s iOS platform claims another victim. And it was inevitable.

10th - iOS 5 'Over the Air' update feature works a treat

I used the Software Update feature built into iOS 5 to update my iPhone and iPad, and it worked a treat.

11th - iPhone owners to Apple: iOS 5.0.1 doesn't fix battery drain problem

Apple’s iOS 5.0.1 update wasn't successful in fixing the iPhone battery drain problem for everyone. In fact, some users claimed that the update is a dud, and others said that it makes the problem worse.

11th - Report: Mac OS X 'Lion' uptake has almost flatlined

Web ads publisher Chitika released data which suggested that the adoption rate for Apple’s Mac OS X 10.7 ‘Lion’ has flatlined.

12th - Apple kicks off worldwide iPod nano first-generation replacement program

See if you are eligible to grab a free of charge replacement for your 5/6 year-old iPod nano.

29th - iTether: USB tethering app hits iTunes App Store

iTether was briefly available from the iTunes App Store for $14.99 ... and then it was gone!


1st - Siri bashers - Not sure if trolling or just very stupid

Once again Siri, Apple’s voice control technology for the iPhone 4S, is in the news. Apparently some blogger asked it about abortions, and the system didn’t pull up any results. Siri is a beta. I’ve said this before, and it seems I have to say it again.

6th - Kindle Fire and why 7-inch tablets suck

Why Apple put a 9.7-inch screen on the iPad, and why Apple hasn’t released the long-rumored 7-inch iPad - a tablet with a 7-inch screen is a tablet with a small screen, and a tablet with a small screen is a different animal to a tablet with a big screen.

7th - The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

It’s time to stop the madness. If tablets are classed as PCs then why not smartphones? Or smartfridges? Or digital watches?

12th - Could Apple bring a PC App Store to Windows?

I can already buy music and movies from Apple on my Windows PCs, so why can’t I buy software from Apple to run on my Windows systems?

14th - iOS and Android dominate smartphone market, but how long until Apple feels the pinch?

2012 will be interesting. Since there’s much much market share to crush from the competition, how long until Android starts putting major pressure on iOS and its market share?

14th - Is Samsung's Apple fanboy bashing having an effect?

Hearing negative stuff about a brand is one thing, but will this have an effect on consumer’s perception of the iPhone, and will this translate into a drop in sales?


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