Overall, it was another banner year for Apple and iOS. The platform had its ups and down, but remained strong in the face of stiff competition from Android. Throughout the year, the iPad was the leading tablet and the iPhone was at the top of the smartphone market.
iPhone 4 on Verizon
Apple kicked off the year with the launch of the highly anticipated CDMA iPhone 4. The handset landed on Verizon with lots of fanfare, but surprisingly small lines. Analysts predicted the CDMA version would take customers away from AT&T, but that mass exodus did not happen. Early sales revealed both the Verizon and AT&T version sold well. It was Verizon customers who were scooping up the iPhone, not AT&T customers jumping ship. Apple sold 18.65 million iPhones in the first three months of 2011. Of those 18 million, Verizon sold 2.2 million and AT&T sold 3.6 million.
iPad 2 launch
Soon after the iPhone 4 launched on Verizon, Apple released the iPad 2 . The iPad 2 was a nice, but not extraordinary, upgrade from the original iPad. The tablet included a dual-core A5 processor, front and rear-facing camera, and a thinner profile. It replaced the original iPad and came in at the same price point. People lined up for the iPad when it launched in March and inventory plummeted as Apple faced the “motherload of all backlogs.” Apple couldn’t make the devices fast enough, and quarterly sales fell. The company only sold 4.69 million iPads during the quarter which was significantly less than the 7.33 million iPads the company sold during the holiday 2010 quarter.
WWDC and iOS 5
After a difficult spring, Apple was ready to kick it up a notch and introduced iOS 5 at WWDC. The latest version of OS included several notable features including iCloud syncing, a new notification center, iMessages, reminders and more. Steve Jobs, in what would become his last public keynote, detailed iOS 5 in a lively presentation. Developers were able to download the iS 5 beta right away while consumers had to wait until the fall for the next generation mobile OS to launch. Apple did well in this mid-year quarter and sold 20.34 million iPhones and 9.25 million iPads.
iPhone 4S launch
After much speculation, the iPhone 4S launched in October of this year, and people lined up to grab Apple’s latest handset. These lines, though, were not as long as prior iPhone launches. Many customers held off from buying the new iPhone because it was only a slight boost from the iPhone 4. The hardware included a new, dual-core A5 processor, an 8-megapixel camera and Siri voice assistant.
Once the phone landed in the hands of consumers, reports of poor battery performance began to emerge. After a few weeks, Apple acknowledged the problem and confirmed a fix was in the works. The company has released several iOS 5 updates, including one rolled out to the public and two provided to developers. Despite this possible flaw, overseas demand remains strong for the handset, and Apple will probably achieve another banner quarter in the last few weeks of 2011.
The loss of Steve Jobs
The jubilation over the arrival of a new handset was tempered by the death of Steve Jobs. The head of Apple was the driving force behind the iPhone and iPad, and his input on devices will be sorely missed. Soon after his death, the Walter Isaacson biography hit retail shelves and sold millions. The biography is a candid look at the Apple chief and gives us insight into his personality and how it influenced Apple.
The year-end and beyond
Apple should gain back some ground this last quarter of 2011 and sell more handsets than it did in the previos quarter. AT&T also predicts it will have its best quarter ever thanks to the iPhone 4S, and both Sprint and Verizon confirm that the iPhone 4S is selling well, too. Next year should be interesting for Apple fans. The company may unveil the iPad 3, which could have a high-resolution screen, improved camera, and possibly more RAM. There’s also the iPhone 5 which could have LTE, NFC, a larger display and a new design.