News
10/2/2012
11:22 AM
Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
Slideshows

Apple After Steve Jobs: 10 Hits And Misses

Oct. 5 marks the one-year anniversary of Steve Jobs' death. During that time, Apple has had some amazing successes and some spectacular failures.




Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple, passed away on October 5, 2011 at age 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. His story--and that of the company he co-founded with his friend and computer whiz Steve Wozniak--have been told countless times, most famously by Walter Isaacson in "Steve Jobs," an authorized biography published soon after Jobs' death.

Jobs was many things: brilliant, arrogant, charismatic, and quite often a jerk. He had remarkable instincts when it came to product design and usability. After Apple ousted him in 1985, Jobs went on to start NeXT Computer, which was bought by Apple in 1996. He also helped to finance computer animation pioneer Pixar as an independent company and became its largest shareholder; it was later sold to Disney. Jobs become Apple's "interim" CEO in 1997 and immediately began rebuilding the troubled computer maker, eliminating unprofitable product lines and boosting sales with new offerings like the iMac.

For the following decade, Jobs' touch seemed golden. The iPod (2001) and its accompanying iTunes Store (2003) grew so popular that Apple soon became the music industry's dominant player. The word "iPod," in fact, became synonymous with "digital music player." But Jobs' biggest coup was yet to come. The iPhone (2007) was a revolutionary touchscreen smartphone that changed the mobile phone UI forever. Just two years later, the iPad forged a new category in consumer tech--the tablet--and remains the genre's most popular brand.

The super-slim MacBook Air (2008) provided a good example of Jobs' obsession with thin, stylish hardware design, as well as his ability to set trends rather than follow them. Starting out as a pricey boutique laptop, the Air gradually improved in performance and dropped in price. It later set the template for dozens of Windows-based Ultrabooks that are just now hitting the market.

Jobs has been gone only a year, and it's still early to gauge how well Apple's current management team--largely the same group hired by Jobs--is at conjuring up new and innovate products. Do Apple CEO Tim Cook and his team have what it takes to create innovative tech gadgets once the iPhone and iPad grow stale? After all, it's one thing to maintain a successful product line, but it's another thing altogether to come up with the next generation of cool stuff.

Explore our slideshow to see the highs and lows of Apple's post-Jobs year. And let us know if you think we gave any of these items incorrect grades.


Hit: Released in March 2012, less than six months Jobs' death, the 3rd-generation iPad featured several enhancements, most notably a Retina display with 2048- by 1536-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch--twice the resolution and four times the number of pixels as the iPad 2. The new iPad was the first Apple product to offer 4G LTE connectivity (but only in North America), beating the iPhone 5 by six months. The iPad remains one of Apple's biggest success stories. The company sold 17 million iPads in its 2012 fiscal 3rd quarter, which ended June 30. Apple reportedly is ready to launch a smaller iPad with a 7- to 8-inch screen next month. Ironically, Jobs dissed the 7-inch tablet form factor in a fall 2010 earnings call. Tim Cook must think different(ly).

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Miss: Critics have hammered Apple mercilessly for foisting its glitch-filled Maps app on iOS 6 users. Prior to iOS 6's release, Apple had been promoting the redesigned Maps as one of the mobile OS's standout features. Immediately following iOS 6's debut, a litany of user gripes about Maps' misdeeds, including missing or misplaced landmarks, and a lack of information on public transportation routes or stations, grew so loud that Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to issue an apology and promise to fix Maps as soon as possible. The incident was inexcusable for a company that often preaches an "it just works" philosophy for its products. (Note: The post-apocalyptic screen grab above is Maps' interpretation of Hoover Dam in Nevada.

RECOMMENDED READING

iPhone 5: My First Week

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Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour

Apple: 5M iPhones Sold, 100M iOS 6 Upgrades

iPhone 5 May Crunch Local Data Networks

iPhone 5 Maker Shuts Plant Amid Labor Strife

Nokia Kicks Apple's Map In The Apps

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features

Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops

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Hit: Mac users over the years have shown they're willing to pay extra for eye-grabbing style, high-end components, and a relatively simple computing experience. Apple hasn't disappointed, albeit it with the occasional exception, and continues to unveil high-end Macs designed to dazzle the senses.

The MacBook Pro with Retina display, which debuted in June 2012, is the latest example of this profitable strategy. A super-slim laptop with a 15.4-inch, 2880- by 1800-pixel display, two Thunderbolt ports, and no optical drive, the Retina-enabled MacBook Pro has garnered cheers for its style and performance--as well as jeers from environmentalists for its glued-in battery, which isn't easy to disassemble and recycle. Price? If you have to ask, you probably can't afford one: $2,200 to $2,800 (or more with extras).

RECOMMENDED READING

iPhone 5: My First Week

iPhone 5 Display Likely Culprit Behind Shortage

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour

Apple: 5M iPhones Sold, 100M iOS 6 Upgrades

iPhone 5 May Crunch Local Data Networks

iPhone 5 Maker Shuts Plant Amid Labor Strife

Nokia Kicks Apple's Map In The Apps

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features

Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops

iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit




Miss: Apple launched Ping, a music-focused social network that lived inside iTunes, in September 2010. The service was largely ignored during its two years of existence, however, and Apple wisely silenced Ping last month. Critics had knocked Ping, which Apple touted as a good way to discover new music, for lacking Facebook integration. Steve Jobs blamed Facebook's "onerous" terms for this flaw, which no doubt played a major role in Ping's demise.

An iTunes update in October will feature Facebook and Twitter integration, and allow users to share apps, music, and other content with their social media pals. To be fair, you can't blame the post-Jobs management team for Ping, which was doomed from the start.

RECOMMENDED READING

iPhone 5: My First Week

iPhone 5 Display Likely Culprit Behind Shortage

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour

Apple: 5M iPhones Sold, 100M iOS 6 Upgrades

iPhone 5 May Crunch Local Data Networks

iPhone 5 Maker Shuts Plant Amid Labor Strife

Nokia Kicks Apple's Map In The Apps

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features

Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops

iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit


Too Soon To Grade: Unveiled just last month, the iPhone 5 didn't break a lot of new ground. Its 4-inch screen was a little longer than its predecessor's; and the device itself was a little lighter and thinner. And the iPhone 5's best upgrade, 4G LTE, is hardly unique among high-end smartphones.

That said, the latest iPhone is a beautifully engineered device, and one of the best consumer mobile phones your money can buy. Sure, this year's model isn't an essential upgrade for iPhone 4S users, but it's a solid step up for folks carrying around an iPhone 4 or older. Will the iPhone 5 be a blowout success like its predecessors? Probably, but we won't know for sure until Apple reports its holiday quarter earnings in January.

RECOMMENDED READING

iPhone 5: My First Week

iPhone 5 Display Likely Culprit Behind Shortage

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour

Apple: 5M iPhones Sold, 100M iOS 6 Upgrades

iPhone 5 May Crunch Local Data Networks

iPhone 5 Maker Shuts Plant Amid Labor Strife

Nokia Kicks Apple's Map In The Apps

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features

Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops

iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit


Hit: Steve Jobs introduced iCloud in June 2011 at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference. A cloud-based storage and synchronization service, iCloud has plenty of competitors, including Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive. No cloud service is perfect, of course, and iCloud is no exception. A two-day glitch last month prevented a small percentage of users from accessing their email, and similar mail-related problems popped up last summer. But for the majority of Apple, iCloud appears to be reliable and invisible so far--and that's one less headache for Tim Cook and team.

RECOMMENDED READING

iPhone 5: My First Week

iPhone 5 Display Likely Culprit Behind Shortage

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour

Apple: 5M iPhones Sold, 100M iOS 6 Upgrades

iPhone 5 May Crunch Local Data Networks

iPhone 5 Maker Shuts Plant Amid Labor Strife

Nokia Kicks Apple's Map In The Apps

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features

Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops

iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit




Miss: Apple unveiled its Siri voice-control software at the iPhone 4S launch on October 4, 2011, the day before Jobs died. Last month's iOS 6 upgrade included a collect of modest Siri improvements, including the ability to open apps, provide sports scores and movie show times, and make dinner reservations. As personal assistants go, Siri can be both efficient and witty--yet maddeningly clueless at times. Yes, it's still in "beta," but that's a bogus label designed to deflect criticism. A year after its arrival, Siri remains a novelty act. Let's hope that ongoing refinements to its speech recognition engine will lead to a smarter Siri's in future Apple devices.

RECOMMENDED READING

iPhone 5: My First Week

iPhone 5 Display Likely Culprit Behind Shortage

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour

Apple: 5M iPhones Sold, 100M iOS 6 Upgrades

iPhone 5 May Crunch Local Data Networks

iPhone 5 Maker Shuts Plant Amid Labor Strife

Nokia Kicks Apple's Map In The Apps

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features

Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops

iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit


Hit: The 5th generation iPod touch is pricey as music players go: $300 for the 32-GB model, and $400 for 64 GB. Of course, the iPod touch does a lot more than play songs, and its spec bump nearly puts it almost on par with the iPhone rather than being a generation or two behind. The iPod touch is king of a dwindling market, however; iPod sales are declining steadily, a long-term trend that shows no signs of reversal. The 5th-gen iPod touch's higher price may make it less appealing to holiday shoppers, particularly budget-aware parents who can still grab a 4th-gen iPod touch and save a few bucks. After all, there's a good chance the kids aren't clamoring for 1080p video.

The unanswerable question: Would Jobs have doubled-down on the iPod touch, adding a 4-inch Retina display, 5-megapixel camera, 1080p video recording, and Siri to a product line that's past its prime?

RECOMMENDED READING

iPhone 5: My First Week

iPhone 5 Display Likely Culprit Behind Shortage

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour

Apple: 5M iPhones Sold, 100M iOS 6 Upgrades

iPhone 5 May Crunch Local Data Networks

iPhone 5 Maker Shuts Plant Amid Labor Strife

Nokia Kicks Apple's Map In The Apps

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features

Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops

iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit


Hit: Apple is currently the most valuable publicly traded company in the world, as astounding comeback for a tech firm that nearly went belly-up in the 1990s. Sales of Apple's duo of genre-definers--the iPhone and iPad--continue to do exceptionally well. In fact, both products showed impressive year-over-year growth in Apple's most recent earnings report (above). For the company's stockholders, Apple's decision to share its wealth by issuing dividends--something Jobs refused to do--was another reason to cheer.

RECOMMENDED READING

iPhone 5: My First Week

iPhone 5 Display Likely Culprit Behind Shortage

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour

Apple: 5M iPhones Sold, 100M iOS 6 Upgrades

iPhone 5 May Crunch Local Data Networks

iPhone 5 Maker Shuts Plant Amid Labor Strife

Nokia Kicks Apple's Map In The Apps

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features

Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops

iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit


Too Soon To Grade: When, if ever, will the mythical Apple HDTV grace our living rooms? Jobs, in his conversations with biographer Walter Isaacson, said he had "finally cracked" one of life's great mysteries: How to make a TV user interface that's incredibly easy to use. The implication was that Apple's HDTV (and resulting ecosystem) might very well disrupt the pay TV business in much in the same way that iTunes shook up the music industry. More recent reports suggest Apple may be having a hard time convincing cable and satellite TV providers to blow up their bundle-based business model and let the smart folks in Cupertino run the user experience. So even if Jobs' vision for HDTV was insanely great, it may never see the light of day, at least not in its original form.

RECOMMENDED READING

iPhone 5: My First Week

iPhone 5 Display Likely Culprit Behind Shortage

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour

Apple: 5M iPhones Sold, 100M iOS 6 Upgrades

iPhone 5 May Crunch Local Data Networks

iPhone 5 Maker Shuts Plant Amid Labor Strife

Nokia Kicks Apple's Map In The Apps

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features

Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops

iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit

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