As the year draws to a close we look back at the highs and lows of Apple's 2014. Thinking back over the past year you might be excused if you thought that now a lot had really happened. Sure Apple launched two new iPhones, revealed the Apple Watch, and revamped both its operating systems, but did Apple enough to keep its fans happy, and was everything as rosy as the gorgeous Yosemite sunset images would suggest? Read on to find out...
Apple: January 2014 - 30 years of the Mac
Back in January this year Apple announced that its App Store sales had topped $10 billion in 2013 with 3 billion apps downloaded in December alone – at that point the most apps ever downloaded in one month. The sales of the Mac Pro weren’t something to boast about though – Apple was struggling to meet demand for the new pro Mac.
27 January saw Apple announce its first quarter financial results (for the quarter that ended on 28 December 2013) with record quarterly revenue of $57.6 billion. A great start to the year. Apple also announced that it had sold 51 billion iPhones during the Christmas quarter. iPad sales were also a record beating 26 million. And 4.8 million iMacs were sold.
Remember the NSA scandal? Apple released a statement in January relating to its involvement in this, claiming that “We believe strongly that our customers have the right to understand how their personal information is being handled, and we are pleased the government has developed new rules that allow us to more accurately report law enforcement orders and national security orders in the U.S.” According to Apple, “Personal conversations are protected using end-to-end encryption over iMessage and FaceTime, and Apple does not store location data, Maps searches, or Siri requests in any identifiable form”.
24 January was a big day for Apple and the Mac – it had been 30 years since Apple introduced the first ever Macintosh. Apple celebrated this milestone with a Happy Birthday Mac website which included a timeline and stories from Mac users.
Apple: February 2014 - Security flaws
A security flaw discovered in late February was said to be able to allow a hacker to intercept your data when your Mac, iPad or iPhone was connected to an unprotected WiFi hotspot, such as in a coffee shop. Apple patched the security flaw in iOS but took longer to offer a security update for Mac OS X. iPhone users who hadn’t updated to iOS 7 were frustrated that the iOS 6 update was not available to them, with Apple forcing users whose iOS devices were able to run iOS 7 to update. Unfortunately for Apple this was one of a number of security flaws to hit iOS in 2014. Read: Do Macs get viruses and iPhone and iPad security, do iPhones need anti-virus software.
Apple: March 2014 - Jony Ive on design
In March Apple announced that leading car manufacturers including Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo were rolling out CarPlay with their new vehicles. BMW Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor Company, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota Motor Corp had also signed up with CarPlay integration planned. Read more about CarPlay here: How to get CarPlay in your car.
On 18 March Apple introduced a 8GB version of the iPhone 5c at a new lower price of £429 (£40 less than the 16GB model). Apple also made some tweaks to its iPad line up in March, discontinuing the iPad 2 in favour of the iPad with Retina display (iPad 4).
March also saw a number of interviews with Jonathan Ive published. Apple’s design guru spoke out about design values, his thoughts about copycats and the future of Apple in interviews with The Sunday Times and Time magazine.
Apple: April 2014 - Steve Jobs email revelation
April was the month when Apple updated the MacBook Air and lowered prices for the popular laptop range, now starting at £749.
The Apple versus Samsung court proceedings continued in April with more claims of patent infringements and with Apple hoping for $2.2 billion in damages. During the trial papers were revealed including a revealing email from Steve Jobs that outlined some of the areas for discussion at a company event. Topics were to include the ‘Plus’ iPhone (which at that time referred to the as yet unannounced iPhone 4s) and a low-cost iPhone model.
Apple: May 2014 - Beats acquisition
In May Apple announced that it was spending a total of $3 billion acquiring Beats. The company expected to complete the transaction and incorporated Beats Music & Beats Electronics by the end of 2014. Also in May, Angela Ahrendts joined Apple as the new senior vice president of retail. May saw a US jury find Samsung guilty of violating Apple patents, but they awarded Apple $119 million in damages, below Apple’s hoped-for $2.2 billion. Both companies went on to challenge the verdict.
There was more bad news for Apple in late May when some users from the UK, Australia and other countries reported that their iPhones were locked with a message claiming the device was hacked by a person or group named Oleg Pliss who demanded $100 or €100 to unlock it. Two Russians were later arrested.
Apple: June 2014 - WWDC announcements
June was WWDC month, with Apple announcing its plans for iOS 8 and Yosemite, the new version of OS X. The company also unveiled Swift, it’s new programming language for designing apps to run on iOS and Mac devices. Also in June the company brightened up the 16GB iPod touch, expanding the selection of colours it is available in and reducing the price. Also launching in June was a new cheaper iMac. The £899 entry-level model was added to the existing range of iMacs, all of which saw a price drop.
It wasn’t all product news in June, Apple also split its stock so that investors got seven shares for every one share they owned. Read about how to invest in AAPL shares here.
Apple: July 2014 - MacBook update
Apple updated the MacBook Pro with Retina display in July boosting the processors and lowering prices. Apple also announced a partnership with IBM where the two companies (once arch-rivals) would team up to “transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business apps.”
July also saw the public beta of Yosemite arrive, marking the first time that Apple had offered a beta of a new version of OS X to the general public.
Apple: August 2014 - Jennifer Lawrence
Towards the beginning of August Apple and Samsung announced that they would settle their patent dispute in the UK and a handful of other countries – but as yet not the US. Apple had some setbacks in the case in August, with Judge Lucy Koh finding that: "Apple has not established that it suffered significant harm in the form of either lost sales or reputational injury." At the end of August Apple announced an iPhone 5 battery replacement program, claiming that a “very small percentage” of iPhones were affected. Customers could check their iPhone 5 for battery replacement eligibility on Apple’s site.
Also in August Apple also began to offer a Sleep/Wake button replacement program for the iPhone 5 after it determined that the “sleep/wake button mechanism on a small percentage of iPhone 5 models may stop working or work intermittently”. Read: How to fix brocken iPhone lock button.
Then at the end of the month came news that nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and around 100 big-name stars including British model Cara Delevigne, Cat Deeley, Kelly Brook, and Rihanna had made their way onto image bulletin board 4chan. Apple claims that the privacy breach was not the result of a compromise of any of the systems used for its iCloud storage service. However, through some means hackers were able to access celebrity photos that were stored in iCloud. Find out how to make sure your photos can’t leak from iCloud.
Apple: September 2014 - iPhone of iOS 8 launches
September was the month when Apple launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as unveiling the Apple Watch. Apple Pay was also introduced in the US. Everything was great until Apple forced a download of U2s new album onto people’s devices following the event. iOS 8 was available to download a few days after the iPhone launch event and ran into some trouble due to its requirement that installers had more than 5GB of free space on their device. Here’s how to download iOS 8 without deleting anything.
There was also a bug in HealthKit that meant that Apple couldn’t include those features at launch. Plus iCloud Drive, one of the flagship features of iOS 8, caused headaches when people realized that it wasn’t compatible with Mavericks.
Apple sold 10 million new iPhones 6 in the first weekend of sales - 4 million of those in the first 10 hours. In 2013 the iPhone 5s and 5c combined to achieve 9 million sales in the first weekend. One product didn’t survive September was the iPod classic, discontinued on 9 September because the 160GB hard drive was no longer being manufactured by the supplier.
Apple: October 2014 - iPads and Yosemite
If September wasn’t busy enough, Apple then chose to release two new iPads in October. An even thinner new iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 were introduced, with both iPad varieties now available in a gold finish. It wasn’t only the iPads that were updated, the iMac gained a Retina display and the Mac mini finally received a boost after two years. Also in October, Apple announced financial results for the final quarter of its fiscal financial year, which ended on 27 September. The big surprise here was that Apple made more revenue from sales of Macs than they did from iPad sales, crediting strong back-to-school sales for the great numbers. This didn’t help concerns that iPad market growth is slowing, however.
At the very end of October Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as gay, stating that “If hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
Apple: November 2014 - Share price soars
In November Apple announced that it was making WatchKit available to developers. Developers can now create WatchKit apps, actionable notifications and Glances for the Apple Watch coming next year. Towards the end of November, the patent infringement battle between Apple and Samsung heated up, with a judgment being passed in the second trial between the tech giants that Samsung should pay ongoing royalties to Apple for its continuing infringement of Apple patents. Samsung appealed the decision.
Also in November, the first malware with the potential to infect all iPhones and iPads was discovered by a security firm. WireLurker used a two-stage attack involving USB connections via a Mac or PC, and a glitch in an iOS feature that allows organisations to install their own apps on non-jailbroken iOS devices. Just a week after WireLurker stole the headlines, another iOS 8 malware threat emerged, Masque Attack creates decoy apps that are like those on your iPhone, and these decoy apps attempt to steal your personal information.
At the end of November, Apple’s share price surpassed $100, which if you consider its pre split price, means that it had finally broken through the $700 barrier. At the same time its Market Cap surpassed all records and made Apple the most valuable company in the world. The first company to be worth $700bn.
Apple: December 2014 - Steve Jobs in court
December was a mixed month that saw Apple make a huge $20 million donation to AIDS-fighting charity (RED). A Gartner report suggested that Apple had increase its share of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2014, while nemesis Samsung Electronics struggled. And the Apple-IBM partnership kicked off with a pack of mobile business apps catering to sectors ranging from financial to law enforcement.
At the beginning of the month a court sentenced an ex-Apple managed to a one-year prison term after he leaked details of new products to third parties for cash. Then, Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs ‘appeared’ in court, or rather a 27-minute video of Jobs' deposition was shown to a jury in a case where Apple was charged with illegally stopping music from playing on non-Apple devices. Apple was found not guilty. It can’t have helped that the prosecution didn’t have any credible witnesses. If you were hoping to see the video, no chance, a judge has ruled that it cannot be released.
Earlier in the month, Apple’s other co-founder Woz revealed that the legend of the garage where Apple began is a myth.
Finally, a BBC Panorama programme attempted to blame Apple for human rights violations in China, relating to the factories where Apple products are build. You can read about what we thought about the BBC Panorama program about Apple here.