Why 2012 Has Been Apple’s Most Important Year Ever [Opinion]

Why 2012 Has Been Apple’s Most Important Year Ever [Opinion]

With the absence of Steve Jobs looming in the background, Tim Cook and his team faced a mountain of questions as they marched into 2012. Who would be the visionary now? Would the iPhone continue to be successful? What’s going to happen to the Mac now that the iPad has become a beast of its own?

The most important question Apple faced going into 2012 was whether they could maintain their supremacy. With competitors closing the gap, Apple doesn’t have Steve Jobs’s vision, charisma, or negotiating prowess anymore, and 2012 has been the year to prove that Apple can endure. The challenges and adversaries Apple is facing in 2012 has made this single year the most important one ever for Apple, and yet they’ve been able to come through in the clutch and blow us away with an army of incredible products and strategic moves.

For the first time in years Apple’s not the only company who bleeds its soul into the design of products.

Never before has the tech world seen such an amazing display of competition. Every major tech company in the world is in full-on fighter jet mode, arming themselves with a dazzling array of fanciful products to delight their customers (except maybe RIM). Not only are Amazon and Barnes and Noble duking it out with their great looking tablets, but Microsoft and Google are jumping into the hardware game as well, and their products actually look amazing. Now everyone wants to control both the hardware and the software just like Apple has done for the last 30 years, and they’re doing a pretty decent job at it.

Tech companies aren’t just adopting Apple’s software/hardware strategies, they’re trying to replicate their love for design as well. Apple has always dominated the industry when it comes to design, but for the first time in years they’re not the only company who bleeds their soul into the design of products.

Microsoft obsessed over the design Surface so much that they added extra hinges and clips just so the keyboard and kickstand sound cool. Nokia’s Lumia phones look distinctive and elegant. Barnes and Noble has gone from bookseller to tablet maker overnight. And even though their Nexus Q media center bombed, Google’s Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are the best looking tablets on the market after the iPad and iPad mini.

Jony Ive’s design team deserves the tech equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor after working their asses off all year.

Responding to the assault that Apple has faced in 2012 would be an impossible task for any other company. But Apple’s not only responded, they’ve taken the game to a whole new level. In 2012 Apple has updated almost every major product they sell. Jony Ive’s design team deserves the tech equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor after working their asses off all year and redesigning everything in site.

Apple didn’t just bring us a redesigned iPhone, they redesigned the iMac, iPad, iPod Touch, iPod Nano, and the MacBook Pro. They made updates to the Mac Pro, Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle. All that wasn’t enough for them though so they went out and created a new product with the iPad mini and they’re probably still slaving away on the iTV.

The amount of updated and redesigned products that Apple has put out this year has been completely mind boggling. As a result of all the hard work, Apple’s stock price has hit an all-time and their cash reserves have never been deeper. They’ve even been killing it on the legal front as well this year and won a billion dollar patent case against Samsung.

As if redesigning all of Apple’s products weren’t enough, Tim Cook then went and made some bold steps this year and restructured his management team. Even though iOS has been a huge success, Scott Forstall was fired and his duties were divvied out to other senior VPs. By firing Forstall, Tim Cook made a huge statement at Apple that nothing less than perfection can be acceptable. Under Steve Jobs’s direction Apple was great, but if Cook and co. want to get out from Steve’s shadow they’re going to have to be flawless.

At some point Apple is going to slip and another company will take advantage.

With Jony Ive now taking on Human Interface duties as well as hardware design, Cook has conceded that Apple needs someone with product vision like Steve Jobs had. Cook doesn’t have that vision, but Ive does. Cook’s willingness to give Ive even more power than Jobs did shows not only that Cook knows what his own strengths are, but that he’s not afraid to admit where he’s weak and find better solutions.

The bummer for Apple is that even though they’ve upgraded their entire lineup and improved their collaborative abilities this year, they’re still not guaranteed to win the tech wars. At some point Apple is going to slip and another company will take advantage. Apple Maps was a big disappointment. The iPad Mini is great, but it might not be cheap enough or have enough features to destroy the Kindle Fire HD, or keep people from buying a Microsoft Surface.  Android phones are catching up with the iPhone 5 even though it’s the fastest selling phone ever.

Apple is in an amazing position right now, but rather than being able to rest after all the hard work they’ve done in 2012, they’re going to have to work just as hard in 2013 or even harder.

2012 isn’t just an important year for Apple. It’s an important year for every company and has shown what the tech landscape might look like for the next five years.  Apple’s faced their challenges this year and dictated the pace of the tech industry. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Nokia, or Samsung can’t just release a decent product every two to three years and coast anymore, but neither can Apple.

Apple and their competitors have shown that if anyone wants to be the undisputed king of tech, you’re going to have to make incredible new products in every category every single year. Perfection isn’t just a goal anymore, it’s absolutely mandatory if you want to win.

Game on.

  • nvettese

    “As a result of all the hard work, Apple’s stock price has hit an all-time and their cash reserves have never been deeper. They’ve even been killing it on the legal front as well this year and won a billion dollar patent case against Samsung.”

    Why not tell it like it is… Apple has lost over 100 points in the stock market since the release of the iPhone5 (worst iPhone ever), and then again throughout the Maps fiasco (shows Apple has no clue), then the iPad Mini (proves again that Apple can no longer live up to the hype), and then the Scott Forstall issue.

    Then there are the lawsuits. Shows once again that Apple is scared to death of Android and Samsung. You discuss only one win for Apple in these lawsuits, but then never discuss the tragic losses as well. Having to post that Samsung did not copy, then there is Germany, now Apple has to pay all of Samsung’s legal Fees for the UK Trial.

    Try not to be sooo biased in your writing, and try ro have some, if not a little, journalistic integrity. This comment will most likely never see the light of day, but you will see it, and know we are here, waiting and watching.

  • MeetDennis

    Interesting read. I’d also like to add in that Apple have made great strides on their software fronts as well with Mountain Lion, iOS6 and tighter iCloud integrations. Most tech companies can compete against Apple on the either the hardware or software fronts but not both.

  • rogifan

    .
    Try not to be sooo biased in your writing, and try ro have some, if not a little, journalistic integrity. This comment will most likely never see the light of day, but you will see it, and know we are here, waiting and watching.

    I think you need to work harder on your trolling. It’s quite lacking, Also LOL at coming to CultofMac and not expecting pro Apple writing.

  • dcdevito

    Great article, cheers.

  • Conor Conay Jackson

    “They made updates to the Mac Pro, Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle. All that wasn’t enough for them though so they went out and created a new product with the iPad mini and they’re probably still slaving away on the iTV.”

    They updated the Mac Pro? No they didn’t, they just stop selling some of the models that are not supported…and the ‘iTV’? PLEASE stop calling it that.

  • Buster

    They updated the Mac Pro? No they didn’t, they just stop selling some of the models that are not supported…and the ‘iTV’? PLEASE stop calling it that.

    it was a small crappy update, but it still qualifies as an update, and Tim Cook said there will be a significant update coming to the Mac Pro in 2013

  • Buster

    Why not tell it like it is… Apple has lost over 100 points in the stock market since the release of the iPhone5 (worst iPhone ever), and then again throughout the Maps fiasco (shows Apple has no clue), then the iPad Mini (proves again that Apple can no longer live up to the hype), and then the Scott Forstall issue.

    this is a look at 2012 as a whole. During 2012, Apple’s stock price reached an all-time high and it was because of the strength of the iPhone 5. Apple’s stock has dipped since then, but it’s not nosediving. It’s still a strong stock. Read the supporting articles that I’ve hyper-linked so you know what you’re talking about before commenting.

  • bdkennedy

    I disagree. 2013 and 2014 are going to be most important. Apple skidded by with current product updates this year. Nothing was revolutionary. My faith will be resumed when Apple can create a NEW amazing product.

  • Matthew Gonzales Landry

    “As a result of all the hard work, Apple’s stock price has hit an all-time and their cash reserves have never been deeper. They’ve even been killing it on the legal front as well this year and won a billion dollar patent case against Samsung.”

    Why not tell it like it is… Apple has lost over 100 points in the stock market since the release of the iPhone5 (worst iPhone ever), and then again throughout the Maps fiasco (shows Apple has no clue), then the iPad Mini (proves again that Apple can no longer live up to the hype), and then the Scott Forstall issue.

    Then there are the lawsuits. Shows once again that Apple is scared to death of Android and Samsung. You discuss only one win for Apple in these lawsuits, but then never discuss the tragic losses as well. Having to post that Samsung did not copy, then there is Germany, now Apple has to pay all of Samsung’s legal Fees for the UK Trial.

    Try not to be sooo biased in your writing, and try ro have some, if not a little, journalistic integrity. This comment will most likely never see the light of day, but you will see it, and know we are here, waiting and watching.

    Apple lost stock because Steve Jobs didn’t announce the iPhone 5. If you honestly think the iPhone 5 is the worst iPhone, you need to stop being a biased prick who contradicts.

    The iPhone 5 has a dual-core A15-class CPU, a triple-core SGX543 GPU, a larger, 4-inch Retina display (a completely balanced saturation-wise). That’s just where the phone beats its competition. It’s enhancements over the iPhone 4S reach even longer: better iSight camera, better antenna design, better battery, LTE, better design, better FaceTime camera, etc. to call it the worst iPhone is just stupid.

    Samsung lost more than a billion dollars. You’re comparing that to posting a losing statement? People who want Apple products will still buy Apple products. Just the other day this asshole that I know — loves Android, of course — was going to buy an iPad mini because he could finally afford one, and thought the Retina Display was shit anyways. Now, he’s a dumbass, but its funny how even people who hate Apple jump on when they can afford it.

    Again, stop being a little biased bitch and move along to Cult of Android.

  • jahsoul

    Interesting read. I’d also like to add in that Apple have made great strides on their software fronts as well with Mountain Lion, iOS6 and tighter iCloud integrations. Most tech companies can compete against Apple on the either the hardware or software fronts but not both.

    It made great strides if you are a casual user. I use my Mac Pro for productivity (music) and I refuse to go past OSX 10.6.8. Upgrading to Lion was a disaster as it relates to my software being stable and I view Mountain Lion as the Windows 8 of Apple. I don’t care for iOS apps in a desktop. If I wanted to use apps, I would just use my iPod. But I understand that people like me are now considered the fringe market for Apple. This is brutally evident in the screwing over of Mac Pro users. I mean really, how many iterations of Mac Mini, Macbook Pro, and iMacs have we seen since 2010? smh…

    @Matthew, I agree. You friend is a clown. The last reason for me not wanting an iPhone or an iPad is its price.

  • Tinny

    2012=less innovative year ever for apple

  • site7000

    I don’t agree that perfection is a necessity given that Apple’s competition continues to sell products. In an honest head-to-head comparison (which Apple critics avoid like the plague) there aren’t any products that match Apple’s. (Yes, the Kindle is a better pure reader, but Apple doesn’t make a pure reader and isn’t interested in that market.)

    We won’t really be able to tell whether Apple has any competition until Apple can no longer sell products as fast as it can make them. Their all-new lineup hasn’t reached that point yet and, given continuing roll outs in overseas markets, it’s not likely to happen soon. The only real question is how many of each product can Apple make. Must be tough.

    As for the sold-called need for Apple to come with market-creating products on a quarterly basis, the question is “why?” They aren’t in the novelty business. And how could they realistically be making more money than they already are? And who else is producing market-creating products? Wall Street may have its head up its ass (or more likely just manipulating the market), but consumers don’t. Apple is going to have a very merry Christmas.

  • AldwinYoung

    I am still a diehard Apple fan enjoying the apple iPad mini
    And got myself this lovely case http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52kgsidAeBQ

    http://www.ipadcasereview.com/?s=iPear&x=0&y=0#sthash.QYp3zUfH.dpbs

  • jpadhiyar

    Brilliant post. You guys remember Tim said that this year was going to be momentous for Apple? Well, back then, all we knew was that there were going to be some upgrades (the usual stuff) and the same old stuff about iPads and iPhones but things really took a fantastic turn this quarter. There’s not one product where Apple has slacked: every inch has been perfected again.

    But then, things are not totally cool either: we’ve had Maps, we’ve had problems with iOS 6, and then of course there are other issues with the impact of pricing, stocks going down.. But I think that’s a phase Apple will manage.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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