Apple: 2010 in review

2010 was a crazy year for Apple nerds, wasn’t it? Let’s take a look at what happened.

The Hits

iPad — I mean, this is so obvious it hurts. In a single product release, Apple moved the tablet computer from a clunky, pen-based Windows experience into a graceful, fast, easy-to-use glimpse into the future of computing.

iPhone 4 — Each model of the iPhone has sold better than the previous one. The iPhone 4 is no exception, as Apple sold 1.7 million handsets in three days. Beyond simple sales numbers, iPhone 4 brought FaceTime, the Retina Display, the A4 and more to an already mature handset. Even with antenna issues, the iPhone 4 continues to rocket upward.

MacBook Air — While the previous versions of the MacBook Air were underpowered and under-featured, the crop of Airs are serious machines. With an all-new design that Steve Jobs called “the future of notebooks,” the Air is set to change the tone of Apple’s mobile computers in the future. The new 11.6-inch model brings a Mac compact notebook back to the market after missing for years. It’s a welcome addition to the Mac line.

iOS 4 — Multi-tasking. Multi-tasking. Glorious multi-tasking. While Apple added tons of new APIs, features like folders and orientation lock, multi-tasking on iOS is the news of the year for Apple’s mobile operating system. Powering the Apple TV, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, iOS 4 is the operating system to beat for companies like Google, Microsoft and Palm/HP.

… and The Misses

iPad — I know this is on both lists. While the iPad is great — errr, magical — it can be frustrating to use. Not all users enjoy touch-screen typing, and the lack of a centralized file management service like the Finder makes it annoying to move documents on and off the iPad easily. I am hoping iOS 5 adds Finder-like functionality to the iPad, but I am not holding my breath.

Lion Announcement — While Apple is already boasting about Mac OS X Lion, the demo given to the public a few months ago left me … underwhelmed. Things like Mission Control, Launchpad and full-screen apps are just extensions of existing window UIs in OS X. While I am hoping Lion will have some cool under-the-hood improvements. If it does, Steve didn’t show it off this year. So I’m calling the Lion Announcement a miss. Will Lion be a hit for Apple in 2011? Time will tell, but I think it will take more than new window UIs to impress users. The Mac App Store is coming to Snow Leopard in just a few days, taking a little ammunition away from Lion.

Ping — I mean, really? The world doesn’t need another social media network. Especially one so limited in focus as Ping. Coupled with a lack of Facebook integration and third-party app access, Ping just doesn’t make much sense to me. I’ve got it disabled on my machines, and that isn’t going to change.

iPod nano — Talking about things that don’t make sense … the iPod nano blows my mind. And not in a good way. The new device has less features than previous models, and lacks the critical physical controls that make using such a device while running easier. I just don’t get how this one made it out the door.

Xserve — Finally, the Xserve. RIP, my rack-mountable friend. While I won’t rehash the whole thing here, I suggest you go check out my editorial from back in November.

Looking Ahead

2011 is already looking exciting. OS X 10.7, new hardware, new mobile carriers and new iOS features are all expected.

So, dear readers, what did you like most about Apple in 2010? See anything missing from the list of misses? Fire off in the comments below!

Stephen Hackett, formerly a Lead Mac Genius at Apple, now spends his days running the IT department of a large non-profit in Memphis, TN. He writes about Apple, design and journalism at Like all twenty-somethings, you can find him… Full Bio