by Buster Heine
2013 was an enormous year for Apple. Yes, there were hyped keynotes galore, fabulous new products, record breaking sales, and much, much more. But 2013 was about more than just hardware for Apple Inc. During Tim Cook’s second full-year reigning over Apple we saw the CEO really settle into his role helming the largest tech company in the world while Jony Ive’s influence grew to greater heights than in the Jobs-era as he spread his design tentacles from hardware to software.
Jony and Tim weren’t the only stars of 2013 though. There was the up-and-coming VP of software engineering Craig Federighi and Craig Federighi’s Hair, while Apple’s hiring of Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts received heaps of praise from both the financial, tech, and fashion markets. Oh and don’t forget about goons like David Einhorn, Carl Icahn and even cranky old John McCain getting their jabs in at Apple throughout the year.
Here’s Cult of Mac’s look back on Apple in the year 2013:
Tim Cook meeting with officials in China
Starting the year off right, Apple announced its best earning ever for Q1 2013. Apple announced earnings of $54.5 billion and a net profit of $13.1 billion. But the stock took a tumble for months as Wall Street worried that Apple’s phenomenal growth slowing. Don’t you love how a record-breaking quarter is still considered an “ouch?”
While investors worried about Apple not growing anymore, rumors began to circulate that the company was working on a $99 iPhone. As iPhone 5 sales were beginning to drop, many investors saw enormous potential in the idea of an unsubsidized $99 iPhone. The WSJ said it would be released by the end of 2013, but when Apple finally announced the iPhone 5c in the Fall the price tag was more than fans were hoping for.
China became a huge focus for Apple in 2013 with Tim Cook making his second to the country in January to talk to country officials and meet with China Mobile. Cook also addressed Apple employees at a staff meeting at the end of January to comment on Apple’s falling stock price, saying that the company is focused on mindshare, not marketshare, a point which he reiterated to the media throughout the year.
iWatch rumors were all the rage in February after the NYT and WSJ both reported that Apple has dedicated a team of over 100 designers to making a smartwatch. The iWatch will presumably use Bluetooth 4.0 to connect with an iPhone and show incoming messages to act as a bridge between your devices, though we haven’t heard anything official from Cupertino on it yet.
Einhorn’s plan called for Apple should distribute $47 billion in preferred stock to fixed-income investors, and call it iPrefs. The iPrefs shares would issue 50 cents per quarter in dividends indefinitely so that investors can get higher yields out of Apple’s stock and get a piece of the more than $100 billion in cash Apple has in the bank. Tim Cook denounced the entire episode as “a silly sideshow” while speaking at Goldman Sach’s annual tech conference.
Word of Jony Ive’s growing influence at Apple started to buzz as iWatch rumors grew along with a big iOS 7 redesign in the pipeline. As the new Human Interface designer, Ive planned to apply his hardware design philosophies to software by stripping iOS down to flat, modern, white spaces. The absence of Forstall also led improved collaboration between Ive and human interface lead Greg Christie, known for his bluntness, with insiders describing the relationship as “pleasant and cordial.”
Apple’s mapping efforts were the butt of all the tech jokes toward the end of 2012 thanks to the disastrous launch of its new maps app in iOS 6. Looking to quickly make up lost ground, Apple acquired WifiSlam, an indoor mapping company that developed ways for mobile apps to detect a phone user’s location in a building using Wi-Fi signals, paving the way for iBeacons to launch in iOS 7 later in the year.
Controversy surrounding cell phone unlocking came into the national spotlight thanks to a petition with 114,000+ signatures demanding the ability to unlock their iPhone without risking criminal penalties. President Obama came out in favor of legalizing unlocking and released a statement claiming consumers should be able to use their iPhones on another network if the devices has been paid for and the consumer and isn’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation.
Rumors of Apple’s plan for iTunes Radio started heating up alongside whispers that the iPhone 5s will have a fingerprint sensor. Samsung revealed its answer for the iPhone 5 with the Galaxy S 4 and all its gimmicky features, but Apple still managed to capture its 9th straight J.D. Power award for the iPhone.
After getting pounded by the Chinese media for its warranty policies, Tim Cook started April off by publishing a letter apologizing to customers in China. The letter, which was written in Chinese and posted to Apple’s website, said that Tim Cook and the rest of the company have been reflecting on the feedback regarding its warranty policies so that a repaired iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S will be covered under warranty for one year after it’s been repaired.
Apple released its financial results for the second fiscal quarter of 2013 that beat estimates with a reported $43.6 billion in revenue and a net profit of $9.5 billion, however profit shrank year-over-year for the first time in ten years, sending AAPL shares on another slide.
Rear casing for the iPhone 5c started making their appearance on the Internet in April partnered with new rumors that Apple would break from tradition and release two new iPhone units this year. Tim Cook fanned the flames more by teasing Apple’s upcoming product line for 2013 with vague hints during the quarterly earnings call. WWDC was also announced during April, but getting tickets was about as hard as winning the lottery as the event sold out in 71 seconds.
With WWDC on the horizon, Apple’s software engineers were put into “crunch time” mode to get iOS 7 ready in time for developers to appreciate the sweeping changes Jony Ive was rumored to bring to the OS.
Tim Cook headed to Washington D.C. to explain the why’s and how’s of Apple’s massive offshore cash horde before the Senate Sub-Committee Hearing to Examine Offshore Profit Shifting and Tax Avoidance by Apple Inc. Cook managed to appease Senator McCain and his frustration over having to update his apps.
The App Store celebrated its 50 billionth download, and after 86 bids sent Tim Cook’s CharityBuzz into the stratosphere, some crazy bastard walked away paying $610,000 in the charity auction just to sip some coffee with Timmy at Apple HQ.
Apple went the entire first half of the year without announcing a single new product until the keynote at WWDC.
After Scott Forstall was outed as VP of iOS Software Design, Jony Ive redesign the entire system by stripping out the heavy textures, shadowing, and skeuomorphic features, in favor of a flatter, white interface. iOS 7 also featured a number of important software features, such as iBeacons and native support for third-party controllers for the first time ever.
iTunes Radio was announced at the event as the company’s answer to Pandora. Apple didn’t announce any new iDevices, but it did sign a $30 million iPad contract with the 2nd largest school district in the nation.
OS X 10.9 was previewed at WWDC as Apple announced they were ditching their cat-themed names in favor of California-inspired names with the debut of Mavericks. The update featured big improvements to Safari, notifications, Maps for OS X, and iCloud keychain.
MacBook Airs were also shown off at WWDC with all-day battery life thanks to Intel’s new Haswell processors. The new machines featured 2X GPU execution units 40% faster graphics and 45% faster SSDs. A trailer for the new Mac Pro was also shown during Phil Schiller’s segment of the keynote, but in a rare Apple move, pricing and a launch date weren’t immediately available. A new Airport, Airport Express and Time Capsule were also announced at the event.
from YSL to AAPL, Paul Deneve was Apple’s first big fashion hire of the year, but not the last.
Fashion CEOs were all the rage when it came to new Apple hires this year, starting in July when the company nabbed Paul Deneve, former Yves Saint Laurent CEO. Deneve was hired as a vice president and will be working on special projects – probably something related to iWatch – reporting directly to Tim Cook. A Hulu exec was also hired to help negotiate ad deals for Apple TV.
During its earnings call for the third fiscal quarter, the company was just barely able to beat Wall Street’s estimates by reporting revenue of $35.3 billion and a net profit of $6.9 billion, aided by the sale of 31.2 million iPhone (a Q3 record).
News of the NSA’s PRISM program rocked the country when it was revealed that NSA created a $20 million spy program, that has been allowed to directly access citizens’ private data on Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple servers – the companies joined the program in that order as well. All companies denied involvement in PRISM initial, but by July Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and others formed a broad alliance with civil liberties groups to demand for increased transparency regarding the U.S. government’s spy programs on citizens.
Apple unveiled a redesigned Logic Pro X at the end of the month and it also managed to work out a settlement with Amazon over the use of the phrase “App store” before their trial went to court. By the end of the month the iPhone 5c had practically been officially confirmed thanks to a Pegatron labor abuse report.
As rumors regarding the mythical gold iPhone started to heat up, Ashton Kutcher brought his sexy smolder to the Steve Jobs death stare with the wide-release of JOBS, the first biopic of Steve Jobs since his death in 2011. The film’s release was pushed back from April after received mixed reviews during its screening at Sundance. The film only brought in $6.7 million its opening weekend, although the actor did share some deep insights into how he stepped into the role of Jobs.
Carl Icahn emerged as Tim Cook’s latest nuances regarding AAPL shares and a stock buyback program. The famous billionaire investor took to Twitter to proclaim the stock as being “extremely undervalued.” AAPL shares subsequently shot up and the two later met to discuss the stock over dinner, but Icahn has been pestering Cook and Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer to do a large buyback sooner rather than later.
President Obama hosted a meeting with Tim Cook, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google computer scientist Vint Cerf and other tech executives and civil liberties leaders for a closed-door meeting about government surveillance. Those off-the-record discussions centered on the controversy surrounding the NSA as well as commercial privacy issues such as online tracking of consumers as Apple and other tech companies have pushed for more transparency over how often the NSA request private data.
Months of speculation and rumors surrounding the iPhone finally culminated with the September 10th keynote where Tim Cook and the gang revealed not one, but two new iPhones – the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s included new features like Touch ID, a 64-bit A7 processor, the M7 motion co-processor, an improved camera with dual led flash, while the iPhone 5c was a cheaper plastic version of the popular iPhone 5.
Jony Ive announced that he and famed designer Marc Newson were teaming up to create a one-of-a-kind auction block of items – including solid gold ear pods, a custom Leica, red Mac Pro and more – to benefit Bono’s Project (RED) charity to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa.
iOS 7 was launched publicly on September 18th while Apple enjoyed its most successful iPhone launch weekend with over 9 million units sold. To compete against Google Docs and Microsoft Office, Apple announced that it was making its iWork suite of apps free to new Mac and iDevice owners.
The iMac finally got an update at the end of September to include fourth-generation Intel quad-core Haswell processors,NVIDIA GeForce 700 series graphics, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and faster PCIe flash storage options were added to the popular all-in-one desktop.
Apple’s new retail queen takes over in Spring 2014
Apple went nearly a year before replacing its failed Retail Chief, John Browett, but the company made a huge splash by announcing Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, will be joining the Cupertino company to take up a newly-created position as senior vice president of retail and online stores. Ahrendts will report directly to CEO Tim Cook and will oversee the strategic direction, expansion, and operation of Apple’s retail business. It’s suspected that Ahrendts is being groomed to become CEO after her amazing work turning around the Burberry brand.
Following the success of the iPhone event, Apple also announced two new iPads in October – iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. At 7.5 mm thick and one pound in weight, the iPad Air also packed enough battery for 10 hours of use with the new A7 processor, improved camera, dual mics, and M7 coprocessor. The iPad mini with Retina display was announced with a resolution of 2048 X 1536 for it’s 7.9-inch screen, but manufacturing issues caused supply constraints for the first several weeks of availability in November.
Mavericks was released on October 22nd, but Apple shocked us by making it the first ever free OS X upgrade for users on Snow Leopard or later. The new Mac Pro was also officially announced at the iPad keynote with starting price of $2999, while the MacBook Pro with Retina display got beefed up with faster graphics and longer battery life.
At the end of the month Apple announced just announced its Q4 2013 earning of $36 billion in revenue with $8.2 billion in net profit. Along with the 9 million iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c units it sold during launch weekend, Apple says it sold 33.8 million iPhones, along with 14.1 million iPads – both an improvement from the same quarter last year
Despite winning its $1 billion case against Samsung in 2012, the two companies went back to court this year for a retrial that saw Apple coming out on top, again. This time the jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple an extra $290 million for patent infringement damages, but the legal war is still far from over.
Tim Cook took to the The Wall Street Journal to write an op-ed arguing in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, a proposed piece of U.S. legislation that protects against sexual identity and gender discrimination in the workplace. Cook occasionally gives media interviews, but him writing something like an op-ed out from under the umbrella of Apple was pretty significant.
Apple continued to push back against the NSA by publishing a report outlining the different kind of government requests it has received for its customers’ personal data. The report breaks down the number of customer account and device requests from different governments around the world, and the U.S. unsurprisingly leads the pack with the number of requests for each area.
PrimeSense, the Israel-based company behind the 3D motion tracking in the original Xbox Kinect, was scooped up by Apple for a whopping $345 million. It was the largest of many acquisitions Apple made in 2013 leading many to speculate how Apple might implement the company’s full-body motion tracking into its products.
The iPad mini with Retina display finally went on sale in November, but thanks to insane demand coupled with manufacturing problems, supplies were hard to find until mid-December. Oh, and some British dude published the first biography on Jony Ive.
Apple Stores across the U.S. received their biggest upgrade at the end of the year as the company activated iBeacons at 254 stores. The iBeacons use Bluetooth low-energy, to track users’ iPhones as they roam the store and then send notifications to users alerting them to deals or info regarding products, but we found the experience to be lacking.
Nearly six months after teasing the new Mac Pro at WWDC units finally go onsale on Apple.com but shipping estimates quickly slipped into early 2014 for the new mega-computer. Not satisfied with its huge PrimeSense buy, the company with more money than god also decided to splurge on the social media analytics company Topsy for over $200 million.
And to top off the year, Tim Cook and the crew at Cupertino managed to finally managed to pull in their white whale – a contract with China Mobile. Armed with a cheaper iPhone 5c, Apple finally has access to the world’s largest carrier and the 760 million subscribers that come with it, setting up 2014 to potentially be the most lucrative year Apple has ever seen.