People gravitated toward the iPhone 6S, sure, but Apple offered a number of new products and services this year.
When it comes to Apple, things aren’t so simple anymore.
The company’s 2015 was punctuated by high-risk, big-ticket launches that have taken Apple into whole new areas. It’s no longer just that iPhone company (though its revenue may suggest otherwise). Cupertino, California-based Apple this year introduced a smartwatch, a subscription music service, a new streaming-TV box and a larger tablet, designed for the workplace.
For consumers, and particularly for Apple fans, all the activity may have been a little dizzying. The array of new products and services came on top of changes to the popular iPhone franchise, which got its customary annual upgrade with the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus and which still accounts for roughly two-thirds of Apple’s total sales.
It was those two smartphones that helped Apple have its “most successful year yet,” CEO Tim Cook said on a call with analysts in October.
The biggest question at the start of the year centered on the Apple Watch. The wearable, initially teased in the latter half of 2014, marked the first new device category to emerge under CEO Tim Cook. It arrived after other tech companies had tried, and failed, to make wearables the next hot thing.
The Apple Watch hit the market in April with no shortage of hype, complete with celebrity endorsements and in-store appointments for fittings. Despite a dominant market share and reassuring comments from executives, the gadget has yet to prove itself essential to customers.
Apple fans, meanwhile, had been patiently waiting for the company to show off something thrilling in the home entertainment department ever since Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs teased that the co-founder had “cracked TV.” That was back in 2011.
Apple’s 2015 year in review (pictures)
Though it didn’t produce a full television, the world’s most valuable company finally unveiled an updated Apple TV streaming box, its first revamp of the product in three years. The company sees iPhone-like promise in the new Apple TV, fueled by its push to get developers to build apps for the box.
Then there was Beats, which Apple acquired last year for $3 billion. Apple morphed the music service into a $9.99-a-month subscription offering called Apple Music that includes a fresh angle, with former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe heading up the dedicated Beats Radio channel. After the initial three-month free trial, Cook said, 6.5 million customers opted to become paying subscribers. It isn’t exclusive to iOS users either. Apple launched an Android version of the service last month.
Apple wants to get you excited about tablets again with the iPad Pro.
Apple also got into the jumbo-tablet business with its 13-inch iPad Pro, complete with an attachable keyboard and a product calls the Pencil (what everyone else calls a stylus). It’s Apple’s take on an area already carved out by Microsoft’s Surface Pro franchise, which itself got an update this year. The jury is still out on whether the new entry will reinvigorate interest in tablets, which has waned over the past several years.
Perhaps Apple’s biggest achievement in 2015 wasn’t what it did, but the eco-minded way it went about things. Environmental charity Greenpeace independently praised the company for its green credentials — putting it right at the top of the list of tech industry giants doing their bit for the planet. Using renewable energy and sustainable power, and buying up forests to protect are among the things that earned Apple the accolade.
Of course there were the customary updates to its core smartphone, tablet and computer lineups. Apple’s iPhone 6S offered more internal upgrades and a new marquee feature, 3D Touch, a pressure-sensitive display that performs different tasks depending on how hard you press on the screen. The new 12-inch MacBook, meanwhile, was all minimalism and nifty engineering but suffered from underwhelming battery life and performance.
And so a year of experimentation has come and gone. Apple’s next challenge: showing us why we need all these new products and services.
Apple declined to comment.