Apple thrives despite Jobs being away
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2009 was a year for the record books for Apple.
Besides recording three of the most profitable quarters in company history and ending the year with $36 billion in the bank, Apple had its biggest iPhone opening weekend ever this summer.
his first public appearance since his return
from medical leave.
And most of this happened without Chief Executive Steve Jobs. Last year's questions over his physical appearance were answered when he announced in late January he'd be taking a leave of absence to deal with a medical problem that he found out was "more complex" than a hormone imbalance. Jobs declined to be more specific about his condition, which led to discussion of how much of executives' private lives we should be privy to. By late spring it was revealed he underwent liver transplant surgery. Chief Operations Officer Tim Cook handled the reins for six months. By July, Jobs was seen back on the Cupertino campus. His first public appearance came a short time later at Apple's September iPod event.
Like most years, 2009 was punctuated by a series of signature Apple product launch events, though this time the majority were simple refreshes of hardware. In software, Apple saw the release of the latest iteration of its operating system, Mac OS X 10.6, a refreshed iTunes 9, and an updated iPhone OS--now with copy/paste and multimedia messaging. And as has been true for each of the past two years, the release of the iPhone 3GS was a spectacle in itself.
Meanwhile, developers have flocked to Apple's mobile platform, with more than 100,000 apps currently available in the App Store. But Apple's gatekeeping policies have tempered excitement for some developers. Early in the year those creating applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch began complaining about a lack of transparency in the App Store review policy. Grievances regarding Apple's inconsistent practices, lack of communication, and playing favorites grew more vociferous as the year wore on. The last straw seemed to be when Apple rejected Google Voice, the popular service from its one-time close partner, prompting the FCC to get involved. As a result, Apple was forced to open up a bit and we got a glimpse of how the App Store review process works.
That wasn't the only word the federal government wanted to have with Apple. Along with several other Silicon Valley giants, Apple was accused of agreeing not to hire each other's employees and a Department of Justice investigation is still ongoing.
In other legal news, Apple wrapped up its suit against Psystar. The Florida-based company was found to have violated Apple's copyright in selling Mac OS X preinstalled on non-Mac hardware, and the two came to a preliminary settlement. But a new drama unfolded with smartphone competitor Nokia, which sued Apple for not paying royalties on a copyrighted smartphone technology.
Unfortunately for the most passionate of Apple fans, two of the year's most anticipated products from Apple never came to fruition. Looks like we'll have to wait until 2010 to see if the mythical Apple tablet or the Verizon iPhone finally appear.
--by Erica Ogg
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