Apple has had a stellar 2015 as the company moves further and further away from the legacy of co-founder Steve Jobs and into a new era for the company, defined by current CEO Tim Cook.
Apple’s revenues have soared during 2015, totalling over $232 billion (£155 billion), up from $191 billion (£128 billion) in 2014.
While not as flashy on stage as Jobs was, Cook is an effective operator who has steered the company into new areas — such as enterprise — and has updated the stable of products to include the Watch, Apple Music, and various other software products, including the News app.
The iPhone 6S is, as has been pointed out, a relatively small update to the iPhone 6, but the phone broke Apple’s first week sales record and has been a big hit in China, where Apple has been making big strides, increasing revenue by over 100% to $13 billion (£8.7 billion) in the third quarter of 2015.
Apple also introduced a new iPad, aimed at business customers. The model competes against Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which is gaining traction with businesses, and is showing early signs of promise, despite a bumpy start.
Apple also introduced a new MacBook in 2015 — simply called MacBook — that sits below the Air, has a 12-inch screen, and scored highly in reviews. The MacBook Pro and iMac both received updates in 2015, including the addition of a Retina 21.5-inch iMac.
But it’s the behind-the-scenes aspect that Cook has really excelled in. Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs describes Cook as an effective operator who managed to cut down Apple’s supply chain issues to minimum, saving the company money and, in the process, making products that are of a higher quality than rivals.
Cook also built out Apple’s enterprise business from very little to $25 billion (£16 billion) since taking over the reigns at the company. Partnerships with IBM, Box, Salesforce, Microsoft, and others, have expanded Apple’s research beyond the consumer space.
This shift has firmed up Apple’s position as the high-end smartphone business begins to stagnate, creating both new customers and new lines of revenue for Apple products.
Cook’s supply chain expertise — which, more broadly, translates into an attention to detail that cuts out unnecessary steps and processes — has helped IBM, a long-time stalwart of the enterprise business, cut the amount of time it spends on technical support when compared to Windows users.
Apple has also moving towards a more outspoken role in the public debate about encryption. The company publicly opposes governments spying on users, for example.
Apple recently shuffled its executive staff, giving more power to Jeff Williams — who has been described as “Tim Cook’s Tim Cook” — and handing over the App Store, which has been criticised by Apple’s developer community, to Phil Schiller, who handles Apple’s marketing efforts.
The launch of Apple Music, which competes with Spotify, was broadly successful and analysts see potential for the service to grow to the same size as Spotify — around 20 million paying subscribers — by the end of 2016.
iOS 9 introduced the News app, which works with partners — from The New York Times to The Guardian to Business Insider — to bring content into one place. Publishers were initially unhappy with the kind of analytics that Apple was providing, but the company has introduced an update that gives them more insight.
Apple has also been introducing new stores worldwide, including in the Middle East and Europe. The company is also building a new campus in California for employees, at a cost of $5 billion (£3.4 billion).
Going into 2016, Apple will update its key product lines — including a refresh of the MacBook Air, which had a quiet 2015 — and will continue to expand in China and the enterprise business.
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