How did Apple took over 2019? We would like to write down all the big launches of the company in 2019, the positive advances, the ups and downs of all.
Apple has brought us some newlook for its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops in the middle of the year, which were a bit disappointment to some people. That said, Apple took much decisive action in other respects, saving the best for last with a larger MacBook Pro 16-inch going on sale in November – which replaced the 15-inch notebooks, plus the MacBook 12-inch was killed off.
So in 2019 Apple essentially reshaped its laptop line-up to consist of the MacBook Air, along with the MacBook Pro 13-inch and 16-inch, and a year which was otherwise trundling along pretty quietly ended with a bang.
Headlines all over the world filled with super-sized 16-inch laptop that makes us feel it is the best MacBook Pro ever made. The large display is stunning and the battery ;ife is fantastic, which is a particularly laudable achievement given the performance packed into this machine.
One thing that is not something new to us that the price remains expensive, but at least the entry-level variant isn’t any dearer than the previous 15-inch model.
The MacBook Pro might be a useful kit, but it can suffer from some troublesome flaws, namely ghosting with the display, and speakers making nasty popping noises, rarely though. There were also issues with some MacBook Pro 13-inch 2019 models unexpectedly shutting themselves down. Apple admitted these problems existed, and provided the fixes immediately.
Other headache for Apple was a flight ban on some (older) MacBook Pro laptops was instigated by airlines in the US and across the globe. This was after some MacBook Pro 15-inch models were deemed a fire risk by the Federal Aviation Administration in the US.
So, how were Apple’s machinations with MacBooks reflected in the firm’s actual sales figures?
Well, 2019 was a somewhat up and down story in terms of the flow of revenue, with the last available quarter’s figures from IDC (Q3) showing that Apple dipped 6% with its Mac sales.
The previous quarter witnessed growth of almost 10%, which was second only to top-dog PC manufacturer Lenovo. Apple’s own fiscal Q2 figures (reported in April) observed a minor dip in Mac sales, with problems around Intel processor supplies highlighted as not helping (likely the same inventory issues referred to by IDC above – and this is potentially another reason for Apple to turn to ARM chips instead, which has long been rumored to be happening for Macs in 2020).
Overall, things were not so great for Apple, although right now they no longer received reports from the unit sales of Macs. These are all analyst estimates anyway, so must be taken with a degree of caution.
Further note that the Q3 figures only run up to the end of September, of course, so don’t include the impact of Apple’s new MacBook Pro 16-inch (which only went on sale mid-November).
MacBook sales may have only been so-so from what we can glean, then, but what about the iPhone? According to the most recent figures from Gartner (for Q3), Apple witnessed a considerable decline in sales of 12% in the smartphone market. IDC, on the other hand, pegged Apple as dipping a much less worrying 0.6%. China is a concern for Apple, though, with Huawei hugely increasing its dominance; and it’s a big market where Tim Cook’s firm can ill afford to lose its footing.
Apple did, however, reportedly get more iPhone 11 orders than anticipated upon launch, and increased orders for handsets as a result. Furthermore, profits (rather than revenue) remain particularly strong and way ahead of other manufacturers, according to another recent report, thanks to loyal customers in the US, Europe and Japan.
Mac Pro plus
Right at the close of the year in December, Apple released Mac Pro. It’s an incredibly powerful PC, and very smartly designed in terms of allowing for modular upgrades and being highly repair-friendly.
Mac Pro 2019 can be specified with up to a 28-core Intel Xeon processor, an 8TB SSD, and 1.5TB of ECC system memory (yes, 1,500GB of RAM).
Many headlines were fussing about how ridiculously expensive the Mac Pro is, and if you want the highest spec, you need to pay a bunch of $5.000. Yes, it is expensive, but the target are professionals, and not general customers.
For the likes of pro videographers who need heavyweight computing power, this is an excellent machine, and it comes with a matching seriously pricey Pro Display XDR which is equally premium (featuring a 32-inch Retina 6K display).
Despite the expense, and some of the much-highlighted pricing quirks, the Mac Pro 2019 is a definite win for Apple when it comes to the professional target audience. For those who really need the power, it’s a top-notch product which seriously future-proofs itself in terms of repairs and upgradability.
Having so much ups and downs with their hardware throughout 2019, what about software? Apple released its yearly update for macOS in the guise of Catalina, which was, on balance, a solid operating system release which certainly added some useful new features.
These included Sidecar which allows you to extend the Mac’s display to your iPad, basically giving you a secondary display for nothing (assuming you already own an iPad, that is), and voice control which facilitates issuing verbal commands to your Mac.
Also, iTunes has been removed, replaced with Apple Music, Podcasts, Books and TV, and other powerful apps. Particularly with the introduction of Apple TV, which gives macOS users access to the new subscription offering Apple TV+.
There wasn’t much to dislike with the latest release, aside from a few bugs, and probably the biggest sticking point for upgrading macOS users is that Catalina no longer supports 32-bit applications. That’s not really a problem for most software, but a minority who use some legacy apps which haven’t transitioned to 64-bit did feel some pain.
Apple did had a struggle with privacy blunder in 2019 when it comes to AI assistant. In August, it revealed that third-party contractors were listening to Siri conversation in an effort to improve and better train the digital assistant.
The problem being that these were folks outside of Apple, and while the data might have been anonymized, apparently some very sensitive situations were involved (such as sexual activity, or indeed criminal dealings), plus it was reportedly relatively easy to discover who the recordings might belong to.
In fairness, Apple apologized over the affair and has made it clear that this practice has ended, and third-party contractors will no longer participate in evaluating and improving the accuracy of Siri. Furthermore, more broadly, audio recordings won’t be used any longer, but rather anonymized, computer-generated transcripts – and only for users who have consented to sample analysis.
2019 was a pretty positive and productive year for Apple, with some enticing new product launches. The MacBook Pro 16-inch which represented a major victory for Apple. While a lot of what was written about this pro-targeted computer focused on exorbitant pricing, this PC actually represents a very competitive workstation proposition compared to rivals. And it has been greeted with some impressively positive feedback thus far from its target audience (professional creative types).
There are also some of the gremlins pertaining to the new MacBook Pro models, and that airline flight ban. And we saw a few macOS security scares, but nothing major – and certainly nothing as damaging as some past Apple security hiccups, although the Siri privacy incident was a distinct blot on Apple’s 2019.
On balance, we have to conclude that 2019 was a good year for Apple, witnessing some further interesting moves with services like the introduction of Apple TV+, which holds promise (even if it does suffer from a somewhat lackluster initial line-up).
Apple needs to capitalize on this Mac momentum going into 2020 – where we might see even bigger changes, such as the possibility of ARM-based machines we’ve previously touched on – and keep pushing with those services like Apple TV and Music (the latter exceeded 60 million subscribers in June of this year), not forgetting Apple Arcade.
Throw in some more genuine innovation – maybe we’ll even see those AR glasses, finally, or perhaps some form of AR headset – and the future Apple could be looking rosy indeed.