January 7, 2020

A look at Apple in the 2010s

A look at Apple in the 2010s

Apple saw some changes during the 2010s, from the death of co-founder Steve Jobs to the rise of several now-entrenched technologies. My own personal Apple product usage has also changed over the past decade. Here’s my thoughts on both of these aspects.

The rise and dominance of the iPhone

The 2010s is certainly the decade where smartphones became a dominant piece of consumer technology. While Apple’s iPhone is outsold by cheaper Android phones, over the past decade they became Apple’s dominant source of sales revenue; the iPhone made up two-thirds of Apple’s revenue by 2018.

Overall, smartphones themselves have eclipsed older flip/feature phones, and now are the dominant type of cell phone.

The debut and dominance of the iPad (and tablets)

iPad (2010 version)
Flickr photo by Sean MacEntee (CC BY)

When the iPad launched in 2010, I like others had some skeptism. However, the iPad’s helped make the tablet become an established electronics category. It’s even led to rival Microsoft developing its own tablet line.

The decline (and near-demise) of the iPod

Given the rise of tablet and smartphone sales, the popularity of MP3 players fell off in the 2010s. Thus, sales of Apple’s iconic iPod have plummeted (sales actually peaked in the previous decade, 2008 specifically); sales are now at a point where Apple’s stopped breaking out iPod sales figures. Apple also killed off a few models over the decade, including the iconic iPod Classic.

Apple’s attempt to kill off the headphone jack

Apple also tried to render the headphone jack obsolete. Starting with the iPhone 7, new iPhones no longer carry standard headphone jacks. Instead, one needs wireless headphones or a converter dongle for wired headphones (Apple also stopped including said dongle with iPhones for free). Of course, Apple also started selling AirPods, their own wireless earbuds, for a hefty $160.

I’ve been skeptical of Apple trying to kill off a longtime open standard (the 3.5mm headphone jack). I also initially wondered if AirPods would fall out of users’ ears and into a storm drain or something. Despite these concerns, AirPod sales have been strong; meanwhile, some other smartphone makers have also stopped offering headphone jacks.

The debut of the Apple Watch

Apple Watch
Photo by charlie0111 (Pixabay / CC0)

Apple introduced its own smartwatch take, the Apple Watch, in 2014. So far, the Apple Watch has been successful. Meanwhile, other smartwatches have either floundered, aren’t as popular, or (in Fitbit’s case) got bought out by Google.

Apple joins in the streaming wars

In 2019, Apple got in on the streaming wars with their own streaming service, Apple TV+. While a few of Apple TV+’s shows have gotten critical attention (namely “The Morning Show”), not much else has come of it so far. Well, aside from a brief amusing bit involving Aquaman in the “How It Should Have Ended” YouTube series.

The end of iTunes

This decade also brought something that many wondered if it’d ever happen: the end of iTunes. Apple’s split up the longtime, less-than-widely-beloved app into several smaller components.

The end of Macworld (as a print publication)

The long-running Mac user magazine Macworld ended its print version in 2014. It’s still available both as a website and in a digital publication format.

RIP Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs left management of Apple in August 2011, and passed away a few months later.

As I wrote at the time, Jobs’ influence on Apple’s been very strong; Jobs also played a prominent role in revitalizing the company in the late 90s. The turnaround from “circling the drain”/”Apple’s doomed!” to “one of the wealthiest companies on the planet” is quite a feat.

Apple low points

U2 Songs of Innocence album cover
U2’s “Songs of Innocence” cover
  • Remember Apple’s ill-fated early attempt to create online programming, namely “Planet of the Apps?” Needless to say, this “battle for the planet of the apps” didn’t work out for Apple.
  • Similarly, does anyone besides The Oatmeal recall Apple’s short-lived attempt at a social network, Ping? No, I didn’t think so, as it only lasted two years (2010 to 2012).
  • That time in 2014 when Apple tried to give everyone a new U2 album… in the most ham-fisted way possible (as a forced download/addition to iTunes). I didn’t mind getting the album. However, Apple still could’ve handled the whole thing much better, and avoid ticking off Apple users (and/or people who don’t like U2).

Personal Apple product usage in the 2010s

My own usage of Apple products over the decade:

  • I bought a Mac Mini in 2012; it was the first Mac I’d owned since the early 2000s. I sold it several years ago.
  • After years of using Android (or WebOS) smartphones, I switched to a cheap prepaid iPhone 6S Plus in 2019.
  • I also bought an iPad for the first time in 2019, after years of Android and Fire tablets. So far, I don’t have any regrets about buying the iPad or iPhone; they’ve both worked well so far.
  • In late 2019, I switched to using iCloud as a main cloud storage service. Apple seems to have somewhat fewer privacy problems versus Google; iCloud’s also slightly cheaper (50GB for $1 for iCloud, versus 100GB for $2 for Google Drive).

As for the future, I’d be open to buying a new Mac Mini again. A MacBook would also be nice, but that’s probably much too steep for me at this point.

What are your feelings about Apple over the 2010s?

Tags: 2010sAppleApple TVApple WatchiPadiPhoneiPodMacSteve JobsTech