Top 10 Apple Stories Of 2014

Huge Year For Apple

Apple has faced criticism for a lack of innovation in recent years, as the company had not created a new product category since the passing of Steve Jobs in 2011.

Under CEO Tim Cook, Apple answered those critics in 2014 by unveiling the Apple Watch, Apple Pay, the iPad Air 2, iOS 8, OS X Yosemite and, of course, the iPhone 6, which is currently the hottest-selling smartphone family on the market.

The company also made moves to boost its slumping iPad sales by inking a partnership with longtime rival IBM that aims to beef up the business use case for Apple's tablet. IBM will sell and develop enterprise-focused applications exclusively for iOS, the first of which rolled out just last month.

But those are just a few of the story lines that hit big for the company last year. Here are the top 10 Apple stories of 2014.

10. Icahn Sets His Sights On Apple

After throwing in the towel on his fight to stop Michael Dell from taking his company private, activist investor Carl Icahn turned his attention to Apple. In October, Icahn shared an open letter that he wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook. In the letter, titled "Sale: Apple Shares at Half Price," Icahn said that he believed Apple's stock price should be doubled. At the time of the letter, Apple's stock price sat at $100.80 per share, but Icahn believed that it should have been trading at $203 per share.

Icahn based the pricing off projected fiscal year 2016 and 2017 earnings and wrote that Apple could see its earnings increase by 30 percent.

Apple will report its latest quarterly earnings at the end of this month.

9. Apple Posts Record Q4 Results Despite Declining iPad Sales

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant reported September quarter revenue up 12.4 percent to $42.1 billion, beating out analysts' expectations of $39.9 billion.

It wasn't all good news for Apple, however, as the company saw its third straight quarter of dipping iPad sales. The company sold 12.3 million iPads in the quarter, down 13 percent from the year-ago period.

The September launch of the iPhone 6 fueled the company's record sales, offsetting the iPad dip, as Apple sold 39.3 million iPhones, up from 33.8 million a year ago.

"We are in the early going, and we are selling everything we are making, but I've never felt so great after a launch before," Cook said of the iPhone 6 sales at the time.

8. Apple Addresses Shellshock, Says OS X Is 'Safe' From Bug

In late September, Apple released a statement easing the minds of the many OS X users out there stating that the bug widely known as Shellshock was not a threat to them. The bug that has been compared to the devastating Heartbleed glitch got some attention from the Department of Homeland Security, which warned that Shellshock "may allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on an affected system," such as Linux and OS X.

Apple assured users that "the vast majority of OS X users are not at risk." The company said users who use advanced Unix services are at risk and the company was working on a software update for their protection.

7. Apple Launches iOS 8 Before It's Ready For Prime Time

Apple's launch of iOS 8 did not go over well initially as many users complained of crashing apps and saw the Health platform problems due to a bug discovered just before launch. Apple tried to solve the problem with an update in iOS 8.0.1, but that was even worse as a defect in the update rendered iPhones across the world useless. Users complained that they completely lost cell service and the Touch ID feature used to log into the newer iPhones didn't work.

Apple apologized via a statement and issued another update in early December.

6. Apple Bets Security Will Drive Mobile Payments Adoption

Apple's new mobile payment platform, Apple Pay, boasts ease of use for those who just can't stand to whip out a wallet in the checkout line and pay with a credit card or cash.

The real reason to expect Apple Pay to take off is because it is promises more security than credit cards. Given the plethora of breaches companies go through, Apple knows that large companies (and consumers) will welcome a more secure payment method with open arms, and that is what Apple believes it has delivered in Apple Pay.

Apple is using tokenization, a process that would assign a unique token to the chip inside its new iPhones, to keep the financial information encrypted and safe from hacks and breaches. Apple boasts that even it won't know what you're spending your money on.

5. Tim Cook Comes Out

In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly said he is gay in an op-ed piece on Bloomberg Businessweek, stating that he has never denied his sexual orientation but has not "publicly acknowledged it either, until now."

While stating that he is not much of an activist, as the head of arguably the most influential technology company in the world, Cook acknowledged that his announcement could greatly benefit gay rights. "If hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy," said Cook in the op-ed.

4. Apple Makes Its Biggest Acquisition Ever With Beats Electronics Purchase

In May, Apple confirmed its biggest acquisition ever with the purchase of Beats Electronics and Beats Music for $3 billion. Questions swirled around why Apple would pursue the deal and if it really was "all about the music," as Tim Cook tweeted.

Analysts and Apple watchers spent the weeks following the announcement debating what Apple wants with a headphone company run by two music moguls -- producer Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop artist Dr. Dre. The big speculation from partners speaking to CRN was that the deal was all about a ready-made retail distribution network for a yet-to-be-released smartwatch and a new line of wearables.

3. Apple Launches Apple Watch

Capping off the highly anticipated Apple Live event where the company launched the iPhone 6, Tim Cook also unveiled the rumored "iWatch" in the Apple Watch.

"We believe this product will redefine what people expect from its category," Cook said at the event.

Many companies have launched and or announced smartwatches, including Samsung, Motorola, LG and Microsoft, among others, but the product category has yet to take off.

Cook said the list of features of the Apple Watch is "a mile long," and released the SDK to developers right away to prepare third-party apps for the device's launch in "early 2015." It also released a number of pretty pictures showing design options for the new watch to whet consumers' appetites for the pricey gadgets.

2. Apple Breaks Records With iPhone 6 Launch

Apple launched its much-anticipated iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September, which are now the hottest-elling phones on the market. The new iPhones feature bigger screens, faster processors, sharper displays and thinner casings than previous models and come stocked with iOS 8.

In the first weekend of its release, Apple sold more than 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices, setting a new record. While the phone launched in 10 countries, what makes the record even more impressive is that the phone was not yet released in China, the largest smartphone market in the world.

1. Apple, IBM Ink Partnership, But Give No Details On Partner Incentives

Apple and IBM made waves across the tech industry with the news of a partnership. Under the deal, IBM will make business-specific applications exclusively for iOS and sell iPads and iPhones to enterprise customers. During the July-quarter earnings call, Cook revealed that Apple inked the partnership in order to turnaround sinking iPad sales.

The fallout from the announcement came when multiple channel partners of both IBM and Apple told CRN that they had not been contacted by either IBM or Apple about the partnership and were unclear as to whether the channel would have any place at all in this multimillion-dollar pact. Partners expressed that it is their hope that this partnership between the two tech giants does not turn IBM into a competitor by distributing the Apple devices with IBM apps through direct sales.