The 10 Biggest Apple Stories Of 2015

A Year Of Innovation

Between blockbuster sales and newly released mobile products, Apple has had an insane year.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company wowed consumers by releasing new mobile devices throughout the year, including the company's first new product since the tablet -- the Apple Watch -- as well as a new giant iPad Pro tablet. Meanwhile, Apple also made significant strides to attract a less familiar market, the enterprise space, through new productivity features in its iOS 9, as well as a partnership with Cisco to match the iPhone with Cisco's enterprise VoIP products.

Following are 10 of the biggest Apple stories in 2015, including both its newly released products and news relating to its channel partners.

10. Apple Hit By First Large-Scale Security Breach Of Apps

In September, Apple faced the first large-scale security breach of apps in its iOS App Store through malware called XcodeGhost, according to Santa Clara, Calif.-based security vendor Palo Alto Networks.

According to Palo Alto, at least three dozen Chinese-based applications became infected by XcodeGhost malware after software developers used an unauthorized version of Apple's developer tool kit. After the XcodeGhost embedded malicious code onto these apps, personal device and app information could be uploaded to the malware's command and control server.

While no specific number was confirmed, Palo Alto stated in a blog post that the breach could affect hundreds of millions of iOS users.

9. Apple Releases iOS 9, El Capitan Operating Systems

Apple lifted the curtain on iOS 9 in June at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

The new upgraded OS version also contains a multitasking feature for tablets that allows iPad users to use two separate apps on the screen at the same time, either side by side with a split view or in a picture-in-picture view. The OS touts enhanced features of QuickType, a virtual keyboard allowing users with iPads to type more easily on their devices using a keyboard and trackpad.

The smartphone giant also unveiled its newest OS X upgrade aimed at Apple's desktop and server base, El Capitan, as a performance booster to its preceding Yosemite operating system, with features like enhanced built-in apps and improved window management for end users.

8. Apple Takes The Wraps Off Its New MacBook

Apple in March took the wraps off the newest addition to its notebook lineup -- the ultrathin MacBook. This notebook joined Apple's laptop series, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina display.

According to Apple, the MacBook lineup has experienced 20 percent growth, despite an overall declining notebook industry.

The MacBook is 13.1 mm thick -- 24 percent thinner than Apple's MacBook Air, at about 17 mm -- and stands as Apple's lightest notebook at 2 pounds, vs. MacBook Air's 2.38 pounds. The new MacBook has a 12-inch Retina display and resolution of 2,304 by 1,440 pixels.

7. Apple Unveils Its Upgraded iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

Apple in September announced new upgrades to its trademark iPhone 6 smartphone. Apple's new iPhone s6 and iPhone s6 Plus provide important upgrades to the company's iPhone 6 original phone released last fall.

While the iPhone s6 and iPhone s6 Plus tout the same design as their predecessors, with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, respectively, they have new style options, such as a new Rose Gold finish and a 7000 series aluminum frame.

Internally, the iPhone 6s will contain Apple's quicker processor, the 64-bit A9 chip, as well as 2 GB of RAM. In addition, the new iPhone 6s brings in new options, like a 3-D touch capability, which enhances how users touch their phone screens.

6. Apple Goes On Enterprise Offensive With New VAR Rebate Incentives

Apple in July launched a new rebate program for VARs aimed at driving the consumer technology giant's iPad and Mac products deeper into the enterprise market.

As part of its corporate sales offensive, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company moved 2 percent of the iPad price and 1 percent of the Mac price to a back-end rebate incentive tied to new sales volume targets.

The rebate incentive, which took effect in July, took a page out of Cisco Systems' popular VIP incentive program playbook, launched by the networking giant 12 years ago to increase the profitability of partners investing more in driving sales growth in key technologies.

5. Apple Breaks Records With First-Quarter Earnings Call

Apple sold a record-breaking 74.4 million iPhones for its first quarter, ended Dec. 27, powering $18 billion in profit on a nearly 30 percent increase in sales, to $74.6 billion.

Investors cheered what some are calling the biggest profit in corporate history, sending Apple shares up 6 percent in after-hours trading, to $115.44, during the earnings call in January. Meanwhile, partners applauded the high levels of smartphone sales that drove Apple's success in the quarter, stating that they have seen the high demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in particular among clients.

4. Apple Reportedly Dumps VMware Licensing Agreement

Apple reportedly decided not to renew an expiring VMware enterprise licensing agreement and will be stepping up deployment of KVM, an open-source alternative to VMware server virtualization, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter told CRN in October.

Apple was using server virtualization and cloud management software from Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware to run parts of its corporate IT infrastructure, according to the sources, who all spoke on condition of anonymity.

The sources said Apple's decision to cancel the VMware ELA came about a month after its representatives had verbally agreed to extend the deal, which was first signed in 2011 and renewed for two years in 2013. One of the sources said the VMware ELA extension would have cost around $20 million.

3. Apple Releases The Big-Screened iPad Pro

Apple called the new iPad Pro, unveiled during a special event in September and released in November, the "biggest news in iPad since iPad." The device's screen is a whopping 12.9 inches, well beyond the iPad Air 2's 9.7 inches.

Partners applauded Apple's announcement of a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, contending that the tablet's beefed-up screen, as well as its critical keyboard and stylus productivity accessories, will spark refreshes across the channel. Apple's new tablet touts new enterprise-targeted features, such as iOS 9's split-view screen and picture-in-picture screen viewing capabilities, as well as the $99 Apple Pencil, an accessory stylus for writing notes and drawing on the device. The new iPad Pro is available through Apple Authorized Resellers in addition to at the company’s retail stores.

2. Apple Unleashes The Apple Watch

Apple in April released its newest product since the iPad -- the Apple Watch.

The smartwatch, which became available in April, is a pioneer in the wearables industry through its groundbreaking connectivity features, such as a built-in speaker and microphone for calls, instant social media and email notifications, and Digital Touch, a tool allowing users to send a quick sketch or message to other Apple smartwatch users, CEO Tim Cook said.

Apple Watch is available in 38 mm and 42 mm sizes, as well as multiple materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, 18-karat gold and 18-karat rose gold. Prices range from $349 for the aluminum sports model to more than $10,000 for the gold, high-end model.

1. Apple And Cisco Partner To Optimize iPhones On Enterprise VoIP

Cisco and Apple in August said they are teaming to optimize Cisco networks for Apple iOS-based devices and apps. Cisco said it will also optimize collaboration tools like Cisco Spark, Cisco Telepresence and Cisco WebEx on iOS devices, allowing the company to deliver business services across mobile and cloud environments. Apple and Cisco also will work together to make the iPhone a better business collaboration tool in Cisco voice and video environments.

Solution providers cheered the blockbuster Cisco-Apple partnership that they said could lead to tighter integration between Apple iPhones and iPads and Cisco enterprise collaboration products. Apple and Cisco provided no specific product integration plans or time line for the partnership.