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Apple's Year in Review 2011

The Top 10 Apple Events of 2011

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With 2011 nearly over, we stepped into our time machine and turned back the months to find the top ten Apple events of the year. We didn't limit the list to Apple itself; we looked at anything related to Apple, the Mac, and the Apple community.

Our list is in chronological order, as is fitting for a look back. We limited the list to ten events, but there were many other possibilities, some of which were just as important as the ones noted here.

If you have any suggestions for additional items, let us know.

1. Mac App Store Debuts on January 6th, 2011

Mac App Store Debuts on January 6th, 2011.
Courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

On January 6, 2011, Apple released OS X 10.6.6, an update to OS X that included the first public release of the Mac App Store. Building on the popularity of the App Store for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, the Mac App Store brought the same type of online application purchase to Mac users.

Many individuals, as well as industry experts, wondered if Mac application developers would flock to the store as a means to distribute their wares. The day after the Mac App Store opened, Apple announced that there were over 1 million Mac App downloads the first day. The die was cast, and developers began embracing the Mac App Store.

2. Steve Jobs Takes a Medical Leave of Absence

We didn’t know then that Steve Jobs wouldn't return to Apple in a full-time capacity ever again. He did make a public appearance or two, and was often seen around the Apple campus.

There were those who speculated about Mr. Jobs' health when he took the leave of absence, but here at About: Macs, we chose not to get involved, other than to report the facts provided. We continue to believe that even public figures should be allowed some privacy, especially when it comes to health issues.

We wished Mr. Jobs the best, and hoped he would be back, but he would not recover from declining health.

3. New MacBook Pros Include the New Thunderbolt Peripheral Interface

Apple introduces 2011 MacBook Pros with a Thunderbolt interface.
Courtesy of Apple

With the unveiling of its 2011 MacBook Pro models, Apple became the first computer manufacturer to use Intel's Light Peak technology. Re-named Thunderbolt, this peripheral interconnection system promises extremely high-speed performance, even outpacing the speed of internal computer buses.

You can use Thunderbolt to daisy chain up to six devices, as well as drive displays. Thunderbolt has the potential to dramatically change how peripherals and computers are designed and used, but so far, we're only seeing its potential, because few peripherals support Thunderbolt.

4. Apple Unveils the iPad 2

Apple Unveils the iPad 2
Courtesy of Apple

Steve Jobs was on hand for the unveiling of the iPad 2. This was Mr. Jobs' first major public appearance since he left Apple on a medical leave of absence. He received a standing ovation when he walked onstage, upstaging the unveiling of the iPad 2.

Mr. Jobs didn't just make an appearance; he took center stage as the ringmaster for the iPad 2 announcement.

The iPad 2 was quite a sensation as well.

5. Readers' Choice Awards 2011

Readers' Choice Awards 2011

The third annual About.com Readers' Choice Awards winners were announced. The awards are given to the products or services voted as the best in their class by About.com readers.

For 2011, the Mac portion of the Readers' Choice Awards included winners in 7 categories: System Utilities, Backup Applications, Browsers, Applications for Running Windows, Word Processors, Image Editors, and Home Theater Applications or Products.

The 2012 Readers' Choice Awards will be coming soon; check About: Macs often for information.

6. Apple Releases OS X Lion

Apple Releases OS X Lion
Courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

On July 20, 2011, Apple uncaged OS X Lion. This latest version of OS X had some interesting changes, including how it was sold. OS X Lion was initially only available as a download from the Mac App Store. Later in the year, Apple released a version of Lion on a USB thumb drive, available from its online store and retail stores.

If you haven't upgraded to OS X Lion yet, you may find our Lion Installation Guides helpful.

7. Apple Becomes the Most Valuable Corporation in the World

On August 10, 2011, Apple surpassed Exxon as the most valuable company in the world. The valuation was based on the closing market cap numbers for the day. Apple closed the day with a market value of $337.17 billion, while Exxon closed at $330.77 billion.

Quite a change from October, 1997, when Michael Dell, then-CEO of Dell Computer, said, when asked about Apple, "What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."

8. Steve Jobs Resigns From Apple

Steve Jobs Resigns From Apple
Courtesy of Apple

Steve Jobs tendered his resignation from Apple on August 24, 2011. Mr. Jobs' letter to the board started with:

"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come."

Mr. Jobs' departure was a blow to those who follow Apple events. Many had hoped that his medical leave of absence would lead to better health, but as we all know now, that was not to be.

You can read more about Mr. Jobs' departure from Apple in Steve Jobs, a Four-Act Play.

9. Apple Announces iPhone 4S

Apple Announces iPhone 4S
Courtesy of Apple

For almost the entire year, the rumor mill said that Apple would announce the iPhone 5 in the fall of 2011. Rumors are so unpredictable; this time, they got the timing of the announcement right, but the product name wrong.

Apple announced the iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011. The new iPhone includes a new personal assistant called Siri that uses voice recognition to perform tasks for the user. Siri goes well beyond dialing a phone number. In the demonstration, Siri was asked if a raincoat would be needed that day. Siri responded, "It sure looks like rain today," and then pulled up the local weather forecast.

10. Apple Founder Steve Jobs Dies at 56

Apple Founder Steve Jobs Dies at 56
Courtesy of Apple

On October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, passed away. Although no cause was originally given, it was later revealed to be the result of complications from his bout with pancreatic cancer.

According to his family, Mr. Jobs passed away peacefully, at home.

The Apple web site was changed to display only a photo of Mr. Jobs. When site visitors clicked on the photo, the following text was revealed:

"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."

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