Apple Talk: Good times, bad times for Apple in 2010

All the pyrotechnics from the iPad sky rocket to the Ping damp squib…

...a relaxation on Flash-based apps in Apple's App Store. Apple and Adobe, traditionally happy bedfellows, had maintained a long-running spat over the ban on Flash on iOS devices. It came to an abrupt end in September with the announcement that Apple was relaxing restrictions on tools that could be used to create apps.

By October, Antennagate was a distant memory.

The company's shares hit an all-time high, flying past the $300 mark. Additionally, Apple went Back to the Mac and updated the elegant but flagging MacBook Air range and posited it as the future of notebook design.

It also took the wraps off some early features of Mac OS X 10.7, or Lion, which borrowed many of the touchscreen and UI innovations of the iOS devices.

It looks like the most interesting iteration of the big-cat themed OS for many years. Apple also announced it was opening a Mac App Store, a canny move intended to appeal to the casual computer converts that had bought the iOS devices. Developers were simultaneously excited and nervous.

The revamped MacBook Air

Apple believes the MacBook Air is the future of the notebook form - thin in physical and processing terms
(Photo credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET)

In November, The Beatles finally arrived on iTunes representing the end of the long and winding road that Beatles-nut Jobs had travelled to get the Fab Four into his company's music catalogue.

In the press release, Ringo Starr announced: "I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when The Beatles are coming to iTunes."

Apple has had perhaps its headiest year in its history. Its market capitalisation hovers just below the $300bn mark, its product portfolio is strong and it has a commanding presence in two new and rapidly expanding markets - smartphones and tablets. The health concerns that dogged the CEO have largely gone and the company has a strong executive team.

What's to come in 2011? New iPads and iPhones certainly. The new iPads will probably include cameras for FaceTime as well as higher quality displays and the new iPhones will almost certainly have an antenna that does not affect calls negatively in any way. At all.

The iPhone may also get a new US mobile carrier in Verizon. A trifling matter outside the US, but the carrier is rumoured to break AT&T's exclusive hold on the iPhone. The launch of the iPhone on the new network will win millions of new customers for Apple and is said to be a sure bet for early in the New Year.

The purpose of the massive $1bn datacentre in North Carolina that Apple has been building for the last year may well be revealed - a streaming iTunes model possibly?

New Macs? Dead cert. At the launch of the MacBook Air, Jobs claimed the device showed the future of the notebook form: not just thin structurally but relying increasingly on cloud and flash storage. It will be interesting to see how Apple follows through with this claim and whether Lion will be roaring on new devices in the summer.

Finally, the battle with new adversaries, in the form of Android and RIM, and old adversaries, Microsoft, will continue in mobile computing. After all, Apple is the largest mobile device company in the world, according to Jobs. We'll see whether Apple can consolidate and strengthen its position as that leader in the next 12 months.