Special: 2006: The Wrapup
2006 was a good year for Apple in many ways, as it was a year of change. In hopes of making 2007 an even better year, we’re doing a cliché retrospective of 2006 as a way of putting it behind us. It was a decent year for Apple stockholders, the Intel transition went rather smoothly, but was not the “year of Apple in the living room” that many had hoped. iBook, PowerBook, eMac, Power Mac, and Classic were left behind in 2006. Plus, we didn’t get the “iPhone” and Leopard is still being finished up:
January – March
The year started off with a “maintenance keynote” of sorts with the most focus on software, more things being sold on the iTunes Store, and the Intel transition. What was surprising was that two Intel Macs were introduced: the MacBook Pro and the iMac. Both machines looked like their predecessors in many ways and a lot of people were a tad disappointed with the name of the new portable. Besides that, many complained about the lack of other updates, such as consumer electronics or a true video iPod. They did get the iPod Radio Remote at least. Later that month, Disney bought Pixar.
February was rather quiet with the exception of a 1GB iPod nano added to the lineup for a mere $149 on the 7th and small event at the end of the month. Events like this were starting to become regular for Apple and this one promised “Fun New Products”. These products turned out to not be all that fun, but instead just an Intel-powered Mac mini (okay that’s useful), some expensive leather iPod cases, and the iPod Hi-Fi, a $350 box o’ speakers coupled with an iPod dock. It was lacking in a few departments, such as video out, an RF remote, and good design. Sure, it didn’t look bad, but there were more attractive products priced a lot lower. Also, a favorite of ours, Camino hit 1.0 and the billionth iTunes item was sold.
April – June
Shortly after Apple’s rather quiet 30th birthday, the next big news item to roll out of Cupertino was Boot Camp, a beta application that allowed you to reboot your Mac into Windows, as long as it was one of the new Intel-based models The concept was as revolutionary as rebooting into OS 9, but it proved that the new Macs were capable of running Windows, and thus, Parallels Desktop was released which allowed you to run Windows within a window, much like VirtualPC, but at normal speeds.
May 16 saw the introduction of the MacBook, and replaced all the iBook G4s and the 12″ PowerBook G4. It featured a 13″ widescreen, design that was similar to the iBook, built-in iSight, a glossy screen, and a magnetic latch that wasn’t really a latch. It was also available in black. Pearson also got PowerSchool from Apple.
In the month where the iPod surpassed beer drinking, the U2 iPod was brought back and was essentially a video iPod with a red Click Wheel and a black back. This wasn’t much of a surprise, since the original U2 iPod sold fairly well, as did the updated one with a color screen. June 29 was the day something came to the surface that we’re still hearing about today: stock option grants. Apple announced that they’d be conducting an internal investigation of these stock option grants to find out if there were any problems.
July – September
The eMac’s demise came on the 5th of July, after almost 4 years of being in Apple’s product lineup. It was replaced with an $899 scaled-back Intel iMac. Later that month, a wireless Mighty Mouse was introduced that utilized Bluetooth and a laser for tracking rather than an LED.
August meant WWDC this year, and, as predicted we got to see Leopard, or at least a few pieces of it. Not much was shown to give people the wow-factor over Tiger, but with it taking this long, we’re expecting there to be more than just iChat & Mail improvements, Boot Camp & Front Row built-in, Spaces, and Time Machine. Also thrown out to the general public was the new Intel Xserve and Mac Pro (the Power Mac’s replacement). This signaled the end of the PowerPC-era. Also in August, the Iconfactory turned 10 and relaunched their site and Apple issued a battery recall.
September was all about the iPods and iTunes. The regular iPods were updated slightly with brighter screens, lower prices, and a few more features, but remained pretty much the same. The nanos were changed to feature aluminum enclosures (like the iPod minis of the past), eliminating the scratching problems and ensuring that people can get them in pink once again. The 1GB nano was removed from the lineup after a little more than 7 months, and the iPod shuffle was slimmed down to something that looked more like a remote than an iPod. iTunes 7 was introduced and offered tons of interface changes, better ways of managing all the various forms of content in one’s library, and changes to iPod options. Also, some device that is being called the iTV was talked about and we should see that in 2007.
October – December
What was the big news for Apple in October? Besides the iPod turning 5, a conclusion was reached in the stock options investigation finding that Steve Jobs was not involved, no current employees were involved, and everything happened between 1997 and 2002 (it was all in the past, ya know, back in those days of PowerPC Macs and OS 9). Oh, and a PRODUCT(RED) iPod nano was thrown out there for us.
The rest of the year was rather quiet, as it always is, as everyone is gearing up for January’s Macworld Expo. The MacHeist project came and went and ended up raising $200,000 for charity and selling over 16,800 bundles of shareware programs. Adobe released a beta of Photoshop CS 3, and a huge controversy erupted in regard to the icon and splash screen. This shows how bored the Mac community truly is.
Last week, Steve Jobs did hire outside legal help to deal with the stock options scandal. Although we’re not sure what it means exactly, it does point out that this mess isn’t exactly over.
No matter how you slice it, 2006 was the best year for Mac users since, well 2005. As it was a transition year in many regards, we’ll just have to wait and see what shows up in 2007.
See you in 2007.