History raged like river rapids in 2001, but in the relatively obscure backwater known as the computer industry, a company called Apple had a pretty good year. A look back reveals that Apple worked hard to swim against the bleak current that swept through the industry this year--and despite some failures, made some solid progress.
January. 2001 is off to a stylish start when Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs introduces the five-pound, titanium-clad PowerBook G4 at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Also debuting in January are iTunes, Apple's MP3 music software, and the SuperDrive DVD burner. Later in the month Apple announces a $195-million loss in its previous quarter.
February. At Tokyo's Macworld Expo, Jobs unveils faster iMacs bearing psychedelic colors and CD burners. Apple also gives the Cube one last spin, boosting its processor speed and adding a CD burner. Microsoft shows off early versions of Windows XP, some aspects of which resemble Apple's Mac OS X.
March. Mac OS X, the most significant revision of the Mac's operating system, ships. It's slow and lacks software, but early adopters embrace it. More significant, Apple delivers version 2 of its Final Cut Pro video editor. And the Mac world loses a voice: MacWeek, an online publication whose print version debuted in 1987, folds.
April. Titanium pays off: Apple announces a quarterly profit of $43million--sofa-cushion change for Bill Gates but ahead of analyst predictions. Apple also delivers version 5 of its QuickTime multimedia software and sells its 5 millionth iMac.
May. The redesigned iBook debuts, just in time for the education buying season. The four-pound, under-$2,000 iBook quickly upstages the costlier PowerBook G4. Apple begins installing OS X on new Macs, though the dearth of native software continues. And on May 15, Apple announces it will open 25 retail stores by the end of the year. By December, it will have opened 27.
June. The Mac rumor mill works overtime as Apple watchers try to guess what Steve Jobs will introduce at July's Macworld Expo. Put another way, the seeds of disappointment are sown.
July. Faces fall at the Macworld Expo in New York, as users anticipating an all-new iMac see only modestly enhanced systems and OS X software that won't ship for months. Apple again beats predictions by announcing a $61-million profit for the previous quarter, thanks in part to strong educational sales of the new iBook. And Apple discontinues the poor-selling Cube, beating headline writers to the punch with a news release titled "Apple Puts Power Mac G4 Cube on Ice."
August. While 95% of the computer industry celebrates the IBM PC's 20th anniversary, Apple lights three candles on the iMac's birthday cake. And wins an Emmy for its FireWire technology.
September. The world changes. Citing safety concerns, Apple cancels Apple Expo Paris. The Department of Justice says it won't seek a Microsoft breakup. And the faster, more polished Mac OS X version 10.1 arrives.
October. The iPod portable music player is unveiled. Some reviewers pan its $399 price, but all praise its design. Apple also reports a $66-million profit for the previous quarter, exceeding predictions.
November. Apple releases iTunes 2.0--and it erases some users' hard drives until Apple quickly issues a fix. Mac OS X momentum builds as Microsoft ships Office X. Apple protests a proposed antitrust settlement that it says would give Microsoft an unfair advantage in the education market.
December. Apple ships an OS X version of Final Cut Pro and updates the PowerBook G4 to include a combination DVD drive and CD burner. And the rumor mill again begins to grind, as January's Macworld Expo looms.
In all, it wasn't a bad year, considering how bad a year it was.
Jim Heid is a contributing editor of Macworld magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.