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2014: Does Apple still look doomed?

Jonny Evans | Jan. 2, 2014
Don't be fooled by the company's rocky 2013. There are strong signs that it has turned the corner.

Apple's new iPads also seem to be making the grade. The iPad Air became the best-selling product among U.S. retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, both key points in the annual retail calendar. And in an interesting reflection of the real value of the competition, Android users accounted for 40% of iPad sales on Black Friday. Apple's tablets took five of the top 15 sales slots at major retailers Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy.

Android users are gravitating to iOS devices because they like using them. When it comes to the iPad, Chitika in July found the iPad held 84.3% of North American Web usage among tablet owners.

This says everything about the user experience.

Perhaps analysts lost in their market-share analyses should consider the implications. These are pretty simple when you stop to consider them.

Apple is back in business, playing hardball in every product category that it has been quietly developing across the last 12 months. Mac, iPhone and iPad sales seem on course to deliver strong results at the very least.

The company's focus on combining advanced technologies in order to create remarkable user experiences works, and is working as a glue that not only helps its new systems attract customers, but also provides a platform-centric experience across mobile devices and PCs.

Apple has refined this focus this year, introducing iOS 7 and making the commitment that in future all Mac operating systems will be made available for free.

That's great on paper, but in real terms it means Mac users can expect several OS upgrades before their particular system becomes unsupported. Given the robust nature of these machines, most customers will squeeze an extra year or two out of their purchases before they upgrade.

As the company closes 2013, it appears to have got its act together. Sales are strong, the firm's financially secure while a series of patents and recent purchases shows it's taking steps to realize some of the dreams it has developed in R&D.

That's not to say the Mac, iPad and iPhone are all the company has to base its future on. Apple has a series of initiatives to put into place early in 2014, maintaining its refreshed momentum. For example:

* iTunes Radio will become international

* Touch ID seems primed to be deployed in more Apple devices

* iTunes services seem likely to be boosted with an UltraHD offering

Beyond what lazy analysis calls "iterative tinkering" with existing products, Apple has potential to extend its reach, principally through entering the newly emerging connected devices market.

Speculations concerning an Apple television and an iWatch have dominated chatter for months. Will 2014 be the year either of these products migrates from the land of speculative fantasy to enter the real world?


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