Highs and lows for Apple in 2014

The good, the bad and the bendy

Highs and lows for Apple in 2014

It's been an interesting year for the world's most interesting company: we've seen bigger phones, surprising shopping sprees and what could be the beginning of a high profile adventure in the world of high fashion. But it hasn't all been good: Apple also suffered from broken glass, unwanted U2 and a bad case of the bends. Let's discover the highs and lows for Apple in 2014.

Highs

1. Apple Watch

Highs and lows for Apple in 2014
It won't ship till spring, but the Apple Watch is the most-wanted wearable

The worst-kept secret in tech was a secret no more in 2014: Apple unveiled the Apple Watch and its many incarnations this year, and the release of the accompanying SDK gave us a good idea of what we can expect from its software when the watch ships in the spring. If it's a hit it means Apple will become a hugely important fashion brand, and the signs are certainly pointing in that direction: Apple generated more column inches with a watch it isn't shipping yet than all other smartwatch manufacturers combined.

2. iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Highs and lows for Apple in 2014
Apple succumbed in style to demand for bigger handsets

Bad news for anybody with little hands but great news for anyone who wanted bigger iPhones: Apple unveiled not one but two bigger devices in the form of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. They're both big-screened beauties with typically great design, but that thinness also introduced bendyness. More of that in a moment.

3. Buying Beats

Highs and lows for Apple in 2014
Buying Beats was a power play for Apple's music business

Even by Beats' pricey standards, $3 billion is a lot for some headphones - but when Apple bought Beats it was really interested in the talent behind Beats Music, which is now part of the iTunes empire. The acquisition doesn't just give Apple the Beats technology and streaming deals: it also gives Apple Jimmy Iovine, a renowned music business figure and famous deal-maker.

4. Retina iMacs

Highs and lows for Apple in 2014
Apple committed to Retina with the iMac this year

We can't afford them, but eventually we'll all be able to. Retina displays are clearly - pun intended - the future for all of Apple's devices, and seeing one on the biggest iMac is a retinal revelation. It's particularly flattering to OS X Yosemite, whose fonts and design choices aren't quite as nice on non-Retina devices.

5. Apple + IBM

Highs and lows for Apple in 2014
Palling up with IBM show Apple getting serious about the business market

As partnerships go this one doesn't sound very exciting, but it's potentially massive: Apple and IBM up the enterprise tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Apple wants its iPads in enterprises and IBM has enterprises' ears thanks to decades of sterling service, so the news that the two firms are teaming up is likely to have put Microsoft's Satya Nadella in a very bad mood indeed.

6. Apple Pay, maybe

Highs and lows for Apple in 2014
Apple Pay isn't a success yet, but all the elements are there

It's too early to tell whether Apple's plan to become a major payment provider is going to pay off - Black Friday results were inconclusive, with some users apparently baffled by the whole thing - but Apple Pay does appear to have learnt from Google's Wallet missteps and created a service that retailers, payment providers and punters could all get behind.

7. Cook comes out

Highs and lows for Apple in 2014
Tim Cook became the first Fortune 500 CEO to come out

Tim Cook's sexuality wasn't a secret, but he broke his customary silence about his personal life to talk openly about it in an article for Businessweek. Having the CEO of the world's most valuable and interesting company come out is a huge deal in a world where not one Fortune 500 CEO was openly gay.