Highs and lows for Apple in 2012

Six months later: boom - he was outta there. Not a high for Browett, but definitely one for Apple, given Browett's mistakes. It also showed Cook would put things right when needed.

10. Education inroads

Our final high is Apple's renewed focus on education.

iTunes U continues to improve, as does iBooks Author, which got a major upgrade in October 2012. Kids are the future, and if Apple can help get them there with more enthusiasm for education, that can only be a good thing.

Apple's lows of 2012

1. iOS Maps

Each year, Apple has a tech disaster that pundits desperately weld 'gate' to. This year: mapgate.

Having ditched Google data, Apple rolled its own solution. The result: bendy architecture and data occasionally so inaccurate police said it could kill.

But, hey, at least you got free turn-by-turn! Although the Google Maps app now does this too...

iOS 6 Maps

The best thing we can say about the iOS Maps app is 'it will improve'

2. The new iPad

We don't mean the new new iPad (a.k.a. the iPad with Retina display/iPad 4), but the new iPad (a.k.a. the iPad 3).

To some, it looked interim at the time, and it became the first iPad to not last a year, punted out of the line-up after six months to make way for a faster successor. Tough luck if you bought one in spring 2012.

3. Lawsuits everywhere

We suspect for every engineer working at Apple there must be several hundred lawyers, if ongoing lawsuits are anything to go by.

To be fair to Apple, it's been the industry's R&D department too often, but even if Apple's sometimes in the right, legal action's never anything but a low.

4. Crazy stock swings

Given how profitable Apple is, its gargantuan cash reserves, and that people clamour for whatever device the company releases, 2012's stock swings were barmy.

AAPL crashed several times, and although it will probably end the year up on 2011, constant worry from an investment standpoint is troubling. (Note: we could say something nasty at this point about analysts regularly getting things wrong and in part causing said crashes, but we won't.)

5. Missing launch windows

iTunes 11: it'll be out in October! Or November! And that new iMac? Pre-order soon, and we'll get it to you, uh, sometime!

Given that Apple's now run by Tim 'clockwork' Cook, that launch-window screw-ups have occurred at all is a nasty surprise and really isn't very 'Apple'.

The competition would be delighted it if wasn't busy being far worse.

6. Increasingly buggy software

Long time Apple users are wondering if Apple's 2012 software slogan is 'fire and forget'.

A lot of software seems almost abandoned, with former iWork and iLife apps becoming increasingly sluggish.

Even new products like Game Center and iTunes 11 are surprisingly buggy coming from a company that prides itself on detail and polish.

7. Web service problems

Apple's never gotten the hang of web services, and 2012 found the company flailing.

Regular outages for iCloud, iTunes Match, the App Store and more caused untold problems for users.

Things didn't get 'MobileMe bad', but Apple hardly covered itself in glory online.

Web problems

When Apple's online services work, they can be great. When they work

8. Losing Scott Forstall

We hear Forstall was a pain to work with and liked welding textures to iOS and OS X apps.

And, yes, Tim Cook's new system of organising Apple's senior staff could pay dividends. But it's worth remembering that Forstall was much of the brains behind iOS and the system having third-party apps.

He will be missed.

9. Send in the clones

This one's not Apple's fault, but a low for the company this year has been the continuation of rivals cloning its products; not least the MacBook Air.

No, it's not 'obvious' a laptop should look exactly like that - think of your own ideas!

10. Apple pilfering

Of course, Apple comes off as a touch hypocritical when it nicks designs itself, as per the Swiss national rail company's clock, which was more or less copied verbatim for the iPad Clock app.

Apple reportedly subsequently coughed up a cool £13 million for a license. That's an expensive clock-up.