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Apple's decade of remarkable change

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It’s hard to remember just how much Apple and its products have changed during the last decade. On the first of January 2010, Steve Jobs was losing his battle against cancer, and on 17 January 2011 he handed over control of Apple to Tim Cook, finally resigning as CEO on 24 August. Among the innovations which he had introduced following his return to Apple were Mac OS X, the iMac, the iPod and its successor the iPhone, and the iPad.

Ten years ago, ‘cheesegrater’ Mac Pro models were at the top of the range, and some slightly later versions are still in quite widespread service, although none has survived the transition to Catalina, officially at least. The first 27-inch iMac had gone on sale in October 2009, but only supported a resolution of 2560 x 1440, not Retina or 5K. The top MacBook Pro was a 17-inch model with just two cores, and the largest SSD option for that was a mere 256 GB.

Operating systems were very different too: Macs ran Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the first major release to abandon support for Macs with PowerPC processors, although Rosetta still allowed us to run PowerPC-only apps on Intel processors, and iPhones were running iPhone OS 3. The first iPads appeared just ten years ago, revealed on 27 January 2010, and ran iOS 3.2.

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Ten years ago I was still doing my daytime job, and writing for the thriving MacUser magazine (the UK title), which published every two weeks. Typical questions for my Mac Solutions section included failing laptop batteries, capturing video over FireWire, graphics card glitches, selecting anti-virus software, and problems with dial-up Internet connections. Some users were still running Mac OS 8.6!

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In 2010, there was no iCloud, which wasn’t revealed until 2011 as a replacement for MobileMe. By January 2016, four years ago, there were one billion Apple devices in active use around the world, which has since doubled. We’ve gone from the iPhone 3GS (2009) to the iPhone 11 Pro Max (2019), seen all six generations of Apple Watch, and the arrival of the T2 chip in most Mac models. SSDs have gone from being an unusual option in MacBook Pros to standard fit in many current Macs, and we’ve finally got a worthy replacement Mac Pro, albeit at high cost. With all this, Apple’s annual revenue has grown more than threefold from its ‘modest’ $65 billion in 2010.

Five years ago, on 17 January 2015, after I had retired from the day job and MacUser magazine had ceased publication, I started this blog. Early Mac articles here discussed problems with Promise Pegasus R4 RAID systems, Microsoft Word refusing to open old Word documents, detailed printer support in Yosemite, and reported the latest version of Adobe Flash and the security fixes it brought.

We’ve all come a long way over the last decade. I wish you a happy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year, and start of a new decade.

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