2020 in review: The year that was

A look at Apple's high and low points in 2020

Apple has seen both crests and troughs in 2020   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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In an eventful year marked with a number of new launches, Apple has seen both crests and troughs in 2020.

The iPhone maker launched its first 5G phone, inhouse chip for Macs and MagSafe chargers this year. It also drafted new app-store policies, paid millions in fines for iPhone throttling and misleading ads, removed Fortnite, and engaged in a clash with developers.

Here’s our look at how the technology company fared this year:

High points

Launch of new iPhone 12 series

Apple launched iPhone 12, iPhone12 mini, pro, pro max in October, Apple's first phone with 5G connectivity. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a reputation for accurately reporting on Apple products, said that pre-orders of the iPhone 12 more than doubled that of iPhone 11 in the first 24 hours of availability.

Chinese investment consulting firm Cinda Securities estimated that sales of iPhone 12 series to hit 23-24 crores in 2021, making it the best-selling iPhone to ever crossing iPhone 6’s sales.

Apple launched own chip M1, breaks up with Intel

Apple launched own chip M1 in November, designed specifically for Mac laptops

Apple launched own chip M1 in November, designed specifically for Mac laptops   | Photo Credit: Apple

 

Apple launched own chip M1 in November, designed specifically for Mac laptops. M1 is the first personal computer chip built using 5-nanometer process technology, and is packed with 16 billion transistors, the most Apple has ever put on a chip.

Apple argues that M1 is the most powerful chip it has ever created, and that it features the world’s best CPU performance, the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer. It also has Artificial Intelligence (AI) built into it that mimics and creates human brain-like neural networks.

Launched iOS 14

Apple launched iOS14 in September that enabled Home screen widget customisation, allowing Apple users to have a unique display for the first time ever.

Installs of the top 20 home screen customisation apps collectively touched 13.7 million downloads globally after the launch, according to estimates by Sensor Tower, an app intelligence firm. iOS 14 has already started to transform consumers' interaction with their iPhone and iPad, it added.

Apple is also introducing a new anti-app tracking feature in iOS 14 that will require all apps in the App Store to request users' consent before tracking them for personalised ads.

Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group supported Apple's move saying it will protect users' privacy.

Relaunched MagSafe, it's magnetic adapter

Apple relaunched MagSafe in October, a more-than-a-decade old wireless charging technology, for its new line of iPhone12 models. The original version of MagSafe is a magnetic power connector, launched in January 2006, for charging Macs. The connector magnetically attaches to the device, instead of plugging it to a port.

The Cupertino-based company discontinued MagSafe between 2016 and 2019 after receiving complaints about its insulation and overheating.

Low points

Fined $113m for iPhone throttling

Apple agreed to pay $113 million to 34 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. to settle an investigation into its practice of throttling iPhones. Apple's throttling of iPhones refers to the slowing down of the devices, a step that Apple took in 2016 to prevent the unexpected shut down of old iPhones.

The States claimed that Apple deceived consumers and that it should have replaced the batteries or disclosed the issue.

Apple issued a public apology in December 2017.

Fined in Italy over false claims

Italy's antitrust regulator, Autorità Garante Della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), fined Apple with 10 million euros in November for misleading consumers about water resistance feature in its iPhone.

Apple advertised that several iPhone models including iPhone 8, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone 11 were water resistant at the depth of one to four metres for up to 30 minutes, depending on the model. However, the message did not clarify that this was only in the presence of specific conditions like laboratory tests using static and pure water.

Apple also refused warranty service on iPhones damaged by water, despite water resistance claims in its promotion.

Apple's IDFA questioned

The complaints filed in Germany and Spain allege that Apple’s IDFA breaches the regional privacy laws since the iPhone-maker does not seek consent from iOS users for the initial storage of the identifier. IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) is a unique code that Apple assigns to each iPhone for third parties to track users for ad-targeting. However, Article 5(3) of the EU’s ePrivacy Directive allows tracking only after users' consent to it.

Apple’s Fortnite removal

Apple removed Epic Games-owned Fortnite from its App Store in August for adding an in-app payment system that violated App Store rules as claimed by Apple.

Launched in 2017, Fortnite has a battle royale format in which 100 players compete to survive as the last player on a remote island. The game has been in the App Store since 2018. Epic offered its customers the option of purchasing Fortnite currency directly from Epic at a discount.

This would bypass Apple’s requirement that all mobile apps come through its App Store and pay 30%commission to Apple for app sales and in-app purchases.

App intelligence firm Sensor Towers estimates that Fortnite generated more than $1.2 billion in player spending from the App Store alone, since its launch in March 2018 as compared to only $9.7 million from Google Play. Around 133 million out of its total of 144 million installs were through the App Store.

Clash with developers

Developers criticised Apple for taking 30% cut from in-app purchases and first-time subscriptions, and for unreasonable app store policies. Several developers like Spotify, Epic Games and Tinder-owner Match Group formed a coalition to fight Apple's App Store policies, which they call anti-competitive and monopolistic.

Also Read |

A study by researchers from University of Amsterdam stated that Apple changes its rules according to its own convenience. It also said that Android users can get apps from marketplaces beyond Google Play Store, like Amazon and Samsung Electronics, while iPhone users are restricted to the Apple App Store.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 9:36:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/a-look-at-apples-high-and-low-points-in-2020/article33421999.ece

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