Apple in 2018: Where It Triumphed, And Where It Flopped

Apple's biggest success in 2018 can be found on its balance sheet

Apple in 2018
Apple in 2018

For Apple, 2018 feels like the calm before the storm. The company is working hard to boost its recurring services revenue while it deals with increasingly flat iPhone sales figures.

The Mac soldiers on, but in 2019, it will become capable of running apps originally built for iOS — a seismic change that may redefine what it means to use a Mac (or an iPad, for that matter).

Here’s a look at some of Apple’s successes and failings in 2018, with an eye toward where the company is headed in the year to come.

Apple’s 2018 successes

Apple’s biggest success in 2018 can be found on its balance sheet. While Wall Street types continue to fret about Apple’s slowing pace of growth, Apple’s ability to generate cash cannot be denied. This was the best year in the company’s history in terms of revenue and profits, each quarter a record — and the company says it will set an all-time record for the holiday quarter that ends this month, too.

The strongest revenue line for the company is Services, a catch-all that encompasses iCloud, the App Store, Apple Music, and soon a video-streaming service. As iPhone sales flatten, Apple continues to highlight this category as the source of growth for investors.

As a user of Apple’s products, it’s easy to get the sense that Apple is more focused on increasing the ongoing cost being in the Apple ecosystem than perhaps the fundamental value of their high-priced products. Regardless, in pure financial terms, it’s hard not to see 2018 as a success for Apple.

On the product side, I couldn’t be much more impressed with the new iPad Pro models Apple rolled out in October. (Spare me your talk of bending iPads.)

With processors more powerful than most laptops, an iPhone X-style screen with small bezels and no home button, and USB-C ports, both the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro show that nobody can play the tablet game better than Apple.

After a few years of struggling to figure out what its consumer laptop customers wanted, Apple finally got the message this year and released a MacBook Air with Retina display. It’s a great device at a decent price  (albeit not at the $999 starting point of the previous-generation model), and it instantly became the starting point of any conversation about which Mac laptop to buy. More

By Jason Snell