Apple’s most significant moves of 2020

Goodbye, 2020, we won’t miss you.

Looking back over the last 12 months, it’s clearly been eventful for Apple—and that’s even without taking a global pandemic into account. The company has been busy, especially in the fall product season, but as the year draws to a close, it’s time to cast a gimlet eye over all the decisions the Cupertino-based company has made and—as is our annual tradition—pick out the ones that will ultimately have the largest impact on its future.

There were almost too many to choose from this year, but looking at a larger theme, I think it would be about Apple deciding to stretch itself, make some choices that we wouldn’t necessarily consider very Apple-like. Even if, in the end, those decisions were perhaps the most Apple-like of all.

Silicon season

Let’s not beat around the bush: the most important move Apple made in 2020 was one that many industry watchers had expected for several years. The company both announced and began to transition the Mac to its own silicon from the Intel processors they’ve used for 14 years.

Apple silicon as a whole has been one of the great success stories for the company over the last decade: the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch—really, every product in Apple’s stable—have shown the benefits of what happens when Apple truly controls hardware and software. But until this year, the Mac had been the odd product out.

Anticipation was high to see what the company could accomplish when it brought the same level of performance and efficiency to a product with much, much higher tolerances (and expectations) than mobile devices, and while there were plenty of naysayers arguing that Apple couldn’t just “walk in,” the results have effectively silenced them. The M1-powered Macs have proved to be formidable machines, with performance that blows away their Intel predecessors, while providing unparalleled battery life.

And those handful of Macs that have made the jump are just the beginning–bigger things are obviously in store for next year and beyond. Apple might only be one company, but where it goes, the industry often follows. The move away from Intel and the venerable x86 architecture is going to have impacts throughout the tech industry.

Four iPhones for the price of four

In past years, Apple has released a couple different models of iPhones in the fall, but this year, they surpassed all others with four different versions, ranging from the petite iPhone 12 mini all the way to the gargantuan Pro Max. A smaller iPhone has been high on the wish list of many customers for some time, and the iPhone 12 mini has delivered, providing strong performance in a tiny package.