Apple's Biggest Hits Through the Years


CUPERTINO, Calif. (TheStreet) -- Steve JobsĀ died tonight after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving behind an impressive legacy of products, from software and smartphones to tablets.

A visionary with a knack for predicting trends in technology and popular culture, Jobs -- and his trademark black turtleneck -- will be sorely missed by investors, who have seen their shares (Stock Quote: AAPL) explode on the back of a slew of successful gadgets.

Part CEO, part cultural icon, Jobs is widely credited with saving the company during the 1990s and played a pivotal role in the development of category-leading products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

The former Apple CEO also revolutionized the music industry with the launch of iTunes in 2001, which the tech giant described as "the world's best and easiest to use 'jukebox' software." More recently, Jobs oversaw the launch of iCloud, a carefully crafted plan to offset any downturn in the company's gadget momentum.

Apple has cultivated a well-known culture for innovation and a fanatical following that few companies can match. Read on as TheStreet takes you on a tour through some of Apple's greatest product hits.

The Mac

First launched in 1984, the Macintosh personal computer continues to jostle for position with PC giants like Microsoft (Stock Quote: MSFT). Apple touts the Mac as a more secure alternative to PCs, and its sales remain robust.

The tech giant recently enjoyed a record fiscal third quarter of Mac sales, selling 3.95 million of the devices, a 14% increase on the same period last year. The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm also launched Max OS X Lion recently, which includes new features such as multi-touch gestures.

The latest MacBook Air should be a big success in the booming Chinese gadget market, said Brian White, an analyst at Ticonderoga Securities. "Based on our field checks, we believe the new MacBook Air is poised to be a big hit in the greater China region as more consumers can increasingly afford to own a PC," he wrote in a recent note. "Apple fever is gaining momentum in the region and there is no laptop product on the market with the characteristics of the new MacBook Air."

The iPod (second-generation)

First launched in 2001, the iPod marked Apple's entry into the mainstream consumer technology space. Offering customers a cheaper entry point into the Apple family of products, the iPod was priced in the hundreds of dollars, as opposed to the more expensive list prices associated with the company's iMac computers.

The second-generation iPod made its debut the following year, and subsequent versions of the technology include the scaled-down Nano, Mini, Shuffle, as well as the Wi-Fi compatible iPod Touch.

Apple has sold more than 310 million iPods since 2001 and about 7.5 million during its recent third quarter, although this was down from 9.4 million in the same period last year.

The iPad

Launched in 2010, the iPad breathed new life into the ailing tablet market. Initially targeted at consumers, the iPad has proved extremely popular with corporate America.

Apple, which launched its iPad 2 earlier this year, sold a record 9.2 million iPads during its fiscal third quarter. To date, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has sold more than 28 million of the tablets since the device was launched, and Apple is expected to unveil its iPad 3 next year.

Analysts have already predicted a major summer of iPad sales this year, citing strong demand for the second version of the tablet. Canaccord Genuity, for example, recently hiked its 2012 iPad estimate from 53.8 million to 55.1 million units.

"We view Apple as the clear leader in the tablet market with our checks indicating strong sales of the iPad 2 and consumers overwhelmingly selecting the iPad 2 over competing Android tablets," said Canaccord analyst Michael Walkley, in a recent note.


Launched in 2007, the iPhone continues to enjoy phenomenal success. Despite the expected slowdown in iPhone sales because of the company's delay in a next-generation device, Apple sold 20.3 million iPhones during its third quarter, surpassing analyst expectations of 17 million.

The tech giant, however, broke with recent tradition in June, when it decided not to unveil new iPhone hardware at its Worldwide Developers' Conference. Instead, Apple's upcoming iPhone 5 "world phone" is due out this fall, with a 4G LTE super iPhone expected in 2012.

Apple is confronting stiff competition from Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) Android phones, and there have been media reports that Apple is planning stripped-down, freebie iPhone for the low-end smartphone market.

Steve Jobs unveiled the long-awaited iCloud at WWDC in June, marking the tech giant's big move into services. Available in the fall, iCloud stores user content such as music, apps, documents and photos in the cloud.

"We're going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device," proclaimed Jobs, during his WWDC keynote. "We're going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud."

Up against Google and Amazon's (Stock Quote: AMZN) digital media offerings, iCloud replaces Apple's MobileMe service for synchronizing personal information. Although too early to say whether iCloud will be a hit, the service will be a top priority for new Apple CEO Tim Cook as he seeks out new high-margin revenue streams.

For details on the Apple icon's early departure, see the announcement of Steve Jobs's death here.

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