Did Apple really have an incredible 2012?

It’s no secret that Apple announced a bevy of new products today, including iPad mini, a redesigned iMac, MacBook Pro with Retina Display in a 13.3″ variety, as well as a fourth-generation iPad to round out the bunch. But Tim Cook made a big promise when he started off the year. That promise was that there would be a lot to look forward to in 2012.

So did he keep his word?

At the end of the press conference yesterday, Tim listed off just what Apple accomplished in 2012. The company shipped two pretty big software products, OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6, although each had their problems. They also managed to get out no fewer than twelve hardware products, including new iPod nano, iPod touch, iMac, mac mini, the new iPad, the new(er) iPad (now known as iPad with Retina Display), and iPad mini, as well as the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display in both 15- and 13-inch varieties and updated classic MacBook Pros. And of course, the iPhone 5.

But what did we expect from Apple this year? With the exception of the MacBook Pro with retina display, Apple’s moves this year have been very iterative. The only thing that Apple did this year that no other company is really doing is the super high resolution display in their notebooks bearing the Pro moniker.

iOS 6 was arguably a big flop, even though there are some great features in it. Unfortunately, Maps brings it way down for a lot of people. We don’t find it as big an issue as others, but there are some issues with StreetView – it’s absence, mainly – that makes us wish we had Google Maps back every once in a while.

Mountain Lion is yet another iterative step in the OS X family and it seems as if Apple is going to continue along a new path for its desktop operating system going forward. Every other release will be a more major one and still probably only cost about thirty bucks or so, which is really a great price for a brand new operating system. But it does mean that we’re upgrading our machines every year, and that $30 quickly behemoths Microsoft’s $40 upgrade fee that comes once every three to four years for their Windows platform.

The iPod touch and iPod nano refinements were expected, as was the iPhone 5 itself, really. We saw nothing earth-shattering with the new iPhone since we expected 4G LTE once the new iPad had the functionality. Everything else in the design was rumoured and expected well ahead of time, and that took a lot of wind from Apple’s sails.

The new MacBook Pros are beautiful products, and while they’re not as super thin and light as we would like (we really want a MacBook Air with Pro power and a retina display, but we know we’re dreaming), they’re still beautiful products. But the retina display just isn’t necessary in a notebook yet. We’d much rather have a display with a slightly higher resolution and the retina display model’s graphics card so that we can have even more graphics power coursing through the computer’s circuitry.

The only place a retina display really makes sense at this point is on a mobile device like an iPod, iPad, or iPhone. And yet the new iPad mini misses the mark on it! See, the iPad mini could have gone one of two ways: a price around $329 with a retina display, or a price at $249 without one. A $249 iPad would be an incredible sales pitch. Yet Apple took one of its biggest missteps in our opinion and released an iPad at $329 without the retina display! It doesn’t make sense, to be honest, as it wasn’t shown off in the proper way it needed to be successful. There was no mention of how great email and the web and video and pictures and gaming was on the device. Not in the detail that would be necessary to show why the iPad mini is worthy of existence.

Apple disappointed in some key ways this year. Unfortunately, they stayed relatively still in the marketplace when it comes to growth at their usual rate. Their stock has skyrocketed from $400 to $630 per share (as of this writing), but it also peaked at over $700 per share when it began taking preorders for iPhone 5.

We saw no industry-transforming products that we expected with the company’s long-rumoured entry in the television or set-top box market. It seems as if that rumour will replace the iPhone rumour which preceded the iPad rumour which preceded the iPad mini rumour.

Apple had a good 2012. They had innovation, although not nearly at the rate they are used to it, and it is clearly a company that is resting a bit more on their laurels than usual. Of course, Apple is sure to have an incredible amount of innovation coming in 2013 and beyond, but sadly, they missed the mark in 2012 for us.