2023 has been a busy year for Apple. While the company had its usual annual software launches, such as the iPhone’s iOS operating system and the Mac’s macOS operating system—along with annual hardware refreshes including the iPhone and Apple Watch—it has also had its first brand new product unveiling in years with the Apple Vision Pro.
As 2023 draws to a close, we look at the best moments Apple had during the year—and not all of them are product-related. Here are Apple’s biggest hits of 2023.
#5 Apple finally introduced a more affordable large-screen laptop with the 15” MacBook Air
For more than 25 years, fans of Apple’s laptops have harbored one big complaint: If you wanted a large-screen Apple laptop, you were forced to shell out $2,000 or more for a “pro” model with a 15” or larger screen. Apple’s consumer laptops have always been limited to 13-inch screen or smaller. This means that students or other “light” computer users who simply wanted more space on their desktop either needed to buy a 16” MacBook Pro (current starting price: $2,499), despite not needing the power of a pro laptop, or switch teams and get a much cheaper 15” Windows PC laptop.
But in 2023, Apple finally gave customers what they’ve been wanting for years: a low-cost (okay, lower cost) large-screen MacBook. The new 15” MacBook Air starts at just $1,299, meaning that you don’t have to sacrifice screen size anymore if you want a lower-cost Apple laptop. It’s also one of the thinnest, lightest, and most powerful large-screen consumer laptops ever made. Best of all, it shows that Apple seems more willing to listen to its customers than ever when it comes to product development.
#4 Apple was one of the only major tech companies to avoid mass layoffs
One of the worst things to befall the tech sector in 2023 was the contraction the industry went through. By early December, more than 1,100 tech companies laid off more than a quarter of a million workers, according to data compiled by Layoffs.fyi. These layoffs happened at virtually every major company in the sector, including Meta, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Spotify.
But not at Apple. As of these final weeks of 2023, Apple has yet to make any significant layoffs. Instead, the company has found other ways to reduce costs, such as slowing its rate of hiring. The fact that Apple did not go on a hiring spree like other tech giants did during the pandemic has helped it to be able to avoid mass layoffs now.
In May 2023, during the height of tech job losses, Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC that he views mass layoffs as “a last resort” and revealed that “mass layoffs is not something that we’re talking about at this moment.” So far, Tim Cook has made good on his words.
#3 The Apple Vision Pro is the company’s most revolutionary product since the iPhone
Many people, including myself, were never really convinced that AR/VR mixed reality was the next computing frontier—that is, until we saw Apple’s Vision Pro headset. Its unveiling felt like an era-defining event not just for Apple, but for the entire industry.
Apple’s Vision Pro feels magical with its joystick-free controls (you just use your fingers), and it makes all other existing mixed-reality headsets look like toys in comparison. More importantly, it showed consumers just what is possible in the world of spatial computing, a term most hadn’t been familiar with until that time. I felt as awestruck by the unveiling of the Vision Pro as I did the first time I held the original iPhone in my hands in 2007.
Of course, the $3,499 price point will limit the device’s initial appeal when it ships next year. Still, Apple has shown that mixed reality headsets may very well be the future of computing.
#2 The iPhone embraces USB-C
Look, sometimes Apple leads, sometimes it makes a change kicking and screaming. In this case, it seems to have been the latter. Regardless, I’m just glad the iPhone finally has USB-C.
Yes, hell froze over this year. With the iPhone 15 series, Apple finally ditched its decade-old Lightning port on the iPhone in favor of the more universal USB-C port. For the first time, iPhone users can now charge their iPhone with the same plug they use to charge their Android phones and laptops. This is a major win both for interoperability in mixed iOS/Android device households and for consumer convenience. It’s also the best reason in years to upgrade your iPhone.
While Apple touted all the advantages of the change, the company likely didn’t go this route because it wanted to. Instead, EU legislation forced Apple to make its iPhone charging more compatible and environmentally friendly.
#1 Tim Cook acknowledges Apple’s CEO succession plans
In 2011, Tim Cook arguably had the greatest challenge of anyone ever stepping into a CEO role: following in Steve Jobs’ footsteps. But within years of doing so, most investors felt it was obvious they had nothing to fret about.
Not only has Cook made Apple his own by launching all-new products like the AirPods, Apple Watch, the Apple TV Plus streaming service, and, most recently, the Apple Vision Pro, but Apple under his leadership has become more valuable than Steve Jobs probably ever dared dream. The weeks before Jobs passed away, Apple had a market cap of around $625 billion. Today that market cap is around $2.95 trillion—over four and a half times more than under Jobs.
It’s no wonder, then, that as Cook approaches his 13th year as Apple CEO, investors are concerned about what will happen when he leaves. The good news is that in October, Cook confirmed in an interview with Dua Lipa on her podcast At Your Service that he “can’t envision my life without being there, so I’ll be there for a while.” Best of all, he revealed Apple has “very detailed succession plans” in place, and he wants the next CEO to come from within the company. “There’s several for the board to pick from,” Cook said.
The tech industry went through massive upheaval in 2023, thanks to everything from mass layoffs to generative AI technologies radically altering the technology landscape. What the industry—and its biggest company—needs more than ever (especially as we enter what is probably going to be an even more chaotic 2024), is stability and strong leadership. Tim Cook delivers that. Many will view his desire to stick around at Apple for a while as the biggest win Apple could have.