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The Score: Apple Still Shines in 2011

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    Apple had a year that would stun any other company, but it came out on top through its trademarked combination of talent, business sense, and yes, balls.
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    lawsuits, new product releases, patent buyouts and more, Apple showed it was far more than the man who served as its public symbol for years -- it's a company to be reckoned with and will continue to be one others both fear and look to as a role model.


    The Score is a weekly column scoring controversial events in the mobile industry. For the holiday season, we decide if major players have been naughty or nice over the year -- and who's getting lumps of coal.

    Apple Stays Strong After Jobs' Death


    People who love Apple products and those who just think of apples as something to eat all were stunned by the October death of Steve Jobs, the creative genius behind products like the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad, who passed away after a long struggle with cancer. The company he founded is still moving ahead, but it's hard to replace the heart of an organization -- and Steve Jobs will be missed for a long time. 5,000 candy canes


    COO Tim Cook knows he's got big shoes to fill. After years of filling in during Steve Jobs' absences, he became head of the company when his boss died. But Cook, who says he only knows how to be himself, is making his mark, implementing a company-backed charity program, with Apple matching its U.S. employee's donations to non-profits up to the amount of $10,000 annually. He's also  more open to employees, sending several company-wide e-mails to his "team." The new CEO respects his old boss -- but at the same time is proving to the world Apple is more than just one person. 4,500 candy canes .


    Apple is waging what many call a "war by proxy" against its rival Android devices, and none of the battles were more fierce than those between Apple and Samsung this year. They have more than 30 lawsuits pending against each other in several countries. Apple sued just about anyone else who used the Android system, too, and while some companies were able to win small victories, these battles will just go on. Can't we just all just get along? 3,250 candy canes .


    The Justice Department, two states' attorneys general, and the European Union Commission are  investigating Apple and its publishing partners on suspicions of antitrust violations over e-books. Seems publishers like Apple because it lets them set their own prices, unlike Amazon, which once sold books for whatever price it deemed fit to attract customers. If you're a publisher, you know what you'd use -- but if you're a buyer, which will you choose?  250 lumps of coal. .


    While the name "app" sounds tailor-made for Apple, more people downloaded apps from Android -- probably because Android is in just about everything that doesn't start with an "i." Even though Apple sued other over the phrase "App Store," it learned the hard way that other phones have apps, too.  250 lumps of coal. .


    Before he died, Jobs unveiled plans for "Apple Campus 2," a donut-shaped glass office he dubbed the "spaceship". The building will include office space for 13,000 employees, a 1,000-seat corporate auditorium, a corporate fitness center, research facilities comprising approximately 300,000 square feet, a central plant, and parking. Workers won't just build for the future -- they'll live in it, too. 3,250 candy canes .


    In the summer, Google thought it would buy up patents offered by Nortel. Silly Google. A consortium called "Rockstar Bidco" (a name Steve Jobs probably thought of) came in with $4.5 billion and snapped up the 6,000 patents. Of course, there were five other companies involved, but which one had a leader who vowed to "destroy" Android? 1,500 candy canes .


    The Chinese love Apple, and Tim Cook thinks the Chinese market will be "key" for the company's success. However, Apple's prices aren't friendly to China -- and no matter how many beautiful stores it builds, when people are choosing between a phone and food, the food wins, leaving Nokia and Samsung to mop up the market. 200 lumps of coal .


    There aren't as many Apple Stores as there are Wal-Marts, but this year saw new stores pop up in China, Tokyo and a large new location in New York's Grand Central Station, so well-heeled travelers can stop and pick up a shiny new phone on the way out. 2,000 candy canes .


    IPhone enthusiasts waited all year for an iPhone 5, while other companies waited in dread over competing with it. When it came out, it wasn't the 5, but a 4S, which disappointed a lot of shoppers until they found out they could converse with the new voice software, Siri. More than four million of the phones sold over the next couple of weeks, and millions more since then, showing people are hungry for a new Apple, no matter what the model number is. 5,000 candy canes .


    The Score: Candy Canes: 24,500; Lumps of Coal: 700

    What it means: Apple is a company that started out with the challenge to "think different," and though a year of incredible ups and downs has come out wealthier than Exxon. Just about everyone you see has an iPhone, and if they don't have an iPhone, they want one.

    As one of its secret weapons, Apple has a stockpile of billions of dollars that it can use to stomp out the competition, and its iPad 2, also released this year, is responsible for more than three-quarters of all tablets sold in the U.S.

    Jobs' legacy won't be forgotten in a long time, either. His autobiography remains at the top of the best-seller list, a movie will likely be made about him, and to top things off, he won a Grammy. He didn't get Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" accolade, but he did top Barbara Walters' most fascinating people list.

    But Apple isn't all about Steve Jobs. Tim Cook, in his own understated way, is every bit a powerful leader. He'll never stomp out of a room in a passion over a design, but he'll fight for the company and he's already taken steps to keep his most powerful designers around him.

    Just like in 2011, the coming year will bring great things from Apple, including that iPhone 5 everyone anticipated so much this year -- and probably a whole lot more that none of us can even imagine quite yet.


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