Apple's 10 best products yet

The company's hardware and software changed the way the world consumes media. Here's a look at the best Apple products of all time.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 10, 2012 12:31PM

By Chris CiacciaTheStreet.com logo

 

smartphoneWith Apple (AAPL) reportedly getting set to announce an iPad Mini, the personal technology pioneer may have another hit product on its hands.

 

Apple has given us some of the best-selling products of all time, revolutionizing whole industries in the process. Music, phones, computers and advertising have been greatly affected by Apple.

 

Apple started as a computer company in 1976. Steve Jobs, and to a lesser extent, Steve Wozniak, built Apple on making aesthetically pleasing and easy to use products. As Apple grew from its infancy to the $600 billion behemoth it is now, its reach expanded. It went from being only for hobbyists, geeks and technophiles to being a mainstay brand for the everyday person.

 

Here's TheStreet's look at 10 of the best Apple products ever made.

 

Apple II

 

The Apple II started it all. Built just 12 months after the Apple I, the Apple II started Apple on the journey that the company has become today. It was the fastest-selling personal computer of its time, and was designed primarily by Wozniak. A little known fact is the Apple II was actually a line of computers that Apple kept producing until the Apple IIe, which stopped in November 1993.

 

The Apple II was one of the first personal computers that had color graphics, and came with two gaming paddles right out of the box. There were also eight slots built into the Apple II allowing users to expand it and customize it, including adding more memory, graphics and the ability to add a printer and a floppy drive.

 

Apple's first big-time computer cost $1,298 when it went on sale, but that didn't stop the company from selling "well over 300,000 units."

 

The Mac

 

Following the success of the Apple II, Apple failed with the Apple III, which nearly was a disaster the company could not recover from.

 

In 1984, that all changed when Jobs unveiled the Mac to the world in a Super Bowl commercial unlike anything the world had ever seen. 


The Mac took the personal computing revolution to a level the Apple II never did. Known for its distinctive beige design, the computer came with a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and is remembered for its exceptional graphical user interface (GUI). 


It also included dual headphone jacks and built-in stereo speakers, and is one of the first major products that Jonathan Ive, Apple's vice president of industrial design, is credited with designing. The original iMac was also the first computer to use USB ports as a standard. The first iMac cost $1,299 in May 1998.

 

iTunes

 

Apple is known for all the great hardware it's made over the years, but one piece of software helped turned the fortune of the company around forever: iTunes.

 

Apple introduced iTunes, a digital jukebox of sorts, in January 2001. The program's big innovation was allowing a user to digitally store songs on a computer. Unlike many of Apple's products, iTunes is a free download that was originally available only for Mac OS 9, but later came to Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows operating system to help expand iTunes' reach.

 

With iTunes, users can now burn CDs and purchase MP3s, albums, movies, TV shows, books and other content straight from the platform, giving Apple access to hundreds of millions of credit cards and user accounts.

 

The iPod

 

In October 2001, Apple changed the world again by introducing the iPod. It was described as being able to have a "thousand songs in your pocket." The first iPods went on sale on Nov. 10, 2001.

 

MP3 players were available before Apple came up with the iPod, but Apple's ability to reinvent a market and make it easy to use created a product everyone couldn't do without.

 

The original iPod is known for its famous click-wheel, which helped users scroll through their music library with ease. It originally came in 5 GB and 10 GB models, but in subsequent versions (the latest iPod Classic), Apple increased the amount of storage on the device to 160 GB. The original iPod connected via Firewire, but this later changed to USB, for both syncing and charging. The 5 GB version cost users $399, while the 10 GB version cost $499.

 

The iPod spawned a line of products, including the iPod Mini, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle and iPod Touch.


Post continues below video

 

The iPod Video

 

The iPod may have changed the way we listened to music, but the iPod Video changed the way we watch videos.

 

Announced in October 2005, Apple launched the fifth version of the iPod, which had the capability of not only playing music, but also being able to view photos and watch videos. It came in 30 GB, 60GB, and 80GB sizes, as more users packed videos and photos onto their devices.

 

The iPod Video was the first iPod available in colors other than white, as black was introduced. The 30 GB model cost $299, and the 60 GB model cost $399.

 

The iPod Video is also the first and only iPod available with a brand on it, as the rock band U2 had their own special edition.

 

iPhone

 

In January 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone on AT&T's (T) network, setting a new standard in smartphone design and functionality, according to the technorati.

 

The first iPhone was unveiled at Macworld 2007 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and was very pricey. The first two models, a 4 GB version and an 8 GB version, cost $499 and $599, respectively. It garnered so much positive attention from the media that it was dubbed the "Jesus phone."

 

The iPhone ushered in a new era of smartphones, and now accounts for more than 50% of Apple's revenue, per its latest quarterly filing.

 

iPhone 4S

 

The iPhone proved to be a big hit and got people talking, but not until the iPhone 4S did the phone talk back to its owner.

 

The iPhone 4S was the first phone to include Siri, Apple's personal navigation assistant. Users can ask it questions and it will pull up answers from the Web and speak to you in an intelligent, and occasionally snarky, tone.

 

iPad

 

In April 2010, Apple announced the iPad, which breathed new life into an ailing tablet market that no other tech company had been able to successfully crack. Nearly 13 million iPads were shipped as of Dec. 10, 2010, including 300,000 sold the first day it was available.

 

Steve Jobs described what would eventually become the iPad in 1983 in a speech.

 

"What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes," Jobs said. "And we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don't have to hook up to anything and you're in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers."

 

The iPad was built to use Apple's iOS mobile operating system so that it would be compatible with the iPhone. It was announced on Jan. 27, 2010. Pricing started at $499 for the Wi-Fi version.

 

Mac OS X

 

Apple has always been known for making exceptionally beautiful hardware, but its software has also been a thing of beauty, as Mac OS X has been the standard for years now.

 

Originally developed off software from NeXT (a Steve Jobs company that was bought by Apple), OS X is built off a Unix system that's sleek, responsive, safe and easy to use.

 

It's both available in 32 and 64 bit editions, and the current version, OS X Mountain Lion, is now available on the Mac App Store, instead of on a disc, for $19.99. OS X Mountain Lion has features similar to that of iOS, including iMessages, iCalendar, Notes, Reminders, and integration with both Twitter and Facebook (FB).

 

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