Apple Business Highlights from 2011

It was another great year for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as its mobile iOS platform saw a fifth annual release. Enhancements included new subscription content support, iCloud and new devices such as the iPad 2, a CDMA iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S.

One Apple product not part of the conversation was its popular iPod; there were no major updates in 2011–a first in the product’s history as the company focused on its iOS device sales. It was also a busy year for Apple as it endured a leadership transition with the death of company founder Steve Jobs.

Here’s some Apple highlights from 2011.

Record iOS Device Sales

In 2011, Apple’s iOS device sales dramatically increased with the launch of its new  iPad 2 and iPhone 4S models, surpassing the previous 2010 quarterly records.

In the fiscal second quarter, Apple launched the iPad 2 and sold 4.69 million tablets while struggling to meet demand for the product. In the same quarter in 2010, the company wasn’t even selling iPads yet.

Looking at Apple’s iPhone sales in the fiscal fourth quarter, Apple sold 17.07 million, disappointing analysts who had estimated 20 million in phone sales for the quarter as the company had delayed the launch of its new iPhone 4S. No need to worry, the company still saw brisk sales with its iPhone 4 (its second-highest seller) and the iPhone 3GS.

iPod Sales Contract, Converted to iOS app 

After being the portable media player for over a decade, Apple’s iPod ruling slipped in 2011. Reaching a top 50.3 million unit sales in 2010, fiscal 2011 sales only reached 42.6 million units. Competitors couldn’t capitalize on the decline as Apple changed its iPod sales numbers to higher margin iOS devices that ran the iPod app.

These days, Apple sees over half of its iPod sales from the iOS-based iPod touch. It sells a greater number of  iPhones and iPads each quarter than all combined iPods. According to Apple Insider, if Apple had branded its other iOS devices as “iPod phone” and “iPod tablet,” sales could have risen to 34.8 million for “iPod” devices as compared to the 27% sales decline in “iPod branded devices” sans iPhone and iPad sales.

New iOS Devices

The company’s revised Apple TV found success among the competitive arena of “connected TV boxes.” Its $99 Apple TV set box topped the small 8% market of U.S. households that own a “connected TV” player as 32% own Apple’s product.

In addition, these Apple users pay for TV and movies: 30% rent either movies or TV shows as compared to the 20% who own other models.

Other product successes for 2011 include Apple’s iPhone 4 CDMA version, which is available on Verizon’s (NYSE:VZ) U.S. network. The product expanded Apple’s smartphone audience, later including Sprint (NYSE:S) customers and other CDMA global providers.

Next up for Apple was March’s iPad 2 launch. The tablets saw great success in 2011, as Apple reported 15 million iPad sales through the year’s first nine months.

Things happen in threes, and in October, Apple introduced its third device: the new iPhone 4S. Taking the dual core A5 chip and the 1080 vp video mirroring from its iPad 2, as well as an enhanced camera, CDMA and GSM mobile global network capabilities, and the voice assistant Siri, the phone was an immediate hit. It also differed from the previous iPhone models by offering a number of  iPhone price options ranging from free up to $399 under U.S. contract.

Further Reading: Will Apple Deliver Tons of New Hardware This Year?>>