Apple dethroned Microsoft as the world's most valuable technology company in 2010 as its co-founder Steve Jobs soared to new heights with the touchscreen iPad tablet computer and the latest iPhone.
Britain's Financial Times last week named Jobs its "Person of the Year" and even US President Barack Obama joined in the plaudits to the 55-year-old chief executive of the Cupertino, California-based gadget-maker.
Jobs' appearance on a San Francisco stage in January to unveil the iPad capped what the FT called "the most remarkable comeback in modern business history."
"It wasn't simply a matter of the illness that had sidelined him for half the year before, leaving him severely emaciated and eventually requiring a liver transplant," the newspaper said.
"Little more than a decade earlier, both Mr Jobs' career and Apple, the company he had co-founded, were widely considered washed up, their relevance to the future of technology written off," it said.
Obama, at a White House news conference on Wednesday, held up Jobs as an example of the virtues of the "free market."
"We celebrate somebody like a Steve Jobs, who has created two or three different revolutionary products," Obama said. "We expect that person to be rich and that's a good thing."
The iPad hit stores in the United States in April and Apple reported sales at the end of September of more than eight million of the devices that the FT said offer a glimpse into a world without a computer mouse or Windows.
Other technology firms are trying to match Apple's success with tablets of their own, including South Korea's Samsung, Canada's Research In Motion, maker of the Blackberry, and US computer giants Hewlett-Packard and Dell.
But none has yet to prove capable of preventing Apple from establishing the same dominance over the tablet computer market that it exercises over the MP3 music player scene with the ubiquitous iPod, introduced in 2001.
Goldman Sachs said it expects Apple to ship 37.2 million iPads in 2011 -- "which could potentially make Apple one of the largest vendors in the global personal computing market" -- plus personal computers.
The iPad wasn't Apple's only hit product in 2010.
The iPhone 4, the latest version of the touchscreen smartphone introduced by Apple in 2007, sold 14.1 million units in the quarter ended September, up 91 per cent over the same quarter a year earlier.