If there is one company that defines innovation, it's Apple. And over the years, it has developed some of the most iconic products the world has ever seen.
Apple is a technology company based in California, USA. It specializes in the manufacturing and selling of electronics such as smartphones, laptops, and personal computers.
It’s safe to say that no company in history has received so much praise and yet has caused so much controversy than the US tech giant. Founded in 1976 by software engineer Steve Wozniak and video game designer Steve Jobs, Apple is the company that introduced the Macintosh, the iPhone, and the iMac, among many others.
Apple is also easily one of the most recognizable brands on the entire planet. Although not every person owns an iPhone nor a Mac, it’s undeniable that every person knows what they look like and what company makes them. Apple’s massive popularity has not only prompted a technological revolution but also managed to integrate itself into pop culture.
So did the company named after a fruit become so big? Innovation and quality. Jobs and Wozniak initially dreamed of developing a computer for the common man. By 1984, they had released the Macintosh, the first successful personal computer to feature a graphical user interface, built-in screen, and mouse. The Mac essentially altered the landscape for personal computing and would go on to become one of the biggest selling computers of all time.
Apple has not been without its fair share of controversies. In 1985, the company fired the man who gave the Mac to the world. But with the company in a state of limbo during the 1990s, it wasn't long before Steve Jobs was back in the fold. The decision didn't only save Apple but also resulted in the company becoming the trillion-dollar empire it is known today. As expected, Jobs continued to innovate, introducing the iMac in 1998, the iPod in 2001, the iMac in 2003, and the iPhone in 2007.
With Jobs' glorious return, Apple continued to be a company of firsts. The iMac was the Apple tech to fuse both the monitor and the CPU into one single computing hardware. The iTunes, on the other hand, was the first media library software that allows users to store all their downloaded files in any Apple device, including the iPod which was also considered the first MP3 player to be released with a 5GB/10GB memory. The mobile phone industry then changed with the release of the iPhone in 2007, the first phone to feature fully-functional touch controls and uninterrupted internet access.
Since then, Apple has introduced numerous products to the market, including annual upgraded versions of the iPhone and the Mac. The company also expanded its reach in the electronics industry with the release of the iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, among many others. The first iPad Air released in 2013 is the company's most popular tablet to date.
Although Apple has proven to be the gold standard in tech innovation, it has not escaped criticism for several decisions it has made over the years. Some of these decisions include removing the headphone jack for the iPhone 7 and beyond, selling a detachable Mac stand and Mac Pro wheels for $999 and $699 each, and more recently, selling the iPhone 12 without any charger. Although users have already seemingly adjusted to life without a 3.5mm headphone jack, time will tell if the Apple Stand, Apple Wheels, and charger-less iPhone 12 will be decisions that the company will regret in the future.
Apple is headquartered in its 175-acre corporate campus Apple Park in Cupertino, California, and also operates offices in multiple countries including China, Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore. As of 2019, the company employs around 137,000 workers around the world.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1976. But their work had already begun a year prior, building a prototype computer in the garage of Jobs' parents. The prototype would soon become the first Apple computer, the Apple I.
From 1976 to 1983, Apple would launch the Apple II, Apple III, and LISA. Out of the three, only the Apple II would become commercially successful and would remain in production for 16 years. The company also went public in 1980 with an IPO of $22. Since then, Apple stock has grown 125,000% with shares selling at $489 as of August 2020.
In 1984, people were given a first look at the first-ever Macintosh in an ad that premiered during the XVII Super Bowl half-time show. The Macintosh would be released two days later.
In 1985, Apple would see a major shakeup as it closes down six factories and lays off 1,200 employees. Wozniak resigned while Jobs was forced out of his own company.
Between 1986 and 1995, Jobs founded his own computer manufacturing company NeXT Computers while also purchasing Lucasfilm Ltd's graphics division. Although NeXT would fail, Lucasfilm did not. The graphics division later turned out to be Pixar Animation Studios. Jobs was Pixar's first CEO, and through this leadership, the first full-length computer-animated film “Toy Story” came to life in November 1995.
Apple's CEO at the time, Gil Amelio, decided to acquire NeXT in 1997 for $429 million. It didn't only bring Jobs back to Apple but also allowed him to retake the company that he built. In June 1997, Jobs secretly sold 1.5 million Apple shares, causing the company's stock to drop to a 12-year low. He then convinced the board to fire Amelio and name him as interim CEO.
After the successful release of the iMac in 1998, Jobs became Apple's full-fledged chief executive. The company would reach unparalleled heights with Jobs at the helm. The iPod and iTunes were launched in 2001 and 2003 respectively. And in probably the most iconic Apple event, the 2007 Macworld, Jobs launched the very first iPhone.
Apple would record $65 in sales billion in 2010 alone. This was aided by the release of the Apple iPad in April where 15 million were sold by the end of the year.
Jobs officially resigned from Apple in August 2011 and was replaced by Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook. Jobs died in October at the age of 56 after suffering complications from pancreatic cancer.
In 2013, the iPad Air was released and would sell over 26 million units in just three months, nearly twice the number compared to the original iPad in 2010. The iPhone 5s would also be released in the same year and would become bigger than the first iPhone. It came with an updated design, 64-bit/A7 processor interior, TouchID, and mobile payment functionality.
In 2017, Apple celebrated the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and launched the Apple iPhone X. It came with a revamped design as well as some powerful hardware (A11 Bionic chipset and Hexa-core 2.39 GHz processor). It also replaced TouchID with a brand new face identification system called FaceID.
Apple's success will not have been possible if not for Steve Jobs. Although Steve Wozniak still deserves major credit for co-inventing the Mac, it was Jobs who made Apple a household name. Jobs famously said that he “wanted to put a ding in the universe”. There is no denying that he achieved it, and more.
Jobs attended Reed College but dropped out after only one semester. He then worked as a technician at video game company Atari. After leaving Atari, he moved to India for seven months to seek spiritual enlightenment. He then returned to the US, and the rest is history.
Jobs had met Wozniak through a mutual friend when Wozniak was still attending the University of California. Wozniak left his job at Hewlett Packard and reunited with Jobs to establish Apple. Believing that the company was going in the wrong direction, Wozniak resigned in 1985. It was also the same year that Jobs was initially booted from the company. Since leaving Apple, Wozniak has focused on multiple business ventures and philanthropic efforts, including founding the universal remote company CL 9 and developing technology aimed for educational purposes.
Although profit has been fluctuating since 2011, Apple is still one of the highest-earning companies in the world. In 2011, revenues crossed the 100 billion mark as the company generated $108 billion (net profit by the end of the year was listed at $25.9 billion). In 2015, revenues reached more than 200 billion, generating $233 billion in revenues and earning $53.3 billion in profit. Since 2012, profit has not gone below $37 billion, with Apple recording its highest-ever profit in 2018 ($59.5 billion).
In August 2020, Apple was named the most valuable company in the world as its market capitalization crossed $2 trillion. It surpasses tech giants Microsoft, Amazon, and Google whose market capitalizations boast of around $1 billion each. According to the University of Maryland finance professor David Kass, Apple's $2 trillion valuation represents 10 percent of the US' GDP and 7 percent of the S&P 500.
Since it is involved in manufacturing multiple tech products, Apple is facing competition from numerous companies. In the computer manufacturing industry, Apple competes with Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, HP, Sony, and Asus. In the smartphone industry meanwhile, it also competes with Asus and Microsoft, as well as Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Google.
Despite the expensive price tags in most Apple devices, specifically, the $52,000 2019 Apple Mac Pro and the $1,099 iPhone 11 Pro Max, demand is still high due to the premium feel and innovative technology being integrated into these devices. In a 2017 data, Apple ranks 5th in computer sales behind Asus, Dell, Lenovo, and HP, while it ranks 3rd in smartphone sales behind Samsung and Huawei. Despite this, Apple still recorded its highest-ever profit in 2018, earning $59.5 billion.
Innovation has always been key for a company to be successful. Apple did just that, introducing products that will forever be remembered as some of the greatest technological innovations ever built.