Oh how things change – Apple came from the brinks of bankruptcy in 1996 to being not just the most valuable company in the world, but also the most valuable brand in the world. How did this happen?
First we have to go back in time to where it all started. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were the ones who have started Apple. They started it in a garage that is now marked as a historic site. That is the place were they created the Apple I personal computer in a world that did not even know that it needed such a device. This is something that is essential to Apple’s success, Steve always knew what people needed before they knew for themselves. I will not dive into the long history of the company, but rather signify the most important moments that not only marked the success of Apple, but changed the world as well.
The first major success for Apple was the GUI (graphical user interface) that Steve saw for the first time while visiting Xerox. He immediately knew that this was the future of personal computing. The problem was that he did not have all the support he needed at Apple, so the team working on Lisa was the first to the market with Apple’s first computer with a graphical user interface, while Steve was still working with his team on the Macintosh. Lisa was a commercial failure due to its high price and lack of software, and the Macintosh was a success partly thanks to a brilliant ad that is to this day considered to be one of the best, if not the best, ad in history.
Advertising is one of the most important reasons for the company’s huge success. Steve Jobs had a gift for branding and advertising, he knew how to make you want something. The 1984 superbowl television ad, set in a dystopian future modeled after the George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, set the tone for the introduction of the Macintosh and was one of the most successful ads in history. The slogan “Think Different” took consumers by storm. Everyone wants to be different, to be special, right? This made Apple cool. The products themselves always had a different look, more refined, better designed than the other products. This is especially true with Mac computers – on one side you had a very cool and colorful iMac and on the other you had dull PCs that all looked like gray boxes. Later Apple had another successful campaign with the Mac VS PC ads, where they pointed out the weaknesses of the PC and showed the strengths of the Mac in a very friendly and funny way. The thing is that people actually wanted to see ads, yes, imagine that. These ads now have millions of views on YouTube.
The iPod is not just a music player, it is a whole music ecosystem, a revolution in the music industry. It’s no secret Apple did not actually invent many of the products they sold, but they made them good. This was the case with the iPod, it was not the first mp3 player out on the market, it is debatable if it was even the best, but it was not only about the iPod, it was about the user experience. You could connect the thing to your Mac or PC and buy music straight from the iTunes music store. In a world of illegal mp3 sharing, Apple offered a legal way to buy individual songs and this was as important as the product itself. One more thing that no one could have predicted are the earbuds. They were white and thus very characteristic and therefore very noticeable, so if you were wearing white earbuds people knew you owned an iPod.
One of the truly revolutionary products that came out of Apple was the iPhone in 2007. It was not the first smartphone nor the first touchscreen cell phone in the world, but it was just so much better than anything else out there. The capacitive touchscreen was unlike anything anyone has ever experienced and the kinetic scrolling is unsurpassed in smoothness to this day, Android is still struggling with this eight years later. The iPhone almost killed Nokia, Blackberry and Sony-Ericcson, all huge players in the mobile phone market. Although it missed some key features like 3G connectivity, MMS, features like cut-copy and paste, the original iPhone, also known as the iPhone 2g, was the most desired phone in the world. At the iPhone unveiling, in 2007, Steve Jobs said that the phone was five years ahead of the competition, and he was right. It took the competition five years to come close to the level of polish and quality of user experience that was seen on the iPhone. The iPhone became the biggest part of the company’s revenue very quickly and is responsible for the huge success of the company.
People usually forget about the Macbook Air, but it was a revolutionary product.With its sleek and slim design, that remains for the most part unchanged to this day, it showed how elegant notebooks can look. Many companies tried to copy the design of the Macbook Air, but with limited success… It is actually not a laptop, it is an ultrabook, a new product category started by this very computer.
Did you know that there were many tablets before the iPad? Many people do not. And this is again a place where Apple excels, finding a product and making it cool and user friendly for a large amount of consumers. Before the iPad, tablets had bad touchscreens with operating systems that were not touch optimized and they were mostly used for work purposes. Apple changed that, the iPad was primarily a media and Internet consumption device. Gaming on the iPad became huge, just like Netflix and other streaming services. Apple wanted to show that you could do work with the iPad, so they used advertising to show how the device can be used in medical institutions and schools. Here they had limited success, since the devices were not exactly cheap at 500$ and not many schools or hospitals could afford that kind of an expense.
The App Store
Just like before, Apple did not invent apps, but they reinvented the experience of buying them from one single store that incorporated ratings and reviews for every app. The .99 cent apps also started a small revolution for developers around the world. They could create a viral app and earn a lot of money by putting a .99 cent price tag on it, making the money off of the volume of the sales instead on off a high price. This made apps more accessible to everyone and created a new billion dollar industry. Now every platform has an app store, it has become essential for every mobile and even desktop experience, since Windows also offers its app store which is called the Windows Marketplace and Apple’s app store is available on the Mac as well.
So, as you can see, Apple was not the inventor, but rather the reinventor. With brilliant advertising, their high quality products and excellent customer service, it is no surprise they are as successful as they are. One more aspect that is important to mention is that they just do not sell cheap products. They are in the business of selling premium products with high margins. Here are just a few interesting facts about how big Apple actually is:
With 178 billion dollars Apple could buy:
and still have $20 billion left.
By revenue, the iPhone alone is now a bigger business than General Motors.
Also Apple now has enough cash to buy Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo and HP.
And we are talking just about cash. This is an amazing achievement and I as a tech geek am proud to see a tech company become the biggest in the world. “Why is that?”, you ask. The previous owners of that spot were usually companies that exploited something to earn its money, like oil companies or banks. Tech companies actually make something that helps people and no matter whether you like Apple or not, you should be proud, as they are one of us.