69. Apple - How Amateurs built Most Valuable Company on the Plant

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Why Apple is So Important in the World ?

Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California, that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. It is considered one of the Big Five technology companies, alongside Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

The company's hardware products include the iPhone smartphone, the iPad tablet computer, the Mac personal computer, the iPod portable media player, the Apple Watch smartwatch, the Apple TV digital media player, the AirPods wireless earbuds and the HomePod smart speaker.

Apple's software includes macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS operating systems, the iTunes media player, the Safari web browser, the Shazam acoustic fingerprint utility, and the iLife and iWork creativity and productivity suites, as well as professional applications like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and Xcode. Its online services include the iTunes Store, the iOS App Store, Mac App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV+, iMessage, and iCloud. Other services include Apple Store, Genius Bar, AppleCare, Apple Pay, Apple Pay Cash, and Apple Card.

Pic : Apple Headquarters, California, USA

Apple was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in April 1976 to develop and sell Wozniak's Apple I personal computer, though Wayne sold his share back within 12 days. It was incorporated as Apple Computer, Inc., in January 1977, and sales of its computers, including the Apple II, grew quickly. Within a few years, Jobs and Wozniak had hired a staff of computer designers and had a production line. Apple went public in 1980 to instant financial success.

Over the next few years, Apple shipped new computers featuring innovative graphical user interfaces, such as the original Macintosh in 1984, and Apple's marketing advertisements for its products received widespread critical acclaim. However, the high price of its products and limited application library caused problems, as did power struggles between executives. In 1985, Wozniak departed Apple amicably and remained an honorary employee, while Jobs and others resigned to found NeXT.

Pic : Founders

As the market for personal computers expanded and evolved through the 1990s, Apple lost market share to the lower-priced duopoly of Microsoft Windows on Intel PC clones. The board recruited CEO Gil Amelio to what would be a 500-day charge for him to rehabilitate the financially troubled company—reshaping it with layoffs, executive restructuring, and product focus.

In 1997, he led Apple to buy NeXT, solving the desperately failed operating system strategy and bringing Jobs back. Jobs pensively regained leadership status, becoming CEO in 2000. Apple swiftly returned to profitability under the revitalizing Think different campaign, as he rebuilt Apple's status by launching the iMac in 1998, opening the retail chain of Apple Stores in 2001, and acquiring numerous companies to broaden the software portfolio.

In January 2007, Jobs renamed the company Apple Inc., reflecting its shifted focus toward consumer electronics, and launched the iPhone to great critical acclaim and financial success. In August 2011, Jobs resigned as CEO due to health complications, and Tim Cook became the new CEO. Two months later, Jobs died, marking the end of an era for the company. In June 2019, Jony Ive, Apple's CDO, left the company to start his own firm, but stated he would work with Apple as its primary client.

Pic : Tim Cook, Current CEO

Apple is well known for its size and revenues. Its worldwide annual revenue totaled $265 billion for the 2018 fiscal year. Apple is the world's largest technology company by revenue and one of the world's most valuable companies. It is also the world's third-largest mobile phone manufacturer after Samsung and Huawei.

In August 2018, Apple became the first publicly traded U.S. company to be valued at over $1 trillion. The company employs 123,000 full-time employees and maintains 504 retail stores in 24 countries as of 2018.

Pic : John Ive, Design Genius Brain behind Apple Products

It operates the iTunes Store, which is the world's largest music retailer. As of January 2018, more than 1.3 billion Apple products are actively in use worldwide. The company also has a high level of brand loyalty and is ranked as the world's most valuable brand. However, Apple receives significant criticism regarding the labor practices of its contractors, its environmental practices and unethical business practices, including anti-competitive behavior, as well as the origins of source materials.

Apple History

I. The beginning

It all started back in 1976, when college drop-outs Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak, along with their friend Ronald Wayne established a company named Apple Computer. The association between Jobs and Wozniak, in particular, dates back to 1971, when they first met at Hewlett-Packard - where Wozniak worked - through a mutual friend.

Both of them started a business in 1972 that saw them selling a device called “blue box” which allowed users to illegally make free long-distance calls on AT&T’s network, and that too without getting traced.

“It was the magic that two teenagers could build this box for $100 worth of parts and control 100’s of billions of dollars of infrastructure in the entire telephone network in the whole world,” Jobs said later in a 1995 interview. “Experiences like that taught us the power of ideas. If we wouldn’t have made blue boxes, there would have been no Apple.”

Unsurprisingly, the device became popular, especially among criminals, with Jobs and Woz selling units for a total of $6,000. However, they gave up the venture after police started tightening the noose around them.

In 1974, Woz invited Jobs - who had just come back from a spiritual trip to India - to join the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto. While initially Woz helped Jobs - who was working with Atari at time - with his office project, soon they started working on a PC. What would eventually become Apple I (shown below) was ready by 1976.

The device, which was first introduced at the Homebrew Computer Club, was essentially a DIY kit that didn’t even have a case. It was designed and hand-built by Woz, and needed a keyboard and a monitor to work as a full fledged computer.

II. The Initial Struggles

After HP and Atari showed little interest in their product, which was priced at $666.66, citing no market demand, Jobs and Woz, along with Ronald Wayne decided to set-up their own company in the Jobs’ family garage. Apple Computer soon got their first order of 50 units (for $500 each) from the Byte Shop, the only computer store chain around at the time. Despite facing financial crunch, they somehow managed to deliver that order.

Nearly a couple of weeks later, Wayne - who held 10% of the company stock - decided to end his association with the firm as he wasn’t fine with Jobs’ idea of securing huge loans to build the Apple-1 in large quantities. He was given less than $1,000 for the stake that would have been worth around $72 billion today.

With Apple-1 turning out to be a successful product, Woz started working on Apple-II in the year 1976 itself. The idea was to create a pre-assembled personal computer for the general public. However, they still did not have enough money to produce it in large quantities.

III. The beginning of good times

Towards the end of the year 1976, ex-Intel manager named Mike Markkula invested $92,000 in the company. Subsequently, Apple Computer also secured a bank loan of $250,000, and managed to get $600,000 in venture funding - suddenly things were on the track. The company also got its logo designed in 1977.

IV. Jobs’ Xerox visit

Apple had produced only text-based machines till now. Although both Apple-I and II were a great success, Steve Jobs was looking for something different this time around. In the year 1979, when the company was working on Lisa and Macintosh, Jobs planned a three-day visit to PARC, Xerox’s research center in Palo Alto. In exchange, the deal saw Apple giving nearly 10,000 of its shares to Xerox at $10 each.

During the trip, Jobs and team was immensely impressed by the Xerox Alto, a computer that featured a graphical user interface and came with a three-button gadget which Xerox called a mouse.

V. When Jobs had to leave the company he founded

With Macintosh’s initial success, Apple was moving from strength to strength. However, the company’s top management saw a notable change. In the year 1983, Pepsi’s John Sculley agreed to join Apple as CEO. Steve Jobs had an important role in this as he convinced Sculley to join the company - he famously asked Sculley: “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?”

However, little did Jobs know that Sculley would become a sad episode in his professional history.

While initially everything was smooth, situation started changing gradually. Their management styles, which were completely different, often pitted them against each other. For example, the Macintosh was initially