It seems like an auspicious time for my first post to the iTech-Maine blog.
In case you missed it, Apple passed a stock price threshold last month and is now the *first* American company “worth” one *trillion* dollars.
Wow. $1,000,000,000. That’s a *lot* of zeros!
Not that it means that Apple has a trillion bucks in the bank — it means that Apple stock has a combined value of a trillion dollars. Actually, Apple has “only” $285 billion available “in the saving account.”
This is a good time to look back and reflect on how far Apple has come in the last 20 or so years. When Steve Jobs first came back to Apple and became the “iCEO”(interim CEO) in 1997, Apple was floundering badly with a wide range of semi-profitable products and a badly bloated line of differently configured Macs.
The company was also a fiscal train wreck at the time, losing money year after year. In fact, at the worst point, Steve Jobs was actually paying the entire payroll for Apple out of his own personal savings! I’ve heard that the company was within weeks of going bankrupt.
Jobs started the long road to profitability by first slashing the Apple product line. Many side projects, profitable and not, great and not, got the axe. Products like the Newton (a useful and forward-thinking product that was a bit ahead of its time), the QuickTake digital camera (I believe it was the first digital camera ever marketed as a consumer device) and many, many models of Macs were terminated and many staff members were laid off.
Jobs began focusing on streamlining the Mac lineup into four categories: portable Macs, professional and consumer, and desktop computers. With this narrowed focus, Jobs led Apple back to relevance with innovative advertising, including the “Think Different” campaign, and new and exciting products like the iMac in 1998.
In 2001, Apple released the “power duo” of iTunes and the iPod. Unlike today’s era of streaming music and video over high speed internet connections, the world of media was very, very different in 2001. Digital music was taking off, first because of the release of music CDs (remember those? 😁), then fueled by services like Napster that allowed people to download music for free. Needless to say, the music industry was in a panic about this, but they failed to provide a legal alternative for consumers to buy and use digital music.
Apple stepped in and provided that legal option with the release of the iTunes music app and the iPod digital music player. By providing a legal way to purchase music and, perhaps more importantly, providing an easy way to put that music onto a device that you could take with you anywhere, Apple had a huge increase in revenue and redefined the modern music industry as they provided portable digital music to literally millions of people.
Apple followed the iPod with the iPhone in 2007. Many saw this as just an iPod with a cellphone bolted on, but the incredible synergy of having internet access, web browsing, and email, along with a cellphone and your iTunes music took off. After a slow and bumpy start (It doesn’t have a keyboard! It costs $600!), it quickly caught on and became Apple’s most profitable product ever, redefining the entire cellular industry.
Apple released the iPad in 2010 and soon redefined the tablet industry. While it has never reached the success and popularity of it’s smaller cousin the iPhone, the iPad is a solid product, used and loved by millions of owners (this post as being composed on one as I speak - literally, using dictation).
Apple has released many other products over the years including the (sadly mourned) Airport line of Wi-Fi products that first brought the magic of cordless networking to the consumer space, as well as the AppleTV, and the Apple Watch...as well as a few clunkers (iPod Hi-Fi, I’m looking at you).
My apologies for the long-winded post — it grew with the telling, as they say. I hope this walk down memory lane was fun for my older clients and perhaps informative for my younger ones.
I should also acknowledge that, yes, this post is decidedly “pro-Apple” and the history may be a bit inaccurate. I’m guilty as charged. I’ve never made any bones about being an Apple partisan, and hey, my memory ain’t what it used to be.