From Garage to Greatness
Apple was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in April 1976. Mr. Wozniak had developed the first personal computer – the Apple I. The computer was manufactured in the garage of Jobs’ home.
When Apple went public in December of 1980, just four years later, it turned 300 people into millionaires. From 1976 to 1980, Apple revenues grew at an astonishing annual growth rate of 533%.
Can you say Cinderella story?
Apple introduced the Apple III in May 1980 in an attempt to compete with IBM and Microsoft in the business and corporate computing market.
Jobs went to Xerox PARC in December 1979. Jobs was immediately convinced that all future computers would use a graphical user interface (GUI) like the one on the “Alto”, a device created by Xerox.
Jobs began working on a Graphical screen display for the Apple “Lisa” that he was developing. “Lisa” was the first PC with a GUI sold to the public in 1983. The Apple “Macintosh”, which Jobs also worked on when a corporate power struggle forced him to move to the new project, shipped in 1984.
Both systems suffered from a lack of software available to make them useful and attractive to buyers, although the “Macintosh” sold better due to its smaller cost.
When the Apple “LaserWriter” was introduce and combined with Adobe’s “PageMaker” software, the “Macintosh” became a powerful tool. These three products are thought to have ushered in the desktop publishing revolution.
John Sculley was hired to the position of CEO in 1983. Apple’s board of directors instructed Sculley in 1985 to limit Job’s expensive development of untested products. Jobs chafed at this control and attempted to oust Scully from his leadership role at Apple in response. Sculley called a meeting of Apple’s Board when he learned of this attempt. The board sided with Sculley and removed Jobs from his managerial duties.
Jobs resigned from Apple and founded a new computer company, NeXT Inc., to develop workstations for schools and business. Wozniak was also disillusioned by Apple’s direction and left the company in 1985.
During the next 10 years, more executive job changes occurred, including the hiring of CEO Gil Amelio in February of 1996. Amelio made the decision to buy Steve Jobs’ company, NeXT in order to improve Apple’s operating systems. This did not help Amelio. On July 9, 1997, he was ousted after having served as CEO for only 500 days. Apple’s board of directors made this change due to political moves made by Jobs. He took over as CEO and began restructuring the company’s product line.
The New Rise
Apple introduced a new all-in-one computer on August 15, 1998. The iMac design team was led by English Industrial Designer Jonathan Ive, who had joined Apple in 1992 and would later design the iPod and the iPhone. The iMac featured modern technology and a unique design, and sold almost 800,000 units in its first five months.
In a bid to overcome previous shortcomings of Apple products, the company acquired numerous companies to create a portfolio of software titles, and changed some of the hardware used in its computers. Apple also opened its own retail stores in 2001. Apple became profitable again as a result of these changes.
No longer just a computer company, Apple Computer, Inc. became Apple Inc. starting in January 2007. That same year, Jobs announced an exciting new product – the iPhone, which launched the company into a new period of innovation and financial success.
The Bad News
Jobs took a medical leave of absence from Apple in 2009 in order to focus on his health. He then announced in early 2011 that he would take another medical leave of absence for an indefinite period. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook became the acting CEO at Apple.
Due to his failing health, Jobs resigned as CEO in August 2011. Tim Cook became the new CEO.
Jobs died just two months later.
What makes Apple Special?
Brand is about the story that someone recalls and the feelings they experience when they think about a company or its products. The story of creating something in a garage and growing that into one of the largest companies in the world is the stuff of dreams.
Additionally, the company appears to care to create products and services that are made better and are more well-designed than their competitors.
“The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design.” –Adam Judge
Part of this may be due to the company’s decision to price their products at a rate above that of competitors, which gives consumers the perception of higher quality.
Apple has always played the role rebel outsider taking on the darkly veiled and sinister oppressors of big business and perhaps government. In a sense, they took on the mantle of Luke Skywalker against Darth Vader in Star Wars, which happened to be released in the same year that Apple was first incorporated.
Apple encryption of all content on iOS8 devices in 2014 made it impossible for law enforcement to acquire customer data – even the company couldn’t get this data. Promotional campaigns from the company made this a part of its public image.
People are rightfully concerned about the collection and use of information that can be, and is collected from their electronic devices. In response, Apple began encrypting content before uploading it to Apple’s iCloud storage system in 2016. It also introduced “differential privacy”. This created a way to collect data from multiple users, while keeping individual users anonymous.
Users are explicitly asked if they want to participate, and can actively opt-out if they do not want to share their data.
Capital sitting idle in inventories is a costly and unnecessary waste. Apple reduces this by having their own highly effective manufacturing facilities and strict control over vendors. Couple the higher product prices that Apple can successfully charge with these cost controls, and you find the company achieving profit margins of 40 percent versus 10 to 20 percent for most other hardware companies.
Does this Apple have Worms?
There are areas where Apple may be justifiably criticized. The labor practices of its contractors has come under scrutiny in an age of focus on Human Rights throughout the world. The origins of source materials has brought the company into conflict with environmental community and environmental legislation. Business practices, thought to be anti-competitive in nature leading to legal battles.
Early Protectionist Stance
Apple refused to adopt industry standards for hardware, instead creating their own during the early product development years. This caused many to see the company as inflexible and uncooperative, which caused many to shun Apple products in favor of more open systems.
This trend was largely reversed in the late 1990s. Apple has since joined the industry standards groups to influence the future direction of technology standards.