Apple at 42: There is no slowing down the momentum
It has now been 42 years, since Apple (then known as the Apple Computer Company) was co-founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne on 1 April 1976. None of them could possibly have envisioned Apple would become as large and powerful as it is today. A year after its founding, the name changed to Apple Computer, Inc., but the journey remained steadfast, though in 2007, the there was another name and it became Apple Inc., as we know it today.
Apple remains on track to become the first company to reach the market capitalization of $1 trillion—currently $893 billion, though Amazon at $752 billion and Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. at $783 billion are not far behind.
When Steve Jobs unveiled the first generation iPhone at the MacWorld conference in January 2007, it pretty much set off a chain of events which are still in motion. Everything that we knew about smartphones till then, were turned on its head. Some of the biggest losers in the subsequent years were Nokia and BlackBerry, two companies which for various reasons, didn’t find it prudent to understand the changing consumer preferences for a touchscreen, a better software foundation as well as good designs.
Apple still tinkers with the iPhone today, and some of the iPhone X’s features such as the TrueDepth camera-reliant Animoji feature have been replicated by Samsung’s Galaxy S9 phones, the torchbearers for the Android ecosystem. “IPhone X surpassed our expectations and has been our top-selling iPhone every week since it shipped in November,” said Tim Cook, CEO, Apple, during the fiscal 2018 first quarter earnings call.
Apple confirmed that it now has 1.3 billion active devices in use, globally. As per the 1 February numbers by research firm IDC, smartphone vendors shipped 403.5 million units worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2017, and Apple (77.3 million units shipped) overtook Samsung (74.1 million units shipped) to take the lead of the smartphone space.
While the iPhone still continues to rake in the revenues for Apple, the company did create a completely new category of devices that we have become so used to: the tablet. It was in 2010 that Jobs unveiled the very first iPad. Over time, we saw larger screens, slimmer designs and even more power under the hood—all of this, paired with the ever increasing range of keyboard accessories, became viable laptop replacements. That forced Apple’s hand to a large extent, which meant the iPad Pro line-up that offers smart connectors for keyboards as well as the Apple Pencil and the Logitech Crayon stylus add-ons. Apple leads the tablet market, according to research by StatCounter—Apple iPads have cornered 64.7% of the global market as of February 2018, while Samsung is in a distant second place with 18.28%.
In 2013, Apple decided that it needed to give the watchmakers a scare, and unveiled the first Apple Watch. Another milestone for the wearable was ticked off in September 2017 when Apple unveiled a cellular version of the latest generation of the Watch, which can work with its own data connection or 3G and LTE networks.
As of 1 March, that mission seems to be very much on track—the numbers by research firm IDC suggest that Apple shipped as many as 8 million Watch units in the fourth quarter of 2017, which makes it the leader with 21% market share in the smart wearables space. Fitbit comes a distant second with 14.2% share and 5.4 million units shipped. Anyone who is even remotely interested in tracking their fitness and heart data would perhaps appreciate the fact that the heart rate sensor in the Apple Watch is more accurate than any other wearable out there, so much so that doctors in multiple hospitals in the US are now relying on the Watch to alert users about potential heart problems.
It is easy to assume that laptops are becoming extinct, but that is far from reality. The February 2018 numbers from research firm TrendForce suggest that Apple jumped Asus to become the fourth largest brand when it comes to total global laptop shipments with 9.65% of the market share and is expected to increase it to 10.4% in 2018. The updated MacBook Pro, as well as the smaller MacBook and the fact that the affordable MacBook Air in markets such as India, has helped Apple appeal to a wider demographic of laptop buyers.
At the same time, Apple also became the fourth largest PC maker in the world, with almost 20 million Mac devices sold in the year 2017, according to numbers by research firms IDC and Gartner. HP, however, leads with around 58 million units shipped.
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