Apple Inc., formerly Apple Computer, Inc., is an American multinational corporation with a focus on designing and manufacturing consumer electronics and software products. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of personal computers, the iPod line of portable media players, and the iPhone. Apple's software products include the Mac OS X operating system, iTunes media browser, the iLife suite of multimedia and creativity software, and Final Cut Studio, a suite of professional audio- and film-industry software products. The company operates more than 200 retail stores in seven countries and an online store where hardware and software products are sold.
Established in Cupertino, California on April 1, 1976 and incorporated January 3, 1977, the company was called "Apple Computer, Inc." for its first 30 years, but dropped the word "Computer" on January 9, 2007 to reflect the company's ongoing expansion into the consumer electronics market in addition to its traditional focus on personal computers. Apple has about 28,000 employees worldwide and had worldwide annual sales of US$24 billion in its fiscal year ending September 29, 2007. For reasons varying from its philosophy of comprehensive aesthetic design to its distinctive advertising campaigns, Apple has established a unique reputation in the consumer electronics industry. This includes a customer base that is devoted to the company and its brand, particularly in the United States. Fortune magazine named Apple the most admired company in the United States.
Apple was established on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, to sell the Apple I personal computer kit. They were hand-built by Wozniak and first shown to the public at the Homebrew Computer Club. The Apple I was sold as a motherboard (with CPU, RAM, and basic textual-video chips)—less than what is today considered a complete personal computer. The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 and was market-priced at US$666.66.
Apple was incorporated January 3, 1977 without Wayne, who sold his share of the company back to Jobs and Wozniak for $800. Mike Markkula provided essential business expertise and funding of US$250,000 during the incorporation of Apple.
The Apple II was introduced on April 16, 1977 at the first West Coast Computer Faire. It differed from its major rivals, the TRS-80 and Commodore PET, because it came with color graphics and an open architecture. While early models used ordinary cassette tapes as storage devices, they were superseded by the introduction of a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drive and interface, the Disk II.
The Apple II was chosen to be the desktop platform for the first "killer app" of the business world—the VisiCalc spreadsheet program. VisiCalc created a business market for the Apple II, and gave home users an additional reason to buy an Apple II—compatibility with the office. According to Brian Bagnall, Apple exaggerated its sales figures and was a distant third place to Commodore and Tandy until VisiCalc came along.
By the end of the 1970s, Apple had a staff of computer designers and a production line. The Apple II was succeeded by the Apple III in May 1980 as the company competed with IBM and Microsoft in the business and corporate computing market.
Jobs and several Apple employees including Jef Raskin visited Xerox PARC in December 1979 to see the Xerox Alto. Xerox granted Apple engineers three days of access to the PARC facilities in return for US$1 million in pre-IPO Apple stock. Jobs was immediately convinced that all future computers would use a GUI, and development of a GUI began for the Apple Lisa.
Steve Jobs began working on the Apple Lisa in 1978 but in 1982 he was pushed from the Lisa team due to infighting, and took over Jef Raskin's low-cost-computer project, the Macintosh. A turf war broke out between Lisa's "corporate shirts" and Jobs' "pirates" over which product would ship first and save Apple. Lisa won the race in 1983 and became the first personal computer sold to the public with a GUI, but was a commercial failure due to its high price tag and limited software titles.
In 1984, Apple next launched the Macintosh. Its debut was announced by the now famous US$1.5 million television commercial, "1984." It was directed by Ridley Scott, aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984, and is now considered a watershed event for Apple's success and a masterpiece.
The Macintosh initially sold well, but follow-up sales were not strong. The machine's fortunes changed with the introduction of the LaserWriter, the first laser printer to be offered at a reasonable price point, and PageMaker, an early desktop publishing package. The Mac was particularly powerful in this market due to its advanced graphics capabilities, which were already necessarily built-in to create the intuitive Macintosh GUI. It has been suggested that the combination of these three products was responsible for the creation of the desktop publishing market. As desktop publishing became widespread, Apple's sales reached new highs and the company had its initial public offering on September 7, 1984.
A power struggle developed between Jobs and new CEO John Sculley in 1985. Apple's board of directors sided with Sculley and Jobs was removed from his managerial duties. Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT Inc. the same year.
Apple's sustained growth during the early 1980s was partly due to its leadership in the education sector, attributed to their adaptation of the programming language LOGO, used in many schools with the Apple II. The drive into education was accentuated in California with the donation of one Apple II and one Apple LOGO software package to each public school in the state.
Having learned several painful lessons after introducing the bulky Macintosh Portable in 1989, Apple introduced the PowerBook in 1991, which established the modern form and ergonomic layout of the laptop computer.
The same year, Apple introduced System 7, a major upgrade to the operating system which added color to the interface and introduced new networking capabilities. It remained the architectural basis for Mac OS until 2001.
The success of the PowerBook and other products led to increasing revenue. For some time, it appeared that Apple could do no wrong, introducing fresh new products and generating increasing profits in the process. The magazine MacAddict named the period between 1989 and 1991 as the "first golden age" of the Macintosh.
Following the success of the LC, Apple introduced the Centris line, a low end Quadra offering, and the ill-fated Performa line which was sold in several confusing configurations and software bundles to avoid competing with the various consumer outlets such as Sears, Price Club and Wal-Mart, the primary dealers for these models. The end result was disastrous for Apple as consumers did not understand the difference between models.
During this time Apple experimented with a number of other failed consumer targeted products including digital cameras, portable CD audio players, speakers, video consoles and TV appliances. Enormous resources were also invested in the problem-plagued Newton division based on John Sculley's unrealistic market forecasts. Ultimately, all of this proved be too-little-too-late for Apple as their market share and stock prices continued to slide.
Apple saw the Apple II Family as too expensive to produce, while taking away sales from the low end Macintosh. In 1990 Apple released the Macintosh LC with a single expansion slot for the Apple IIe Card to migrate Apple II users to the Macintosh platform. Apple stopped selling the Apple IIe in 1993.
Microsoft continued to gain market share with Windows, focusing on delivering software with cheap commodity PCs while Apple was delivering a richly engineered, but expensive, experience. Apple relied on high profit margins and never developed a clear response. Instead they sued Microsoft for using a graphical user interface similar to the Apple Lisa in Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation.
The lawsuit dragged on for years before being thrown out of court. At the same time, a series of major product flops and missed deadlines destroyed Apple's reputation and Sculley was replaced by Michael Spindler.
By the early 1990s, Apple was developing alternative platforms to the Macintosh, such as the A/UX. The Macintosh platform was becoming outdated since it was not built for multitasking, and several important software routines were programmed directly into the hardware. In addition, Apple was facing competition from OS/2 and UNIX vendors like Sun Microsystems. The Macintosh would need to be replaced by a new platform, or reworked to run on more powerful hardware.
In 1994, Apple allied with IBM and Motorola in the AIM alliance. The goal was to create a new computing platform (the PowerPC Reference Platform), which would use IBM and Motorola hardware coupled with Apple's software. The AIM alliance hoped that PReP's performance and Apple's software would leave the PC far behind, thus countering Microsoft. The same year, Apple introduced the Power Macintosh, the first of many Apple computers to use IBM's PowerPC processor.
In 1996, Michael Spindler was replaced by Gil Amelio as CEO. Gil Amelio made many changes at Apple, including massive layoffs. After multiple failed attempts to improve Mac OS, first with the Taligent project, then later with Copland and Gershwin, Amelio chose to purchase NeXT and its NeXTSTEP operating system, bringing Steve Jobs back to Apple as an advisor. On July 9, 1997, Gil Amelio was ousted by the board of directors after overseeing a three-year record-low stock price and crippling financial losses. Jobs became the interim CEO and began restructuring the company's product line.
At the 1997 Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would join Microsoft to release new versions of Microsoft Office for the Macintosh, and that Microsoft made a US$150 million investment in non-voting Apple stock.
On November 10, 1997, Apple introduced the Apple Store, tied to a new build-to-order manufacturing strategy.
On August 15, 1998, Apple introduced a new all-in-one computer reminiscent of the Macintosh 128K: the iMac. The iMac design team was led by Jonathan Ive, who would later design the iPod and the iPhone. The iMac featured current technology and a groundbreaking design. It sold close to 800,000 units in its first five months and returned Apple to profitability for the first time since 1993.
Through this period, Apple purchased several companies to create a portfolio of professional and consumer-oriented digital production software. In 1998, Apple announced the purchase of Macromedia's Final Cut software, signaling its expansion into the digital video editing market. The following year, Apple released two video editing products: iMovie for consumers, and Final Cut Pro for professionals, the latter of which has gone on to be a significant video-editing program, with 800,000 registered users in early 2007. In 2002 Apple purchased Nothing Real for their advanced digital compositing application Shake, as well as Emagic for their music productivity application Logic, which led to the development of their consumer-level GarageBand application. iPhoto's release the same year completed the iLife suite.
Mac OS X, based on NeXT's OPENSTEP and BSD Unix was released on March 24, 2001, after several years of development. Aimed at consumers and professionals alike, Mac OS X aimed to combine the stability, reliability and security of Unix with the ease of use afforded by an overhauled user interface. To aid users in migrating from Mac OS 9, the new operating system allowed the use of OS 9 applications through Mac OS X's Classic environment.
On May 19, 2001, Apple opened the first official Apple Retail Stores in Virginia and California. The same year, Apple introduced the iPod portable digital audio player. The product was phenomenally successful — over 100 million units were sold within six years. In 2003, Apple's iTunes Store was introduced, offering online music downloads for US$0.99 a song and integration with the iPod. The service quickly became the market leader in online music services, with over 5 billion downloads by June 19th 2008.
Since 2001 Apple's design team has progressively abandoned the use of translucent colored plastics first used in the iMac G3. This began with the titanium PowerBook and was followed by the white polycarbonate iBook and the flat-panel iMac.
In the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address on June 6, 2005, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would begin producing Intel-based Mac computers in 2006. On January 10, 2006, the new MacBook Pro and iMac became the first Apple computers to utilize Intel's Core Duo CPU. By August 7, 2006 Apple had transitioned the entire Mac product line to Intel chips, over 1 year sooner than announced. The Power Mac, iBook and Powerbook brands were retired during the transition, the Mac Pro, Macbook and Macbook Pro becoming their respective successors.
Apple's success during this period was evident in its stock price. Between early 2003 and 2006, the price of Apple's stock increased more than tenfold, from around US$6 per share (split-adjusted) to over US$80. In January 2006, Apple's market cap surpassed that of Dell. Nine years prior, Dell's CEO Michael Dell said that if he ran Apple he would "shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."
Delivering his keynote at Macworld on January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs announced that Apple Computer, Inc. would from that point on be known as Apple Inc. The event also saw the announcement of the iPhone and the Apple TV. The following day, Apple shares hit US$97.80, an all-time high. In May, Apple's share price passed the US$100 mark.
On February 7, 2007, Apple indicated that it would sell music on the iTunes Store without DRM (which would allow tracks to be played on third-party players) if record labels would agree to drop the technology. On April 2, 2007, Apple and EMI jointly announced the removal of DRM technology from EMI's catalog in the iTunes Store, effective in May.
On July 11, 2008, Apple launched the App Store to sell third-party applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Within a month, the store sold 60 million applications and brought in US$1 million daily on average, with Steve Jobs speculating that the App Store could become a billion-dollar business for Apple.
Apple sells a variety of computer accessories for Mac computers including the AirPort wireless networking products, Time Capsule, Apple Cinema Display, Mighty Mouse, the Apple Wireless Keyboard computer keyboard, and the Apple USB Modem.
On October 23, 2001, Apple introduced the iPod digital music player. It has evolved to include various models targeting the needs of different users. The iPod is the market leader in portable music players by a significant margin, with more than 100 million units shipped as of April 9, 2007. Apple has partnered with Nike to introduce the Nike+iPod Sports Kit enabling runners to synchronize and monitor their runs with iTunes and the Nike+ website Apple currently sells four variants of the iPod.
Apple also offers a range of professional software titles. Their range of server software includes the operating system Mac OS X Server; Apple Remote Desktop, a remote systems management application; WebObjects, Java Web application server; and Xsan, a Storage Area Network file system. For the professional creative market, there is Aperture for professional RAW-format photo processing; Final Cut Studio, a video production suite; Logic, a comprehensive music toolkit and Shake, an advanced effects composition program.
Apple also offers online services with MobileMe (formerly .Mac) which bundles personal web pages, email, Groups, iDisk, backup, iSync, and Learning Center online tutorials. MobileMe is a subscription-based internet suite that capitalizes on the ability to store personal data on an online server and thereby keep all web-connected devices in sync.
As the company has grown and been led by a series of chief executives, each with his own idea of what Apple should be, some of its original character has arguably been lost, but Apple still has a reputation for fostering individuality and excellence that reliably draws talented people into its employ, especially after Jobs' return. To recognize the best of its employees, Apple created the Apple Fellows program. Apple Fellows are those who have made extraordinary technical or leadership contributions to personal computing while at the company. The Apple Fellowship has so far been awarded to a few individuals including Bill Atkinson, Steve Capps, Rod Holt, Alan Kay, Guy Kawasaki, Al Alcorn, Don Norman, Rich Page, and Steve Wozniak.
Mac users meet at the European Apple Expo and the San Francisco Macworld Conference & Expo trade shows where Apple introduces new products each year to the industry and public. Mac developers in turn gather at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.
Apple Store openings can draw crowds of thousands, with some waiting in line as much as a day before the opening or flying in from other countries for the event. The New York City Fifth Avenue "Cube" store had a line as long as half a mile; a few Mac fans took the opportunity of the setting to propose marriage. The Ginza opening in Tokyo was estimated in the thousands with a line exceeding eight city blocks.
John Sculley told The Guardian newspaper in 1997: "People talk about technology, but Apple was a marketing company. It was the marketing company of the decade.
Market research indicates that Apple draws its customer base from an unusually artistic, creative, and well-educated population, which may explain the platform’s visibility within certain youthful, avant-garde subcultures.
During the Mac's early history Apple generally refused to adopt prevailing industry standards for hardware, instead creating their own. This trend was largely reversed in the late 1990s beginning with Apple's adoption of the PCI bus in the 7500/8500/9500 Power Macs. Apple has since adopted USB, AGP, HyperTransport, Wi-Fi, and other industry standards in its computers and was in some cases a leader in the adoption of such standards such as USB. FireWire is an Apple-originated standard which has seen widespread industry adoption after it was standardized as IEEE 1394.
Ever since the first Apple store opened, Apple has sold third party accessories. This allows, for instance, Nikon and Canon to sell their Mac-compatible digital cameras and camcorders inside the store. Adobe, one of Apples oldest software partners, also sells its Mac-compatible software, as does Microsoft, who sells Microsoft Office for the Mac. Books from John Wiley & Sons, who publishes the For Dummies series of instructional books, are a notable exception however. The publisher's line of books were banned from Apple Stores in 2005 because Steve Jobs disagreed with their editorial policy.
In 2006, Apple announced its intention to build a second campus on 50 acres assembled from various contiguous plots. The new campus, also in Cupertino, will be about one mile (1.6 km) east of the current campus.
While it is generally accepted to have referred to Isaac Newton, a curious urban legend exists that the bitten apple pays homage to the mathematician Alan Turing, who committed suicide by eating an apple he had laced with cyanide. Turing is regarded as one of the fathers of the computer.
In 1998, with the roll out of the new iMac, Apple began to use a monochromatic logo—supposedly at the insistence of recently returned Jobs—nearly identical in shape to its previous rainbow incarnation. However, no specific color is prescribed throughout Apple's software and hardware line. The logo's shape is one of the most recognized brand symbols in the world, identifies all Apple products and retail stores (the name "Apple" is usually not even present) and has been included as stickers in nearly all Macintosh and iPod packages through the years.
Apple's first slogan, "Byte into an Apple", was coined in the late 1970s. From 1997-2002, Apple used the slogan Think Different in advertising campaigns. The slogan had a lasting impact on their image and revived their popularity with the media and customers. Although the slogan has been retired, it is still closely associated with Apple. Apple also has slogans for specific product lines - for example, "iThink, therefore iMac", was used in 1998 to promote the iMac, and "Say hello to iPhone" has been used in iPhone advertisements.
Greenpeace runs a "Guide to Greener Electronics", which rates companies on chemical-disposal waste-reduction practices. In the first edition, released in August 2006, Apple scored 2.7/10. In subsequent editions Apple's score has improved steadily. Apple has soon improved its score to a 4.1/10, placing it in the 45 percentile among 17 other electronic companies and 10th in the rankings.
At the 2007 Macworld Expo, Greenpeace presented a critique of Apple. Rick Hind, the legislative director of Greenpeace's toxics campaign, said, "(The company) is getting greener, but not green enough." Hind commented further, "The Macbook Air has less toxic PVC plastic and less toxic BFRs, but it could have zero and that would make Apple an eco-leader.""
Climate Counts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to directing consumers toward the greenest companies, gave Apple 11 points out of a possible 100 which placed the company last among electronics companies. Climate Counts also labeled Apple with a "stuck icon," and the environmental group added that Apple was "a choice to avoid for the climate conscious consumer." Steve Jobs responded "get out of the computer business (and) go save some whales."