The fistful of cave-dwellers unfamiliar with tech giant Apple—the world’s first trillion-dollar company—would probably be surprised to learn that the company, founded in the 1970s,, nearly went broke in the 1990s!
Apple Computer Company, Inc. was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in April 1976 to develop and sell Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. They introduced the first Macintosh computer, but by 1997, they were just about broke.
Due to what some called runaway innovation and his autocratic rule, Jobs ran into a lot of personality problems in the Napa Valley tech community, and a lot of disagreements at the management level. Jobs left Apple for a time, then returned after Apple bought a newer tech company he’d started. Jobs set about slashing costs at Apple that cut a third of the workforce and restructured their finances about 90 days from going broke.
After Jobs’ return, Apple started taking new shareholders. Originally, they saw themselves as a computer company, and that was what their mission was. Once jobs came in back, Apple started to look at new products. In 1998, they released the iMac G3 three, which was quite revolutionary in its style and its presentation, although it was still a computer per se. Then in 2001, they released the iPod, which was based on the (Sony) Walkman concept.
At this point, Apple started realising that they had to move from just being another computer manufacturer to being a major innovator of tech products in general. This was when Jobs started pushing the idea that their mission was about enriching lives. And that allowed for Apple actually widening the scope of what they were providing.
Then came the iPhone. During his keynote speech at the Macworld Expo in 2007, he introduced the first iPhone. He also announced that Apple Computer, Inc. would thereafter be known as “Apple Inc.”, because the company was shifting its emphasis from computers to consumer electronics. Apple Inc. sold 270,000 iPhone units during the first 30 hours of sales.
And the rest is, as they say, history…
So, what’s in the future for Apple, Well, as far as competition goes, Chinese competitors are certainly on the horizon, as are companies like Samsung. However, Apple itself has also been able to benefit from China’s innovation. China revolutionised the production system for Apple and is one of the reasons Apple has been able to keep their production costs down.
All in all, it will be interesting to see what the next big thing is around the whole communication and community aspect of the technology. We can certainly expect that our phones will continue to get smarter and smaller and do more things.
Aside from that, it’s a pretty safe bet that any investor who got in early but didn’t have an eye for the long-term and bailed on Apple is regretting it now.