Forty fruitful years for Apple
Apple is always in the limelight, whether its their latest product launch, Apple Execs giving a talk on their latest strategy insight or even controversy over their role in upholding privacy laws. But did you know that Apple turned forty last week?
Since its launch back in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, Apple has arguably become the most successful company in the world and dominated sales across mobile, PCs and music. With the continued redesigning of the iPhone and new ventures into unchartered territory in the form of Apple Music, they show little sign of slowing in their drive for growth, innovation and market leadership. This week OTB looks back on the making of an icon, and what the future might have in store for life after forty.
An interesting article by Time Magazine has explored the ten key moments in Apple’s history, aptly entitled “The Apple Revolution”. The story of “in the beginning” is an oft-told one when it comes to Apple, and for many is the epitome of the “anything is possible” mentality of the American Dream. Against the backdrop of the recent release of the film bearing Steve Jobs’ name and popular culture references to his Syrian refugee identity by the likes of Banksy, the anniversary of their story has perhaps never being more poignant.
Conceived in the garage of Steve Jobs’ family home in Los Altos, California, Apple Computer was incorporated on 1st April 1976. What would nowadays look to many millennials like a wooden tool box with a circuitboard attached, the hand-built Apple I was hailed as ‘a giant step forward over the competition’ with over 200 units sold. It has since become a sought after collectible, with one original being sold for $50,000, according to Time.
With the launch of the Macintosh in 1984, the iMac in 1998 (which perhaps did for computers what the Ford Model T did for cars), and the release of the now iconic iPod in 2001 (that in its fairly short lifespan has sold 350 million worldwide), the history of Apple and its seemingly exponential growth has characterised the Dot Com Revolution and paved the way for pioneering technology to become a virtual household staple in many countries.
Aside from the huge leaps in technology, perhaps one of the most significant contributions is that of Apple to the world of branding, design and marketing.
Many will remember the days when Apple’s logo looked like a rainbow delight, with hearsay suggesting that ‘the bite mark was supposedly a reflection of Apple's tagline at the time - “Byte into an Apple”. Looking back from 2016, the regeneration of the logo in 1999 into the sleek, cutting edge and futuristic black or silver that we know today was pivotal in the making of the modern brand. Now associated with being cool, calm, crisp and beautifully simple in design, the Apple logo has become as recognisable as McDonald’s Golden Arches and the Nike tick.
Industry commentators have since hailed Apple as one of the most trusted brands in the world, arguing that marketers have many insights that can be learned from the icon. entrepreneur.com have stated ‘the bottom line is whatever the new Apple product is, consumers trust that it will be smart and sleek and that it will improve the way they communicate, work or spend their leisure time’. Using its retail outlets as an extension of this brand image and continuously endeavouring to inspire and excite its consumers through experiential marketing, Apple have consistently engaged consumers with their message.
So after a life in the limelight and so much success, what does life after 40 look like for Apple?
According to Marketing Week, the future looks bright, but not without its challenges. With more than 1 billion people using its products, being hailed as ‘the world’s most valuable brand by almost any measure’ and its brand value soaring ‘from $16bn in 2006 to $247bn last year’, 2016 and Apple’s 40th birthday could be seen as the perfect opportunity to celebrate.
Yet the future of Apple is not without its challenges. As Marketing Week points out, the question of their role in international security in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, the over-saturation of markets and a perceived slowdown in innovation on Apple’s part all present themselves as potential obstacles to be overcome by the giant in the coming years.
Where the coming decade will take Apple is anyones guess. But after forty years at the top, brand and consumers alike will be hoping that Apple at fifty will be as vibrant, forward thinking and iconic as this week on its birthday celebrations.