On Monday, Apple stocks rose 2.6% to close at a monumental $665 per share, which officially makes the fruity firm the single most valuable company of all time.
Times have changed for the technology behemoth. Walking through Cupertino, California, where the giant is headquartered, the Apple logo is out in front of every bit of available real-estate across the five square mile radius that makes up the city. There was a time when they occupied just one humble building off the freeway, inches away from filing for about every type of bankruptcy imaginable with no major product releases on the horizon.
At that point it looked as though the formerly great hardware and software innovator was about to hang a giant “For Lease” sign across the glass walls of their massive campus on De Anza Boulevard. The situation had gotten so bad that at the time, Michael S. Dell, chief executive of Dell computers told a conference audience that if he was running Apple he would “shut it down and give the money back to shareholders.” Then Steven P. Jobs, decided to turn the bland Windows design on its head like a phoenix from the ashes, and released the all-in-one multicolored computer solution, the “iMac”.
The rest is technology history, and 16 years later that same building has become home to a business which surpassed every other corporation on the planet in both revenue and profit streams last year like it wasn’t anything more than a Sunday stroll. To give some perspective on how immense their growth has been, if you added up the current capital of Google, Intel, and Microsoft together, you’d still be $13 billion shy of what Apple has with all their chips on the table.
The former record was held by their formal rival at $616 billion in 1999 (adjusted for inflation this would make them worth a staggering $910 billion in today’s market), achieved during the high-flying days of limitless internet cash when the bubble hadn’t burst yet and everyone thought they were going to make a fortune in websites like Pets.com.Of course we all know how this dream eventually died, and since then investors haven’t gained the same confidence they once had in companies which were only generating “theoretical” money instead of the real thing.
This is when Apple made the best move it possibly could have under Jobs’ guidance, shifting into a focus on hardware and software packaged together in one easy to use format. It would be one that everyone could relate to, and didn’t come with the mandatory learning curve we had grown accustomed to with desktops and Windows XP.
Couple this emphasis on simplicity with a total reinvention of the term “elegant design”, and you have a winning combination that makes Apple a model for success in the modern economy.