How Apple became the most valuable company in the world
Apple is a one-of-a-kind company, which in February 2015 became the first to surpass the $700 billion mark in market value. It had become, though briefly, the most valuable company by market cap in 2012, and managed to stun analysts and investors once again. It relies greatly on the iPhone, its flagship product that broke all records in the fourth quarter of 2014, selling 74.5 million units. Some analysts predict Apple will become the first trillion dollar company.
Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, who relinquished his stake after only 12 days, Apple became one of the most important brands in technology and modern history. Among the most impactful products are the Apple II, in 1979, the Macintosh computer, in 1984, the digital music player iPod, in 2001, the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. The iPhone is currently on versions 6 and 6 Plus and remains the most profitable product for the company.
The company revolutionised the personal computer market with its Apple and Mac models. It has also made a significant impact in the music industry, by launching the first successful digital music store, iTunes, in 2003. It went on to sell 35 billion songs, as of May 2014, and over 340 million iPods.
But its biggest contribution to today's connected world was the iPhone, that started the touchscreen revolution in 2007 and became the de facto standard to all smartphones form factors today. Its operating system, iOS, has also inspired a new breed of mobile software. In 2008, Apple launched the App Store, the first of its kind, starting a whole new industry of native mobile apps. The store had 1,2 billion apps as of July 2014.
The tech giant's co-founder, Steve Jobs, died in October 2011, one day after the launch of the iPhone 5. He is said to have laid out years worth of innovation for the company before he died, including products yet to be released.
The company's current CEO, Tim Cook, has been accused of slowing the pace of innovation and allowing technical glitches out the door - including the iPhone 5's camera purple flare problem, the more recent #bendgate with the iPhone 6 plus (stories of devices bending in customers' pockets became viral under this tag), and multiple issues with iOS 8 and 8.1. The CEO, who is gay and has been trying to bring more diversity to the company, might be working on an Apple Car, a dream of the late Steve Jobs and a well-seen investment by the market.
The first gadget coming out of the Cupertino company without Steve Jobs' work is the Apple Watch, a smart watch that doubles as a fitness wristband.