Apple Becomes World’s Most Valuable Technology Company In 2010
If you’ve been reading the news often then I don’t really need to say that this has been an exceptionally good year for Apple. In fact, even if you aren’t the kind of person who likes to keep track of what’s going on with technology in the world, you must have noticed the explosion of iPhones that peacefully reside in people’s pockets, on their desks and at their ears while they are chatting with someone. You may have noticed that everyone is talking about the iPad too, the tablet from Apple that started what will become a massive trend in 2011.
According to AFP, Apple has also dethroned Microsoft and become the world’s most valuable technology company in 2010. As we’ve mentioned not so long ago, Financial Times even named Apple’s CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs “Person of the Year”. As if that weren’t enough, US President Barack Obama praised Jobs and gave him as an example for “American wealth”. The company’s most important product of the year, the iPad, made its official debut at the beginning of 2010, in January. Steve Jobs’ presentation in San Francisco was considered “the most remarkable comeback in modern business history”. Financial Times also stated that “it wasn’t simply a matter of the illness that had sidelined him for half the year before, leaving him severely emaciated and eventually requiring a liver transplant.” What can we say about Mr. Jobs? That he’s shown a lot of commitment to his company and he’s clearly contributing a lot to the company’s success. A bit over a decade ago, Jobs’ career and Apple were pretty much considered “washed up” and people didn’t believe either showed a lot of promise to bringing a large contribution to the way in which technology would evolve.
When speaking during a White House news conference on Wednesday, President Obama said that the US celebrates someone like a Steve Jobs, who has created two or three different revolutionary products. “We expect that person to be rich, and that’s a good thing”, Obama added.
The two, three revolutionary products Obama was talking about? Well, we could mention the iPhone, iPad and iPod line of music players. We could also mention the App Store that determines a large number of users each year to go for Apple products instead of products from different brands. The iPad, for instance, was a great success on the market. It was released in April this year and by the end of September the Cupertino-based company was already reporting sales of over 8 million units. That’s pretty impressive for a product that was newly introduced to the market especially considering the fact that a lot of people aren’t that enthusiastic when it comes to technology and a bit scared of leaving behind their own devices and adopting something completely new.
What else can we say about Apple? We’re not sure whether they came up with the ideas first or not and we’re not here to discuss that. All that we can say is that they sure have a good timing for implementing new technology and selling it. First it was the iPhone. People were fascinated with this handset the first time it showed up in stores. For several years other companies struggled to come up with something similar and equally exciting. Finally, in 2010, Google’s Android operating system started growing and making a name for itself and nowadays you could say that iOS and Android are just about equally popular. Some people are starting to see the benefits of Android but the typical user will still prefer the simplicity, good looks and quality the iPhone promises to deliver.
Now that the iPhone isn’t the clear leader on the mobile phone market and other companies and operating systems are starting to catch up and even surpass Apple, the whole situation is repeated in the case of tablets. The iPad was released in April and since then very few other tablets became available for sale. This left Apple’s tablet with a nearly 100 percent share of the market. The device was the most sought after gift this holiday season. Multiple companies are now trying to come up with similar offerings. Samsung has recently released the Galaxy Tab running Android OS. RIM will soon start selling the Blackberry Playbook whereas Dell, HP and Acer are all expected to start shipping their own tablets in the following months.
We have a feeling that once they all manage to come up with their own products, the same thing will happen as in the case of smartphones. Android-running products will start recovering ground and they’ll become just as popular as Apple’s innovative new toy. However, it will take a while until we see that happen. During this time Apple is set to take full advantage of the interest consumers have in tablets.
Having covered the company’s smartphone and tablet, let’s take a bit of time to talk about music players as well. The iPod is clearly one of the top sold music players in the world. The first one was introduced to consumers back in 2011. Since then multiple flavors with different capacities are being sold. We could mention the Nano, Shuffle and iPod Touch. To get a better idea of how much the company has grown in the last year or so, even Apple TV, a product that was described by Steve Jobs as a “hobby” is recording massive sales. According to a report released by the company last week, more than 1 million units will be sold by the end of this year.
Of course, throughout this year Apple has had its share of problems as well. First off, right after releasing the iPhone 4, sporting a new, “innovative” antenna, the company discovered that a lot of users were complaining about poor reception and dropped calls. People were outraged and we can’t blame them. After all, you end up paying a lot of money for a shiny new device and the thought that it might not work properly doesn’t even cross your mind. If it has the Apple logo stamped on it as well, even more reason to be sure that it’s high quality. This small scandal forced Apple to look into what was causing the problem. The company initially believed it was a software issue and declared that the handset was actually displaying more signal lines than it should in poor reception area. People didn’t really buy this and continued to complain. Eventually Apple admitted that it was because of hardware. As the company was trying to figure things out, a lot of competing phone makers tried to poke fun at the iPhone 4’s antenna problems. Nokia talked about the iPhone 4 and how it’s impacted by death grip on its corporate blog. Motorola displayed an ad in the New York Times pointing out how Droid X’s antenna is “the kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like and use it just about anywhere to make crystal clear calls”.
The last blow for the iPhone 4 came from Consumer Reports who refused to recommend the handset to users. At that time people were speculating on a possible recall for the handsets. On July 16 Apple finally decided to fix the situation for good. Steve Jobs took the stage at Apple’s Cupertino campus, announced that a large number of handsets were sold and then proceeded to demonstrating that the iPhone 4 wasn’t the only one with problems when users applied a “death grip” while holding their device. The fun part was that Apple’s CEO chose to demonstrate all this on the competition’s handsets, including the Blackberry Bold and a Motorola Droid handset. The other companies were naturally outraged and responded in various ways. Apple finally agreed to offer a free bumper case for every iPhone 4 customer and to give the money back to all users who’ve already purchased one. People who didn’t want to keep their handsets could take it back to the store and recover their money.
This was pretty much the biggest problem Apple had to face during 2010. Little problems might include: a faulty proximity sensor on the iPhone 4, several iPods that burst into flames in various parts of the world and the endless delay of the white iPhone 4 which we still didn’t get to see. Some people chose to stay away from Apple and go Android. Most Apple fans remained Apple fans and can’t wait to see what the company will release next. The conclusion is, it’s been a pretty good year for the Cupertino-based company who despite all the problems still managed to record massive sales for all of its devices. Based on several rumors that were published on the web, 2011 is bound to be a pretty good year for the company as well. Reportedly there’s an iPad 2, a new generation iPhone and a Verizon iPhone in the works. Assuming Apple will finally make its handset available through more carriers (and won’t be limited to the AT&T exclusive deal) this might translate into even more sales in the US.
As AFP reports Apple shares which were worth 10 dollars at the end of 2003 have now recorded a 60 percent growth this year and closed at over 320 dollars on Wall Street on Thursday. Apple took the leading spot from Microsoft as the largest US technology company (based on market value) back in May. Right now the only companies that have larger market capitalization are ExxonMobil and Petrochina. Meeschaert New York analyst Gregori Volokhine called Apple’s rise “absolutely extraordinary” and added that every analyst expects an even higher target price throughout next year, somewhere between 360 and 430 dollars. “Apple’s more than just a company,” Volokhine told AFP. “It’s become a cultural phenomenon. The hard part now will be not to disappoint.”11