How two friends built the biggest business in the world: Apple

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Apple’s incredible rise to global domination began in 1976 when friends and college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak set out to design a user-friendly computer. They did just that later the same year, when the Apple I went on sale for USD 666.66 (around USD 3,500 in modern prices).

However, it would be the Apple II, with its world-first colour graphics, that would revolutionize the computing industry. Such was its impact that just two years after launch, Apple sales hit USD 7.8m. By the time the company went public in 1980, this figure was USD 117m.

In the years that followed, Apple continued its success with the launch of its Macintosh computer. With a USD 1.5mn advert during the 1984 Superbowl, it also took its first foray into high-end advertising, something which now garners the company almost as much attention as its products.

Its quest for world domination would be complete a couple of decades later following the launch of the iPod and subsequently, the iPhone, both of which have revolutionized the way we live and work.

Today, Apple is the world’s largest technology company by revenue, the world’s biggest company by market capitalization, the fourth-largest personal computer vendor by unit sales, and the second-largest mobile phone manufacturer.

The eye-watering stats don’t stop there. Apple has sold over 1.3 billion phones since launch, its physical stores welcome over one million shoppers per day, and its App Store features nearly two million apps with more added daily. 

In 2020, Apple became the first American company to reach a market cap of USD 2tr. Just two years later, it became the first to exceed USD 3tr. In the same year, its annual revenues were over USD 394bn.

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