The company was first founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in 1976 in the garage of Jobs’ parents. Their first product, known as the Apple I, consisted of an assembled circuit board without many of the present-day features of a computer, such as display, keyboard or mouse. The company started to slowly grow with the development of Apple II, Apple III, Apple Lisa and the first Macintosh, launched in 1984.
After a rather uneventful period, the company resurfaced in the late 1990s with a number of strategic and technological changes: in 1997, Apple introduced the Apple Online Store, followed by the iMac and the video editing program Final Cut Pro in 1998. The iPod was launched in 2001, which marked the company’s first venture away from computers and into other segments of consumer electronics. With several hundred million units sold, the iPod was a tremendous success. Its popularity however started to decline in 2008, as advanced music functions of smartphones began to substitute MP3 players. Apple’s digital media store, the iTunes Store, was launched in 2003 and became one of the most popular online music stores in the world, generating several billion U.S. dollars in revenue per quarter.
In 2007, the release of the iPhone marked a revolution for the global smartphone market, due to the introduction of the first touch screen interface. In the United States especially, the iPhone has been a key product for the company, generating millions of unit sales and high levels of revenue. The iPhone is currently contributing more than 60 percent to the company’s total revenue. In total, Apple has sold more than 800 million iPhones from 2007 to 2015 worldwide.
In January 2010, the iPad was unveiled, marking yet another milestone in the industry. The device went on to sell more than 3 million units in the first 3 months, thus setting a new benchmark in the industry. With the launch of its Apple Watch in early 2015, Apple entered the growing wearables market, competing with companies such as Samsung, Pebble and Fitbit.
As of 2014, Apple’s market capitalization reached 460 billion U.S. dollars, higher than that of competitors such as Microsoft, IBM and Google, as well as almost ten times more than its own capitalization in 2006. The company’s market cap reached a record 750 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 but dropped to around 520 billion U.S. dollars in May 2016.