Apple Inc.: Not Merely Technology, but a Lifestyle

Apple Inc. (NYSE: AAPL) has, in recent years definitely become a brand that represent innovation.  Ranging from personal terminals to the iPod and iTunes to their entertaining “Get a Mac” ads has turned them not just to a consumer electronics company, but a lifestyle.

Apple Computer Inc.  (“Computer” dropped from their name in 2007) was officially launched on April 1, 1976.  The first Apple computer, the Apple I was an ugly looking hand-produced machine which sold for $666.66.  Sounds like a joke, right?  Then a year later, Apple launched their Apple II.  This was a more complete computer by modern terms and unlike its rivals, included a 5 1/4″ floppy drive.

The Macintosh (aka Mac) came soon after. The Mac had an easy-to-use graphic interface, which Apple later sued Microsoft for copying. Because Mac is far superior for graphics, it quickly became the preferred machine for those in creative industries. Macs also film better, which is a reason why one sees Mac on film and television more often than non-Mac.

Many people are misled to believe that Apple didn’t really become a lifestyle brand until the twenty-first century, with the debut of iTunes and the iPod.  However, this was not the case.  In fact, Apple tried to produce portable CD players, speakers and TV-related products in the early 90s.  They were even one of the first companies to launch PDAs.  The Newton made its debut in 1993, but only sold for five years.  They were just ahead of its time then.  But things were changing.

As the twenty-first century dawned, technology and the way people entertain changed drastically.  Music was no longer confined only to recordings one bought at a store.  With the advent of the Internet, one could easily access the latest hits through downloads.  This caused problems with the music industry as file sharing infringed copyright.  But Apple had an innovative idea.  Why not SELL songs through downloads?  That became iTunes.  Along with iTunes came the iPod portable music player. Eventually, iTunes sold TV shows, movies and applications for the device.  Apple dug deeper into the lifestyle business by launching the iPhone and Apple TV.

Of course, Apple isn’t without its issues.  Many people who use both Apple and non-Apple products find the Mac’s single click mouse a problem.  There aren’t any right-click short cuts.  In addition, Macs are generally more expensive than Windows machines and don’t always have compatible software.  More recently, the iPhone 3G was noted to have a low battery life.

On Tuesday, November 4, Apple Inc. opened at 109.99 and closed at 110.99.  Their 52-week high was 202.96 and the low was 85.00.

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this column is not to give financial advice or analysis, but to highlight how these companies affect our every day lives.

Comments

  1. Neurotic Nomad says:

    What made the Apple I unique was that it came pre-assembled. Before then, if you wanted a computer, you had to be good with a soldering iron and an oscilloscope. They sold it as a way to raise funds for the Apple II.

    The Apple II was the first computer that actually LOOKED like what we now think of a computer as looking like. Every desktop machine that followed took its design cues from the Apple II, much like how all modern notebooks look like the Powerbook 100, all personal music players look like the iPod, all smartphones are beginning to resemble the iPhone, and all GUIs look like Apple’s Desktop Metaphor (Apple didn’t invent the GUI – just most of the elements contained in modern ones, including pull-down menus, resizable overlapping windows, File folders, and the trashcan. MS invented the Help Menu and Alt-Tab.).

    The factors that led to Microsoft’s success (incompatible file formats between different programs running on different OSes, different plugs for different brands of computers, and incompatible data disks between manufacturers) don’t exist any more. End users didn’t choose MS because it was better. They got stuck with it because that’s what the person paying for the computer chose. The person paying for it chose it because it was compatible with all the other IBM systems the company already owned.

    Through the 80s and 90s MS survived on inertia and lock-in. That time has passed. Now, communications protocols (802.11), file formats (XML, HTML, OpenDocument, TXT, etc.) and connectors (USB, IEEE1394) are all standards-based and buyers no longer have to stick to one platform to ensure compatibility. A USB plug on a cell phone is the same as one on an MP3 player, which is the same as on a PC. Your data can move freely.

    In the 21st century, America saw a shift in purchasing – end users were making purchasing decisions in greater numbers than ever. IT departments, no longer burdened by a monoculture, allowed people to choose their own machines.

    And because the rise of the internet, more people were buying a computer for “personal use”, and spending their own money to buy them.

    …and studies have shown, when paying for a computer with your own money – 2 out of 3 choose a Mac.

    Apple corporate culture has always put END USERS over builders, IT departments, developers, and even over it’s own team. This ticks off people in tech, because most of them are builders, in IT departments, or want to develop for the platform (which explains why they see Apple as controlling and secretive, because from their perspective it’s the truth). However, if you are among the 97% of the population who has never built a computer, formatted a hard drive, or knows who made their RAM – Apple, Inc. is a breath of fresh air in a geek-controlled environment.

  2. I understand this is not intended to be a technical article, but you should really get some basic facts right about Apple issues:
    1. ” Many people who use both Apple and non-Apple products find the Mac’s single click mouse a problem. There aren’t any right-click short cuts.”
    This statement is completely incorrect. Apple has made 2 button (left click and right click) at least since January, 2006. Their Mighty Mouse looks like a single click mouse, but it has an electronic right click. Also, there are tons of right-click short cuts. And you can use an mouse on a Mac.

    2.In addition, Macs are generally more expensive than Windows machines…
    This statement is technically correct, but, when comparing machines with comparable features, the Macs are generally only a little more expensive, and sometimes even cheaper than a comparably equipped Windows machine. For example, don’t forget that iMacs come with, among other things, a built-in camera, microphone, speakers, Bluetooth, etc, etc. And you must add the value of comparable software that comes with it. The cost of all the software to be comparable with Apple’s iLife Suite is considerable by itself.

    Just took the time to write this so your readers don’t get misled.

  3. Hi Dick,

    Thanks for your note. Regarding the double click mouse: Mac’s double click isn’t really the standard, but an addition. If they were, then all laptops would have them. Just a thought.

  4. hay some simple things,

    you can use a mouse with a right click with a mac since at least OS9 (thats when i first got a mac)
    also ‘ctrl’+’click (from mouse or laptop button) = right click with “right-click short cuts”

    mac’s do cost more, and most ppl don’t need what you get for the price especially as you cant relay play games on macs (not like windoz there are some games for mac and a loads and loads for windoz)

    most ppl arrant interested in comparing specks, and until recently pc’s with pentium 4 going at near 4GHZ seem 2X the speed of say a dual G5 and cheeper to. the number of GHZ is higher so must be faster makes sense and is all ppl need to understand which one to buy more GHZ and less to pay
    http://www.pixelglow.com/stories/pentium-vs-g5/ maybe the G5 is faster 😛