Startup

Startup: A Brief Look Back

Anyone remember these things? Back when the iMac first came out, it was in an era when virtually everyone had written Apple off as dead. Most analysts were saying that it wasn’t worth saving. They didn’t have a chance, and there was nothing they could do to try and bring themselves back to relevance.

Fast forward a few years later, and those analysts are looking a bit foolish. Love them or hate them — and please, let’s not get into an Apple-bashing or Apple-fanboi furor here — if there’s one thing we can safely say about the good folks at our favourite fruit-flavoured computer vendor, it’s that they know how to make money. They’ve stayed hugely profitable through two major downturns in the computer industry, and if you look back on their major competitors from back when the original iMac was launched, only Dell and H-P remain as a major threat.

Like them or not, there aren’t a lot of people saying they’re doomed anymore.

  • tonyola

    I remember the dark days of 1994-1996 when Apple was all but written off and Microsoft was absolutely unbeatable to the point of attracting attention from anti-trust watchdogs. Then Steve Jobs came back and Bill Gates left, and everything changed. Steve Ballmer has to be credited for turning the 800-pound gorilla of the computer industry into a mild-mannered and somewhat bewildered chimpanzee. Way to go, Steve. Wonder that Bill thinks?

    • Deartháir

      I don't often do actual spit-takes, but that line, Steve Ballmer has to be credited for turning the 800-pound gorilla of the computer industry into a mild-mannered and somewhat bewildered chimpanzee." actually got coffee on my monitor. Ten points for you, sir!

  • P161911

    Honest question, does Apple have any larger market share of the actual computer market (desktops and laptops) now than they did in the 1990s? Their cash cows now seem to be iPods, iPhones, iPads, and iTunes. Sure they are profitable and successful, but actual Apple computers seem to only be slightly more popular now than they were 10-15 years ago.

    • tonyola

      The Macintosh has about 15% of the US computer market as of 2011, compared to less than 5% in 1996. http://www.tuaw.com/2011/03/17/switzerland-leads-

      • P161911

        So market share is 3X what it was. My rough calculations show the stock is worth 24X what it was in 1996. 1.3 billion vs. 31 billion. I guess my point was that their growth in laptop and desktop sales hasn't kept up with their growth as a company.

        • tonyola

          There are plenty of companies, though, that wish they hadn't relied so much on desktops and laptops to boost the bottom line. PCs became a "mature" market some years ago in that the days of huge expansion ended – everybody who wanted a PC pretty much had one and sales became mostly dependent upon replacement of obsolete models. The big jump in laptop/notebook sales over the past several years has been at the expense of desktop sales, and now Apple's portable devices are threatening the laptops/notebooks.

        • Deartháir

          You make a good point, but from the alternate end of the spectrum, that was back before they had the iPod, iPhone, or iPad. So I'd say its that the growth of their company exceeded their growth as a computer maker. They now have a lot more products in their lineup, so the company is growing faster than any one segment.

          • tonyola

            In January 2007, Steve Jobs announced that the company name would change from "Apple Computer, Inc." to "Apple, Inc.". That speaks volumes right there.

    • Alff

      Tablet sales now exceed those of traditional PCs. I don't have the numbers, but I think it's safe to say that Apple's share is significantly higher than it was in the '90s, if you include tablets.

  • Deartháir

    I think the alternate question there, and maybe this will have to be a User Input one of these days, iswhy didn't any other computer manufacturers seem to have the ability to expand into any other realms? I mean, it's a computer. If you've got all the pieces, there is no reason you can't start cranking out alternate products that will hopefully add to your bottom line. Make it inexpensive, and people will buy it, even if you're Gateway and build them with slightly less aesthetic sophistication than they'd have if they were made from ceramics and cardboard.

    • SSurfer321

      Hey check out my new Microsoft graphing calculator! It graphs in 3D, watch this…"Graph=sin x".
      Hey cool, now you have pocket size blue flashlight

      Hey check out my new Apple graphing calculator! It graphs in bar charts and pie charts all in 356M glorious colors!
      Yeah but you have to input everything in roman numerals…

  • tonyola

    Furor (n)

    1. a general outburst of enthusiasm, excitement, controversy, or the like.
    2. a prevailing fad, mania, or craze.
    3. fury; rage; madness.

    Nope, I'd say "furor" applies quite nicely to the topic at hand. But then again, a grammar Nazi might mean a "Fuhrer" 🙂

    • skitter

      On the other hand, the passions of a furor or Fuhrer generally have a negative connotation, while fervor tends towards the positive.

      • Deartháir

        Actually why I chose "furor" over "fervour". The true fanbois can get pretty vicious in defending their beloved brand. I am a fan, but my affection for Apple is more borne of my distaste for all of the other options.

        • tonyola

          So if Canadians spell "fervor" as "fervour", then why isn't "furor" spelled "furour"? Dammit, if you're going to ignore Noah Webster's attempts to clean up the messy English language, then at least be consistent about it.

          • skitter

            We can pretend the Plymouth Furour was a Canadian version of a Dodge Puritan.

          • "Furour" was an accepted spelling in Middle English, as was "fourour" for that matter. Nonetheless, my guess is that the modern difference has something to do with Latin. "Furor" comes from a verb with a short e in its infinitive form "furĕre" whereas "fervor" comes from "fervēre" with its long e. They are from different conjugations, which was no doubt of great importance to the classicists who undertook the first efforts at standardizing English spelling. Still, I'm not a linguist, so don't read too much into that.

  • johnnymac09

    Apple passed Google to be named the World's Most Valuable Brand. http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2011/05/09/

  • This new iMac is so gimmicky. What's going on with this "Universal Serial Bus" nonsense? Why the heck are they coming out with yet another peripheral interface standard? What's USB going to give me that I don't have already?"

    Oh, how shortsighted I was back then.

    • And how dare they do away with the floppy disc! You can't have a computer without a floppy disc! How am supposed to save up to 200+ MB worth of data!

  • tonyola

    I found an interesting article that applies to this thread.
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385381,00.a

    Apple's big scoop over everyone else was that they realized tablets and smartphones weren't just another type of PC or laptop – they were a whole new type of device and would be used as such.

  • dmilligan

    Back in the '90s, I think ex-Pepsico genius John Sculley did more to damage the Apple brand than just about anything else. Once Jobs pulled his head out of his ass and came back to Apple, things started to change.

    • Deartháir

      Or, in a way, once the rest of the board realized the damage they'd done by showing Jobs the door of his own company…

      • dmilligan

        That is also true. Booting Jobs was a very boneheaded move. I was thinking mainly of Jobs little adventure with the NeXT computer.

  • Let's call the whole thing off!

  • BlackIce_GTS

    In high school, I did a week of 'work experience' with the school district's IT people. One of my tasks was to install a lab full of new iMacs. It was quite easy and not very much fun. Just like… something else. I forget.

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