Apple is now the first or second most valuable company in the world (depending on the volatility of a given day's market). It's earning that status by doing something almost unprecedented in the history of business: It's a giant that's growing faster than most startups. Every quarter for more than a year, Apple has delivered revenue and profit growth of more than 50%—in some instances it's been more than double.
The passing of Steve Jobs doesn't look to slow this momentum at all. Apple's growth is built on the iPhone and the iPad, two products that consistently set the standard for the rest of their product category. (Well, the iPad represents its entire product category—the new chestnut among tech analysts and reporters these days is "There is no tablet market, just an iPad one.") With the iPhone's launch on Sprint in the United States, and Apple's rumored inclination to release a "lite" version aimed at the prepaid cell market that's booming across the globe, there seems to be little standing in new CEO Tim Cook's way.
$28,571,000,000 In the third quarter of 2010, Apple booked $15.7 billion in revenue, a record. A year later, it made $28.57 billion—almost double—and that wasn't even during the holidays. Meanwhile, its cash reserves eclipsed the entire net worth of many small countries (and, during the debt crisis, even the U.S. Treasury's).
A version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.