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2019 was Apple’s best year this decade—if you’re an investor, that is

So why did the past few years seem so boring for Apple?

2019 was Apple’s best year this decade—if you’re an investor, that is
[Photo: Andy Xu/Unsplash]

Those iPhone lines don’t stretch around the block like they used to, but Apple is still on top—like way, way the heck up there—financially speaking.

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As it heads into 2020, Apple isn’t just doing pretty well. If we judge the company by the total value of its stock, Apple is currently worth almost $1.3 trillion. (The stock closed Thursday at nearly $290 a share, up about 2% amid a tech rally that sent the Nasdaq Composite Index roaring above 9,000.) Just for scale, if Apple’s market cap magically appeared as a stack of dollar bills, it’d stretch more than a third of the way to the moon at its perigee (assuming we could find enough crisp, .0043-an-inch-thick singles).

Apple isn’t just gargantuan, either. It added about $530 billion onto its market cap this year, Bloomberg reports, and by that measure—growth in market value—2019 was Apple’s best year this decade.

But if you’ve only kept an eye on Apple’s consumer products recently, you might be scratching your head a bit. Sure, the company started the decade racking up important consumer tech wins, but starting in 2016, the undying hype surrounding iPhone launches started dying down. The company increasingly has been focused on growing its services business, while also peddling accessories such as AirPods. The shift is working, but it means Apple is succeeding by squeezing more cash out of its existing customers.

Indeed, Apple in recent years has experienced some of the challenges that plague companies with less stratospheric valuations: product delays and vaporware (RIP, Airpower), the death of the headphone jack, a lagging Siri, hiked prices for the best iPhones, as well as a growing understanding that a big chunk of what we do on our phones is making us miserable.

If we step back far enough and look at Apple’s bottom line, these defining moments don’t carry so much weight. Nasdaq puts analyst consensus on Apple stock at a “strong buy,” and investors seem to be reacting positively to holiday sales. But if Apple can remain this unexciting while doing so well, we probably have no business expecting anything spectacular from the company in the decade to come.

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