Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Company | Profile

Apple

Apple Inc. is an American technology company known for its pivotal developments in hardware, software, and online services. Cofounded in 1976 by the revered tech entrepreneur and inventor Steve Jobs and engineer Steve Wozniack in Cupertino, California, Apple has continually revolutionized the consumer electronics industry. The company helped usher in the age of the personal computer in the 1980s with the sleek, affordable Macintosh; bolstered the age of digital-music listening with the iPod in 2001 (and later iTunes); and laid the groundwork for the current smartphone landscape with 2007's iPhone and iOS operating system. 

Apple is now a multinational corporation, influencing consumer technology on a global level, growing an entertainment business with Apple Music and Apple TV, and even breaking into the auto and health care industries. It's the dominant high-end phone maker in China--its second-most important market after the United States, where its mobile operating system already enjoys a 44% market share after Android's 51%. Globally, the iPhone has the second-highest smartphone market share, second only to Samsung. 

Under Jobs's purview as Apple's CEO from 1997 to his death in 2011, the company became known for its intense focus on design. The British designer Jony Ive, who was hired in 1992 and later became Apple's chief design officer, is largely responsible for much of the company's iconic visual appeal: sleek (often white) minimalism and an emphasis on unparalleled user experience. Apple's design-first approach has become enmeshed in the fabric of everything the company touches, from its fast-growing retail concept, the Apple Store, to the interfaces of 2010's iPad and 2015's Apple Watch. 

And the company has been expanding beyond its traditional consumer electronics roots: In 2014, Apple purchased headphones and music streaming company Beats for nearly $3 billion, laying the groundwork for its own streaming service Apple Music to launch in 2015 and growing its entertainment footprint. Apple also is making big bets in seemingly far-flung sectors: investing in developing a (possibly autonomous) car due out in 2019; rolling out a common language for Internet of Things products called HomeKit in 2014; and investing in health care technology, namely its free open source software framework ResearchKit (2015) that will help researchers and developers create apps that collect data on a massive scale. 

While the company's U.S. operations and data centers already run entirely on renewable energy, 72% of its greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to manufacturing. So Apple is focusing on cleaning up its global supply chain: In April 2015, the company announced a plan to build 200 megawatts of solar projects in China that will offset energy use and produce enough energy to power 265,000 homes in a year. When Apple's first retail store in Southeast Asia opens in Singapore, it will run entirely on solar power. And a 1,300-acre solar farm in Monterey County, California, will be completed in 2016 to power Apple's new campus and all of its California offices and retail stores. 

In its fiscal 2015 fourth quarter, Apple posted quarterly revenue of $51.5 billion, its most successful year ever.

Up next on the horizon for the company will be a push to expand its global reach: Apple has been doubling App Store sales in China every year since 2013 and is in the process of growing its fleet of physical Apple Stores there from just six stores in 2013 to 40 in the next year.

The company's competitive advantage in 2016:

Its historic ability to innovate and its consumer lead

The biggest challenges standing in this company's way in 2016:

Its reputation for design is under attack.
Its high-end positioning seems to make it vulnerable to lower-priced competitors, though that has been true for years.
Maintaining excellence when the company is in so many countries and market segments is difficult.
Its competitive set continues to broaden.

What to look out for:

The forthcoming iPhone 7
Improvements to the Apple Watch and Apple TV
Potential growth overseas

Top perks for employees:

New campus in Cupertino, California
Feeling that your work has an impact
Good food
Smart co-workers

Social media handles:

YouTube: Youtube.com/apple
LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/company/apple

Diversity breakdown:

69% Male
31% Female
54% White
18% Asian
11% Hispanic
8% Black
9% Other or undeclared

50 Most Innovative Companies 2016

Data

competition
Samsung, Xiaomi, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Microsoft, Roku
people
Founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne; CEO Tim Cook; Chief design officer Jony Ive
valuation
$554 billion
public or private
Public, traded under AAPL
revenue
$233.7 billion
staff
About 115,000 globally
users
1 billion
headquarters
Cupertino, CA

Featured Articles