Disclaimer: I have been called an Apple fanboy. I find it to be a rather silly label (not just for me, but for fans of anything) – but I won’t deny that Apple has been my favorite company in the tech space for a long time. While I happily use Windows regularly at home and work, my first computer was the old-school Apple IIGS, and I’ve been strongly in the Apple camp since.
So while Steve Jobs’ resignation from the post of Apple CEO wasn’t a total shock (thanks to his widely publicized health problems), it still marked the end of an era of a remarkable turnaround for Apple. When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the company was in dire straits. At the time, Apple was bleeding money, rudderless, with far too many uninspired products and an aging Operating System with no clear road to turn things around. Since then, Jobs led a complete revitalization and re-imagining of the Mac and launched a variety of category-defining products: iPod, iPhone and iPad.
A key part of Apple’s success was Jobs slashing its bloated product line to focus on a specific set of solutions. Rather than attempt to offer something at every price point and feature set, it focused on what made the most sense for the markets it wanted to compete in. Currently, there are two different models of laptops and three different “desktop” computers available from Apple, and that’s how it has been for over a decade. Apple has closely followed this strategy with the launches of iPod, iPhone and iPad over the last decade.
Compare Apple’s tight lineup with the sprawling variety of products that Dell or HP offers – this is a fairly unique strategy in the CE world. But, other companies have taken this strategy to heart. In late 2009, Motorola was in dire straits and unable to come up with a product that captured the minds of consumers like its iconic RAZR line in the mid-2000’s. Motorola decided to double down on the Android mobile OS, abandoned selling low-end flip phones, and released the now-iconic DROID smartphone on Verizon Wireless. This helped kick-start both Motorola’s revival and the rapid growth of Android in the marketplace.
The last 5 years have really been when the tires hit the road for Apple – all the work done leading up to then came to fruition with the widespread ubiquity of the iPod, a fully-mature Mac OS with hardware that was finally competitive with the other PC makers, and the impressive launches of both the iPhone and iPad lines. Stepping back and looking at Apple.com traffic over the last 5 years helps round out the story.
Unique Visitors to Apple.com have essentially doubled over the last 5 years, with traffic now consistently reaching nearly 35M Unique Visitors every month. Apple.com is now the 23rd most visited site across the entire Internet. So, while we certainly wish Jobs the best with his health, following Apple will certainly have a new element to it for the foreseeable future – to see if the team Jobs put in place can continue to Think Different.