Apple Tops $1,000,000,000,000 In Value

Forty-two years after being founded in a California garage, and twenty years after nearly going broke, Apple Computer has become the first publicly traded company to top $1 trillion in value.

Apple has become the first corporation to top $1 trillion in value:

SAN FRANCISCO — In 1997, Apple was on the ropes. The Silicon Valley pioneer was being decimated by Microsoft and its many partners in the personal-computer market. It had just cut a third of its work force, and it was about 90 days from going broke, Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, later said.

On Thursday, Apple became the first publicly traded American company to be worth more than $1 trillion when its shares climbed 3 percent to end the day at $207.39. The gains came two days after the company announced the latest in a series of remarkably profitable quarters.

Apple’s ascent from the brink of bankruptcy to the world’s most valuable public company has been a business tour de force, marked by rapid innovation, a series of smash-hit products and the creation of a sophisticated, globe-spanning supply chain that keeps costs down while producing enormous volumes of cutting-edge devices.

That ascent has also been marked by controversy, tragedy and challenges. Apple’s aggressive use of outside manufacturers in China, for example, has led to criticism that it is taking advantage of poorly paid workers in other countries and robbing Americans of good manufacturing jobs. The company faces numerous questions about how it can continue to grow.

And Mr. Jobs, admired for his dazzling product demonstrations and feared for his blunt management style, was arguably the tech industry’s most famous figure when he died in 2011 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.

“Could anyone really imagine this back then?” said Apple’s former software chief Avie Tevanian, who joined Apple in 1997. “We hoped to make the company very successful and very valuable. But to think it would get to where it was today? Of course not. And Steve wouldn’t have thought that, either.”

Apple was founded in 1976 with the mission of making computers — then bulky, complicated industrial machines — cheap, small and simple so they could become a mass-market product. By the 1980s, the company was one of the world’s best-known brands.

But in 1985, Mr. Jobs was ousted in a boardroom coup. In the following years, the company was increasingly outgunned and outmaneuvered in the personal-computer market it helped invent.

Apple, hamstrung by a lack of new ideas, failed products and leadership turmoil, had lost its way.

Fred Anderson, Apple’s former chief financial officer, said that shortly after he joined in 1996, he initiated a $661 million bond offering to keep the company afloat. “I didn’t know how bad it was until I started digging in,” he said.

By the end of that year, Apple had lost $867 million and the total value of its shares was less than $3 billion.

The ailing company decided to take a gamble. It bought Next, a tech firm run by Mr. Jobs, for $400 million. Mr. Jobs, still synonymous with the Apple brand, would return to the company he had founded.

“It was on the rocks,” Mr. Jobs later recalled. “It was much worse than I thought.”

Mr. Jobs slashed 70 percent of Apple’s product plans, commissioned the company’s “Think Different” ad campaign and reimagined how it put its products together.

“We’re trying to get back to the basics,” a weary Mr. Jobs said in a 1997 internal meeting with staff. A video of the meeting posted online later showed him sporting shorts and sandals. “The question now is not: Can we turn around Apple? I think that’s the booby prize. I think it’s: Can we make Apple really great again?”

The focus on simplicity became a hallmark of Apple, from the way Mr. Jobs dressed — jeans and black mock turtlenecks became his uniform of sorts — to the way his products operated to the eventual look of his company’s retail stores.

In 1998, Apple introduced the iMac G3, a round, colorful, all-in-one desktop computer. It became a hit. Apple had its swagger back.

The real turnaround for Apple, and indeed for the entire world of technology, though, came in 2001 with the introduction of the iPod. While there had been other portable music players that played MP3 and other digital music players on the market before the iPod, and many that followed, such as Microsoft’s own foray into the field several years later, none of them came close to the iPod in terms of ease of use. More than that, though, the device reflected something that Jobs had brought into the new Apple when he returned to the company in the late 90s. Specifically, that idea was that, as much as ease of use and advances in technology itself, consumers would respond positively to devices that looked cool, and the iPod looked cool. Once the device hit the market it became it’s own best advertisement since it would often be the case that someone who owned one would end up showing it off to friends, family, and even random acquaintances. Inevitably, seeing iPod’s in the wild would lead others to say “Man, I’ve got to get one of those for myself.” This, combined with the mastery that Steve Jobs showed at marketing even minor advances in the next generation of devices, along with the company’s decision to begin opening its own retail stores in malls and major cities, led to each announcement of a new iPod becoming news not just in the technology and business world, but also in the business world itself.

As the iPod advanced through new iterations that included advances such as ever-increasing memory size as well as the creation of smaller versions that held a smaller number of songs but were more affordable than larger models, the company was working on something that would truly revolutionize the world. For several years, rumors persisted that Apple was working on its own version of a smartphone, a market that at the time was largely limited to Blackberry and a handful of other devices that were really designed more for business than personal use. Those rumors became reality in 2007 when Jobs introduced the first version of the iPhone, an announcement that had become so highly anticipated that it led to the first of many occasions when people would literally spend days sitting outside their local Apple store waiting for the release date of a new version of what quickly became the world’s most popular phone. If there was one flaw in Apple’s rollout of the iPhone, it was the decision to make it available only through a single cell phone network. After several years, though, that plan was abandoned and one can now purchase a version of the latest iPhone regardless of which carrier you might have an account with. In any case, Jobs brought the same marketing skill to the iPhone that had used with the iPod, and the success was beyond the wildest dreams of even the most optimistic analyst who was watching that first introduction of the iPhone in 2007.

The importance of the iPhone’s introduction not only to the future of Apple but also to the world of technology cannot possibly be overstated. Overnight, the mobile phone industry was changed and the phone went from being a device we used to make phone calls and send text messages to a device that connects us to the vast store of human knowledge known as the Internet. Before long, other companies came out with their own smartphones, and Google made its own impression by creating the open-source Android operating system as a competitor to Apple’s closed-source iOS. The result has been an explosion of smartphones across the globe the full consequences of which we’ve only just begun to understand.

Even as new versions of the iPhone were being released on roughly an annual basis, Jobs and his team were working one final innovation. In 2010, Apple released the iPad and introduced the world to the tablet computer, which much like its predecessor has changed the way that we work and interact with others. All of this was happening, though, as Jobs was battling pancreatic cancer that finally took his life. Since then, many have wondered where Apple would be headed under the leadership of Tim Cook. While it’s true that the newest versions of the iPhone and the iPad have been, at best, minor advances over their predecessors, and that in many cases the “innovations” that Apple has touted are things that have been available on Android phones for years, one can’t deny the marketing success that Apple continues to enjoy even without its founder. It’s because of all that, of course, that they’ve passed their milestone.

A trillion dollar company. Not bad for something that started with two guys named Steve in the garage of Steve Jobs’s parents home in Los Altos, California.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    A trillion dollar company. Not bad for something that started with two guys named Steve in the garage of Steve Jobs’s parents home in Los Altos, California.

    I always thought Woz’s first name was ‘The.’

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  2. MarkedMan says:

    I should go back and do another calculation on my $750K 2005 Mini Cooper. It turns out that in the early 2000’s my wife and I knew we would need another car and didn’t want to take out a loan. I suggested we take a gamble in Apple stock. It wasn’t at it’s lowest point but it was pretty darn low and there were still people who were calling for them to close their doors and give their excess cash to the investors. So we invested $10K in the stock and pulled it out a couple years later at $33K and bought us a shiny new Mini Cooper. Every few years I go back and recalculate what it would be worth if we let it ride. The last time was a couple years ago and it was at something like $730K.

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  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Yeah, but. . . cool car, right?

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  4. Gustopher says:

    AppleCare, the Genius Bar, and generally standing behind their products really cannot be understated. Compare that to nearly every other computer hardware manufacturer, where they grab the cheapest parts they can find, never caring about reliability or how it all works together.

    People are willing to pay a premium to know that they aren’t being completely ripped off.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Yes. I used to own a Dell, and when I had problems with it I’d spend hours being phone-shuttled back and forth between Dell and Microsoft, neither exactly paragons of customer service. With Apple I know who to blame, and who’s going to fix it.

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  6. Kathy says:

    Specifically, that idea was that, as much as ease of use and advances in technology itself, consumers would respond positively to devices that looked cool, and the iPod looked cool.

    That is one of my beefs with Apple.

    Let me backtrack. Back in the 80s I had an Apple ][e with a dual floppy drive. It was a great computer to have at home at the time, and nostalgically I still love it. That was the last Apple product I owned until I inherited an iPhone 4 a few years ago.

    And therein lies my other beef. I hated that phone. It was better than my company issued generic Android, but the iOS insists on running things its way. For one thing, even though I’d purposefully set some apps to download only on WiFi, every time I ran one, a dialogue box advising me that cell data was off came up, and I couldn’t keep using the app until I tapped it. it seems like small thing, but it got on my nerves.

    Not that Android phones don’t have their issues. But I haven’t run across any so infuriating with a good enough phone. The cheap phones the company keeps pushing on us, are a different matter.

    Apple’s good quality, if you can stand the OS. I can’t. I think of it partly as a cult, In the name of the Apple, the Woz, and the Holy Jobs.

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  7. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    People are willing to pay a premium to know that they aren’t being completely ripped off.

    But you’re locked into an eco-system full of devices you can’t repair. Maybe you’re paying a premium so they can be worth a trillion dollars.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: FWIW, I’m pretty sure that is a choice/problem of the app designer. It’s not an Apple thing.

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  9. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    But you’re locked into an eco-system full of devices you can’t repair.

    OK, minor flame on here. (And don’t take this personally, James.) I’ve designed or been responsible for the design of dozens of electronics components and devices. And, yes, we are all locked into an eco-system of devices we can’t repair. And we WANT IT THAT WAY. The first circuit board I was ever fully responsible for could be repaired. It was one of a set of three and handled the image processing for a digital scanner. It was something like 22″ x 14″ and it had (in today’s money) thousands of dollars of discrete components on it. Hundreds of components. Now that I think about it, there was probably over a thousand dollars worth of components in 1984 dollars. Today, all of that processing could be done with the idling capacity of the CPU of the cheapest smart phone, and that CPU in it’s package is smaller than any of the cheapest components on my circuit board. But to get that small it has to be carefully soldered on by a special machine that can precisely position the part on the circuit board and then apply the precise amount of energy to melt its hundreds of connections at the same time. So there goes the idea of replacing the parts by hand. But if you want a phone that will fit in your pocket instead of your suitcase, that’s necessary. And a few years before that I did a summer job at a TV studio and one of the things I did there was repair and calibrate television monitors. You can’t do that any more. But those monitors cost a couple of weeks wages for the average working stiff and weighed 150 lbs. Now you can get one for a few hours wages and they weight less than a 12 pack of beer and the picture quality is much, much better and it never goes out of calibration. To get there we had to have precise manufacturing at every point form the LCD panels to the final assembly, which means doing it by machine. And look at the iPhone or any top end smart phone. You drop it, get it wet, stick in a pocket full of lint or in a purse with keys and it just keeps working. You think you could treat a 1960’s era transistor radio like that? That kind of durability means things are precisely put together with seals and epoxies and lord knows what else that can’t be undone once it’s in place.

    I could go on, but bottom line: if you want to get back to the point where you can repair things, expect them to cost 10 times as much, take up 50 times the volume, weigh 50 times as much, consume hundreds of times more electricity and to break when they fall 1 foot onto a carpeted floor. And the repair bill for fixing that break? It will be more than the cost of a brand new iPhone.

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  10. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Maybe, but it was Apple’s own apps which were the worst offenders, specifically the podcast app.

    Another time I’ll go into why the iPad almost destroyed Windows. But that’s more of a Microsoft story.

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  11. teve tory says:

    So much of their revenue comes from iphones, I wonder what’ll happen when smartphones, like PCs before them, or flat-screen tvs, go from being high-margin luxe items to commodities. My last smartphone was a $230 LG G5 and there was nothing I wanted to do that it couldn’t do. I have no need for a $1,000 iphone, and never will.

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  12. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce:

    But you’re locked into an eco-system full of devices you can’t repair.

    Apple devices have been reliable enough that I don’t need to repair them. I’ve only had one time I needed someone else to repair one.

    Brought in a phone to repair a cracked screen once, but that was after it slipped out of my hand, bounced down a stairwell, and landed on concrete. The fact that shards of glass would fall out when it was shaken, but all it needed was a new screen and it worked again was a testament to the reliability of that thing.

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  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Interesting that Dennison’s deficit is the equivalent of Apple Computer…the richest corporation in the world.

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  14. teve tory says:

    Jobs was an enthusiastic asshole who was passionate about some things, some of which he was right about.

    It always irks me when companies’ product lines aren’t clear and distinct. In the mid-90’s i needed a computer and I gave up on apple because I couldn’t figure out which of their 473 models was best for me. Did I need the Performa 5200? Or 6200? or 6400? or Power Macintosh 5500, 6500, 8500 or 9600?Or maybe the Performa 6110CD? or the CD DE? How is the Power Macintosh 6100/66 different from the Power Macintosh 6100/60? I literally gave up trying to figure out that idiotic mess. Jobs came back and Apple threw all that shit in a dumpster and came out with 4 computers: Home desktop, home laptop, business desktop, business laptop. Done.

    Having read, among other things, the Walter Isaacson biography of Jobs, I conclude that he was a terrible person who wasn’t so much a genius as able to see and stop some phenomenally stupid things that were destroying that company.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: No, that was a bug in iOS whatever.something. It did get fixed, but it took a while. They thought they fixed it several times, and discovered they only fixed it for a subset of affected devices. It was annoying.

    Another nice thing about apple is that they actually upgrade the OS. Fix bugs, fix security issues. If you care about this, the only options with phones are Apple and Google Nexus devices running stock Android — all the other vendors modify android and then never upgrade it.

    I’ve had iOS and Android phones, and they were mostly comparable. Apps have more room to do things on Android, but I always had to end up being a system administrator for my phone.

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  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Definitely!

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  17. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce:

    People are willing to pay a premium to know that they aren’t being completely ripped off

    But you’re locked into an eco-system full of devices you can’t repair. Maybe you’re paying a premium so they can be worth a trillion dollars.

    Im a large man. Six foot six, thirty eight in sleeves, a little under 300 lbs. Just physically large, and a little portly.

    Buying clothes is hard. Finding things that actually fit and that aren’t ridiculous tents, and which have decent quality is difficult. I’ve had shirts fall apart after three washings, or tear in the shoulders if I move too much. I used to be able to get things from JC Penney, or a bunch of other places, but quality has dropped and sizing is inconsistent.

    At this point, all of my shirts are from Brooks Brothers — they’re a little pricey, but they are decent quality and they have the same shape from shirt to shirt. I wish they came in more colors in my size.

    Apple is like the Brooks Brothers of computers. Expensive, but reliable. The buttons generally stay on, and if they don’t Brooks Brothers takes care of it. I don’t discover that the graphics card is limited by conflicts with the video driver, or that the f key stops working.

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    specifically the podcast app

    Don’t get me started on the podcast app. Every few years they redesign it and make it totally unusable, then they gradually restore it to minimum functionality until they start the cycle again. On the last go round I finally pitched it and downloaded Overcast.

    And then there was the skeuomorphic era, Steve Job’s worst hobbyhorse. This is where you make apps look and function like a real world equivalent that it had replaced. Sometimes it was just a goofy affectation like the “leather” cover of the address book, or the “torn off” note sheets. But other times it led to abominations. There was one iteration of the podcast app (at least I think it was that. Something to do with audio, anyway) that mimicked, god help me, a reel to reel tape deck. When you pressed “Play” the “tape reels” would jerk into motion and the tensioning arm would swing out and bob back into place. What the hell was that about? They spent all of their effort on that and neglected things like debugging. They removed half of the necessary functionality and in order to keep the scaling “accurate” the buttons were so small you missed them half the time….

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  19. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So there goes the idea of replacing the parts by hand.

    I understand that.

    But can they at least let you change the battery? Or add some external storage? Or take your files with you?

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  20. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And, yes, we are all locked into an eco-system of devices we can’t repair. And we WANT IT THAT WAY.

    I understand that. But, and this is not only the case with apple, why the hell not allow for replaceable batteries?

    My old Galaxy Note 3 started having trouble charging. First it wouldn’t charge if the screen was on (as when driving with Waze on), and then it wouldn’t charge at all unless the phone was turned off. I opened the back cover, removed the battery, placed in a new one (bought for $10 or so), and the phone was back to her former glory.

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  21. James Pearce says:

    @Kathy:

    I understand that. But, and this is not only the case with apple, why the hell not allow for replaceable batteries?

    We’re on the same page today, Kathy! hahahaha

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  22. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Don’t get me started on the podcast app. Every few years they redesign it and make it totally unusable, then they gradually restore it to minimum functionality until they start the cycle again.

    I’ve heard of that. It was fine when I used it, minus the cell data prompt. Did you get hit with the WiFi assist?

    They removed half of the necessary functionality and in order to keep the scaling “accurate” the buttons were so small you missed them half the time….

    About that, I have lots and lots of issues with touch controls, going waaaay back to 2012 (which is like the Middle Ages of current electronics, right?) when Windows 8(*) came out.

    I have two phones and a dying tablet (long story). I use them constantly, though calling them “phones” really is a big misnomer. They’re really small, highly portable computers that have a phone app. I agree touch works well most of the time. But I could use more physical buttons when I drive.

    (*) I call that version of Windows “WINDOS.” It stands for “Windows 8 Is Not a Desktop Operating System.”

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  23. Roger says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Every few years I go back and recalculate what it would be worth if we let it ride. The last time was a couple years ago and it was at something like $730K.

    I feel your pain. When my now 31-year-old son was 17 I gave him $5,000.00 to invest to try to teach him how the market works. I encouraged diversification and safety, but let him make his own decisions. Against my advice, he put it all in Apple. I made a substantially larger investment at the same time in what I assured him were more prudent choices. His $5,000 in Apple basically turned into 50% of the price of his first house. If I had followed his lead, I’d be typing this from a beach instead of from my office.

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  24. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: Change the battery? Not really. A user replaceable battery means a case that can be opened and the battery compartment that is protected from the rest of the electronics. As well as much more complicated EMI shielding, less robust leak protection and so forth. So – replaceable battery = a bigger phone with more points of failure. I just had Apple replace the battery on my three year old phone. It would have been $80 but because of reasons they are doing it for $30 all year long. Walked in, dropped off my phone, went off and had a beer, then came back and it was all ready. Why is this a travesty, exactly?

    External storage? OK, there is a more legitimate tradeoff. But Apple says the frickin’ SIM card is a huge point of failure. I can imagine a user replaceable micro SD would be 100 times worse. In fact, I spent last night trying to help my son salvage his 3DS XL game thingy. What was wrong? The SD card slot had died. Spring broke. So yeah, I believe them when they say that removable storage is a bad idea in a phone. These types of user insertable parts are why they are going to SW SIM cards (i.e. no SIM card) and have already removed the headphone jack.

    And I don’t know what you mean about “bringing your files with you”. I have an iCloud account that is fairly cheap and all my files show up on all my devices. All my music is available everywhere. All my photos are available everywhere. All my documents are available everywhere. In addition to Apple keeping them all in the cloud, I’ve got one machine where all of them reside permanently, and I use Apple’s Time Machine to back that up continuously to a hard drive on my wireless network. Once a year I make a copy of all the backups on there (5 different computers use it) and put it in a safe deposit box. On every other device I get thumbnails or stubs until I actually want to look at something or listen to it and then it magically downloads in the background. On my tiny little phone I have access to every file, photo, song and video I’ve ever had.

    I haven’t lost anything due to a hard drive crash or device failure in years. I haven’t been unable to show a presentation to a customer because I left it on a different device. Yeah, my phone doesn’t have a removable SD card, but who the heck cares? What would I possible use it for? It doesn’t have vacuum tubes either.

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  25. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Reminds me when I had to run around Japan with one of IBM’s laptops. There’s a reason we called it “The Slab.”

    The one computer I do sorta wish I had held on to was my NeXT computer, but I was on my way overseas and really couldn’t take it with me. Luckily I found someone who collected old computers–hope he had fun with it!

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  26. PJ says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I could go on, but bottom line: if you want to get back to the point where you can repair things, expect them to cost 10 times as much, take up 50 times the volume, weigh 50 times as much, consume hundreds of times more electricity and to break when they fall 1 foot onto a carpeted floor. And the repair bill for fixing that break? It will be more than the cost of a brand new iPhone.

    I’d be happy to just be able to easily replace the battery, and by that I mean being able to take it out and put in another battery. If I am a heavy user that means that I’m able to replace the battery with a spare and charge the other. It also means that when the battery starts losing its charge due to wear, I can just get a new one.

    A non-replaceable battery, especially one that is glued, that’s nothing but planned obsolescence.

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  27. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    t would have been $80 but because of reasons they are doing it for $30 all year long. Walked in, dropped off my phone, went off and had a beer, then came back and it was all ready. Why is this a travesty, exactly?

    Because paying $80 or even $30 for a $10 (retail) battery is excessive?

    As I said, that’s not solely an Apple issue now. My dying Nexus 7 (2012) tablet is suffering from an aging battery and an inability to upgrade past Android Kit Kat (I tried Lollipop, and it got bricked). It also cannot be opened to replace the battery.

    My current phone, Galaxy Note 5, can’t be opened, and has no provision for an SD card. With 32 GB on board, I probably don’t need one. But if the battery goes bad, I have a feeling it will cost me more than $10 to replace it.

    IMO, removing the headphone jack was a ploy to sell adapters for the sole port, or Bluetooth earphones. BTW, such a phone would be pretty useless to me. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I drive, and my car isn’t equipped with Bluetooth.

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  28. PJ says:

    First $1 trillion company? That’s just as stupid as the first $1 billion movie. Adjust for inflation…

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  29. Kathy says:

    @PJ:

    If I am a heavy user that means that I’m able to replace the battery with a spare and charge the other.

    Can you even do that these days? The last time I saw a battery charger was way back in the days of the Motorola Micro Tac phones (those were not tiny computers with phone apps)

    But back in the days of feature phones, one thing we often did at the office was swap batteries between phones. It came in handy if someone with a low battery was going out, and someone with an identical phone and a full battery was staying put for the day. back then, though, feature phones could hold their charge for days.

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  30. PJ says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I just had Apple replace the battery on my three year old phone. It would have been $80 but because of reasons they are doing it for $30 all year long. Walked in, dropped off my phone, went off and had a beer, then came back and it was all ready. Why is this a travesty, exactly?

    Reasons? That would be Apple slowing the phones down since the battery was unable to charge as fully as when it was new due to wear. And Apple didn’t tell its customers about it. And so it offered to replace the battery cheaper, well, as long as you agreed to not join the class-action lawsuit…

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  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @teve tory: I bought my first 4G phone ever about 2 months ago. It’s still a flip phone, cost $30, and does everything I need my phone to do. On the other hand, I only use my phone to call people, send texts, and take an occasional picture.

    And yeah, I happen to be a friend of @flat earth luddite.

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  32. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Why is this a travesty, exactly?

    None of this is a “travesty.” It’s just that a walled garden of awesomeness is still a walled garden.

    I liked my iPod mini just fine when I had one, but that’s probably the last Apple product I’ll ever own.

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  33. gVOR08 says:

    @PJ:
    Yes. Like record movie revenues, these things should always be normalized for inflation. The Dutch East Indies company was once worth 7.4 trillion 2018 dollars.

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  34. JohnMcC says:

    A trillion bucks for an electronics company? Nowhere near as eye opening as A-Rod getting a quarter of billion to play baseball for 10 years.

    I was so stunned thinking about that amazing contract that I spent several years reading rather obsessively to answer the question: “What IS money?”

    Highly recommended. It seems it started with the Roman system of slavery in which a bankrupt person could literally sell themselves for a year’s servitude.

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  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    I do think Jobs was a genius. I know he wasn’t a code monkey, I know he wasn’t the Woz or Jony Ive, but he had one brilliant insight that Bill Gates and the rest never figured out: tech could be sexy. Until Jobs tech was all about function. Imagine that limited vision applied to cars – dull, functional, putty-colored cars. Until Jobs the tech world was East Germany.

    Regular non-STEM humans could just hop onto an Apple product with the intuitive ease with which they could hop into a new car. No manuals needed. No tutorials. Apple products are built like cars: sexy and easy to use.

    Is it genius to understand that a product always presented as a fiddly, build-your-own-beach-buggy kit should really be lusted after like a Ferrari? Yes, it is. That is practically the definition of genius: seeing what others did not.

    Need is part of consumer purchasing but only a part. Lust is a part as well. I don’t need my fine German car, I can get a Honda that does everything my car does for a third of the price. But I don’t want a Honda. I don’t want utilitarian. I want cool. That’s what Jobs understood, and that’s why Apple is worth a trillion dollars today.

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  36. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Apple products are built like cars: sexy and easy to use.

    Easy? I beg to differ. I admit since I started touch devices using Android, I may be biased to that interface. But a few years back my mom asked me to help her with her Mac. I got in ahead of her, and simply couldn’t find a way to turn the f***g thing on. The ON button was hidden behind the monitor. That’s like putting the ignition under the seat.

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  37. James Pearce says:

    I don’t need my fine German car, I can get a Honda that does everything my car does for a third of the price. But I don’t want a Honda. I don’t want utilitarian. I want cool. That’s what Jobs understood, and that’s why Apple is worth a trillion dollars today.

    I agree with this, but it makes me a little sad.

    “Selling cool to affluent people” is a very bourgeoisie way to get a trillion dollar market cap. In my view, that doesn’t make Steve Job a genius, but something else much less worthy of praise.

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  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    It makes you sad that people like sexy things? Or sad that people with money buy expensive things? Are you against beauty or just wealth?

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  39. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I am against neither beauty nor wealth. I just do not consider Apple products to be anymore “beautiful” than anything else around these days, so to me it’s not worth paying the premium.

    As for the “genius” of Steve Jobs, I don’t think Apple’s market share justifies their market cap, not for aesthetic reasons, not for logistical reasons, not for any reasons really. They are an innovative outfit, to be sure, but even that doesn’t account for their value. Steve Jobs figured out a way to make affluent status seekers the product and the salesman. That’s genius?

    That’s merely clever. Amway does that too.

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