In between the increasingly deranged rants from the orange menace to the south, you may have heard last week that Apple (the company, not the fruit) has become the first publicly-traded American company in history to be valued at $1 trillion dollars.
That’s one TRILLION. Or, put another way, $1,000,000,000,000. Or, put another way (courtesy the failing New York Times), Apple is now worth as much as the Big Four American banks (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo) combined. Apple is worth more than all of the major automakers of the entire world. Apple is worth more than the entire American media industry, including Netflix, Comcast and Disney, and all the major news publishers and TV channels.
Why is its market evaluation off the charts?
Well, last year, it sold 280 million iPhones, iPads and Macs. In the most recent quarter, Apple reported profits of $11 billion (that’s PROFITS, not sales), and it is sitting on $243.7 billion in cash.
And I haven’t even received so much as a thank you card.
You see, I have contributed in some small way to the success of Apple. A very small way. A very, very, very small way. OK, a very, very, very, VERY small way. You’d need an electron microscope to see my contribution, but still … would it kill them to say thanks?
I have been using and buying Apple products almost since Apple began. My brother Todd, who is the family technophile (at 53, he’s the youngest sibling) was as the first to purchase an Apple, the Macintosh (left). It was basically a little tiny box with a small TV screen. It was good for typing and, I assume, some basic calculations.
And it was magic.
Before the Macintosh, we used typewriters to produce any kind of written document. I love typewriters. My first two jobs in the newspaper business were at the tail end of the typewriter era, and I can testify that there is something about the sound of a roomful of reporters pounding away on typewriters that is kind of, well, romantic, at least for a newspaperman like me. But once you go Mac, you never go back.
I have been a loyal Apple customer for decades. I had a Macintosh that I had ‘liberated’ from a job when it became obsolete (see Apple no. 1). When I bought my first major Apple product , called an LC 575 (Apple no. 2) my sons were giddy with excitement, like 100 Christmas days. It had two drives! When that thing burned out, we got that stylish model with the see-through casing (Apple no. 3). When that expired, we moved on to the ultimate, the all-in-one iMac (Apple no. 4, below). Then came the laptop (Apple no. 5). When that expired, I bought the computer I’m working on now, the Mac mini (Apple no. 6).
Was I ever tempted by the allure of Windows, the clumsy, cumbersome, clunky system that was slowly devouring the world?
Well, yes. For a spell. In my defence, everyone was.
In the late 1990s, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy. I was worried that I was going to be saddled with expensive, and useless, computer equipment if Apple went broke. Like all die-hard Apple uses, I despised Microsoft products. Going to Microsoft from Apple was like going from big screen Sony colour TV to a black-and-white Dumont. But in 1997, Apple announced it was getting a $150 million infusion from archrival Microsoft to help keep the company afloat. It worked, and hundreds of millions of iMacs, iPhones, iPods and iPads later, Apple is on top of the heap. Thanks, Bill Gates!
I’m not even going to guess on how much I’ve spent on Apple products (I’ve had two iPods, and one iPad as well) over the years. It’s too depressing. But with the news of Apple’s tremendous, trillion-dollar success, I feel pretty good. I did my part in making lots of people disgustingly rich.
Now, if I had only bought stock instead of computers, I’d feel even better.