IxD103 – Research – From near bankruptcy to billions

From near bankruptcy to billions

After a week of learning how there is so much more to branding than just a logo and slogan, I thought it would be interesting to see how major companies truly got their success. Little did I know, I would find out that many major companies including Apple and Marvel, were close to bankruptcy in the 1990s. This fact shocked me and I decided I wanted to find out how Apple turned it around for themselves. I am a huge fan of apple products. I have been using them since the arrival of the iPod nano. Little did I know, that just 10 years previous, Apple required a complete makeover. The man behind it, Steve Jobs, admitted that they needed help. This is when Microsoft, Apple’s main competitor came to their rescue with a $150 million investment. It took time and a lot of trial and errors, a lot of resurfacing and rebranding, but after years of hard work and dedication Steve Jobs was able to turn the company into the world’s leading technology developer. In August 2018, Apple Inc. became the world’s first company to record a market capitalisation of $1 trillion and roughly two years later, became the first publicly traded U.S. company to surpass $2 trillion.1 As of March 15, 2021, Apple’s market cap increased to $2.08 trillion. The article I read which shows a timeline of Job’s experience from turning the company from rags to riches is so interesting.


The timeline also highlights what we could learn from Apple’s experience. I have noted down some of my favourite examples.

  • Apple showed that when something wasn’t working, they could adjust quickly, pulling plugs and changing strategy as necessary. Jobs has said, “We’re gambling on our vision, and we’d rather do that than make ‘me-too’ products.” He was not afraid to take risks.


  • Apple allows customers to interact. Gigaom writes, “When you enter the Apple Retail Store, you find a well-lit place that is inviting and aesthetically appealing…More importantly, the company lets you play with its devices as much as you want. Nothing makes the sale as effectively as the iPhone or the iPod touch itself. You like what you see, then you buy.”


  • Apple values creativity. Jobs kept the company new and fresh by coming up with out-of-the-box concepts. He did this in all aspects of Apple, in new products, and even in hiring decisions, drawing inspiration from everywhere. “Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians, and poets, and artists, and zoologists, and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world,” Jobs has said.


  • Apple released products that were innovative in and of themselves, but they also connected with other products.  The integration of iPods, iTunes and the iTunes Music Store prove how a sum can be greater than all of its parts. Thinking differently has been a key component to Apple’s second coming. Apple keep innovating and improving.  They present multiple forms of the same devices with entirely different looks and packaging (the Nano versus the Mini). Even if improvements are slight, each product has a new identity that gets people excited. Jobs once said, “Creativity is just connecting things.”


  • Apple sell dreams, not products. Customers first and foremost care about themselves, and if you help them find out what it is they want, they will latch onto your brand. Jobs doesn’t use focus groups or wait for people to make demands. Instead, he releases must-have products before people even know they will want it.


  • Trust your team.  A company may only seem as great as one person, but if you hire smart people, they’re perfectly capable of stepping up to the plate. Whenever Jobs fell ill he has a great team who excelled even in his absence. This highlights the importance of working together, but also sharing your skills and knowledge to benefit others.

In 2010, for the first time since 1989, Apple’s market cap exceeded Microsoft’s.  This feat would have seemed impossible back when Gates poured money into the nearly bankrupted company. By creating great products enhanced by brilliant packaging, and by changing their computer-only mission, Apple became a technology titan. Almost every product released is a guaranteed, instant hit, and every keynote Jobs gives is a media frenzy.

Reflection – 

From reading Apple’s inspiring rise to glory I think it has given me the confidence to take more risks with my brand. Playing it safe never pays off, it’s okay to fail as you can always find a way to start again. Growing your company will not always be straightforward or consistently up hill. With a strong mentality and determination, anything is possible. Apple is evidence of that.


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