Apple is… Apple’s 9 definitions since 1995

Looking back, it’s interesting to see how the way Apple has described itself has changed over the years. Luckily for us, press releases usually include a definition of the company issuing them. I’ve been back through Apple’s site and used The Wayback Machine at Archive.org to research the evolution of the way Apple sees itself.

April 1995 – A standard mid-nineties computer company

The only distinction being a mention of ‘personal digital assistants':

Apple Computer, Inc., a recognized pioneer and innovator in the information industry, creates powerful solutions based on easy to use personal computers, servers peripherals, software, online services and personal digital assistants. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, Apple Computer, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) develops, manufactures, licenses, and markets products, technologies, and services for the business, education, consumer, scientific & engineering and government markets in over 140 countries.

press-release-1995

January 1996 – Apple’s only asset?

In 1996, Apple decided to define QuickTime as one of its major assets:

Apple Computer, Inc., a recognized innovator in the information industry and leader in multimedia technologies, creates powerful solutions based on easy-to-use personal computers, servers, peripherals, software, online services, and personal digital assistants. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) develops, manufactures, licenses and markets solutions, products, technologies and services for business, education, consumer, entertainment, scientific & engineering and government customers in over 140 countries.

April 1997 – The Newton declines

As less complex PDAs started to gain market share, ‘online services, and personal digital assistants’ became ‘handheld computers and Internet content‘:

Apple Computer, Inc., a recognized innovator in the information industry and leader in multimedia technologies, creates powerful solutions based on easy-to-use personal computers, servers, peripherals, software, handheld computers and Internet content. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, Apple develops, manufactures, licenses and markets solutions, products, technologies and services for business, education, consumer, entertainment, scientific and engineering and government customers in more than 140 countries.

September 1997 – Steve Jobs changes everything

10 months after Steve Jobs returned to Apple, four days before his appointment as Interim CEO, the definition almost completely changed:

Apple Computer, Inc. ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II, and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Apple is now recommitted to its original mission-to bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world.

press-release-1997

July 2004 – ‘Original mission’ achieved

It took almost seven years for the definition to change again. Steve’s 1997 mission achieved, the definition includes specific products and what they do.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning desktop and notebook computers, OS X operating system, and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital music revolution with its iPod portable music players and iTunes online music store.

March 2007 – Next market disruption announced

Almost three years later, the distinction between desktop and notebook computers was dropped and the iPhone was included:

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and will enter the mobile phone market this year with its revolutionary iPhone.

April 2010 – Three revolutions joined by a fourth

A small addition for the iPad, Apple’s fourth market revolution

“Apple ignited the personal computer revolution with the Apple II, then reinvented the personal computer with the Macintosh. Apple continues to lead the industry with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system, and iLife, iWork and professional applications. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.”

press-release-2010

June 2010 – Computers, yes, also…

The Apple II is dropped and the amount of text on the Mac is reduced:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

January 2012 – iPad mission achieved

The current definition is a year old:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

January 2013 – Something MacPro users will love?

Writing as a long-term user of Apple’s professional software, I find it interesting that despite predictions of Apple abandoning pro users, pro software has been part of the way Apple identifies itself since July 2004. However given that iLife and iWork haven’t changed very often over the last few years, they’ll either be updated soon, or dropped from Apple’s corporate definition.

Given that an email from Tim Cook reassured that later this year Apple will introduce a product that MacPro users will love, how could that redefine Apple? Here’s a possible definition from me:

Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad. Apple helps people organise their lives with iLife, iWork and iCloud. Apple makes Macs, OS X and professional software: the best content creation tools in the world.

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49 comments
  1. Jake Moonsmith said:

    Unnecessarily difficult article to read but OK.

      • very true. very interesting too

    • Alex said:

      Thanks for the feedback.
      I’ve gone back and tried to structure it more clearly – defining what changed at each stage and changing the layout.

    • haha I agree. A pretty complex way of saying it.

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice if “iDesign” joined iWork and iLife and gave us Creative Suite-type power?

    • Is there really a market for a rival to InDesign? Aperture already rivals Photoshop.

  3. Fred Hamranhansenhansen said:

    iLife and iWork are updated regularly on both Mac OS and iOS and absolutely are core assets for Apple. Hundreds of millions of people use one or more iLife or iWork apps daily.

    • dudemeister said:

      iWork OH-NINE (yes, as in 2009!) is “updated regularly”??!! LOL… on which planet exactly?? Get off the doobie, dude.

  4. rickla said:

    Interesting stuff. Your transcription of the 1995 version isn’t very accurate, though the inaccuracies don’t appear to be substantive.

  5. Jack said:

    iLife and iWork is well overdue for a MAJOR update, especially iWork. I speculated that Apple wants wait and drastically change the way people work (and try to be more compatible with Microsoft Office). Google Docs now with offline mode is a great example. You just need a web browser to work.

    With the very recent Apple’s job ad for a senior exec to reinvent the iLife and iWork interface, here is hope that something big is coming. The commenter above is right, both of these software suite provide pleasure to users and differentiator to use Macs.

  6. I like how Apple has asserted that Macs are “the best personal computers in the world.” I didn’t know that this had been standardized as a fact.

    • Alex said:

      I like how ‘unprofessional’ that sounds – like a kid in a playground boasting to a friend.

  7. Well, I guess Steve Jobs had to make sure that everyone knew before he passed. The consummate perfectionist, he wanted it to be clear that his penis was bigger than ours.

    • dudemeister said:

      And you’ve made perfectly clear how small YOURS obviously is with just two simple, kindergarden-esque and thoroughly superfluous comments. Thanks.

      • dudemeister, you deserve a slap on the back and a high five, and then a round of applause. Good man!

  8. Alex hi. So you too are fascinated by Apple Inc. You would love to see my posts too…because I am also writing a series on Apple Guru Steve Jobs. Kindly have a look at it whenever you are free…

  9. Yes, I find it too long but it’s worth it though when you have extra time.

  10. Great article! I especially like how quickly the whole thing changed when Steve Jobs came along, and then they stuck to it. Personally, if it’s got an apple on it, I’ll buy it. Not because of the whole mindless marketing Oh my god must have that or dieee thing. Apple inc know what they’re doing. Even if it’s occasionally over priced, the quality knocks every other company out of the park.

  11. andy1076 said:

    Change is progress after all right? :D

  12. Interesting take on the evolution of Apple through out the years. Apple has been a significant element in my life and will continue to be. I just can’t imagine life without it!

  13. sarwataj said:

    Quite a researched topic but a bit difficult to read, anyways its valid.

  14. 53p3n7 said:

    I still have a hard time seeing what’s so “revolutionary” about Apple’s products… sure, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad have gorgeous screens and are slim and slick, but I never really saw Mac as anything to write home about. The same OS efficiency can be achieved with GNU/Linux, or FreeBSD (the OS OSX was built from in the first place) for free, but most people don’t even need that since everyone does the majority of their work through a web browser anyway. The “stability” of it will seldom apply to most users as gaming is the only thing realistically pushing hardware these days, and gaming support of OSX is minimal, so people just buy $2000 typing machines? I feel like it’s more of a power symbol than anything.

    All the “science” in the field of computer science took place in the early nineties, and with the exception of graphics cards and processors designed for gaming we’re just constantly recycling that same code instead of making something new.

    • dudemeister said:

      Why am I not surprised that a “GNU/Linux, or FreeBSD” reference was in the midst of such drivel?

  15. Great topic – always interesting to see what a company thought of itself back in the day. And to see several of these at once shows us how they thought of its older stuff even as they were releasing new. Cool.

  16. Revolutionary is their innovative products and policies.

  17. varun321 said:

    I always thought it was interesting to know how companies describe themselves.

  18. Diana said:

    I still have a Newton collecting dust in a drawer. It was a good concept at the time but the execution was lacking.

  19. Ippo said:

    I would like one with GOOGLE too!

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