The Apple Macintosh. © Getty Images
The Apple Macintosh. © Getty Images

Supply Audit: Apple Macintosh

9 June 2017

The Macintosh computer helped Apple to become one of the world’s most valuable technology companies


How did the Apple Macintosh achieve its cult-like status among consumers?

Slowly. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introduced the first Macintosh in 1984 to rival IBM’s first personal computer; but it was actually the brainchild of Jef Raskin who envisaged an easy-to-use, low-cost computer. The Macintosh was successful in education and desktop publishing, but its relatively high price and subsequent uninspiring models failed to catch the public’s imagination.

So what changed?

Steve Jobs’ return. After a power struggle with new chief executive John Sculley, Jobs left Apple in 1985, and only returned in 1997. The iMac was launched the following year, which marked the transition to the “Mac” name and cemented Apple’s reputation for stylistic, iconic design. A new laptop, the MacBook, was launched in 2006, followed by the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and a new MacBook.

How much money has that made?

In 2007, Apple posted a record 1.7 million Mac sales in a quarter and a profit of $904m. In 2010, Apple became the world’s most valuable technology company, when it passed Microsoft at a valuation around $220bn. The firm has more than doubled in value since.  

Any taxing times?

Apple has come under fire for its tax affairs, attracting the ire of the European Commission. In January 2016, it declared Apple could owe more than $8bn in taxes. Apple’s reliance on Chinese manufacturers such as FoxConn has also been controversial. US politicians Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have both criticised the company’s supply chain model. It has also been criticised over poor conditions for workers in China.

What does the future hold?

Apple sold 2.5 million laptops in the first quarter of 2016 – a 40.4% quarterly decline, according to research firm TrendForce, and Google’s low-cost Chromebooks outsold Macs for the first time in the US last year. However, Apple sold over five million Macs in the first quarter of 2017, and anticipation around the release of its latest MacBook Pro within the next few months could recapture the excitement – and sales – of previous models.

Brave New World

Since Ridley Scott’s iconic advert “1984” depicted Apple’s challenge to the conformity of rival IBM’s big-brother-like dominance of the personal computer industry, Macs have featured in more than 180 films and TV shows, from The Truman Show to Sex And The City.

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