Apple Inc. is my choice as Company of the Decade and it's Chief Executive, Steve Jobs, is my CEO of the millennium.
As we entered the 2000's, with the palpable fear of Y2K behind us, the word Apple was still synonymous with fruit in most households. By the end of the decade, a survey of children between the age of 7-9 found 75% of them to think the fruit was named after the company.
Within ten years, the company:
- Democratized the audio medium. Before the iPod was launched people listened to CD's, which allowed for 76.5 continuous minutes of listening before requiring a switch. With the iPod, listeners could not only listen to 3 days worth of music without interruption, we could now tote our entire musical library around wherever we were. The iPod also gave audio books their first viable platform, which expanded sales 14 fold during the decade. The same can be said for lectures and podcasts.
- iTunes not only changed how we purchase music and how music is distributed, but the device changed the very music we listen to. Before iTunes, artists were required to spend their energies looking for a record label to sign them, support them and, hopefully, distribute their music. iTunes enabled any artists, with the ability to upload their work from a computer, to launch themselves onto the world stage. Many of today's top record producers were discovered by major artists in this very way: think Danger Mouse.
- iTunes helped stave off inflation. A compact disc, at the beginning of the decade, cost $13.99-$18.99, depending on where your purchase was made. The iTunes store launched with the price of $0.99 per song, and seven years later has only just sought to raise it's prices. I firmly believe the cost of a compact disc, if I use the movie ticket barometer, would cost roughly $22-$28 today if the iTunes store did not exist.
- Changed the aesthetic idea of what consumer products should look like. Before Apple really "got after it" in the desktop PC game, computers were chunky, as all that mattered was performance. The designers and engineers at Apple, the world's most innovative company, made powerful desktop computers also. However, and perhaps as a result of the skepticism of the operating system not running Windows, made their desktop computers visually appealing. The move won the company praise and design awards for each successive product design launched during the decade. Now all PC-makers strive to make visually-pleasing products, not just internal improvements, when bringing products to market.
- Changed the way we view media. The opening of the decade saw the mad rush for bigger and bigger televisions, for which to partake in our rapidly expanding home viewing options. Of course the iPod would change that by becoming the most successful movie distribution system in history. Ditto television distribution. They also, for the first time ever, were able to sell music videos, which brought a new revenue stream to record companies, as previously videos were made solely to promote an artist. Think of it for what it is, they sold commercials.
- Changed what we expect of our cellphones. Who could have foreseen that by the end of this decade, we would be able to walk out of the house and take every map in the world, a dictionary, a compass, our entire computer, our entire music collection, every photo of our loved ones, every piece of critical mail we have ever received, our favorite books, our favorite newspapers, the entire phonebook, every video ever made (home movie and otherwise), our entire stock portfolio and have it delivered in real-time, games, movie schedules, banking information, GPS, bibles, every radio station on earth, tens of thousands of restaurant, film, book and music recommendations, etc? And it would all weigh less than a sandwich, be affordable and also make phone calls. Yet, the iPhone does all this and more. Bravo!
- Apple TV has already changed how we rent movies and television shows by streaming the content directly to our home. No more trips to Blockbuster in the snow, only to find out the last copy of "The Notebook" is out. Blockbuster and Netflix both adapted to the change, so as not to perish. Now we ALWAYS get to watch the movie we want to watch, not the movie that is available.
- The revolutionary Apple Store opened to wide acclaim. Just think back to the 1990's. Computer and Customer Service were anathema to one another. Any information you wanted, or problems you had, meant long hours on the phone tapping your feet to hold music, then sheepishly asking the usually derisive tech on the line to help you out. The Apple Store's immersive environment welcomes questions, solves problems on-site, provides one-on-one instruction, group instruction, encourages product testing, does repair, exchanges and displays the full Apple product line in a friendly, beautiful, well-planned mecca of computing.
Apple does so much more, but my evangelism must be getting a bit tiresome for you by now.
Here's to you Apple and Steve Jobs, my Company and CEO of the Decade. Job well done!
As we look to the upcoming decade, most other companies should slump their shoulders, as there has been a January 26, 2010 press conference called (and confirmed) for the announcement of Apple's next weapon of choice, the iTablet. So 26 days into the new decade, most companies will already be playing catch-up with a company that is in the lead and taking very long strides.