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A strong focus on user experience has helped Apple become one of the most successful companies in the world.
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I Have An Invention Idea For Apple
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, is one of the most valuable companies in the world. It makes popular digital devices including Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads.
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The company was founded in 1976 by two young hackers, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. His second product, the Apple II, was the first personal computer to succeed in the mass market. Released in 1984, the Macintosh brought the modern graphical user interface into the mainstream.
Apple began to struggle after its board of directors ousted Steve Jobs from the company in 1985. When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, it was close to bankruptcy. Jobs then led a spectacular revival when he introduced the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010. The result: Apple earned nearly $40 billion in profits in fiscal 2014.
Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011. Since then, the company has been led by Tim Cook, Jobs’ longtime deputy.
Apple has been a trendsetter in Silicon Valley for almost four decades. The Apple II, Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, and iPad were all widely imitated—if not outright copied—by Apple’s competitors.
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Apple’s success is largely due to its obsessive focus on user experience. Apple is a designer-centric company that wants to build every part of the product—hardware, software, and online services—in-house. This approach has allowed Apple to create some of the sleekest and most elegant products ever created.
The Apple II was the first personal computer to achieve significant commercial success. It was designed in 1977 by Steve Wozniak, a brilliant 26-year-old engineer with a knack for packing a lot of functionality into a small, affordable package.
While Wozniak was designing the Apple II, Steve Jobs was figuring out how to sell it. At the time, computers were sold in sets, with components such as keyboards and power supplies being purchased separately by the user. That’s how Apple’s first product, the Apple I, was sold. But Jobs realized that this severely limited the potential market. So Apple sold the Apple II already assembled in an attractive plastic case with a built-in keyboard. It originally cost $1,298, or about $5,000 in 2014.
However, the Apple II was not very useful. Many seasoned computer professionals — accustomed to more powerful computers from companies like IBM and DEC — considered it an underpowered toy. There was practically no software available for this. The main thing users could do with the Apple II was write and run programs in the BASIC programming language.
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That changed in 1979, when programmer Dan Bricklin created Visicalc, the first spreadsheet program for the Apple II. Visicalc made the Apple II the first computer with a serious business purpose, and sales of the Apple II exploded.
The Apple II also became popular in the education market. Apple sold hundreds of thousands of computers to schools that wanted to give their students the opportunity to learn to code.
Apple continued to sell Apple II computers until 1993, when they were discontinued in favor of Macintosh computers. In total, about 5 million Apple II computers were sold.
The Macintosh or Mac is a line of personal computers sold by Apple since 1984. The original Macintosh was the first commercially successful computer to use a mouse-based graphical user interface (GUI). It cost $2,495, or about $5,700 in 2014.
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The basic ideas of the Macintosh user interface—windows, menus, icons, and the like—were developed at Xerox’s Palo Alto research center in the 1970s. However, Xerox never made a serious attempt to turn the technology into a commercial product. Steve Jobs provided a demonstration of Xerox technology for his engineers, who began working on their own implementation.
The original Macintosh had significant limitations. It had a small black-and-white screen, no hard drive, and barely enough computing power to run its complex graphics software. But later models were more efficient. Apple brought color to the Macintosh with the Macintosh II in 1987.
The Mac’s innovative graphical user interface quickly attracted imitators. Most notably, Microsoft introduced the first version of Windows in 1985. Windows borrowed heavily from the pioneer Macintosh, and Apple sued Microsoft for stealing its ideas. Microsoft largely prevailed in the 1994 decision.
The powerful graphics capabilities of the Mac and the affordable laser printer that Apple launched in 1985 revolutionized desktop publishing. Software such as Aldus Pagemaker and Adobe Illustrator enabled designers to design documents completely digitally for the first time. Many graphic designers have become loyal Mac users.
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Today, Apple sells Macs in laptops and desktops. Laptops are MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Desktop computers are the all-in-one iMac, the expensive and powerful Mac Pro and the budget model, the Mac Mini. In 2014, Apple sold almost 20 million Macs.
In January 1984, Apple was ready to introduce the Macintosh, and the company celebrated with one of the most famous commercials in advertising history:
The ad, which features an attractive young woman protesting against a repressive police state, features IBM, which dominated the computer industry at the time and had recently entered the personal computer market. “Apple Computer to Unveil Macintosh on January 24th,” reads the ad. “And you’ll see why 1984 isn’t 1984.”
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak raised the money they needed to bring the Apple II to market, bringing in investors who decided to control the majority of Apple’s board of directors. Steve Jobs was brilliant, but in the early 1980s, Apple’s Board of Directors felt – not unreasonably – that he was too young and temperamental to lead Apple.
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So in 1983, Jobs hired Pepsi CEO John Sculley to lead Apple and famously asked him, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”
But they often argued and by 1985 Sculley had had enough. He convinced the board to leave Jobs aside.
So Jobs went to found a new computer company called NeXT. He created a cube-shaped computer that was a technical marvel, but the device’s $6,500 price tag made it a hard sell. In 1993, NeXT stopped making computers and focused on selling the company’s innovative software, but the company struggled to gain traction.
Apple has also struggled. The software that powered Apple’s Macintosh computers was beginning to show its age. The Mac no longer had a major technical advantage over cheaper Microsoft Windows computers. And the succession of executives who led Apple in the post-Jobs era seemed increasingly confused about what to do to restore Apple’s competitive edge.
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Desperate, Apple CEO Gil Amelio bought NeXT for $400 million in 1997. A few months later, the board fired Ameli and gave Jobs control of the company (although he didn’t officially accept the title of CEO until 2000). On paper, Apple bought NeXT, but in practice NeXT was taken over by Apple. Several NeXT veterans became directors of Apple, and the operating system developed by NeXT became the technical basis for modern Macs and the iPhone and iPad.
When Steve Jobs took over the leadership of Apple in 1997, the company was in a difficult situation. It had a confusing array of products, no clear strategy, and was losing tens of millions of dollars every quarter.
Jobs seemed determined. He canceled 70 percent of Apple’s products and laid off more than 3,000 people, turning a $1 billion loss in 1997 into a $300 million profit in 1998. He then began creating products that became Silicon Valley legends:
All these products were designed by Apple’s top designer, Jony Ive. Jobs found a kindred spirit in Ive and visited Ive’s studios daily to discuss the design of future products. Jobs was a perfectionist who often turned down work that didn’t meet his standards.
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Jobs was a marketing genius. He marked his return to Apple with the “Think Different” advertising campaign, which associated Apple with unconventional thinkers such as Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi. In his opening speeches, he presented new products that became major media events in themselves. And he developed the Apple Store chain, which ensured that Apple products were presented in a favorable light.
Jobs was also one of the most skilled negotiators in Silicon Valley. He scored a major coup in 2003 by convincing the “big five” record labels to allow Apple to sell their music on the iTunes Music Store, which helped cement the iPod’s popularity.
Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011. Since then, Apple has been led by Jobs’ longtime deputy, Tim Cook. Before his death, Jobs warned Cook not to try to run Apple by asking how Jobs would act on each decision. “Tea
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