When you reflect on where we as electronics consumers were only one short decade ago, it's astounding how far Apple has helped us progress. Ten years ago, many of us still carried cell phones the size of a wooden bar stool. Today, our sleek touchscreen devices make the cell phones of old far more laughable than laudable. Indeed, from computers to mobile devices, Apple accomplished for the first decade of the 21st century every bit as much as it achieved during the last two decades of the 20th century.
As we embark on the beginning of a new decade this century, many have speculated about Apple's role in the coming years and whether its best days are ahead or now behind the folks in Cupertino. Drawing on the historic time line presented in a BusinessWeek article this weekend that chronicles Apple's growth up to the present time, it's difficult to argue with the belief that Apple will likely dominate the future just as it has the recent past.
If you worked for, held shares in, or bought products from the Cupertino (Calif.)-based consumer electronics maker, you had plenty to love about the past 10 years. The writer Douglas Coupland once called the band R.E.M. "one of the few things that didn't suck about the '80s." And so it is with Apple in the Noughties, or whatever else we're calling the decade that dare not speak its name.
If it sounds overdramatic to say the iPod changed the world, consider this: In 1949, American homes had 2 million TV sets. By 1959 that number was 42 million. At the end of 2001, only 128,000 people had iPods. At the end of 2009, Apple has sold somewhere near a quarter-billion iPods. That sounds like a cultural shift to me. I challenge you to find a single object that more fully represents the zeitgeist of the early 21st century.
Apple's profound business transformation over the last decade, its overarching influence on the worlds of media and technology, coupled with its leadership position in the burgeoning world of mobile technology, lead me to one conclusion: The 10-year period now ended should henceforth be known as the iDecade. And I don't think it's anywhere near over.