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Why Apple is the most successful company in history

Mike Elgan | Feb. 17, 2015
Mike Elgan provides insights as to why Apple is way more successful than you think.

Apple's early years were consumed with direct competition with Microsoft, which in the 1990s Microsoft won.

Later, Jobs would declare "thermonuclear war" against Google for acquiring and promoting Android.

More recently, Apple clashed with Samsung in a war over design, patents and market share.

All these conflicts have been resolved with Apple winning.

Apple, which was once a fraction of the size and held a fraction of the PC market share of Microsoft, is now valued higher than both Microsoft and Google combined. Microsoft is in something of a rebirth in part because it has followed Apple's approach in mobile (touch tablets, for example, instead of pen-based tablets) and embraced iOS for Office and other products.

IBM has been brought to heel as a junior partner for the IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps program. IBM is hoping that some of the Apple magic will rub off on IBM's mobile enterprise group.

Samsung has now been officially crushed as a smartphone rival to Apple. The score? Apple 93, Samsung 9 (I'm talking about percentage of profits in the smartphone business.)

6. Apple is building the world's coolest headquarters

The best place in the world for a tech company, of course, is Silicon Valley. But the truth is that Silicon Valley "campuses" tend to be boring, generic, non-descript "office parks." Silicon Valley is ugly.

Sure, the Googleplex in Mountain View is vaguely cool, with it's life-size T-rex statue and goofy multi-colored bicycles made famous by "The Internship." The Oracle headquarters are kind of cool. Everyone wants to swim in "Lake Larry." Twitter's San Francisco offices are a delightful, post-modern confection.

But Apple's insane, bad-ass spaceship campus will rule them all. It sits on real estate made extremely valuable mostly by, well, by proximity to Apple. The ugly stuff (the major road connecting the main building with a nearby boulevard, plus some parking, functional buildings and utilitarian functions like heating, cooling, power, etc.) are underground or shoved to the periphery and out of sight.

The main event is the pristine doughnut of a building that, according to Steve Jobs, doesn't have a single pane of flat glass. It's all curved. (Apple built a factory in Germany to make that glass.) And the main building is surrounded by trees and grass and local habitat.

The most underappreciated feature of the new campus is an underground theater where Apple will announce new products. Because it will be under company control, Apple will be able to invite journalists on a few days notice, and will be able to prevent the inevitable product leaks that come from spy shots of San Francisco's Moscone Center.

Plus, we learned this week that the campus will be 100% solar powered.


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