Apple’s Top 6 Innovations
in consumer tech throughout the years

(DISCLAIMER: …in my opinion.)

1. Apple Lisa (January 19, 1983)

Although it may not have been Apple’s original idea, the Apple Lisa was one of the first generation of consumer computers to feature a graphical user interface, more commonly known as GUI.

Before GUI was introduced, computers had a command-line interface, which meant users had to type every single command to the computer, and the computer would only display text.

With the Apple Lisa, they popularised and commercialized the implementation of GUI for consumer computers, which eventually lead to the computers that we use nowadays.

To learn more about how GUI was first developed, visit this page.

2. iPod (October 23, 2001)

The iPod, although not the first portable music player, was certainly the most successful one. Together with Apple’s introduction of the iTunes Store, the iPod revolutionised the way consumers bought music.

It went on to become the “fastest selling music player in history”, and have a significant impact on modern culture.

More about the impact of the iPod on modern culture: 1 2 3

3. MacBook Air (January 15, 2008)

Ultrabook. It is a term first coined by Intel Corporation, to describe thin, ultraportable laptops with uncomprimising battery life.

However, it was actually a term first introduced in 2011. Release date for the MacBook Air? 2008.

Arguably, the first generation of MacBook Airs only served a niche purpose, since it was pretty slow and had a pretty hefty starting price of $1799.

However, at the time it was arguably one of the thinnest laptops sold on the market. It was also Apple’s first computer to offer solid-state drive storage, something that is common for most consumer laptops sold today. With a greatly improved second model, Apple saw a significant improvement in sales:

As for ultrabook marketshare, with the popularity of the MacBook Air, other vendors decided to take a shot at it as well:

So yeah, I would say that this would be a pretty strong argument that Apple essentially “created” the original ultrabook, according to Intel’s definitions.

4. Unibody aluminium MacBook (October 14, 2008)

The first generation of unibody aluminium MacBooks were perhaps the first foray of the common laptop into something more than simply a computing tool, but rather an object with innate aesthetic value — much like a well-designed car has more value to it than simply being a tool for convenient transportation.

This notion of combining tech and design was eventually incorporated into their other computer lines, such as the MacBook Pro and iMac lines.

It sparked an interest in the consumer laptop market — sure, design and aesthetic is a purely subjective value, but the numbers speak for themselves:

Some might argue that the graph pictured above may be misleading, since it compares the relative growth rates of PCs and Macs rather than by absolute sale numbers. Granted, there’s no arguing that by numbers only, the amount of PCs sold far outweigh the amount of Macs sold. However:

Still not convinced? Well…

5. iPad (April 3, 2010)

With the iPad, Apple popularized a whole new subcategory of electronic device — the tablet. But many people were skeptical at best when the iPad was first announced, to the point where Steve Jobs was personally sent several hundred emails complaining about the product.

However, the iPad turned out to be immensely successful, with 3 million iPads selling in the first 80 days. Following the success of the iPad, other companies such as Samsung, Asus and Dell followed suit by announcing their own tablets. The result?

Not too impressive. But wait, that statistic’s from 2011. What about now?

Slightly less of a monopoly? Seems to me, Apple is still king.

6. iPhone 4 (June 24, 2010)

The iPhone 4 was the first smartphone to feature a PPI-dense display, or what Apple terms as a “Retina Display”. The basic idea was to implement in display so high in pixel density that the ordinary human eye would not be able to discern between individual pixels.

What initially may not have seemed significant, is now present in all flagship smartphones from different smartphone vendors.

This continued on to be implemented in their computer product lines.

…What’s next?

Apple may not have always been at the forefront of actually creating new technologies, but they have at least certainly always been the first to implement said technologies.

With their recent dive into wearble tech with the Apple Watch, and a newer laptop form with the new MacBook, at least we know they aren’t in short supply of good ideas!

Innovation drives competition, and competition makes for happy consumers ☺

If I have any historical / factual mistakes, please let me know in the comments!

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