Apple, Inc. is an electronics and software company based in California, USA. Originally known as Apple Computer, the company is familiar to most people as innovators of the personal computer as it is known today. Apple Computer had introduced many of the now-commonplace features of personal computers, including the GUI, the mouse, the floppy disk drive, and color graphics. Apple Computer's Macintosh line of PC's had brought numerous software and hardware components within reach of the average home consumer, often in a stylish case and with an emphasis on usability. The restructured company, now called simply Apple, designs, markets, and sells not only personal computers but also consumer electronics in the form of portable media players and smartphones. Apple also sells intangible goods in the form of software, music, and video. The Apple Store chain operates over 150 branches worldwide, where the devices and software and sold and serviced.
Although Apple does distribute software for the Microsoft Windows operating system, this is limited to it's QuickTime media player and iTunes connectivity suite for the iPod. Most of Apple's software revenue comes in the form of optional software for the OS-X operating system, exclusive to Apple's own Macintosh computers. However, software and even computer sales are now only a small part of Apple's operations. The iPod media player is today Apple's main source of revenue, including sales of the player itself and of music and video downloads via the iTunes music store. The recently introduced iPhone is expected to outsell it's production quota, thus making the device both exclusive and expensive. Apple TV, introduced in March 2007, is a controversial device that is not expected to bring much income to Apple, rather, to help secure Apple's foothold in the content distribution market. Other Apple hardware devices, such as the Xserve web- and file-server and the Apple Cinema display, are not intended for home use and make up a negligible portion of Apple's income.
Apple Computer first introduced it's products at a local computer club in early 1976. Within half a year the company had grown to having 10 retail outlets selling it's Apple I computer kits. The following year, Apple Computer released the Apple II, it's first fully-assembled machine. With color graphics, audio capabilities, and fully-documented hardware specs that encouraged third-party accessories, the Apple II became the most popular computer of all time, selling for over 15 years. During this time, the Lisa and Macintosh were introduced, the later which would supersede the Apple II and become the basis for the first Apple laptop. After several years of technical failures and unsuccessful products, the late 1990's saw Apple reinventing itself with new company goals. The company settled it's outstanding lawsuits with Microsoft, and in 1998 Apple Computer launched the iMac, a throwback to the Apple II both in design and application. The iPod media player was introduced in late 2001, with the iTunes music service following in early 2002. The release of these two products is now seen as a critical turning point in the history of Apple Computer, marking a return to high profits and brand recognition. The iPod line was expanded to include ever tinier models, including the iPod Mini, the flash-based iPod Nano, and eventually the screenless iPod Shuffle. The iPod inspired interest in Apple Computer's merchandise led to the company restructuring itself once again, dropping the word "computer" from it's name to reflect it's new focus on consumer electronics and media distribution. The Apple TV and iPhone devices are direct fruits of the new company focus.
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