Apple’s long and winding road

Jobs' return kicked off decade of unparallelled success

Tech Tussles: Apple vs. The World | Apple’s long and winding road | Swedish fish in iTunes waters | 3D specs get fashion makeover

While Apple’s had a long and winding road to the top, Jobs’ return from exile kicked off an unparalleled string of successes.

1996: Apple acquires Steve Jobs’ company, NeXT, for $400 million.

1997: Apple amasses a horrifying $1.8 billion in losses for the past two fiscal years.
Jobs replaces CEO Gil Amelio and takes the title of interim CEO. Wags will dub him the “iCEO.” The word “interim” proves the real joke.

1998: Ditches Newton, Apple’s first foray into tablet.
Unveils original Bondi Blue iMac. Critics complain it has no floppy drive. They’re wrong, Jobs is right: It’s a hit.

1999: Invests $100 million in Samsung to ensure enough screens for the iBooks.
By October iBook is bestselling notebook. (Remember them? The colorful ones.)

2000: Jobs made permanent CEO.

2001: January: iTunes software introduced.
First Apple Stores open.
October: iPod debuts. Critics complain it’s overpriced and lacking in features. Again, they’re wrong, Jobs is right.

2002: Buys music software company Emagic and FireWire company Zayante.
Apple Stores expand overseas.
2003: iTunes Music Store opens; reaches 25 million downloads.
Third generation iPod released; 2 million iPods sold.

2004: iPod Mini introduced.
iTunes downloads top 200 million songs; iTunes store goes international.
BMW introduces first car audio system with iPod integration.
10 millionth iPod sold.
Ad campaign with U2 launches. Critics credit Apple’s success to Bono’s sunglasses.

2005: In surprise move, Apple announces switch to Intel microprocessors.
iTunes downloads top 500 million songs.
Video iPod, iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano debut; 42nd millionth iPod sold.
iTunes expands to include TV shows and musicvideos.

2006: iTunes sells its billionth song; starts selling full-length movies.
88th millionth iPod sold.

2007: iPhone announced. Critics complain it lacks a keyboard. They’re wrong, Jobs is right.
First generation Apple TV announced.
iTunes sells 3rd billionth song and 50th millionth TV show episode.
141 million iPods sold by 2007.
iPod Touch unveiled.

2008: App Store debuts on iTunes; 10 million apps downloaded in first weekend.
With 5 billion songs sold, iTunes store passes Walmart to become top music retailer in U.S. Walmart shocked at idea of not being the biggest at something.
iTunes goes high-def.

2009: iPhone 3GS released.
iPod sales reach 250 million.
Buys 183 acres in North Carolina for 500,000 square-foot data center. Purpose: It’s a secret.

2010: App Store tops 5 billion apps downloaded.
iTunes Store tops 10 billion songs sold.
First test of North Carolina data center. Purpose? Still secret.
iPad released. Critics complain it lacks a camera and doesn’t multi-task. Whatever. Sales in the first three months after iPad’s release top 3 million units, making it the fastest selling electronic device in history.

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