Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California, that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. It is considered one of the Big Five companies in the U.S. information technology industry, along with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. Its hardware products include iPhone smartphones, iPad tablet computers, Mac personal computers, iPod portable media players, Apple Watch smartwatches, Apple TV digital media players, AirPods wireless earbuds, AirPods Max headphones, and the HomePod smart speaker line. Apple's software includes the iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS operating systems, the iTunes media player, the Safari web browser, the Shazam music identifier, and the iLife and iWork creativity and productivity suites, as well as professional applications like Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro, and Xcode. Its online services include the iTunes Store, the iOS App Store, Mac App Store, Apple Arcade, Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+, iMessage, and iCloud. Other services include Apple Stores, the Genius Bar, AppleCare, Apple Pay, Apple Cash, and Apple Card.
Apple was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in April 1976 to develop and sell Wozniak's Apple I personal computer, though Wayne sold his share back to Jobs and Wozniak within 12 days. It was incorporated as Apple Computer, Inc., in January 1977, and sales of its computers, including the Apple II, grew quickly.
Jobs and Wozniak hired a staff of computer designers and had a production line starting in Jobs' garage. Apple went public in 1980 to instant financial success. Over the next few years, Apple shipped new computers featuring innovative graphical user interfaces, such as the original Macintosh in 1984, and Apple's marketing advertisements for its products received widespread critical acclaim. However, the high price of its products and limited application library caused problems, as did power struggles between executives. In 1985, Wozniak departed Apple amicably and remained an honorary employee, while Jobs resigned to found NeXT, taking some Apple co-workers with him.As the market for personal computers expanded and evolved through the 1990s, Apple lost considerable market share to the lower-priced duopoly of Microsoft Windows on Intel PC clones. The board recruited CEO Gil Amelio to what would be a 500-day attempt to rehabilitate the financially troubled company—reshaping it with layoffs, executive restructuring, and product focus. He led Apple to buy NeXT in 1997, solving a failed operating system strategy and bringing Jobs back.
Jobs regained leadership status, becoming CEO in September 1997. Apple swiftly returned to profitability under the revitalizing "Think different" campaign, rebuilding Apple's status by launching the iMac and iPod, opening a retail chain of Apple Stores in 2001, and acquiring numerous companies to broaden the software portfolio. The company was renamed to Apple Inc. in 2007, reflecting a focus toward consumer electronics, and launched the iPhone to critical acclaim and financial success. In August 2011, Jobs resigned as CEO due to health complications, and Tim Cook became the new CEO. Two months later, Jobs died, marking the end of an era for the company. In June 2019, Jony Ive, Apple's CDO, left the company to start his own firm but stated he would work with Apple as its primary client.
Apple's worldwide annual revenue totaled $274.5 billion for the 2020 fiscal year. Apple is the world's largest technology company by revenue and since January 2021, the world's most valuable company. Apple is the world's 4th-largest PC vendor by unit sales as of January 2021. It is also the world's fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer. In August 2018, Apple became the first publicly traded U.S. company to be valued at over $1 trillion and just two years later, in August 2020 became the first $2 trillion U.S. company. Apple employs 147,000 full-time employees and maintains 510 retail stores in 25 countries as of 2020. It operates the iTunes Store, which is the world's largest music retailer. As of January 2020, more than 1.5 billion Apple products are actively in use worldwide. The company also has a high level of brand loyalty and is ranked as the world's most valuable brand. However, Apple receives significant criticism regarding the labor practices of its contractors, its environmental practices and unethical business practices, including anti-competitive behavior, as well as the origins of source materials.