iPhones are a great business.
Since its debut a decade ago, Apple has made as much money as Microsoft—a company against whom it fought for the hearts and minds of computer owners for decades—and Alphabet—who former Apple CEO Steve Jobs launched a “thermonuclear war” against after it launched a competing smartphone operating system—combined.
Microsoft, the world’s largest computer operating system company, has never really recovered from missing the global shift from desktop computers to mobile devices in the late-2000s. It still makes a healthy living thanks to Windows, Xbox, and other hardware sales, as well as its cloud services businesses. Similarly, Alphabet is the world’s largest digital advertising platform through Google, and with products like Gmail, Android, and Google maps, the company has become indispensable to billions of people.
And yet, in both cases, their businesses pale in comparison to Apple’s world of brushed aluminum and polished glass. Adjusted for inflation since 2007, Apple has brought in $321.02 billion, and together, Alphabet and Microsoft have brought in a nearly-identical $320.7 billion. Even in nominal terms, Apple’s profits have totaled $307, compared to Alphabet and Microsoft’s $301 billion.
In the summer of 2007, Apple was generating less than $1 billion in quarterly profit, about the same as Alphabet, but far below the $3.6 billion Microsoft posted quarterly. It’s amazing what a rounded rectangle can do for your business.