Apple’s biggest product has been the success of 38 years

For at least a decade, Apple has mostly been the company that makes the iPhone. They obviously make other products, but none of them are the reason Apple is $2.5 trillion. The iPhone is not only the most important product from Apple, it is the device against which all other smartphones are measured.

Despite this, Apple’s biggest hit product at the moment isn’t the iPhone – it’s the Mac. He’ll forgive you if you don’t see it coming. In some ways, you could say that the Mac, as it exists today, looks like an overnight success.

The reason isn’t complicated – the new Macs with Apple Silicon are amazing. It’s better than anything else you can spend a lot of money on. Even the entry-level MacBook Air is probably the best laptop most people should consider buying. It is definitely the best overall value.

The MacBook Pro, released last October, is arguably Apple’s most successful product in a decade. Apple said it set a record for Mac sales, driven in large part by the MacBook Pro. It makes sense – Apple has basically given people exactly what they were asking for, along with the fastest performance you can buy in a laptop.

Obviously, the Mac didn’t just appear overnight, it’s been around since 1984. It’s only until about two years ago that many people started wondering if Apple cared about the Mac anymore. Even the most loyal Apple fans have a lot to complain about, like outdated designs and keyboards that don’t work.

Except for one quarter, the Mac has been in a long, slow decline from 2015 until the advent of Apple Silicon. It’s not hard to see why. Apple’s laptop line was a mess. The desktop lineup was, well, confusing.

There was an iMac and a Mac mini. Then Apple made a Mac Pro that turned out to be not very professional, so Apple made the iMac Pro to replace it. Except that people still wanted the Mac Pro, so Apple made a new one but kept the iMac Pro for a few more years. None of them were bad, but they weren’t great.

Then, with the introduction of Apple Silicon, your Mac is back in good shape again. And it wasn’t just better – that’s not a very high standard. I wrote that with the M1 MacBook Air, Apple was just showing off. This is how awesome it is. Apparently, people noticed that Apple started selling a lot of Macs.

It’s fair to point out that Apple’s move to its own processors coincided with a time when a lot of people were buying laptops. As the pandemic escalated through most of 2020, every PC maker saw sales soar. People were staying at home, which meant they needed laptops to work or go to school remotely.

After that, people seemed to get all the laptops they needed, and sales of most PC makers slowed. Except for Apple – which continued to sell more Macs.

In the last quarter, the iPhone grew five percent. On the other hand, the Mac grew by about 15 percent. At the same time, the overall market for personal computers decreased by nearly seven percent compared to the previous year.

Even more impressively, Apple said that half of the people who bought a Mac in the last quarter were “new to the product.” This is the corporate talk about “they were buying their first Mac.” That’s a lot of people giving up their PC for a Mac. It’s as if Apple flipped a switch and suddenly people noticed how good their Mac was again.

Apparently Apple has been working on these new Macs for years. Like every seemingly overnight success, the truth is that a lot of long hard work went into building the Macs that Apple really wanted to make.

It’s been working on its own silicon — in the iPhone and iPad specifically — since it started designing the A4, which was released in 2010. The Mac itself clearly goes back much further than that. He’s been through a lot in the past 38 years, but I think it’s fair to say he’s never been more popular or more successful than he is now.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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