The history of Apple Inc. has been a jumble of secrets during the year but a harvest of revelation in the fall. Apples are one of the first and most widely cultivated fruits known to humans. This article is a comparison of two apples, one corporate and the other edibly delicious, and how they have fared over their lifetimes. Grown on deciduous (leaves that fall off) trees this fruit has taken two completely different paths to success. If produced from a seed, they tend to be large, but if grafted onto roots they are smaller. Originating in Central Asia, its wild ancestor tree can still be found, its genus being the Malus sieversii. Apples have been cultivated in Europe and Asia for thousands of years and were introduced onto the North American continent by colonists from Europe. Apples have enjoyed much favor in ancient religions, mythologies, and a wide range of cultures, including Christian, Greek, and Norse traditions.
There are 7,500 known groups of type of apples. This results in a vast range of characteristics chosen for the pleasure of eating them. Different cultivars (groups of breeding apples) produce a wide spectrum of uses from apple cider products, cooking varieties, and fresh apples for munching and crunching in school lunch boxes or fruit bowls on the table at home. Wild apples can grow easily from seed, though domestic apples are reproduced by grafting. The apple tree is prone to several bacterial, fungal and pest problems, though these may be controlled with several types of non-organic and organic products.
China produces about 32 million tons of apples, which is almost half of the entire world production in 2010. The second largest producer of this fresh fruit is the United States, growing about 6 percent of apples grown in the world. The other leading countries in this market in order of production are Turkey, Italy, India and Poland.
Most people eat apples raw, but they are also found in many prepared foods, drinks and recipes. Tradition has proclaimed various health benefits to this colorful fruit, though there are two forms of allergies associated with the apple.
Wild and domestic deciduous apple trees vary in size. The wild variety can reach heights of 39 feet, while cultivated trees may grow to smaller heights of 6 to 15 feet. Rootstock selection determines the size, shape and branch density of cultivated trees. Leaves of the apple tree are generally dark green in color as a simple oval shape with serrated edging and downy undersides.
Commercial growers produce an apple that is between two and three inches in diameter. Market selection has determined this specific cultivation. Japan however, prefers apples that are slightly larger, while smaller apples are used for juices without much fresh market value attached to them.
It was not a hidden fact or secret, by any stretch of mind, but the dissemination of apples into the Mediterranean by Alexander the Great around 328 BCE helped spread the popularity of apples across Europe. Though eastern Turkey has been called the center of diversity of the genus Malus. Being one of the earliest, if not the earliest fruits to be cultivated, the apple tree in its various forms have been improved through selection for millennia.
It has been recently revealed by an Italian group of scientists working with Washington State University horticulturalists that they have decoded the genome of the apple. The heretofore secret information will assist scientists to identify genes and gene variations which account for resistance to drought, diseases and other complimentary charicteristics.
Colonists introduced apples in North America in the 17th century. Crab apples are the only apples native to North America. Once seeds were introduced in North America many varieties began to sprout up across Native American trade routes and by 1845 apple catalogs had as many as 350 varieties to choose from into the early 19th century. Production of apple orchards through proper irrigation in Eastern Washington caused a burgeoning apple industry to bloom into a multibillion dollar industry of this sweetly delicious fruit.
An apple a day… provides one company with a fantastic profit margin. The Apple company like the fruit, also started with two divergent and wholly different men who had one thing in common; a love of technology and their respectively creative ideas about computers. Like the apple, one (Steve Jobs) was wild and obeyed the laws of his nature and hardly any other. This propensity was the driving force behind the ultimate success of Apple, Inc. The other (Steve Wozniak), abided by rules and made electronic machines that helped start the personal home computer revolution. Without his creative assembly of machines and constant improvement of its fledgling operating system Apple as a producers of electronic devices would have never had the power to change the way people use electronic devices today.
The fruit so widely praised didn’t gain its status without outside help; seeds brought to other countries, cross breeding, etc., was a boon for the fruit and mankind. By changing the variety of apples one could eat and use, apples enjoyed a long and fruitful life up to the present. Apple Inc. also needed help when it was attempting to find its own market share and how to insert itself into the unknown regions of personal computer use. One of the revelations of success came in the form of offering a new concept to business, desktop publishing. While not exactly a confidential agreement, its shaking hands with Adobe Systems into a partnership and announcing the introduction of the laser printer and Adobe Pagemaker software, the business of using computers turned a corner in the orchard and a new industry was born.
While the fruit has continued to enjoy popularity and success throughout its history, Apple Inc., has not been so fortunate. Steve Jobs wild and creative nature and his laser like vision for Apple Inc., burned many stiff suits and bottom line profit watchers. They tossed aside a talented individual as if he were a rotten apple. In the long run, it proved to be a poor choice. After Jobs ouster, the company introduced a new crop of computers to compete with other computer makers. Instead of a bushel of new and fresh computers these machines spread like a disease in the orchard of success. The high prices and confusing names for the machines caused buyers to hesitate and look elsewhere in the now booming marketplace.
Once apples arrived in North America, a new revolution and popularity took hold and apples spread across the land. The poor handling of Apple Inc., was recognized by those in power and Steve Jobs returned to his company. The success of Apple Inc. was planted firmly in the garden of Steve Jobs. When a crop fails, through freezes, tornadoes, disease or poor management, a new orchard cannot be planted and expect to produce fruit overnight. Apple Inc. took on the challenge and partnered once again with another company, Microsoft, to help them become a successful purveyor of shiningly new Apple computers.
A year later Apple introduced a machine that once again changed the face of computing for home users and businesses too. When the iMac was introduced in 1998 with its differently shaped and colorful body and internal innovations it became a selling sensation. Three other innovations also helped pump up the company and caused people and business to look up and take notice. Apple introduced the power Mac G4, a computing monster, the iBook, a laptop computing machine, with wireless LAN as a mainstay. These last two innovations changed again the direction of computers and their use. The portability of the iBook, and its wireless connectivity became the standard in computing we know today.
The apple, being an organic product of nature cannot evolve rapidly, but man-made objects can. This is where these two entities diverge radically. The secret to success in an ever-changing market, such as Apple’s, is to reveal changes in a timely manner and continue to be a standard -bearer of what people and businesses purchase. The list of products Apple has produced, introduced and popularized is amazing; iMac, iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes, and retail stores. The other amazing aspect of their market is the fact that people aren’t even amazed anymore.
By Andy Towle