Revenue skeptics might respond by pointing to Apple’s trajectory, rather than its raw totals. It’s one thing to make $50 billion; it’s another to grow revenue by 50 percent year over year.

Take a look at the same visualization, this time with year-over-year growth noted in the gray line. By this measure, Apple has been growing a lot more slowly — and sometimes declining — since mid-2012.

 

Apple’s single strongest quarter of year-over-year growth came in Q4 of 2010, when Apple grew revenue more than 100 percent year over year (note that these are fiscal quarters, so Q4 represents July through September). Part of this massive change is due to Apple’s inconsistent iPhone release months, which makes comparing year over year changes somewhat misleading prior to 2011, after which releases became more standardized.

Still, Apple maintained 50 percent year-over-year growth from early 2010 through mid 2012 — a remarkable feat, and enough to argue that Apple may have peaked during this time. This growth was largely fueled by the iPad, which launched in March 2010. The iPad created a whole new product category for Apple, and it sold even faster than the iPhone in its first few years of existence.

But iPad growth would plateau by 2014, which leads us to the next perspective.

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