Apple has done more than reinvent itself; you could say it reinvented the "reinvention" business [source: Moltz]. Legendary CEO Steve Jobs didn't invent any of the machines that made Apple a household name, but he and his design team made them infinitely better. Apple didn't invent the personal computer, but the intuitive icon-based interface on the original Apple Macintosh blew the doors off the existing DOS-based home PCs [source: Bajarin]. Apple didn't invent all-in-one PCs or lightweight laptops, but it did introduce its own models with such style and user-centered design that no one remembers the awkward clunkers that came first.
Apple's greatest reinventions came when it turned its attention away from computers and toward hand-held devices. Again, the iPod and iPhone were not the first MP3 player or smartphone, but their Zen-like design and advanced touchscreen technology revolutionized the gadget industry. With the iPad, Apple combined all of its recent reinventions — touchscreens, lightweight design, plus incredibly powerful processors and batteries — to breathe life back into the tablet, a gadget sector that was pronounced dead back in the 1990s [source: Old Computers]. Apple's next reinvention remains to be seen.
For lots more fascinating lists and myths surrounding the world's most successful companies, check out the related HowStuffWorks articles below.
Author's Note: 10 Companies That Completely Reinvented Themselves
There are a lot of reasons to envy the CEOs of major corporations: the summer homes in Vail, the fleets of Italian sports cars, the parade of beautiful wives, each younger than the next. But if there's a downside to the job, it must be the nagging threat of total and instant obsolescence. In the Internet age, consumer tastes turn on a dime. If you make your millions by selling things to the public, you need to be part R&D genius and part fortune teller. Not only do you need to design, build and market great products, but you need to predict what consumers will want three years before they want it. That's what Apple did so brilliantly under Steve Jobs and what so many other CEOs aspire to replicate. It must make for some sleepless nights, but nothing that can't be cured by a midnight spin in the Lamborghini.
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