In the past 14 years, Apple Inc. has recovered from a near-death experience to become a tech giant and cultural icon. The company’s amazing run continued last week as it jostled with Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corporation for the title of biggest public company in the world.That surge has enriched not just Steve Jobs and Apple’s thousands of workers but also an entire ecosystem of companies and individual developers, many based in the Dallas area.From mega corporations such as AT&T Inc., Texas Instruments Inc. and RadioShack Corporation down to small application developers, Apple’s rising tide has lifted many boats.Fort Worth, Texas-based RadioShack, for example, has sold iPods for years and started carrying the iPhone in early 2010.Scott Young, chief merchandising officer at the electronics retailer, said RadioShack’s launch of the iPhone 3GS was a hit, even though the phone was first released in the summer of 2009.
“It was hugely successful,” he said. “It was one of our top-selling phones last year. Any time we get an iconic device like that, whether it’s Apple’s or others’, it obviously drives sales but also drives excitement in our team.” That success was replicated a few months later with the launch of the iPhone 4 and with this year’s iPad 2, Young said.“Truthfully, we were growing before the iPhone,” Young said. “But it was a contributor to our growth last year.”
The iPhone and, to a lesser extent, the iPad, have also been critically important for AT&T in the past several years.In 2007, AT&T was named the exclusive US carrier for the iPhone. It sold tens of millions of the devices in the next four years as existing users upgraded and new customers came on board.And even though AT&T is now forced to share the iPhone with Verizon Wireless in the US, the phone is still a big moneymaker for the carrier.
AT&T reported last month that it activated 3.6 million iPhones in the second quarter, with 24 per cent of those going to subscribers new to the company.Overall, AT&T sold 5.6 million smartphones in the quarter.For AT&T, the iPhone’s success has also brought challenges, as data usage on the company’s wireless network soared and AT&T in some cases struggled to keep up.For other companies, the iPhone surge has happened much more quietly.
Dallas-based Texas Instruments, for example -while touting its hardware in many other mobile devices -has kept quiet about its involvement with the most iconic gadget of the decade.The company declined to comment for this report.
But websites such as iFixit, which take apart new devices and catalog their components, have identified touch-screen chips from TI in both iPhones and iPads.
Application developers have also made careers out of a field that barely existed a few years ago.Apple’s App Store launched in July 2008 with the iPhone 3G, giving developers a place to sell their programs to iPhone users.Calvin Carter launched Bottle Rocket, a Dallas-based app development firm, almost the moment that Apple announced it would create an app store.
“Bottle Rocket was founded literally the day after Steve Jobs announced the iPhone SDK (software development kit), although now it’s called the iOS SDK,” Carter said. “He did that March 6, 2008, and we started the morning of March 7.”
Carter had previously ridden the dot-com boom as a website designer, and he said it was clear soon after the Apple announcement that apps could become as popular as websites.
But while apps are now a multibillion-dollar industry, no one even knew how to make one in the early days.“In 2008, I literally had to go to Office Depot, get some graph paper and start sketching what apps could be,” Carter said.
By the end of 2008, Bottle Rocket had produced and published nine apps under its own name, including games as well as utilities to track packages from shipping companies such as FedEx and DHL.On the strength of that portfolio, Bottle Rocket became developers-for-hire for large companies and organisations, building apps for the likes of NPR and ESPN.
Bottle Rocket now has almost 50 employees and is hiring artists, programmers, project managers, brand experts and more.Carter declined to say how much money Bottle Rocket is bringing in but said the company has about 25 projects under development at a time, with more than 60 apps published in total. “Since the end of 2008, we’ve been profitable every month,” he said.
From / Gulf News