The Wired 40: Apple Computer ‘the new face of consumer electronics’ rockets from nowhere to number 3

Wired Magazine’s “Wired 40” is about “masters of innovation, technology, and strategic vision – 40 companies driving the global economy,” according to Wired’s Kevin Kelleher. “Old school business types found some solace in the bust – at least the upstarts go their comeuppance. Hardly! With the economy finally perking up, newcomers are running the show: Three of the top five companies in this year’s Wired 40, our annual list of enterprises leading the charge toward a connected global economy, were founded in the past decade. One-third are less than 20 years old,” Kelleher writes for Wired’s June 2004 issue (not yet online).

“This year’s list reflects the churn we’ve come to expect int he tech economy. Only nine selections appeared on the original list back in 1998. Still, the criteria for inclusion remains unchanged. These 40 leaders have demonstrated an uncommon mastery of technology, innovation, globalism, networked communication, and strategic vision – skills essential to thriving in the information age,” Kelleher writes.

After Google at number one (right where they were last year) and Amazon at number two (up from 7th last year), Wired debuts a new company to the Wired 40, Apple Computer, at number three:

“Apple Computer: the new face of consumer electronics. They laughed in 2001 when Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, Apple’s $400 MP3 player. They laughed in 2003 when he opened the iTunes Music Store, selling songs for 99 cents when million of consumers were downloading tracks for free. But Jobs is having the last laugh, while creating the kind of platform-and-content synergy that gadget makers dream of. Having sold 5 million iPods, Apple owns 55 percent of the music player market. Meanwhile, iTunes has coaxed the Big Five record labels into a single online store and persuaded fans to download – legally – more than 60 million songs, about 70 percent of commercial downloads. And beyond consumers fo digital media, Apple is empowering a new generation of content creators with superior music production (GarageBand) and video editing (iMovie). Put them on the blazing Power Mac G5 and you have the platform of the creative class. DONE: The iPod mini, released in february, is already taking market share from makers of smaller, cheaper music players. TO DO: With iTunes for Windows and the HP-branded iPod, Apple is finally playing well with others. If only it would find more playmates.”

MacDailyNews Note: As of May 5th, Apple had sold 73.3 million songs (source).

Another new company on the list, at number nine, is Steve Jobs’ other company, Pixar. The next PC maker, after Apple, to make the list is Dell, which Wired terms “The Great Commoditizer,” at number 12. IBM’s at 13, Intel at 24, Microsoft at 27. Ejected from last year’s list were Sony, Wal-Mart, and Oracle, among others.


  1. i think the writer was being generous saying computer H/w and S/w contributed to this position. The emphasis was on ipods and iTMS. These were the overwhelmingly major factor in Apple’s #3 position.

    But so what?! What’s so bad about iPods being the reason? Apple sell iPods. iPods sell Apple. Apple sells Macs. The iPod has done wonders to raise the profile of Apple, and that is good for their computers.

  2. Not to mention DIRT cheap Tommy G, the thing I find funnie is that during this huge replacement of 100 mil, I can assure you that 90% of mac owners don’t even need to replace their comps. The only reason I want to get a 17″ Pb this yr is because I need it for school, not because there is nothing wrong with my iBook(I luv her so much,lol). I just hope apple can @ least get 10% of this 100 mil replacements, I’ll be happy with that @ least.

  3. i just switched my boss’s office over to macs this week from the other brand. got him two of the new emacs to replace his old machines.

    added filemaker on top of that to free him completely of that other stuff.

    funny thing was that i was always trying to sell him on his database capabilities being better on mac, all the while i forgot

    about the really cool stuff that already comes with the mac: ical, mail, address book, sherlock, ichat, the list goes on and on.

    meanwhile, an old tennant moved back in with his other brand comp systems and has nothing but troubles getting going, i laughed all day.

    this has been my first office switching to mac, i’ve switched a good handful of day to day users. hopefully now i can start switching all sorts of offices

  4. An office switched entirely to Mac will get more work done too. Bit by bit, the dominoes should fall… and possibly increase in speed when Longhorn ships. Then we’ll all be laughing!

  5. it’s true that iPod, iTunes, and iTMS moved Apple into the 3rd spot, but that combo is Apple’s trojan horse into everyone’s home – note iTunes 4.5 can now play full-screen video (did Apple announce this? i didn’t see it); anyone want to speculate what Apple will quietly slip in next?

    Marketing research shows most people (but not Apple) think computers are “frustrating” commodity products (a necessary evil), and instead looking for something simple to just store and play digital content everywhere in the house. If this is so, where is the true growth market? And which Apple product is best suited for just storing and playing? iPod anyone? If the next iPod adds the function of being a wirelessly Rendezvous-networked digital content server for wireless TV/speakers anywhere in the home, and is wirelessly connected to the Web (iTMS on the TV), and with its patented GUI interface, is also the remote control using iPod-display or TV-display menus, aren’t we more than halfway there?
    And then the iTunes Movie Store in iTunes 5.0 using Pixlet compression to reduce download times by 75%… I think people are just beginning to see Apple’s strategic vision for the home, and the huge market opportunity for the iPod.

    So what about the Mac? Is it dying? The growth in PC sales this past year are mostly in two commodity markets: large enterprises replacing millions of 3 and 4-yr old PCs (many w/notebooks), and the $800-PC (mostly home) market. Those owners of the $800 PCs will be disappointed/frustrated if they try to do anything creative with their digital content, and will begin to realize they should pay more for Mac/iLife the next time. Apple needs to help by marketing all of iLife and providing free training at its stores.

    i believe the Mac made gains in the over-$1000 home market, with people who know they want be creative with content. Wired does say for those home users who create content, not just listen or watch, Garageband, iMovie, and G5 are the place to be, and those only run on/in the Mac. The coming real soon iMac G5 (or maybe a consumer-priced Cube G5?) will really accelerate this.

    This could be a great 20th anniversary. And Apple does have a strategic vision for the enterprise market – see more in Tiger, but that’s another story with iPod, Mac, and Xserve pieces.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.