In the summer of 2013, it looked very possible that Apple’s best days were behind it.
Two years earlier, Steve Jobs, its legendary founder, had died, throwing the company’s reputation for life-changing innovations into question. Sales of Apple’s miracle product, the iPhone, were not growing as fast as they once had.
Sales of phones made by Samsung, and running Google’s rival Android operating system, topped the charts. The surging share price that had accompanied Jobs’ string of hit products, leading Apple to overtake ExxonMobil as the world’s most valuable public company, had gone into reverse.
The problem, pundits summarised, was that Tim Cook, Apple’s new chief executive, was refusing to court the lower end of the market. The iPhone was too expensive for most consumers in Asia, continental Europe and South America, the world’s booming smartphone markets.
The answer, so the theory went,…