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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Fun With Charts: Apple’s turnaround decade

Note: This story has not been updated since 2020.

Last week I followed a thread from my chart about the growth of Apple’s Services and Wearables categories and ended up marveling at the spectacular growth Apple experienced during the 2010s.

Which got me thinking about decades. Because while it’s true that Apple’s total revenue grew sixfold in the 2010s, this was a decade that followed an even more remarkable decade, where Apple went from losing money1 to making it hand over fist.

So here’s last week’s chart, spanning 2009 to 2019:

A decade of Apple revenue.

Pretty good decade, all things considered. But here’s the same chart for 1999 to 2009:

Apple revenue 1999-2009

The rocket really didn’t achieve liftoff until 2004, as iPod sales went wild and the Mac benefited from the halo effect. And then, of course, the iPhone began substantially contributing in 2008 and 2009. Still, measured from 1999 to 2009, Apple’s total revenue grew sevenfold, more growth even than between 2009 and 2019.

Rolling it together, here’s a two-decade view of Apple total revenue:

Apple revenue 1999-2019

As fun as it is to break things up by even decades, Apple’s biggest growth decade was actually 2006 through 2015. 2015’s total revenue of $234 billion was twelve times the $19 billion in revenue Apple generated ten years before.

On the scale of this chart, the rise of revenue in the previous decade comes off as almost flat—because while it was impressive in the context of Apple’s business at the time, it can’t take into account the rapid inflationary period between 2011 and 2015 that took Apple from a $65 billion business to a $234 billion one.

The past five years have been relatively flat for Apple, though I’ll point out that the $26 billion growth in revenue between 2015 and 2019 would’ve been the size of Apple’s entire business the year the iPhone came out. You can see why growth-focused investors aren’t as happy with Apple today as they were with Apple in 2015.

On to the next decade: Apple’s financial results for its fiscal first quarter of 2020 will be released on Tuesday.

  1. Apple lost money as recently as its first fiscal quarter of 2003! The holiday quarter! Can you imagine? 

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