On Aug 19, consumer electronics giant Apple’s market value surged past the US$2 trillion ($2.7 trillion) milestone, making it more valuable than social media giant Facebook, conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway and the four biggest banks in the US, combined. Apple’s stock — which was hovering around split-adjusted US$1, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 — is up 500-fold. If you had invested just US$2,000 in the iPhone maker in late 2001, it would be worth US$1 million today.

How did Apple get to be a US$2 trillion company? In 1997, when Steve Jobs returned to save the company he founded in his family’s garage in 1976, Apple was just weeks away from bankruptcy. Michael Dell, the founder of Dell, said at the time that Jobs should just shut Apple down instead of trying to save it. “Apple has done a great job delivering products that are deeply ingrained in users’ minds,” says Robert Muller, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco. The company also has extremely high loyalty, so users are more likely to upgrade to another Apple-made device.

“Apple has followed an underappreciated playbook: build high-quality products that enrich lives, then do the hard part: reinvent yourself every decade,” says Gene Munster of Loup Ventures in Minneapolis. Apple remade itself from a company that sold user-friendly PCs to one that made iPod music players, to the maker of the iconic iPhone to making iPads, Apple Watches and AirPods, and to a firm that increasingly sells subscription bundles of hardware, software and services.

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