History of Apple’s Website

History of Apple’s Website


If you’re a big Apple fan like I am then
you’ve probably spent a good amount of time browsing their website, which is perhaps one
of the best designed and well optimized sites in the industry. But what you may not realize is that Apple’s
website also serves as a historical timeline of the company, since how the website looks
and works is defined by the design trends of the period. So in this video we’re going to explore
the history of Apple through the lens of their website. This is Greg with Apple Explained and I want
to thank Squarespace for sponsoring this video. If you want to help decide which topics I
cover, make sure you’re subscribed and voting polls like this one will show up in your mobile
activity feed. Now I want to start off the video by breaking
down the six eras we’ll be exploring. Before Steve Jobs, Platinum, Aqua, Aluminum,
Glass, and finally, Flat. So let’s start off with the first era of
Apple’s website: Before Steve Jobs. Now Steve Jobs was Apple’s co-founder and
eventual CEO so what do I mean by “before” Steve Jobs? Well, there was a period from 1985 to 1996
when Jobs wasn’t with the company. He had been forced out of his leadership position
at Apple by its board of directors, after the unimpressive launch of the original Macintosh
in 1984. A project which Jobs had led. And it was during that period when the internet
became popular and Apple had to make a website. So in 1994 apple.com made its debut, and here’s
what it looked like. Now it certainly wasn’t the pinnacle of
graphic design, but it did represent where Apple was at that time. They had no clear direction, and the company’s
leadership was changing hands frequently. The role of CEO went from John Sculley, to
Michael Spindler, to Gil Amelio in a period of five years. And Apple’s website during that time reflected
the company’s lack of vision. Here’s was it looked like in 1994, then
in 1996 it changed to this skeuomorphic design, and then in 1997 we have this text-heavy approach. But it wasn’t only Apple’s website that
suffered during this era, it was also their products. With Jobs gone, the company began a race to
the bottom. Foregoing the philosophy of building a small
number of premium, high-priced computers in favor of a new business strategy: Trying to
make as many cheap computers as possible in order to stimulate sales and grow revenue. Apple’s product line grew so large and fragmented
that they actually had to send salespeople flowcharts explaining which model out of dozens
would be suitable for which customer. As you can imagine, this business approach
failed miserably and helped push Apple to the brink of bankruptcy. It was then when, to his credit, Gil Amelio
decided to buy Next, a computer company Jobs had founded while away from Apple. It was a good decision not only because it
brought Steve Jobs back to Apple, but it provided the company with the foundations of a modern
operating system that they’d been trying, and failing, to develop for years. Now with Jobs back at Apple, the company was
reinvigorated with the same product philosophy that led them to success in the early days. Focus your best resources on a few great products. And their website during this period reflected
that mantra. It went from this in 1997, to this in 1998. The homepage changed from being wordy and
busy, to being simple and visually appealing. And again, Apple’s products reflected this
change as well. The iMac G3 was the most bold computer the
company had ever made. And it marked a new era of Apple that restored
their reputation of being a premium computer company with a focus on great design. The iMac went on to become the best-selling
product in Apple’s history at the time, and helped save the company from financial
ruin. This is the second time period that I call
platinum, since Apple’s website resembled the platinum user interface of Mac OS 9. And while we’re on the subject of websites,
I want to share some information about mine. If you guys haven’t noticed I do have a
website that directs visitors to my channel and social media accounts, and although it
isn’t full of content, it does have a very important purpose. It allowed me to buy the appleexplained.com
domain before anyone else, and therefore claim a custom email address, [email protected] And I was able to claim my domain name, build
my website, and create a custom email address all with the same service. And that’s Squarespace. I’ve been using Squarespace for over a year
now after switching between other services, and I’m really happy with what they have
to offer. Squarespace had the highest number of website
templates to choose from and they’re all optimized for mobile so I didn’t have to
do any extra work for that. And when I wanted to sell a merch product
I was able to add an e-commerce store to my site without starting from scratch. Plus the payment processor was built in and
I could print shipping labels straight from Squarespace as well. When I say it’s an all-in-one platform,
I really mean it. And you can get all this for cheaper than
you might think, especially if you use the link squarespace.com/appleexplained since
you’ll get 10% off your first purchase, you can find that link in the description. Now back to the iMac G3, which was just the
beginning for Apple, since Jobs had a plan to release three more products. A pro desktop, a pro notebook, and a consumer
notebook. By 1999 that goal had been achieved with the
Power Mac G4, PowerBook, and iBook. All of which featured a glossy design that
Apple eventually carried through to its new operating system, Mac OS X. In 2000, Apple debuted this new user interface
called Aqua, and applied it to their website the same year. This began what I call the Aqua era, and it
had a big influence on how the website looked and worked. Introducing a new tabbed toolbar with a pinstriped
background. Now Apple stuck with this design language
for about seven years until the aluminum era. That’s when many of their products began
transitioning from glossy plastic to matte aluminum, and Apple’s website did the same. Just look at how much aluminum Apple began
using in their products during this time. I actually remember a childhood friend of
mine saying “I can’t believe Apple made an aluminum iPod classic, that’s just wrong.” And many others echoed this sentiment, since
this transition to aluminum was the first major design language change Apple had experienced
since the glossy plastic days of the original iPod and iMac. As you can see the website toolbar changed
from a glossy aqua tabbed design, to a simpler gray layout that reflected the new designs
of their products. But something interesting happened next that
I still can’t fully explain. In 2011 Apple decided to modify the toolbar
to a glossy glass texture, rather than the matte finish. And while I’m not sure what prompted this
change, I do have some theories. It could be that glass touch screens were
becoming the focus of Apple’s product line with the addition of devices like the iPad
and touch screen iPod nano. But I think the more likely reason is that
Apple’s web designers were taking cues from the iOS interface, which featured glossy icons,
a glossy dock, and glossy menu buttons. After all, iOS was exploding in popularity
during this time, and I think Apple was capitalizing on this trend. Now the final era of Apple’s website, and
the one we’re currently in, is what I simply call Flat. It debuted in 2014 soon after iOS 7 was released,
and it took its design cues from that operating system. Which famously marked Apple’s transition
from a skeuomorphic UI, to a flat UI, which removed all the glossiness, reflections and
shadows that had defined the appearance of the iPhone’s operating system since its
introduction in 2007. And as you can imagine, it was a very controversial
move that many users disagreed with. But Apple pressed on and doubled down by updating
its website to the design we’re familiar with today. The toolbar became less of a bar and more
of a rectangle that stretched from one end of the browser window to the other. This actually marked the first time Apple
had a website that was truly responsive to window resizing and had an optimized appearance
on mobile. The photos featured on the homepage were full-width,
and the store interface was reorganized and simplified to featured product icons and banners,
rather than trying to fit every product onto a single page. But as I mentioned earlier in the video, Apple’s
website is indicative of the company as a whole, and I think it’s important to reflect
on where Apple is at today. Just like their website is more simplified
and focused than ever before, I think the same can be said for Apple’s product line. They discontinued products like the iPod shuffle,
nano, and classic, and even exited the internet router market by ending production of their
AirPort Express and AirPort Extreme. All in an effort to focus their resources
on products that have the biggest effect on their customers and business. They’ve also been very deliberate when entering
new product categories. Many people have been begging Apple to make
a game console for years, but they’ve refused, understanding that such a product wouldn’t
be conductive to their business goals. On the other hand, every new product category
that Apple has entered in the last five years has been largely successful, including the
Apple watch, AirPods, and HomePod. This hasn’t always been the case, since
there were products under Steve Jobs that failed to go anywhere at all, like the iPod
Hi-Fi. So with Apple’s website in the best shape
it’s ever been, I think the same can be said for the company itself. And I look forward to the new changes they
have in store for us in the near future. Alright guys thanks for watching and I’ll
see you next time.

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Comments

  1. Thanks, Gregg I really wanted to see the history of the Apple website and how it changed and adapted to their flagship products of the past. It's typical Apple & Steve Jobs on even how the materials influenced the OS and Website.

  2. You know something greg, I don't like apples tech, I don't like them as a company, and I Definitely don't like the prices,
    But I love this channel about them. And that says something

    (I love the channel!)

  3. Heat to the Wayback Machine at archive.org where versions of many web pages are preserved so you can see what Apple.com looked like in say 1997.

  4. Sorry I hate to break your bubble, but actually that first website of Apples you show in the early 1990s was in fact very ahead of its time and of the moment. They were using image maps with transparency and framesets which were very very new when they used them, they were actually cutting edge at the time.

  5. You want to explore Apple website in 2007 when iPhone was launched go to here and explore even in 1997 >> http://web.archive.org/web/20070714220421/http://www.apple.com/

  6. Most iPhone 7 promotional lines were actually hilarious for Cantonese speakers😂😂 which Apple had to create a special one for Hong Kong and Macau, to make it sounded less embarrassing😂

  7. The only thing I disagree with is where the company is today — out of ideas and heading to where everyone is going. Services constrained by Apples focus on their own devices will go nowhere.

  8. Pretty impressive video!

    I have been watching you for about 2 years and you are doing it better and better. Very short and informative. You can tell the most important information within 10 minutes.

  9. I have a great idea for a new video!
    why do only iPhones have the mute-switch? Why did no other company like Samsung or Huawei copy this thing? I always thought about it! Only iPhones have this very useful feature.
    Thank you if you respond! <3

  10. Good content and interesting video but the amount of ads in your videos grows out of space… Unfollowed you because of that

  11. 9:19 the Home Pod was NOT a success like the Watch and AirPods were, and their "AirPower" didn't even reach consumers.

  12. Oh My God! Looking at the modern and beautiful Apple website then those original ones. Wow, glad they have a design team to work in conjunction with their design philosophy as a whole. Those were terrible websites.
    Thank you Greg for this bit of history.

  13. Didn’t need to be a 10 minute video. Skipped through the adds and the unnecessary facts and info that I’ve heard in a number of your videos, disappointed honestly.

  14. I thought you would be discussing the history of the scrolling effects and overlays of their website. I think one of the first intricate web pages Apple made was for the Mac Pro.

  15. I just want to say thank you. I love your channel. Thank you for working so hard to make these videos for all us Apple fans.

  16. An interesting topic.

    I think you could have gone into a bit more detail about the typography, use of color and maybe how web technologies enabled better layouts.

    I disagree with you on a few points at the end about cutting down product lines and the success of different product lines.

    Apple’s product line hasn’t been this fragmented since the before the return of Jobs.
    They sell 6x different iPhones and 5x different iPads, 5x different watches – it’s confusing.

    HomePod has not been a runaway success.
    The iPod HiFi wasn’t a bad product- in fact it influenced the whole accessory market to make better iPod speakers and integrations.

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