The past few years of social turmoil have brought to the fore once again just how unequal society is these days, and not just in the United States. For example, the disparity between Corporate CEOs and their employees is greater than ever, giving rise to the phrases “the 99-percent” and “the one percenters” to describe the gulf between rich and poor.
In an interesting but somewhat accurate way we can describe Apple and the company’s products as the tools of the 1-percent, for the 99-percent. Alright, the percentages are wrong, but the exact amount is less important than the actual differences between the privileged and less privileged. 1-percenters may own 40-percent of the country’s wealth, half the country’s stocks, bonds, and funds, and 25-percent of national income, but, the 99-percent buy enough goods and products to make the 1-percenters what they are. Similarly, Apple owns a disproportionate percentage of the profits for PCs, smartphones, and tablets.
Does that not make Apple’s products tools of the 1-percenters, and tools for the 99-percenters?
Again, the percentages are not accurate, but the disparity is and it remains. For example, the Mac accounts for about half the entire personal computer industry’s annual profits, on barely 15-percent of total PC sales. Likewise, Apple’s iPhone and iPad collectively account for over 75-percent of the smartphone and tablet industry’s profits, on barely 15-percent of total units sold.
In any given category, Apple’s product lines are usually the most expensive (hence, the most profitable), and are easily distinguished and differentiated from competing brands. What is unique in this situation, though, is that Apple’s products are not used only by the 1-percent of society with the most assets. Apple’s products may be the premium brands in each segment, but they’ve become affordable luxuries for many of those in the 99-percent.
That means Apple itself is a member of the 1-percent segment of industrial society, while Apple’s customers are made up of both the well-to-do 1-percenters, and sprinkled throughout the 99-percent, too, because, the company’s products are affordable luxuries.
When in history has such a similar event occurred where the richest and most powerful company provided goods and services which benefited the masses most? The list may read as a who’s-who of industry titans from oil to banking to automobiles. Apple’s ability to design, manufacture, and sell premium products at premium prices for premium profits to both 1-percenters and enough of the 99-percenters to garner the lion’s share of industry profits is not unique in history, but few technology companies today are in a similar position.