In 1984, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started a business in a garage. This business went on to change the global dynamic of computers as it is known today. Apple Inc. all started because Jobs and Wozniak wanted the machines to be smaller, cheaper, intuitive, and accessible to everyday consumers, but more important, user-friendly. Over the past 30 years, Apple Inc. has transformed this simple idea into a multi-billion dollar industry that includes: laptops, desktops, tablets, music players, and so much more. The innovative style and hard-wired simplicity of Apple’s approach has proven to be a sustained leader for computer design.
After some successes and failures, Apple Inc. created one of the most revolutionary programs to date: iTunes. In 2001, Apple released the iPod – a portal music player. The iPod allowed consumers to place music files into the iPod for music “on the go”; however, instead of obtaining the music files from CD’s, you would obtain them online, via a proprietary website “iTunes”. iTunes media players systematically changed the way music is played and purchased. Consumers could now purchase digital copies of albums instead of “hardcopy” discs. This affordable way of purchasing music impacted the music industry in an enormous way. Its impact is unparalleled in terms of how the music industry profits off music sales and how new artists have been able to break through. The iTunes impact, however, reaches far beyond the music industry. Podcasts have impacted the way we can access educational material, for example. Music and media is easily accessible from anywhere in the world via iTunes.
While Macs and MacBooks are one of their most profitable items, the iPhone, created in 2007, really changed the industry. When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, it was so different from other devices because it was a music player, a phone, and an internet device all in one. With the iPhone’s touchscreen and other unique features, companies like Nokia and Blackberry were left in the dust which resulted in many companies changing their phone devices structural model to have similar features to the iPhone.
In 2010, Apple Inc. released a tablet known as the iPad. This multi-touch tablet features a camera, a music player, internet access, and applications. Additionally, the iPad has GPS functions, email, and video recording software. The iPad transformed the consumer image of having a laptop. Instead of carrying around a heavy laptop, consumers have the option of purchasing a light-weight tablet that has the same features as a laptop.
On top of these unique products, Apple Inc. utilizes the iOS operating system. iOS uses touch-based instructions such as: swipes, taps, and pinches. These various instructions provide specific definitions within the iOS operating system. Since its debut in 2007, iOS software has transformed the nature of phone technology. With its yearly updates, the iOS software has added more distinctive features from Siri to the Game Center.
Siri is a personal assistant and knowledge navigator that is integrated into the iOS software. Siri responds to spoken commands and allows the user to have constant hands-free phone access. With the sound of your voice and a touch of a button, Siri has full access to the user’s phone. Siri can perform tasks such as calling, texting, searching the web, finding directions, and answering general questions. With the latest iOS update in the Fall of 2013, Siri expanded its knowledge and is now able to support websites such as: Bing, Twitter, and Wikipedia. Additionally, Siri’s voice was upgraded to sound more man than machine.
Apple’s entry into the world of Big Data was late – but a link-up with IBM has helped a great deal in examining how users actually use their products. The Apple Watch, which made its debut in 2015, is able to gather data of a personal nature that lifts usage data to a new level. The success of the applications associated with the Apple Watch and the continuing development of data-gathering apps for the iPad and other Apple products has brought Apple at least in line with other corporations using Big Data as a source for consumer reflection information.
Apple Inc.’s advanced technology has transformed the computer industry and has made it one of the most coveted industries. In 2014, Apple Inc. is the world’s second-largest information technology company by revenue after Samsung and the world’s third-largest mobile phone maker after Samsung and Nokia. One of the ways Apple Inc. has become such an empire is with its retail stores. As of August 2014, Apple has 434 retail stores in 16 countries and an online store available in 43 countries. The Apple Store is a chain of retail stores owned and operated by Apple Inc., which deals with computers and other various consumer electronics. These Apple Stores sell items from iPhone, iPads, MacBooks, iPods, to third party accessories.
The access of third party applications to Apple hardware – though still relatively closely controlled – make it possible for Apple to utilize Big Data in ways not anticipated in early development of what was essentially a sealed system.
Since its origin, one of Apple Inc.’s goals was to make computer accessible to everyday people. Apple Inc. accomplished this goal by partnering with President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative. In June 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative, designed to enrich K-12 education for every student in America. ConnectED empowers teachers with the best technology and the training to make the most of it and empowers students through individualized learning and rich, digital content. President Obama’s mission is to prepare America’s students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete with other countries which rely increasingly on interactive, personalized learning experiences driven by new technology. President Obama states that fewer than 30% of America’s schools have the broadband they need to teach using today’s technology. However, under ConnectED, 99% of American students will have access to next-generation broadband by 2017. That connectivity will help transform the classroom experience for all students, regardless of income. President Obama has also directed the federal government to make better use of existing funds to get Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms, and into the hands of teachers trained on its advantages, and he called on businesses, states, districts, schools, and communities to support this vision, which requires no congressional action.
Furthermore, in 2011, Apple Inc. partnered with “Teach for American,” a program that trains recent graduates from some of America’s most prestigious universities to teach in the meanest and most dangerous schools throughout the nation and donated over 9000 first generation iPads to teachers that work in impoverished and dangerous schools. These donated iPads came from customers who donated to Apple’s public service program during the iPad 2 launch. These 9000 first generation iPads were distributed to teachers in 38 states.
In addition to President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, Apple Inc. has also provided students and educators with special discounts which enable these devices to be much more accessible and affordable. During the months of June to August, Apple Inc. bestows up to $200.00 in savings on specific Apple products such as MacBooks and iPads to students and educators. The only requirement to receive this discount is student identification or an educator’s identification. Once the proper verification is shown, students and educators receive the discount in addition to up to $100.00 in iTunes and/or App Store Credit.
Apple Inc. caters to students not only with these discounts but also with various other education resources. Some of these education resources include: iBooks and iTunes U. iBook is an online store through Apple Inc. that allows the user to purchase electronic books. These electronic books are linked to your account and allow you access wherever you may be with the device. iBooks include materials from novels, travel guides, and textbooks. iTunes U is program for professors that enables students to access course materials, track assignments, and organize notes. Additionally, students can create discussions posts for that specific class, add material from outside sources, and generate a more specialized course. iTunes U not only offers elements for courses but it also provides other education facets such as: interviews, journals, self-taught books, and more.
With the variety of products that consumers can buy through Apple, iCloud has proven to be a distinct source to store all users’ information. iCloud is cloud storage and computing service that was launched in 2011. iCloud allows users to store data such as music and other iOS applications on computer servers for download to multiple devices. Additionally, iCloud is a data syncing center for email, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, reminders, documents, photos and other data. As such, much of the data in a “macro” setting is available to developers as aggregated material. However, in order to use these functions, users must create an Apple ID. An Apple ID is the email you use as a login for every Apple function such as buying songs on iTunes and purchasing apps from the App Store. By choosing to use the same Apple ID, costumers have the ability to keep all their data in one location. When costumer set up their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, they can use the same Apple ID for iCloud services and purchases on the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store. On top of that, users can set up their credit card and billing information through the Apple ID. This Apple ID allows users to have full access to any purchases on the go through iCloud. How much data is shared by Apple through the cloud remains something of a mystery. While individual user information is unlikely to be available, Big Data – data at the aggregate level measuring consumer usage – almost certainly is.
iCloud allows users to back up the setting and date on any iOS devices. This date includes photos and videos, device settings, app data, messages, ringtones, and visual voicemails. These iCloud backups occur daily the minute one of the consumers’ iOS devices is connected to Wi-Fi and a power source. Additionally, iCloud backs up contact information, email accounts, and calendars. Once the data is backed up, customers will have all the same information on every single iOS device. For example, if a user has an iPad, an iPhone, and a MacBook and starts adding schedules to their iPhone calendar, the minute the backup begins, he or she will be able to access that same calendar with the new schedule on his or her iPad and MacBook. Again, Apple provides users with this unique connectivity by the use of an Apple ID and iCloud. When signing up for iCloud, users automatically get 5 gigabytes of free storage. In order to access more gigabytes, users can either go to their iCloud account to delete data or users can upgrade. When upgrading, users have three choices: a 10 gigabyte upgrade, a 20 gigabyte upgrade, and a 50 gigabyte upgrade. These three choices are priced at $20.00, $40.00, and $100.00, respectively. These storage upgrades are billed annually.
The last two unique features that iCloud provides is Find my iPhone and iCloud Keychain. Find my iPhone allows users to track the location of their iOS device or Mac. By accessing this feature, users can see the device’s approximate location on a map, display a message and/or play a sound on the device, change the password on the device, and remotely erase its contents. In recent upgrades, iOS 6 introduced Lost Mode, which is a new feature that allows users to mark a device as “lost,” making it easier to protect and find. The feature also allows someone that finds the user’s lost iPhone to call the user directly without unlocking it. This feature has proved to be useful in situations where devices are stolen. Since the release of this application in 2010, similar phone finders have become available for other “smart” phones.
The iCloud Keychain functions as a secure database that allows information including a user’s website login passwords, Wi-Fi network passwords, credit/debit card management, and other account data, to be securely stored for quick access and auto-fill on webpages and elsewhere when the user needs instant access to them. Once passwords are in the iCloud Keychain, they can be accessed on all devices connected to the Apple ID. Additionally, to view the running list of passwords, credit and debit card information, and other account data, the user must put in a separate password in order to see the list of secure data. iCloud also has a security function. If users enter an incorrect iCloud Security Code too many times when using iCloud Keychain, the users iCloud Keychain is disabled on that device, the keychain in the cloud is deleted, and the user will receive one of these alerts: “Security Code Incorrectly Entered Too Many Times. Approve this iPhone from one of your other devices using iCloud Keychain. If no devices are available, reset iCloud Keychain.” or “Your iCloud Security Code has been entered too many times. Approve this Mac from one of your other devices using iCloud Keychain. If no devices are available, reset iCloud Keychain.”
In 2013, Apple Inc. released its most innovative feature yet: Touch ID. Touch ID is a finger print scanner which doubles as a password protection on the iPhone 5 s, which is the latest version of the iPhone. The reason for making Touch ID is because more than 50% of users do not use a passcode: with Touch ID, creating and using a passcode is seamless. When accessing the iPhone 5S, users register every single finger into the system. By allowing this registration, users are able to unlock their iPhones with any finger. To unlock the iPhone, users simply place their finger on the home button; the Touch ID sensor reads the finger print and immediately unlocks the iPhone. Touch ID is not only for passwords but it also authorizes purchases onto your Apple ID such as: iTunes, iBooks, and the App store. On announcing this feature, Apple stated that Touch ID doesn’t store any images of your fingerprint. It stores only a mathematical representation of your fingerprint. The iPhone 5S also includes a new advanced security architecture called the Secure Enclave within the A7 chip, which was developed to protect passcode and fingerprint data, which means that the Fingerprint data is encrypted and protected with a key available only to the Secure Enclave. Therefore, your fingerprint is never accessed by iOS or other apps, never stored on Apple servers, and never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else.
As secure as Apple’s data likely is to outside investigators or hackers, it seems very likely that sampling at the Big Data level is constant.
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