In my early teenage years, when I was first getting familiar with the internet, it was hard to dispute that Microsoft and its user-friendly operating system, Windows, were the kings of the home computer world. Not only had it become largely affordable, but Windows had everything that consumers who were new to computers could hope for: browsing, email, games, word processing, instant messaging and many other functions.
Throughout the 1990's Microsoft held its ground as the dominant force in personal computer sales. In the late 90's and leading into the 2000's, though, Apple (who had been active throughout the same time period, but who were somewhat less successful) came back into power with the device that would come to be known as the iMac.
The iMac came as a breath of fresh air to many computer users; it not only had the same functionality as the average PC but it also had a unique shape and customizable colors. While those things didn't come into play on a functional level, they did provide consumers with enough incentive to start buying Mac products again and eventually helped Apple rise back into prominence.
More than 10 years later Apple is annually selling almost as many devices (including computers, iPads and iPhones) as cars worldwide. Unsurprisingly, they are also one of the most successful businesses in the world. The sum of their total sales in 2011 was an incredible $128 billion. To put it in perspective, their 2011 sales amounted to more than the GDP of 160 nations worldwide.
For more information on Apple's sales and growth refer to the infographic below. [Via]