The biggest running joke in tech circles is that Apple has been going out of business for 33 years. For decades, it was the remote outlier of the personal computing world, grabbing a miniscule share of the Microsoft-dominated market whenever it could.
Many of Apple's product releases have been met with derision from the tech journalism establishment. A lot of that ire was directed toward the Newton, the first commercially produced, writable tablet PC that turned out to be a critical and commercial bomb. Innovation can be costly, and in the minds of some journalists, Apple is always one (false) step away from bankruptcy.
One example of this rumor in action happened in 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone. Today, the iPhone is the most recognized name in smartphones. In 2007, though, critics dismissed Apples' new iPhone (and its price tag) as "nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks" [source: Lynn]. In the fourth quarter of 2008, several months into an economic recession in the U.S., Apple sold 4 million iPhones, representing an 88 percent increase over the same quarter a year before [source: Apple].
Critics have also long predicted that Apple will be pushed out of the computer hardware business, forced to focus instead on software or electronics. In 2006, forecasts said Apple would stop making Macintosh computers by 2010 [source: Siebold]. Those speculations, of course, proved false.
Meanwhile, Apple shipped 25 percent more Macintosh computers in May 2009 than it did one year before. By comparison, the personal computer market in general only increased shipments by one 1 percent over the same period [source: Gonsalves]. In 2009, Macs account for a solid 9 percent of the American PC market, compared to 6 percent only two years prior [source: Cheng].
Even Apple's toughest critics would have a hard time finding anything to criticize about those figures. The next item in our list, though, has some people keeping an eye on Apple no matter what the numbers look like.