Apple was responsible for the first colour graphics computer in the 70s, and over the past 40 years have become one of the world’s leading providers of consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. Today, Apple have not only revolutionised the way we work and spend our leisure time, but continue to generate positive impact through increased sustainable innovation and corporate philanthropy.

The Apple iTunes and iPod were our first INDEX: Award winners in the Play Category of 2005, chosen due to their innovative design, iconic value, and capacity to revolutionise the music industry. Looking back it’s hard to believe that the first version of the iPod was introduced almost 15 years ago.

In 2001, we were offered the exhilarating promise of “1,000 songs in your pocket” shifting the entire direction of portable audio. By 2005, Apple had unveiled the iTunes Music Store, the iPod Mini and the iPod Shuffle. During the year iTunes downloads topped half a billion songs, the iPod nano replaced the iPod mini – becoming the best selling music player ever – and most notably, Apple released the new fifth-generation iPod that played music, video and stored photos. While the new innovative capabilities and sleek design were prize-winning features alone, it was Apple’s ability to alleviate an enormous issue within the music industry that sealed them as INDEX: Award winners.

When online streaming service Napster was introduced in the 90s offering free, peer-to-peer music file sharing it caused major conflicts over intellectual property rights. For years artists and distributors engaged in a number of legal battles before eventually leading to the close down of Napster in 2002. Apple then promptly introduced the iTunes Music Store that offered a more mutually beneficial solution for artists, distributors, and users.

“…Apple created a completely new business model that resolved a decade-long battle between the music industry and the online file sharing community.” – INDEX: AWARD 2005

While over 10 years have past since the release of iTunes and the fifth-generation iPod, Apple have developed a plethora of innovative products that have become essential to our daily lives. However, the company now aims to improve lives beyond their consumers through unique methods of charitable giving, producing more eco-conscious product lines, and developing large-scale projects to help tackle climate change.

For many years Apple was criticised for a lack of corporate philanthropy, but since Apple CEO Tim Cook’s takeover in 2011, the company has introduced some large charitable initiatives that are making an enormous impact. Most notably, the programme to match full-time Apple employee donations, which has resulted in more than $78 million US raised for charities and non-profit groups all around the world.

Apple also recently introduced the Apple Global Volunteer Programme in a bid to stimulate more charity work among staff. Available for both retail and corporate employees, the programme will pay workers $25 US per hour when working as a volunteer.

In terms of sustainability, Apple has also emerged as a Silicon Valley front-runner by taking a number of enormous steps to reduce their environmental impact. They have partnered with The Conservation Fund to protect and create forests for their product packaging, developed a renewable micro‑hydro project to power their data centre in Oregon, and are building a massive solar farm in China to offset their energy use.

“Climate change affects us all. We’ve made a big impact in our own facilities, and now we’re tackling the global supply chain.
Lisa Jackson, VP of Environmental Initiatives.” – Apple.

Today, all of Apple product lines surpass all ENERGY STAR standards, and even through they are producing and shipping more products, their carbon emissions per product have been declining since 2011. In addition, 100% of Apple US operations and data centres currently run on renewable energy, and global operations are at 87%.

While there are many more steps that large companies should take in ensuring their designs not only improve life, but are sustainably sourced and responsibly manufactured. It’s inspiring to witness a shift in the mindset of major organisations, and we hope to see Apple continue using their prominent position in the design world to encourage sustainable, life-improving innovation.

Did you know that almost 80% of all INDEX: Award winners are still growing and making an enormous impact all around the world? Visit us again next week for another check-in of our INDEX: Award past winners to hear all the good news! Image: Apple.

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