As Apple — the most valuable company in the (known) universe — reports a dip in revenue for the first time in 13 years, we take a look at the way the world was back in 2003, the last time the tech trailblazers posted an earnings decline.
2003 was a year to remember: Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. special forces, Senator Hillary Clinton released her memoirs, Kate Middleton started dating Prince William, and Illinois State Senator Barack Obama was mistaken for a waiter.
Apple was changing the music industry
This was also the year Steve Jobs launched iTunes, after spending 12 months negotiating with record labels to strike a deal. The store quickly became the world’s largest (legal) music retailer. Apple also introduced its third-generation iPod, the fastest-selling music player in history, snatching up 86 percent of the mp3 market share and selling a total of two million iPods by year end.
Elsewhere on the tech front, 2003 was the year that camera phones outstripped DVD players as the hot tech must-have. Gym owners and corporate suits started to ban cell phones from the workplace due to privacy concerns, but, “Like it or not, these hot new gadgets are here to stay,” said Time in 2003. It was a fairly accurate prediction: Today’s cellphone sales stand at 2.9 billion, expected to reach 6.1 billion globally by 2020.
America embraced 'freedom fries' and popcorn
On the food front, Americans on the South Beach diet were fighting fat with roasted garbanzos and chilled custard, Starbucks was toying with soy milk, the USDA decreed that French fries count as fresh vegetables, and Illinois made popcorn its official state snack. And how did we manage without microwaveable cups of Campbell’s soup or individually packaged Pringles pods?
What was up with those trucker hats?
The fashion world was entranced in 2003 by trucker hats, velour suits, ironic mullets — and the fish skin bikini, touted as the new best thing: lightweight, naturally elastic, eco-friendly, and “with no fishy smell.” And only $335. It was also the year Lara Flynn Boyle wore a ballet costume to the Golden Globes, Britney Spears dated Colin Farrell, and Bennifer happened.
The word of the year in 2003 was “metrosexual,” which referred to an attractive and meticulously groomed young man with refined taste in clothing and expansive knowledge of skincare products and spa hours. So, Ryan Seacrest.
President Bartlet was in the Oval Office
2003 was also the year Ruben Studdard beat out Clay Aiken to win the second season of American Idol, Tyra Banks introduced her “America’s Top Model” reality show, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” helped non-metrosexuals transform into dazzling peacocks, and everyone was watching the West Wing. It also saw the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson’s Creek, and Just Shoot Me!
Technology can be tricky
It was also the year that George W. Bush had an unfortunate fail with his high-tech scooter. He admitted later that he had forgotten to turn it on, which prevented the Segway's stabilizers from autobalancing.
Everything old is new again
In the “plus ça change” category: Britain voted not to adopt the euro, Venezuela was in the middle of a crippling strike, Connecticut won the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, and Motorola introduced a pair of sunglasses with a tiny camera that displayed online content on the inside lens. (Sound familiar?)