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On September 9, 2014, Tim Cook held up a wallet and said, "Our ambition is to replace this." A bold statement to be sure-but we'd expect nothing less from Apple, #1 on the Best Global Brands list for the second year in a row. Referring to Apple Pay, a new mobile payments platform that enables consumers to pay for items with Apple devices, Cook signaled that Steve Jobs's 2001 vision of Apple becoming the "digital hub" of its consumers' lives (Macworld Expo 2001) has finally been fulfilled. 

In what CNNMoney.com called "one of the most ambitious product launches in its history," Apple unveiled not only Apple Pay, but also the long-anticipated Apple Watch, a wearable device that combines health and fitness monitoring with mobile computer capabilities, and launched two new iPhones that are faster and smarter than previous versions and feature larger screens. The iPhone 6 Plus, which embraces the larger-form factors, could pose a serious challenge to Samsung's GALAXY Note. Though iPhone sales were up prior to the new product launch, particularly in China where China Mobile is now signed as a carrier, the iPhone 6 Plus may further assist penetration in Asian markets where larger-screened devices are preferred. While, in North America, Apple has reached a truce over patents and market share with competitor Samsung (still #1 in smartphone-market sales volumes), more globally relevant offerings could help Apple capture new markets and take the lead in smartphone sales worldwide.

Not only is Apple using devices to broaden its penetration, it's also credibly extending into new spaces. With the unveiling of Apple Watch-reportedly more capable than any other smartwatch on the market, not least of all in terms of advanced health monitoring-Apple's future will rely heavily on its ability to partner effectively with healthcare companies. CarPlay, giving drivers access to their iPhone's best features in the car, has brought the brand into the automotive space. HomeKit, providing seamless integration between accessories, promises to make our homes smarter. Apple Pay certainly has the potential to become the most powerful payment platform around. And the brand's recent collaboration with IBM-to make big data and analytics more mobile and bring business apps to the iPhone and iPad-will strengthen its presence and reach in the enterprise space.

Clearly, Apple's ambitions are formidable, which is why it's been diligently acquiring the talent needed to achieve those ambitions. From hiring a TAG Heuer sales director and a Nike digital marketing director to Angela Ahrendts (former Burberry CEO), Paul Deneve (former Yves Saint Laurent CEO), and Jay Blahnik (Nike's FuelBand developer), all signs point to big things on the horizon.

Though the spotlight may remain on the new products for some time, the real breakthrough is the way all of Apple's products-and thousands more from other developers, manufacturers, and services-now work together.  As Wired put it, the new Apple ecosystem has turned our world into one "huge ubiquitous computer...all around us, all the time." From taking your pulse and making purchases to controlling devices in your home, Apple's supreme goal is to make everything in your life work better. With sensors everywhere and the brand's consumer interactions deepening every day, it's safe to say that Apple is not only "back," but also boldly paving the way to the Age of You. 



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