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170,276 $m

“If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will,” Steve Jobs once notably remarked. In the past year, Apple has again held true to this belief, as it continues to outdo its existing products and launch all-new ones. The Apple ecosystem expanded exponentially throughout 2015, along with its customer-centric focus, as reflected by a 43 percent rise in brand value this year.

Apple’s ambition to be a part of all facets of people’s lives has left few industries untouched—it’s created a huge ecosystem that keeps players big and small vying for access. Apple continues to cultivate partnerships—particularly in the auto industry, for example, with its connected CarPlay system—while staying ahead of the pack. Its next (literal) big thing is Project Titan: a fully connected electric car, rumored for release in 2019.

The company doesn’t rest on its laurels when it comes to new products and innovation—its proved prolific with a list of releases that include Apple Proactive, Apple Pay, Home app, iOS9, OS X El Capitan, Apple Watch, Live TV, 3D Touch, iPhone financing, and Apple Music. The new tvOS iteration of Apple TV stands to change how people consume content, and Apple is exploring the possibility of creating original programming. Its personal assistant, Siri—which continues to rival Facebook’s M and Microsoft’s Cortana—is about to acquire a sixth sense: Apple Proactive will deliver super-personalized services, tailored to users’ daily lives.

Apple’s relentless focus on the user is embedded in its very core, while the brand’s design sensibility runs across every touchpoint. People have become central to much of its marketing, as Apple weaves its products into users’ personal stories, exemplified by Apple Music’s “Instant Boyfriend Mixtape” commercial spot that aired during the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards. In its recent iPhone spots, “Loved” and “Hardware & Software,” Apple speaks directly about the merits of its product and its benefits to the user, claiming “If it’s not an iPhone, it’s not an iPhone.” Apple Stores will be getting a radical overhaul under the direction of Chief Design Officer Sir Jonathan Ive.

Apple also strives to make people feel more secure. Its seamless mobile shopping service, Apple Pay, features biometric thumbprint technology that offers several layers of security beyond a credit card. The brand is also prioritizing users’ privacy as it innovates: Apple Proactive, for example, gathers data from the phone itself, rather than the cloud.

What keeps Apple so far ahead of its rivals—and perhaps poised to become the world’s first trillion-dollar brand—is its instinct to constantly renew and challenge convention. Apple understands what it takes to accelerate to the top—and keep its number one spot.

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