Full Article at brandchannel.com Readers Pick Apple in 2004 by Robin D. Rusch [31-Jan-2005] Global: Apple bites big After a two-year hiatus Apple has returned to win the 2004 Readers Choice Awards for the brand with the most global impacta title held by Google since 2002. Its hard to imagine a brand having a shinier year than Apple. Notably punctuated with iMacs, iPods and iTunes, Apples 2004 presence was felt in the press, in ads and on the streets, with iPod coming to define the word ubiquitous. Coupled with strong revenue, Apple reported a net profit of US$ 295 million in the last quarter of 2004 alone and a 2004 overall net income growth of 300 percent. Yes, 300 percent. At Apples core is great innovation, beautiful design and an ability to bring warmth and passion to those who may be completely incurious about technical gadgetry but need it nonetheless to survive in todays world. From U2 to You too?, the iPod alone sold 4.6 million units in the last quarter, practically doubling sales since its launch. (There are now about 10 million pod-addicts on the planet.) Meanwhile, iMac sales tripled as Apples overall computer sales rose by 26 percent over 2003 sales. Music division iTunes became the blueprint for Napster-alternative online music sales. And swanky retail outlets gave Apple enthusiasts a chance to worship or interact directly with the company as well as each other. However, Apples cultural symbolism was not economically symbiotic. Its worldwide computer market share dropped to less than two percent in 2004 to a 1.87 percent share in Q3 of 2004 (down from 2.19% in Q3 2003). The 2004 world leader for market share was Dell at 18 percent, followed by HP at 16 percent and IBM with 6 percent. The small white hope is that iPods halo effect will bring more buyers to Apples other offerings, which go beyond consumer goods to include servers, WiFi, and software, and include the already-backordered new iPod Shuffle and a sub-US$ 500 Mac. US & Canada: Jobs well done Apple is the winner in the 2004 Readers Choice Award for the US & Canada for the second straight year. Target falls to third as Google creeps up to place second. The perpetual underdog, with less than two percent of the world market, Apple has what John Schwartz in the New York Times aptly described as the attitude of an artist and the eye of an anthropologist (16 January 2005). The companys ability to delight the user in a bland land of equipment and software makes it easy to see why it impacts those of us who spend our days in the 21st century. However, less savvy consumers contribute to the actual sales dominance of mainstream competitors, particularly in the computer division. Apple Computer ranks sixth in the US with just 3.33 percent of the market (Dell leads at 33%, followed by HP at 20% and Gateway at 5.23%). Undaunted by the competition, Apples dizzying pace of inventing new toys looks set to continue in 2005. The Shuffle and Mac mini were both unveiled in January of 2005. (2,000 Shuffle units sold within four hours of revealing the iPoddler.) Continuing to reflect global results, Google pulls up behind Apple at second place.