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Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management Name: Course: College: Tutor: Date: Apple Inc.

Analysis & Strategic Management Introduction Strategic management is the process by which an organization drafts, implements and evaluates cross-functional decisions that enable the organization to achieve its long-term objectives. It entails the process of specifying the mission of the organization, its vision, objectives and the development of the various strategies to achieve the objectives of the organization. Apple Inc. (Apple) has managed to create substantial value in the highly

competitive personal computer industry, by innovating and forging a path considerably different from those of the largest competitors in the industry. The corporation also successfully differentiates its products from those of the competitors by choosing to focus on quality, design elegance, and superior customer service, while outsourcing actual manufacturing to trusted original equipment manufacturers. Yet, despite the advantages, Apple has created for itself, the stiff competition within the industry and other external factors present formidable challenges to the firm. The personal computer/notebook market is becoming increasingly commoditized, leading to intense rivalry among competitors within the industry, driving prices down and creating potentially destructive price wars (Buy, 2009). Utilizing key resources and capabilities including industry-leading design teams, talented software and hardware engineers, backed by a sizeable research and development budget, which is responsible for a portfolio of thousands of

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management patents, and under the strategically brilliant stewardship of CEO Steve Jobs, Apple has successfully innovated its way to a comfortable market position commanding premium prices. Unfortunately, Apple cannot rest on its laurels. The position is not permanent and Apple must continually find new ways to maintain profits and create value for customers and shareholders. The maturing personal computer market is becoming saturated, leaving fewer new buyers and more replacement buyers. To continue to grow, Apple must also look to new and expanding markets as sources of revenue (Jade, 2006). After considering Apples strategic war, Apples core competencies, key resources, and

capabilities and given its current situation within the industry and the compounding factors in the form of trends from the general environment, it is clear Apple stands to create considerable value through continued related diversification. The firms history of category-defining products like the iPod and iPhone and now the ipad provide sufficient evidence that it is well equipped to continue its path of innovation, by creating a digital lifestyle convergence devices that bridge users on their digital lives. The proposed device will be powerful and feature packed, while leveraging the Apple system of seamless integration to create a compelling user experience, presented in an elegant package showcasing the firms industry-leading industrial design capabilities, to create the next must-have consumer electronics product. Study objectives This study focuses on the strategic management of Apple Inc. This involves the analysis of apples strategies; the corporation operates in portable personal computer industry as well as mobile phones and software. The company sells its products internationally through a mix of direct sales, online and retail stores as well as wholesale and retail sales. The company pursues a

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management differentiation strategy that is broad. This study will evaluate its strategies that have lead to its success in market leadership. Company and industry background Apple Inc. This multinational corporation operates in the U.S. the company designs and manufactures computer electronics, computer software and personal computers. Some of the manufactured products of the company include Macintosh computers, ipod, iphones, Mac OS X operating system among many other products. The company was established in 1976 in California. The company changed its name form Apple computer Inc. in 2007 to Apple Inc. to reflect the growth and expansion undergone by the company in the electronics industry. The company focused traditionally on personal computers. The company has employees of about 37,000, both permanent and temporary. The employee turnover in the company is about 20%.

Apple Inc. has a very good reputation established over time in conjunction with its philosophy of comprehensive aesthetic design. The good reputation has led to increased loyal customers of the company who are devoted to the brand of the company. In 2008, Apple Inc. was named by fortune magazine as the most admired company in the U.S. Companys vision: Man is the creator of change in this world. As such, he should be above systems and structures, and not subordinate to them. Mission: Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and internet offerings. The industry profile

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management We can glean Insight into the history and composition of the PC Industry from its

eponymous title. In the late 1970s, as Wozniak and Jobs were starting Apple computer, personal computers were an emerging product. The industry is comprised of many players. By 1983, the market share of the Apple II fell to 8% while the PC had 26%. Market share of Macintosh peaked at slightly more than 10% in the early 1990s and has since tapered to between 2-3%. The IBM PC and its clones became the standard due to the success of the open nature of the PC. This allows product developers to offer vastly more products for the platform (Apple Inc. 2010). Some argue that not licensing the Mac OS was a mistake. Bill Gates and Microsoft were encouraging Apple to license their OS in the early 1980s, because they were developing software for Apple and had much riding on the success of the company. When Apple did not license, Microsoft began developing their operating system, Windows. (Apple Inc. 2010c). Apple Corporation also operates in the music industry. The company enjoys a dominant market share in the music industry though competition is tough. According to Jade (2006), though digital music sales are growing rapidly, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) states that digital sales of all music are still low. Deutschman (2000) notes that Apples sales in the music industry amount to between 66% and 75% of downloads and 80% of music players (Apple, 2005). Apple is part to a suit alleging monopolistic practices concerning their market share dominance of players and downloads (Apple Inc. 2010b) The other players in the download market are (the revised) Napster, Yahoo Music, Rhapsody, and illegitimate file-sharing services among others. Portable music players competing with the iPod include those made by Creative, Samsung, iRiver, and Sony. A major point of contention between these services and player manufacturers is the control of a variety of incompatible Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes.

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management Strategic moves and competitive moves The portable personal computer industry has many viable and successful competitors who, for the most part, offer similar products. While considering cost alone, several groups

generally define the industry competition. Firms compete in groups at the low-end, middle range, upper-middle range, and high-end. Within these competitive groups price typically equates to number of features or capability (Apple Inc. 2006). the highest-end firms offer specialized products with certain consumer groups in mind. These firms compete based on what the computer is designed to be used for, while firms at the lower end of the price spectrum compete essentially on price-value. See Appendix A2 for accompanying template. According to Apple Inc. (2010b), firms that command the highest prices for their products in the industry opt for elegant (Apple) or intricate (Alienware) designs, while firms competing on low price offer basic functional designs (eMachines) to keep costs down (Apple Inc. 2009b). This paradigm remains true when considering building the quality and support as metrics as well. Apple offers portable computers constructed of solid aluminum blocks and strong polycarbonate plastics.8 Voodoo PC use sturdy well- designed computer cases with intelligent and efficient internal cable routing layouts to promote airflow and keep the computer running well. Other firms offering mid-range and low-end computers opt for more inexpensive plastics and materials while paying less attention to internal layout details. The comparisons of Price to Design and Design to Build Quality show similar relationships. Support is the final toplevel extrinsic measures by which firms in the industry compete. The two extremes of high-price and low-price reveal similar support policies. Firms commanding the highest prices offer comprehensive support packages. Apple offers in-store one-on-one support to all customers and further warranty support (Apple Inc. 2010).

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management On the contrary, firms that emphasize customization on customers do offer computers that are built for high-performance applications, such as gaming. Customization of computers is driven by gaming in addition to specifications and appearances. Harps (2009) notes that competition in the computing industry have been shaped on the basis of gaming and customization. Effective competition in the industry requires use of certain strategies that include differentiation of products, innovation, research and development and increased networking. On differentiation, Apple has successfully developed a differentiated lifestyle brand and must continue to build on this foundation while resisting pressure to move to the middle to directly compete with Dell and HP. The corporation has increased its innovation leading to the company

continue its market leadership in design. Moreover, innovation on user interfaces must continue if the company wants to set apart Mac computers from other PCs with more focus on easy to use. Networking strategies should involve the establishment of more points of sale with more retail outlets. Apples strategic resources According to Dhaliwal (2009), the CEO of Apple (Steve jobs), and the integrated system of hardware and software that the firm has developed and successfully marketed to derive value form the most important strategic resources of Apple. The CEO of the company brought Apple back to tremendous success following a decline in relevance and he heads the continued creation of value in the corporation. While Apples designers, programmers, and engineers each represent key resources, the ability of the firm to exploit their abilities to create their entire software/hardware ecosystem is the firms key capability. Taken each individually, the resources only represent competitive parities and temporary advantages. The combination is their key

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management capability that has established a sustainable and ongoing competitive advantage and above average performance within the industry (Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, 2009). Retail stores: the corporation introduced retail stores providing the company with an

important physical presence to act as both a sales location and an advertisement. The stores allow Apple to tightly control the image of the brand and provide excellent customer service. The corporation is a top retailer in in-store sales. This resource is of incredible value to Apple and a success that is a relative rarity in the industry. Matching success and impact like the Apple store model is difficult for other firms to achieve (Useem, 2007). Past experiments like Gateway stores have failed, while Sony Style stores founder in mediocrity. Networks and relationships: Apple has good relation with OEM partners. This has enabled the company to outsource its manufacturing processes to OEM partners in china such as Foxconn and Hon Hai precision industry. The close relationship that the corporation enjoys with OEM partners ensures that the corporation produces high quality products. Industrial design capability of Apple Inc. is another strategic resource to the corporation that is a function of the innovation capability of the company. The ability of the company to design and innovate is valuable to the company. Teamwork is included in the orgai8nizational culture of the corporation forming another strategic resource to the company. The software developers of Apple are carefully selected and talented programmers. Lastly, tailored hardware and software form the companys competitive advantage. According to Huzefa, Deepti, & Harmanjeet, (2009), one of the most important ability of the company to develop and build highly integrative systems with software designed specifically for the hardware it runs on. Since the industry relies on third party software, the system style of Apple is unique since it is a result of hardware engineer, design team and software developers.

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management In order to sustain the continued performance of the corporation, the management needs to continue the expansion of the Apple stores, emphasize on the integrated system in advertisements and seek exclusivity arrangements with OEM partners in china. These strategic management strategies will enable Apple Corporation to not only maintain its market

dominance, market share and leadership, but it will ensure that the corporation continues to grow and expand further (Masi, 2009). Market analysis Brand Awareness Apples products are trendy and stylish. After Jobs returned in 1997, Apple retained designer Jonathan Ive to differentiate their computers from the typical beige box. Ives design of the iMac included clear colorful cases that distinguished Apple computers. (Huzefa, Deepti, & Harmanjeet, 2009) Apples iPod (with the trademark white ear buds and simple track wheel) commands a 15%-20% premium over other MP3 players. Apple and Pixar limit the number of computer products and movies that they sell. Product differentiation with focused quality and style also extend to the Jobs Pixar Pixar's executives focus on making sure there are no B teams, that every movie gets the best efforts of Pixar's brainy staff of animators, storytellers, and technologists. (Burrows, Grover, and Green). Apple positions its Macintosh computers as higher quality and higher price. HP, Dell, and other PC manufacturers are pricing many systems under the $1,000 threshold. Apple is struggling to meet demand for its new MacBook Pro laptop despite a $1,900 price tag that is nearly twice that of garden-variety rivals (Apple, 2005). Apple has only recently entered the low-end (below $500) consumer market with the Mac Mini. Although the Mac Mini is a base model with few features, it comes encased in a very

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management small and distinctive package. Apple portrays this computer as Small is Beautiful. (Apple) Likewise, the iPod Shuffle was Apples first entry into the lower-end ($100 range) of flashmemory-based portable music players. Market environment analysis Economic environment: The U.S. economy has shown some improvement and there are signs of full recovery looming the outlook is not certain currently. The uncertainty leaves consumers weary of big-ticket purchases like computers. The premium pricing of Apple leaves the firm at a disadvantage to less expensive competing products. However, when consumers directly feel the improving economy and spending increases Apple will be well positioned to better its performance. Consumers seeking to treat themselves following the economic upturn

may be attracted to Apples premium portables, viewing them as luxury goods. Apple, known for its quality, dependable machines, and excellent customer service may also be seen as presenting a better value than the competitors with fewer frills present at lesser prices. Demographic Environment: the American middle class has experienced increasing costs across many indicators including, healthcare costs and the CPI Over the past several years with wages remaining relatively constant. Apples high prices may send potential customers into the hands of competitors when they are unable to justify Apples high price tags. Counter-intuitively Apples perceived value has directly benefited them during the economic downturn since they continued to experience growth while other competitors suffered (Farrell, 2009). In the technological Environment, there is a possibility that ordinary personal computers will become less relevant through increased device convergence. The laptops of Apples will be less important in daily use of its customers as their multi-function devices meet most of their needs. The corporation currently stands out as a leader in innovation and portable technology.

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management


They are conveniently positioned to become a market leader in convergence devices by iterating on their current portable devices and mobile devices like the iPod Touch and iPhone and the ipad. Additionally, there is an increasing concern to innovate due to reduced life cycles of products that could result in missed opportunities due to market entry times and losses on obsolete inventory. Apple uses lean manufacturing to combat the threat of inventory obsolescence (Apple Inc. 2009a). The Chinese economy is growing. This creates another important opportunity for apple to market its products. As the economy becomes more developed, increased wages nationwide will increase the costs of production for Apple and its OEM partners. The increase in quality of life and disposable income to Chinese citizens will provide a larger customer base for Apple to tap into (Huzefa, Deepti, & Harmanjeet, 2009). SWOT Analysis for Apple Inc. Strengths

Technical savvy Product lines are easy to use and stable. Recent integration with Microsoft products lines and Intel processors demonstrate ability and willingness to adapt to a diverse customer base. (Mossberg) Such innovation, however, would not be sustainable without a learning environment tolerant of mistakes. While the pure technical expertise alone is not a valuable or rare resource, it becomes very costly to imitate when it exists within the socially complex, entrepreneurial culture of Apple.

Financial vitality Cash reserves remained robust and stable despite stagnant market share growth in the computer hardware and software arenas. Apple exploited this by resisting market pressures to reduce costs, tightly integrating product packages, and

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management


forming strategic alliances (i.e. securing the backing of all major music distributors in the support of iTunes).

Brand loyalty The only way that Apple could maintain the financial vitality described above is via a fanatical, almost cult-like, affair with its customer base. Such brand loyalty is extremely costly and time-consuming to imitate.

Steve Jobs Jobs proved to be a vital component to Apples success. During his absence (1985-1996), Apple experienced the most turbulent (financial and innovative) timeline in its history. Immediately upon his return, he replaced most of the Board of Directors, pruned and focused the new product ideas, and delivered seven consecutive quarters of positive earnings to shareholders. (Farrell, 2009) As such, Jobs is certainly a valuable, rare, and hard to imitate resource that Apple fully exploits.


Market share Apple has historically been strongest in the US geographical and educational vertical markets. With the educational market facing tightening budget constraints and the US approaching a PC saturation point, Apple may need to burn cash more quickly and succumb to market cost pressures on its products without a strategic innovation, integration, or divesture (Apple Inc. 2009).

Steve Jobs For virtually the same reasons Jobs is a strength, he is simultaneously a weakness. The aggressive drive to bring innovative visions to life was noticeably absent and painfully felt (especially by shareholders) during his departure. The apparent absence of succession planning coupled with a lust for the limelight positioned Jobs as Apples single consciousness in the eyes of consumers and shareholders.


Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management


Consumer electronics With the startling success of the iPod and iTunes, Apple entered the consumer electronics market. By expanding the iTunes concept to downloadable mobile phone features and movies (podcasts), the door is now open to develop new and potentially profitable strategic alliances with peripheral component manufacturers (speaker, home stereo, etc.) and media transmission giants (Disney, TBS, Verizon, etc.).

PC hardware and software market growth With cross licensing of operating system platforms in place, Apple entered the high-volume business environment traditionally dominated by Windows-based PCs. The introduction of Intel-based processors prompted businesses to replace PCs with iMacs. They did this to gain a level of stability and reliability in their business applications that PCs failed to provide. An example is Japans Aozora Bank Ltd., who is replacing 2,300 PCs with iMacs. (Farrell, 2009) Apple must establish themselves as a credible player in business desktop applications to overcome the desktop publishing stereotype.

Threats Legal risks In a market that literally changes at the speed of thought, patent and copyright infringement risks remain high. As long as operating systems and support software packages continue to converge and remain relatively easy to imitate, present and future lawsuits are inevitable. The Apple records claim against iTunes remains unresolved.

Competition This threat occurs primarily on two fronts: PC hardware/software and consumer electronics. For the same reasons discussed in the opportunities section, the threat of being imitated (cloning, pirating, etc.) increases. As relative newcomers to the

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management consumer electronics arena, will Apple retain a competitive advantage as they diversify their offerings (speakers, home entertainment systems, etc.)? Data analysis and strategic plans Create a differentiation strategy: The commodity PC market presents a perpetual


downward pressure on prices, which erodes firm profitability. Developing and brand image that separates the firm from the competitive rat race will reduce the effect of destructive competition and lagging margins. Therefore creating a differentiation strategy will lead to better performance of the corporation and maintaining marker leadership. Develop close relationships with suppliers is another important strategy for Apple. This is because there are few suppliers of key components required in PC manufacturing and developing close relationships with suppliers is of utmost importance. Rather than searching for the supplier of lowest cost, maintaining a collaborative and exclusive business relationship will help mitigate the power of suppliers and help to lock in attractive component prices. Lastly, Apple should diversify further in consumer electronics. While the PC market has grown increasingly crowded with competitors and customers saturated other areas of consumer electronics continue to grow. Developing complementary products in other categories provides broader sources of revenue by accessing more customers in markets with less intense competition. Relevant ratios The organization has excellent Management team that has steered innovation and development of new products in the corporation. The good organizational culture has seen the company grow and therefore increase its outlet stores. The new stores conduct many activities and events. According to Jade (2006), the employee turnover for the company stands at 20% annually as compared to the 50% of the retail industry. Additionally, the corporation stores has a

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management high customer turnover that ensures that the corporation outsells its neighboring stores such as Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn and Sharper image (Jade, 2006).


Financial ratios are very important to the organization. The gross profit margin is 40.8% while the net profit margin is 21.4%. From these figures, we learn that Apple is in a very good position in the industry that enables the company to earn profit even when its competitors are struggling with the effects of the financial crisis. The return on equity ratio is 26% meaning that the corporation realizes high return on capital at the given rate. The assets of Apple generate revenue at the rate of 17.3%, which is the companys return on assets. Concerning efficiency ratios, the company has a cash conversion cycle of 35, an average collection period of 28 days and the days inventory turnover ratio of 7 days. The gearing or debt ration is zero meaning tat the corporation has no debts (Advn, 2010). Geographic choice and Cluster theory of location Apple is based in Cupertino, California. However, its products are sold worldwide though a it has a strong market share in the U.S. the choice of the location is related to the cluster theory of location. According to this theory, firms locate in places where there other firms forming a cluster. The local concentration of firms lead to specialized activities that lead to external economies. Some of the external economies include ready availability of skilled labor, growth of supporting and ancillary trade and specialization. According to Jordan (2009), the level of external activities depend on the size of the industry, region or economy. Apple chose its location strategically due to eth clustering and agglomeration of firms in the place. The clustering of firms in that place led to externalities that include side effects or spillovers that do not reflect the cost of the organization.

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management


According to Masi (2009), externalities result from economies or cost reductions that are possible if several firms locate near to each other (Evans, 1985). Apple was able to reduce its searching costs and price comparisons initially. The corporation also located in the cluster in order to gain a close proximity of its customers concentration. Apple (2010a) argues that agglomeration externalities are the key forces behind clustering. Organizational culture Apple has a very strong management team that is headed by its CEO and founder Steve Jobs. Through its management, the corporation has a strong team that ensures that the organizational culture is maintained. The team ensures redesigned packaging for many of its popular products to be more lightweight and take up less space in shipment. This means reduced emissions during transportation and results in a savings for the firm. Apple has also made moves to reduce the number of harmful chemicals used in the production of its products. The Human Resources Management culture follows selective hiring practices to recruit and hire talented individuals. The company offers a variety of attractive employee benefits to complement direct wages. The benefits system is used to entice, and retain industry-leading talent to benefit Apple. The culture of the organization also involves innovation. The organization sets aside substantial amount of funds every financial year to steers innovation. According to Masi (2009), the amount set aside for innovation was increased by 66% in 2009 with the corporation spending about $1.33 billion on research and development. Apple works closely with its key suppliers to benefit all parties involved. Additionally, the organization has been able to increase the number of outlet stores for the distribution of the products of the organization. In this regard, the corporation should involve the following strategies to maintain a high operational culture and market dominance:

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management


Implement first-party quality checks in OEM factories: Despite working closely with OEM partners, Apple must always protect its image of quality. Implementing random quality check sampling and quality audits in OEM facilities will ensure issues are caught early and that Apples OEM partners stay honest with their own quality control processes.

Make productive use of unused cash: While having a large cash buffer is important to Apple, idle cash is not being used effectively. During the yearly capital budgeting process, Apple should set aside a sizeable portion of unused cash for investment. Unused cash does not create value for Apple, investing it in the near-term will provide benefits in the future to finance expansion and large capital purchases.

Continue a wise expansion of Apple Stores: Apples retail stores have been massively successful, that success can be furthered in new locations within the United States and abroad. During the expansion process, Apple must practice extreme caution to avoid over-saturation, the Starbucks effect, to retain the halo surrounding the stores and maintain their status as a destination. Global warming impacts The corporation operates in a highly competitive industry. The impact of the companys

productive activities in a bid to increase its competitiveness on the environment should be minimized. Apple redesigned packaging for many of its popular products to be more lightweight and take up less space in shipment. This means reduced emissions during transportation and results in a savings for the firm. Apple has also made moves to reduce the number of harmful chemicals used in the production of its products (Enderle, 2004). This is in line with its commitments to greener manufacturing practices. The company outsources its products and

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management resources from OEM partners in China. The corporation should ensure that its outsourced products are environment friendly. Despite the company having various initiatives concerning environmental sustainability, there is a need to increase the development of environmental sustainability strategies.


To increase its environmental sustainability efforts, Apple should Partner with Samsung to Benefit Children and Environmental Education. As a smaller, yet important initiative, Apple should partner with Samsung to further the San Francisco Bay Area electronics recycling and environmental education program while working to directly benefit children of local public schools by improving the school lunch program and providing better technology to enhance learning (Freedman & Vohr, 1998). Strategic Implementation Based on analysis of Apples practices, policies, and procedures the firms strategy for its portable personal computer business is one of broad differentiation targeting a range of customers from sophisticated power users to inexperienced new users and from individual buyers to bulk purchasers like schools and businesses. The firm differentiates on exceptional design, consistent quality, and outstanding customer service. The real evidence of Apples strategy reveals that their commitments are directly in line with their stated goals and strategy. Apples goal is to provide customers with the best personal computing experience by offering products with superior ease-of-use, seamless integration, and innovative industrial design and a highquality sales and post-sales support experience. Recommendations and conclusion Given the external environment and socio-cultural and technological trends and Apples unique strengths including the firms resources and capabilities, including unmatched industrial

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management design teams, talented device engineers, patents and innovation dealing with user interface and


usability a logical next step for Apple is to develop a market defining convergence device, likely a tablet. The firm should leverage its close OEM partnerships and internal knack for design and usability to develop an innovative device that fits into Apples unique system of seamlessly integrated devices and applications to bridge the gap between consumers personal computers and their mobile phones. Apples internal engineers use what the firm has learned from its iPhone, iPod, and Mac lines to develop an intuitively usable device packed with useful functions leveraging Apples iTunes Store content including the ecosystem of third-party applications developers to unleash the full potential of the platform. The award winning design team can leverage its talent to create the next must-have product regarded for its design simplicity and elegance making it not only a functional device, but also a fashion statement. Finally, Apples close work with its preferred OEM partners makes the company focus on building quality products that are dependable.

Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management


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Apple Inc. Analysis & Strategic Management


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