Apple Inc. that was previously known as Apple Computer, Inc. is an American multi-national corporation that deals in consumer electronics, personal computers and computer software and was founded in 1976. Steve Jobs was the co-founder of Apple. During his stay as CEO, company launched series of revolutionary technologies. He died on October 5, 2011. Currently, Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple. Before being on this position, Cook was Apple's Chief Operating Officer. He was responsible for managing the company's sales and operations including supply chain, support services, and sales activities all over the world.
As according to the September 2011 stats, Apple operates more than 300 retail stores in 11 countries. In addition to the retail stores, there is an online store that deals with individuals and corporate customers in hardware and software products.
The company had computer in its name but removed it on January 9, 2007 when it achieved a big name in other electronic devices as well apart from computers. Till 2000, company faced hard time but it made a successful turn afterwards when it started operating in other devices.
Currently, Apple is the biggest publicly traded company in all over the world in terms of market capitalization and considered as the largest technology company in terms of revenue and profit. Apple focuses more on designing and manages distinctive advertising campaigns. The company leads in its innovative capabilities and always do its best to bring all new products for its customers.
Apple's innovations and designs has built loyal family of customers and made a unique reputation. As according to Fortune Magazine, Apple was named as the most admired company all over the world in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Apple leads the market majorly due to its low cost, sleek designing, differentiation of products, integrated products and high quality offerings. The company has number of competitive advantages over other companies so it has a bright future. (Khan, 2011)
Apple's investors' website states its mission as:
"Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices."
Apple's commercial mission statement is as follows:
"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."
"To make contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind."
Apple fulfils its vision via the technologies it develops for organizations and individuals. It tries to make its customers the master of machinery they have purchased. It simplifies the operations for customers so that they may benefit from the technology as much as it is possible. Apple not only claims but implements it practically, forwards the vision towards its employees, clarifies objectives and provides them with all facilities to achieve the targets.
Apple's Goals and Objectives
Apple strives to:
Create and sell computers and other electronic devices that are easier to operate.
Expand business in an international market by opening more number of stores to increase profits.
Continuous innovations in all aspects of business
Apple highly focuses on improving innovative capabilities. The company believes in continual investments at different sectors like research and development, advertising and marketing so that to always bring fresh experience for the customers.
Apple's Competitive Advantage
The hardest thing for any company is to create a competitive advantage and even more than that is to sustain Competitive Advantage. For this purpose, it is important for a company to master in at least one thing what others cannot imitate. This may include the products' cost structure, distribution network, product offerings or customer support. (Robbins, 2003)
Apple is one such company that has been able to create and maintain its competitive advantage. Its superb product designing, low cost manufacturing, direct sales channels and other aspects build a competitive advantage for the company.
In past years, Apple had only an image that its products are easy to use and elegant but has limited market share. The market price was much higher and therefore unable to attract application developers. However, the image has been changed now. In addition to its sleek designing and ease of use, the company has been able to offer lowest customer prices.
Now due to innovation capabilities, development and company's trendsetting techniques in electronics, Apple has left other competitors far behind. The popularity of Apple can be well assessed with the number of likes it gets on Google, Amazon, Real Networks and other pages.
Since, the company has now large supply chain so it enjoys some procurement benefits as well. Being a large company it makes huge orders that outclass rest of the companies. Recently Samsung lost market value of $10 billion when Apple made huge order of flash memory with Elpida. It secured more than half of the company's supply.
How Apple's Competitive Advantage can be Sustained Over Time
Apple identified its area of competitive advantage and standardized its components for multiple products manufacturing. Since, Apple's Laptop, Tablet and Smartphone almost uses the same kind of technology and even the designing is much similar but just the size varies so the components used in products are mostly same. Apple has made a strategy to cut costs and limit supply for the competitors. It has signed long-term agreements with manufacturers and so supply for the company is guaranteed.
Apple's deep integration between Operating System, apps and other devices has made customers bound to be a loyal customer. Once customer gets experience; it is hard to come out of the Apple's product circle since linked products enhances their use. Apple's brand loyalty has been able to sustain its competitive advantage over its competitors.
Apple's innovative strategies always bring an exciting experience for the customers that sets high standards for the market like iPhone is leader in touch screen smartphones.
The company also employs exciting marketing strategies that take benefit from people's frustrations by means of new and integrated products and services.
Recently, Apple has also integrated iTunes for iPad and iPhone after iPod. This strategy of building sustainable competitive advantage by Apple has already threaten the digital music companies since iTunes and its integration with Apple products is offering great experience to clients. (Magee, 2011)
Apple is now focusing on launching the retail outlets as well as online stores in different areas so that to improve sales since, customers are offered to try and purchase the genuine Apple products from nearer retail outlet. This already has increased the company's revenue since the company offers exceptional customer service. (Brownlee, 2012)
The company's hybrid lean/agile supply chain management is considered as the world's best strategy. Apple has a high profit margin and still offers the lowest customer prices which make a big competitive advantage for the company. There is only limited number of warehouses that cuts down costs; however supply is ensured since there is an agreement with selected suppliers. The company makes continual progress in information technology, large upfront payment to lock suppliers, improves distribution capabilities and has outsourced manufacturing to cheaper foreign suppliers; that's the reason of its being best in SCM.
Apple valuation has increased rapidly due to its classic business strategies. The horizontal integration strategy across channels and devices, vertical integration strategy from chip designing to software development and retailing strategies are truly building sustainable competitive advantages.
Currently, the company is dominating due to its sustainable competitive advantages but nothing is permanent and so Apple must make continual efforts to maintain its position in the market. (Mootee, 2011)
Apple is capable of delivering its products to millions of customers all around the world with in short time. The company manufactures millions of units of products in prior that are about to be launched in the world market. Moreover, the orders are monitored in retail stores with a gap of hours and necessary changes are made accordingly. As according to the 2011 report, Apple stated that it shipped about 37 million iPhones and 15.4 million iPads per day. Due to timely delivery and never been out of stock, Apple is considered to have the world's best supply chain management.
Currently, Apple is focusing on maximizing the number of retail stores but the company has also well-established website interface to deal with the customers. There are different offers made all over the world. Free shipping is offered on all orders above $50 and product is delivered right at your door or customers can also purchase online and pick their product from the nearer store. There are different stores maintained by the company in order to facilitate all customers. There is a separate education store, business store, international store and government and military store. Students, Businesses and institutes can purchase the…