Apple Inc. An Assessment and Profile Term Paper

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Apple Inc.

An Assessment and Profile of Apple Inc.

Apple's primary business is the development, manufacturing and selling of personal computers, accessories, peripherals, networking and personal MP3 players including the best-selling iPod and complimentary music download service, iTunes. The introduction of their digital music players, the iPod Series, and have both revolutionized the entire personal MP3 player industry while also successfully monetizing the concept of a downloadable entertainment with iTunes. Apple's iTunes Service has sold over 1 billion songs as of 2006, and now includes music videos, movies, ABC TV television programs, and audio books. The company's ability to successfully foster innovation as part of its culture is well-noted and has been the subject of research by both academicians and practitioners (Reppel, Szmigin, Gruber, 2006). From an analysis of the company's cumulative filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company is actively building an Apple product and service ecosystem to serve as the foundation for future growth (Apple Investor Relations, 2008). As this ecosystem serves as the foundation for many of the strategic plans and programs of the company, its definition and implications are included in this paper.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Apple Inc. An Assessment and Profile of Assignment

Apple's distribution channels are unique in that the company continues to invest in its own retail chains while also partnering with selected single- and multi-tier distribution channel partners as well (Apple Investor Relations, 2008). One of Apple's competitive advantages from an operational standpoint is integration of their supply chains with their distribution channels to more accurately sense demand, integrate forecasts, and define collaborative inventory management (Prudential Equity Group LLC, 2006). Apple's competitive strength is in accurately and completely integrating new product requirements to the Bill of Materials (BOM) level throughout their global network of suppliers while at the same time enforcing high process and product quality standards (Cole, Matsumiya, 2007) (Prudential Equity Group LLC, 2006) and (Apple Investor Relations, 2008). The intent of this paper is to evaluate the type of organization, strategic direction, planning, market assessment, marketing strategy, organizational structure and culture, operating locations, and business operations of Apple. Each of these aspects of the company are significantly changing as the business model Apple relies on continues to rely increasingly on the digital music side of their business, specifically the rapid introduction of new iPod product lines and iTunes.

Organizational Structure

Apple is organized into four operating segments, which include the Americas, Japan, Europe, and Retail Operations. The three geographic segments of the Americas, Japan and Europe are operated independently of the Retail Operations segment. Americas is comprised of both South and North America, and the European region comprises all Northern, Western and Central European counties in addition to Africa and the Middle East. Apple relies on an extensively cross-functional organizational structure to support this specific geographically-based organizational structure (Schrage, 1995) (Holt, 2003).

Apple is unique in that it has successfully been able to create a profitable retail channel without relying on a joint venture or acquisition strategy of playing the role of industry consolidator of high tech retail chains (Prudential Equity Group LLC, 2006). Apple has in fact grown their entire retail chain organically without acquiring additional chains; this is one of the core strategic advantages the company has today (Simmons, 2007) (Apple Investor Relations, 2008).

The retail segment of Apple operations stores globally today has 209 open globally (Apple Investor Relations, 2008), with 15 operating in the United Kingdom, 181 in the United States, seven in Japan and four in Canada. Apple will also be launching their stores in Australia in 2008 (Apple Investor Relations, 2008). The following table derived from SEC filings by the company (Apple Investor Relations, 2008) further explains the geographic distribution of the Apple store chain. Table 1, distribution of Apple Stores by Country, shows the expansion plans announced by the company through 2008 (Apple Investor Relations, 2008).

Table 1:

Apple Store Current and Future Stores by Country

Country

First Store Opened

Future Stores

Total Open Stores

United States

United Kingdom

Japan

Canada

Italy

Mexico

Projected 2008

Australia

Projected 2008

Germany

Projected 2008

Switzerland

Projected 2008

Apple's organizational structure is organized into product divisions and relies heavily on cross-functional teams to accomplish the intensive level of effort need to keep up with the new iPod product introductions in addition to the refreshes of the iMac laptop product lines. The launch of the Mac X operating system which has implications across all Apple products, the coordination of each functional area of the company, from supply chains through quality management, to production scheduling and fulfillment, were included in the teams. Apple strives to create a highly entrepreneurial organization culture through the use of more agile and market-driven organizational culture.

Organizational Culture

Apple Computer has always had one of the strongest work ethics in the Silicon Valley, with it being commonplace to find product design and software engineers working well past 9pm each night, having to be literally prodded to go home. The messianic vision of Apple transforming the world one desktop at a time, and the ability of the culture to translate this strategic vision into something intensively personal that could be so readily transformed into a passion is the fuel that kept Apple alive throughout the early 1990s and during its transition from hard-working renegade to a force in several key markets the company helped discover in the first place. Despite the image the company projects of being very hip, there is a very strong work ethic and a commitment to deadlines that isn't common across other high tech companies globally.

The company attracts workaholics looking for a cause to completely commit themselves to. As a result of this dynamic and the fact that in many of the company's years it has been thinly staffed, there is almost always more work to be done than people to do it. As the company has at times fought for its survival and had to rely on unconventional approaches to getting work done, it has earned as reputation for being nonconformist. As the brand thrives on this image the fact is that Apple is one of the hardest working and most driven PC companies in the world, an attribute that is responsible for their survival as others have fallen. A sixty or seventy hour work week is average for the typical Apple employee, and the higher the position the greater the commitment required. Guy Kawasaki (1990), head of Software Evangelism, writes in his book the Macintosh Way, of the hours that he would invest in planning software developer visits to convince them to write applications for the Apple Macintosh. Kawasaki was a big reason the Apple Macintosh succeeded as he created a very strong and reliable group of software developers that provided Apple with the necessary software applications to make the Macintosh usable. The company would eventually adopt an Open Source platform approach to software development and greatly increase the options for its loyal customers in the process

As all cultures change over time, so has the one inside Apple. This is most prevalent in their perception of customers. Seen literally for decades as consumers, hobbyists, educators and in short one of the most rabidly passionate customer bases for PCs on the planet, Apple has had to continually learn what it means to support an enterprise customer. It is common for enterprise-level customers to get an 800 number and be asked to bring their systems into a store for support. When a corporation has literally thousands of them this is clearly not feasible, and it has only been recently that Apple has addressed this with an enterprise-level support plan.

The bottom line is that Apple still attracts those workaholics looking for a cause to fully commit themselves to, and despite the shortcomings of scaling to the enterprise area, their introduction of iTunes and iPods have revolutionized personal digital entertainment, and continue to propel the company to the highest levels of financial performance it has ever attained both in terms of profitability and sales performance.

Locations of the Organization

The company's headquarters are in Cupertino, California, where the company was founded. Apple has over the last decade increasingly focused on China, opening major offices in Beijing and also in Hong Kong. Apple also has expanded its development centers in India with a major center in Bangalore, in addition to development and service centers in Kuala Lumpur. In addition, the company operates service, development and marketing centers in Taipei, Taiwan and Sydney, Australia in addition to Bangkok, Thailand. Apple expects the majority of future growth and development to be based on the efficiencies and growth of software development throughout the pacific Rim, hence their intensive investments in this region of the world.

Apple's Strategy

The music side of the Apple business contributes nearly 50% of total revenues, yet is also the aspect of their business that requires the greatest level of effort and attention to keep products current in their product lifecycles while also continually improving and launching new iMac portable PCs as well. Table 2 quantifies this dynamic… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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