Apple Inc. is an American corporation that produces computers, phones, software, and many other kinds of electronics. Founded by Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak, Apple made a real computer revolution within a few years and became the live legend of the modern computer world. Having survived practical bankruptcy, the company has totally revived and become a leader in many computer branches. Today it is considered as one of the most innovative companies in the world.
The company’s primary goal was to develop a powerful computer which would be affordable for everyone. The business started with the development of the first computer, the Apple 1, which consisted of a system unit, a TV instead of a screen, and integrated keyboard. Apple was advancing rapidly, but it also experienced difficult times in 1990’s when the company could not cope with the large product turnover, and Jobs decided that Apple would refuse to cooperate with small retail partners and would only work with leading companies. Thanks to mutual collaboration with Microsoft, Apple gained a strong foothold over the electronics global market (Chapman & Hoskisson, 2008, p. 188).
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The main characteristic feature of Apple’s computers is that they stand apart from the widespread IBM-compatible (x86) computers. Despite higher prices, Apple Computer products have considerable potential and are highly recognized by personal computer users, largely thanks to the competent advertising and PR policies pursued by the company worldwide. After many years of its existence, thanks to the sale increase, Apple has won recognition almost in every country of the world which shows that many people trust this company.
iPod, the company’s successful creation, gained huge popularity, which helped Apple become the market leader in portable digital audio players. Traditionally, Apple was not limited by creation of a single product and created the iTunes online music store in addition. The iPod popularity along with the higher service support level led to the immense popularity of the Apple stores all around the world, bringing multi-billion dollar profits. Each year Apple is steadily regaining its company status of the leader of the computer technologies market. A telephone with a revolutionary interface – iPhone – showed that the company’s engineers still have many creative ideas to amaze the world. iPod sales and iTunes profits allowed to renovate the computer line entirely, to raise the MacOS operating system quality to a new level, and today the Apple’s perspectives appear to be brilliant.
Today, Apple proceeds to maintain and strengthen strategic alliances with leading computer hardware components developers, such as IBM, Motorola, and with the leading software developers: Microsoft, Macromedia, Adobe and many others. Nowadays Apple is in the top list of 50 most innovative companies in the world with the market capitalization of more than 500 billion dollars. The company also holds third place for the smartphone production and has already sold more than 150 million iPod players all over the world. During the past few years, Apple has been awarded the first place among Fortune’s magazine World’s Most Admired Companies. In customers’ eyes Apple embodies innovation, quality and prestige (CNN Money, 2011).
One of Apple’s features that helps it to stand out from the rest of the companies is a specific approach to the environmental issues. In this case, Apple helps to protect the environment and takes care of consumers’ safety by limiting the use of environmentally harmful materials in its computer production process. The company was the first among all computer developers that started to recycle computers by launching a recycling program for old mobile phones, iPods, and Macs. This helped to increase customers’ loyalty towards the company.
Apple’s strategy is based on the three main principles: ambition, following the trends the society, branch, market, and, at the same time, adequacy which means the ability to be implemented taking into account available resources and the company’s experience. This approach had a significant influence on the company when Apple had already lost its positions in the computer market and was at the stage of bankruptcy. At that time, the company’s executives proved that its founders and employees could still use their main competitive advantages - creativity and high attention to the details. The market was flooded with many goods substitutes, including computers of the Chinese and Taiwanese assembly.
Understanding that the easiest way to attract the attention of a potential customer is to use their areas of interest, the company developers started to devote more time to studying the computer users’ habits in the Internet. As it turned out, no one wanted to pay for the data and people preferred to exchange files and music for free. Company’s experts also noticed that people are interested in the well-known singles rather than downloading the entire albums of their favorite artists. In this case, Apple’s management made a crucial decision. They created the iTunes website where its new target audience is able to download music for 99 cents, to communicate, and to participate in the eventful virtual life and real concerts (Chapman & Hoskisson, 2008, p. 193).
By doing so, Apple made the surprising re-branding related not only to the visual upgrade of its trademark, but to its essence too. Having defined the target audience, Apple introduced iPod, its new product that took over 2/3 of the U.S. market and made the unprecedented breakthrough after many years spent on the verge of mass consumption market. The iPod series was addressed to satisfy the needs of different categories of the customers which were divided into separate segments by company’s diligent marketing experts. The great success of the company was possible due to systematic policy and strategic plan establishment, general strategy and strategic management implementation which were characterized by the development and promotion of new products for different market segments. Cross-selling was the core of Apple’s success which means helping customers to be accustomed to the company’s products and, later, increasing their loyalty. That is why this approach has significantly influenced company’s corporative culture which surprisingly combines high quality and accuracy with creativity and non-standard ideas promotion.
One of the major concerns for Apple is intellectual property thievery which has led the company to numerous trials against many other computer firms. One of the brightest Apple’s cases was the one against Microsoft when Microsoft was given a license to use Apple’s technology for its Windows 1.0. Eventually, Apple claimed that Microsoft had abused the license agreement and started using Apple’s technology for its Windows 2.0 edition. Another notable lawsuit that provoked many ethical issues in Apple was to prove the company’s right of using the iTunes.co.uk domain name. Despite the fact that there is a common practice of automatically getting the right to a domain name after registering it first than the others, Apple won the right to use iTunes.co.uk domain name, which provoked many disputes and complaints, where Apple was accused of being the privileged company in comparison to the smaller ones. One more case was that of Cisco Systems that appealed against Apple to infringe Cisco’s trademark on its iPhone. The suit was finished with both companies accepting to use the iPhone name.
Taking into account the modern world with its constant and rapid technology and entertainment industries change, Apple’s future looks decidedly optimistic. The company has created its own corporative culture based on innovation and enthusiasm and underlining the importance of customers as target audience loyal to the company’s products. Apple shows the gradual growth towards the music industry leadership and offers its consumers the possibility to listen to their favorite music without uploading individual songs. This fact gives Apple an excellent opportunity to increase its share in the world electronics markets. However, the company also faces a number of challenges such as lawsuits from different competitors claiming company’s intellectual property rights. In this case, it can be recommended for Apple to apply an open-source approach which will certainly help to secure its input data from outside sources. Apple should rethink its main trade market principles in order to become a more open and flexible system and successfully compete in the global environment. Properly defined objectives, such as the development of innovative products and technologies will allow the company to regain its lost positions on the computer market.
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