Originally Posted by jcallows
Apple's products have always been better than their competition. But they did nearly go bankrupt in the 90's, didn't they? So it can't be just the products.
It's not "just the products" but rather they're not reliant upon anyone else. Apple's products are not commodities. They have their own unique OS and unique eco-system. Apple has the ability to steer its own ship. That's not the case with HP and other players like Samsung. When the OS is outsourced through Google or Microsoft, you're left with a commodity product, and with all commodities, either differentiate your product to justify higher prices, or be the low-cost leader. Most companies, like HP, have chosen to chase the latter. Eventually, either the margins become to slim or they simply can't compete with lower cost providers.
Apple's products were the problem back then, in that they were priced too high, used too many proprietary parts that kept costs too high, and there was a lack of work put into the OS, which made it rather arcane at the time. I remember System 7.2 crashing a lot. A single app could bring down the entire system and force a reboot. It was not pretty. Many commercially used systems simply made each Mac an island, keeping it trimmed of any excess applications that weren't necessary to do the task at hand to prevent hiccups. The hardware was beginning to look old, too. The Mac Classic still had the basic form of the original 1984 Mac, and it was 1996 by then. There were too many offerings that cut margins too thin. Remember there were the Classic, LC, Performa, Quadra, Centris, Powerbook, Powerbook Duo... Too many variations. Jobs cut this to PowerMac and iMac, and Macbook lines. He simplified everything. Again, it's about product. He killed the clones, moved forward on a new, modern OS, and gave us pretty fruit colored iMacs to water our mouths. He simplified hardware around industry standard USB, Firewire, PCI slots, etc. to keep costs down not only for Apple, but for 3rd party hardware manufacturers as well. Again...product. He made an alliance with Satan, himself, to make sure his company would continue development of Office, which was considered at the time as a must have piece of software to continue viability. Again...product. Then he gave us iTunes...iPod...iPhone...iPad...iCloud... Again...product.
Many "turnaround" CEOs tend to focus on the product. They focus on two key areas: Design, and manufacturing. They tend to push the company toward strong, bold designs that get the potential buyers interested. They streamline manufacturing and simplify lineups. This is exactly what Mulally has done at Ford. He's given us the European Fords that have done so well over there, improved the offerings immensely in the market, and streamlined production by having basically many of the same vehicles sold globally instead of unique vehicles for each market. But, as Mulally has said, if the company focuses on the product and delivers the kind of product the market wants, the stock will take care of itself.