Business School Studies Apple - Need Input

in General Discussion edited January 2014
Hey guys and girls,

I've been around AI for quite some time now and although I haven't posted a lot this community is definitely a place I check daily for anything Apple related. Hell, this is where I usually find out there's an update available or about a new product being worked on. My roommates even a long-time advertiser on AI.

So with all that being said my girlfriend who is finishing up her MBA has a project case study on Apple, Inc. due fairly soon and even though I have my own thoughts on all the questions below I thought there was no better place to get feedback on these questions than on the forums of Apple Insider.

The assignment is to present on Apple, based on the questions below. In order to ensure that the information presented is true and accurate, we thought it would be interesting to collect thoughts and opinions from the true Apple followers and critics, and go from there. I thought the questions were great and since I had plenty to say about them, thought many of you who probably know way more than me might also have some insightful input.

Obviously this is probably an Apple sided forum, but we're definitely interested in all view points especially from the Microsoft side.

Don't feel obligated to give your view point on all the questions... maybe just pick one or two that really interest you and then just put the question # in front of your answer.

Thanks in advance for all the help. Also note that these questions were written as of Feb 2008.

1. The recent central question facing Steve Jobs: Is Apple"s recent success just another up" in its up-and-down history, or had he and Apple finally established a sustainable strategy for the company?

2. Steve Jobs' return to Apple in 1997 set the stage for the company's turnaround. To

what degree and in what ways would you attribute Apple's rebound to Jobs himself?

What other factors have contributed to the company's recent successes? More

generally, what is the true personal impact of CEOs?

3. Analysts trace Apple's troubles in the 1990s in part to the company's proprietary

business model. What modifications of that model has the company implemented in

recent years? What is the strategic/operational logic of those modifications? More

broadly, what are the competitive tradeoffs between ?proprietary? and ?open? systems in

the IT industry?

4. Notwithstanding the recent jump in Macintosh sales, Apple holds a very modest

share of PC/laptop sales. In your view, should Apple be content with low market share in

that segment? Will the ?halo? effect of IPod (and possibly also IPhone) produce

significant gains in Mac's global market share? Why or why not?

5. What factors underpinned Apple's decision to switch from the IBM/Motorola

PowerPC to Intel microprocessors? What competitive advantages resulted from that


6. Apple has migrated from vertical integration to contract manufacturing, with a heavy

reliance on Taiwanese- and Chinese-based contract manufacturers. What was the

strategic/operational rationale of that shift? What risks arise from Apple's extensive use

of contract manufacturers in Asia?

7. The case describes Apple's complex relationship with Microsoft, which includes a

fierce rivalry along with cooperative ventures. How do you see that relationship!s

evolution in coming years?

8. IPod/ITunes have proven a huge success for Apple. Looking forward, where do you

see the company!s position in the ?digital convergence? movement?

9. Apple TV has not proven a great success. What factors explain the mediocre

performance of that product?

10. Subsequent to the publication of the HBS case, Apple launched a 3G version of

IPhone. How will that launch affect Apple!s competitive position in the global handheld

mobile market? What competitive threats face IPhone?

11. How would you assess Apple!s international growth prospects in coming years?

12. In your view, which of the major PC manufacturers (HP/Compaq, Dell,

Acer, Lenovo) enjoys the best prospects for profitable growth in coming years, and for

what reasons?

13. The HBS case note Apple's recent initiatives in distribution, notably the creation of

wholly owned Apple retail stores and the expansion of the company's Best Buy channel.

What factors are driving Apple's distributional strategy?

14. Steve Jobs survived an encounter with pancreatic cancer, an experience he

discussed in his now-famous commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.

But In contrast to Bill Gates (who is nearly the same age), Jobs has not publicly

announced a succession plan. If you were an Apple stockholder, would the Jobs

succession issue be a serious concern? Why or why not?

15. The case ends with the following statement by an industry analyst:

" If he is to successfully revamp Apple, [Jobs] will ultimately win not by taking on PC rivals directly, but by changing the rules of the game.

Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Has Jobs succeeded in changing the

?rules of the game?, and if so how?


  • Reply 1 of 2
    Ok I will start with 6.

    This is out of need to scale to the volumes needed for a Global supplier. The iPod taught them this lesson and this is now being benefited by the iPhone Nanos, shuffles, iTouch etc, the smaller consumer products where tens of millions of units per quarter are needed to be churned out at reasonable quality.

    The mobile phone handset business started this contract manufacturing about 5 years ago and has managed to supply hundreds of millions of units per year volume. So for Macs to reach such volumes, many things need to happen. They need to seriously drop their volumes and maybe sell Macs with Windows only OS (yikes, if this is what it takes to take down Dell and HP, they should do it. It is business after all...).

    Back to risks in doing contract manufacturing. Clone parts, stolen parts, arson etc comes with it. But there are simpler ways of dealing with this in China. Not like they are going to have labor union issues, local government and private companies can keep things at bay cheaper than, say Eastern Europe?.

    So risks are small as long as the business of Apple remains successful for years to come.

    There are many countries outside of China in South-East Asia that can e outsourced to, so at different cost/quality/volume levels, they are alternatives that can happen within two quarters to mobilise in a big way. I know Set-Top-Box manufacturers, I work with, that can mobilize a new plant staff with people in about 4 months and start churning out products in boxed retail form at the end of the assembly line!.
  • Reply 2 of 2
    #7 - My 2¢

    Apple refers to the AppleTV as a "hobby". It's just one of the many projects they are working on internally and one they decided to make a little cash off of. It's an extra product, sort of like their displays, that doesn't cost much nor make much, and so it's sales performance isn't that big of a deal to them as long as it pays for itself, which I'll wager it has well enough. It has also given them insight into the market for movies.

    There are some great features in the AppleTV, and some that should be there and aren't. We have one at home that I use for my project work (I like to be able to toss things onto the big plasma screen and listen through better speakers than in my study); in Japan, we don't have movie downloads through iTMS. We do get access to the movie previews which is a feature that my wife loves (albeit the movies don't come here for over a year after she sees the preview).
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