Ronnie05's Blog

The ascendance of Apple

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on March 5, 2009

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This has been Apple’s decade. From behind and nowhere, this Cupertino, California based hi tech company has disruptive technologies and trends and worked its own path upwards. In the process, it has emerged as America’s no.1 most admired company, sales have tripled over the last 5 years and it ranks no.1 amongst Fortune 500 companies for total return to share holders over the past 5 years (94%) and past 10 years (51%). The latest feather in Apple’s cap is a successive listing (2008 and 2009) in America’s most admired company list and World No 1 in most admired companies list. This 32 year old company had an unprecendented run since 1997 disrupting conventional wisdom on product lines and groundbreaking new products. Led fully from the front by Steve Jobs, Apple has out thought, out innovated and out played markets and competitors alike.

Timelines, Products and Discontinuities
As stated earlier Apple has launched waves of discontinuity in industries turning tables on the existing rules of the game:
1. Pixar, which Steve Jobs bought from George Lucas in 1986, out innovated the Hollywood mainstream into full length computer animated movie making with its Toy Story in 1995. It redid its success in 1998 Bug’s Life, 2001 Monsters Inc, 2003 Finding Nemo, 2004 Incredibles. 2006 Cars. Pixar is sold to Disney in 2006 making Steve Jobs Billions.
2. In 1998, Apple upturned the desk top with its colourful IMac, which became the fastest selling Macintosh ever!
3. In 2001, which is arguably Apple’s biggest year till date, it released the iPod, iTunes and OS X operating system. 8 years later, 50% of Apple’s revenue come from iPods and iTunes store is the second largest music retailer in the US with 6 billion downloads. It spawns a plethora of attempts by Telecom industry players, notably Nokia and Microsoft to build a Music store, on a somewhat different business model.
4. iPod Nano is released in 2005 and is a huge hit. iPod becomes to music players what Kleenex is to tissue or Xerox is to copiers.
5. iPhone is introduced in 2007. Gets the status of Jesus phone and in one sweep upturns the existing game inthe mobile device industry. Spawns a record number of copy cats.
6. 2008: MacBook Air released, a ultra thin 13 inch wide sleek metal laptop. Apple again triumphs
7. 2008: A faster cheaper and more powerful iPhone 3G debuts and outsells the original by a mile.

Apple has demonstrated how to create real, breathtaking growth by dreaming up products so new and ingenious that they have upended one industry after another: consumer electronics, the record industry, the movie industry, video and music production.Apple’s approach is to put every resource it has behind just a few products and make them exceedingly well. Apple is brutal about culling past hits: The company dropped its most popular iPod, the Mini, on the day it introduced the Nano (a better product, higher margins –> why dilute your resources?).

The culture of Innovation and the leadership of Steve Jobs has gotten Apple so far. As all and ever, everyone waits for Apple’s next innovation, its next endeavour to change history.
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