Life Cycle Management Analysis
In the year 2001, renowned electronics and computer giant Apple launched its much anticipated ‘breakthrough digital device’, which is an MP3 player under the brand name iPod. The gadget, which is extremely slim and fits into one's pocket, debuted at a cost of US$ 400 per unit. Some of its features according to the Apple Store included a ten-hour playtime, five gigabyte drive, a smart user interface with scroll wheel, less than ten minute CD transfer time and auto synchronize feature with iTunes.
During the development and prior to the launch of the device, Apple had launched an extensive market campaign that would see expectations rise prior to the debut. This expectation was fuelled by the new features that apple had promised to deliver in the upcoming breakthrough digital device. The objective was to use an existing idea to build something that would out do all other devices in the market. At that time, mp3 music players had been in the market for more than three years. Before the launch, Apple had designed the product to be the ideal gadget that every ‘cool New Yorker’ would be seen carrying in the pocket with some white earphones dangling dorm the ears. True to their word, they did not disappoint, and soon after the debut, the demand was exceptionally high (Solomon et al, 2008).
The introductory phase of the product was marked by high expectations. The market was already flooded with the idea of a wonder gadget, since apple had taken the initiative to create awareness about the product. This was done through using the popular features such as the use of the coin or fob pocket to hold an iPod, in an era when many young people are clad in jeans and no one else bothers to carry the coins in the coin pocket. Although the prices were quite high, the device seems to outperform market expectation, as many people sought to own the device.
During this time, Apple also carried out extensive market research in order to figure out who would be their main competitor during the growth stage. This was necessary since it would give them the necessary information that would see them soar through the growth stage. Although there was no device on the market that could rival the device’s performance, Apple expected that there would be an inflow of similar devices in the near future as well as other unrelated products that would rival the company’s sales. This led to the discovery that one of the biggest competitors for iPod was the Nike Company, since both were targeting similar market with some high-end products. It was highly likely that a youngster would buy either Nike’s expensive shoes or an iPod (Solomon et al, 2008).
Through the growth stage, Apple managed to Apple managed to maintain an intricate mix of products, prices, distribution and promotion. This period was characterized by an exponential growth in sales with increased demand. With this in mind, several features were offered in the product. Users were able to synchronize their music easily with the iTunes and download the latest music to their devices easily. The limiting point at this stage was the fact that the iPod would only work with Apple’s Mac computers. This had limited the market range to about 7.5 million people who were users of Mac device.
It was during this phase that Steve Jobs announced that there was going to be a debut for a PC version of the iPod. With this launch, sales quickly skyrocketed. To remove another hindrance, Apple gradually shifted from the technical approach, where they would market the product based on its superior technical capabilities, but on style. This saw them partner with leading stores to ensure that the iPod was available in over one thousand outlets. This was strategically done prior to the Christmas period, so that it would highly feature as an ideal Christmas gift. In addition, for a small extra cost, Apple could offer signature versions of the iPod whereby an iPod with a laser inscribed signatures of celebrities like Madonna. These procedures were an excellent handling of the growth stage (Solomon et al, 2008).
The maturity stage is currently the cycle where the product is. With a substantial market base, Apple enjoys a substantial market for iTunes. Additionally, prices have come down making the device available across all the social ranks. This has also helped apple to penetrate new market frontiers like Africa, where penetration is still low. Thus, the company still enjoys a market even when its new devices are a direct competitor to the iPod.
The iPod is currently in the last phases of its maturity stage. Soon, a decline will onset. While this is almost unstoppable, Apple can capitalize on the current brand name that iPod and iTunes build for Apple as the giant in the entertainment industry. When the decline begins, Apple should be set to transfer many of its clients to the new products, which it has launched recently. These include the iPad and iPad2. The latter is already causing a stir in the market since its launch over a year ago. The trick is to ensure that all the iPod loyalist move on to embrace the iPad.
Solomon, M., Marshall, G. & Stuart, E. (2008). Marketing: Real People, Real Choices. 5th ed. Prentice Hall publishing