Apple Computer, Inc. is a large corporation that has been in the technology industry for many years. In the event of product innovation and manufacture, Apple customers have always expected and demanded only the best quality goods. Therefore, this has added pressure on the managing entity and other workers of Apple not to compromise on the quality of their goods or customer service efforts. Herein lays the beginning of the major challenges Apple has to face in their day to day activities .
With a history dating back to 1976, when Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak came together to form Apple, the company has grown from strength to strength by the design, innovation and production of high quality products that have been the envy of many a corporation in the same business. Additionally, with its management style that has been overhauled, over the years, to adopt only the best lessons, the company has been able to attract a customer base and following reminiscent of other companies' dreams .
Nevertheless, even a corporation of this magnitude has to put its best foot forward to be able to break bread, especially in the intense and competitive technology innovation industry. This is because, over the last few years, this industry has seen an unprecedented growth in the number of players.
The continued advancement and development of the world wide web and the internet brought with it great hope in the technology industry. It meant that many activities would be carried out at the click of a mouse within the Internet by the use of a computer. Thus, Apple created web-based platforms like iTunes that allowed people to buy and download music and movies online from the comfort of their premises. However, with the passage of time and an overall increase in the number of companies engaging in the same online businesses have come up, Apple has had to be smart in the way it positions its products in the saturated market. This has not been easy because the company’s management has had to engage in negotiations with other product and service companies to be able to promote its products in order to fend off the intense competition from companies like Napster, Kazaa, RealNetworks Inc., Sony, Virgin Media and Wal-Mart among others .
Together with this, there is then the challenge of trying to stay in line with changing technologies so as to have a positive brand image among all consumers. Tech-savvy customers have proven to be demanding, never easily satisfied, get easily bored by the same repetitive technologies and constantly need innovations to keep them hooked. As such, Apple has been challenged to keep on revamping its level of innovation by creating technologies and technology platforms that stand above the rest.
Even, as Apple strives to satisfy its customers but still maintain a desirable profit margin, there have been cases of piracy of music and movies that have led to the closure of some companies and online platforms that encouraged this vice. Nonetheless, the Internet still has those who know their way around it, and as a result, piracy of products, software and devices is still very much alive. This has led to some of the services being offered by corporations like Apple, for example, music and movie downloads for a fee, be not as profitable as they are meant to be. The technology industry is yet to see what can be done to root out piracy completely so that genuine technology companies can fully benefit from the products and services they offer .
Apple’s Strategy against Competition in the Industry:
Regardless of all the challenges that confront Apple in its day to day delivery of quality goods and services, the corporation has put down a number of strategies that have helped it fend off competition on many occasions. Strict, improved innovation is one of these strategies. This means that Apple does not compromise on the aspect of quality of its products and the platforms like software that aid the use of these products. Steve Jobs as the CEO stood at the helm of overseeing the design of Apple products and insisted on the specific standards required for these products at the risk of being viewed as high-handed. However, this has been the management style that has ensured the productivity and profitability of this large corporation. For three years in a row beginning, 2005 to 2007, Apple was named the Most Innovative Company by management and business magazine, Business Week. It was recognized for its dominance in design of eye-catching products .
The direct involvement of the top management at every level of Apple’s operations has also made sure that nothing is left to chance. This is a strategy that has made sure that at no point is there room for complaints from customers that Apple products are wanting or that the services offered by Apple products are faulty or have one or two things missing. The top management led by Steve Jobs made sure that every single minute detail was properly handled. This bore fruit over the years and has shaped Apple to be the multi-billion dollar corporation that it is today. Without the direct input and the approach adopted by Apple’s top level officers, no one is to say what would have been the output of the products that have been seen as the world’s leading innovations .
However, as a strategy to back the efforts of the management, Apple has also carefully hired highly qualified personnel whom they have personally termed as their ‘geniuses’. For a person to be hired at Apple Computers, they not only have to be academically qualified to carry out the tasks they are hired to, but they also have to be highly innovative, highly passionate about technology and free thinkers who can add value to whatever products are under Apple’s wish list for future production. At the same time, Apple ‘geniuses’ also have to be passionate about offering their services to their clients without bias or discrimination. It is this level of personnel that ensures Apple customers always keep going for more products and services of the corporation because they are sure of being treated with importance and also being offered the best value for their money.
Consequently, the personal relationship Apple ensures with its customers that customers are well engaged and are allowed to participate in the day to day activities of Apple. The corporation does this by ‘encouraging of customers to engage the company on what they like and don’t like about the products’. Within the Apple organizational structure, there are Genius Bars; which are utilized as a viable platform for customers to consult with the Apple staff that answer any technical questions and troubleshoot client’s problems .
Additionally, Apple offers one-on-one programs to their customers for an annual fee where subscribers can be present at tutorial sessions with Apple experts once every week for a whole year. Another strategy under this umbrella is group workshops, personal training and personal assistance offered by Apple stores. For a customer who wants to purchase an Apple product, they consult with a shopping assistant by making an appointment where they will be helped to choose the right product or equipment that will satisfy their needs. The chief executive of Addis Creson (brand strategy and design company), Steven Addis remarked that, ‘ Apple has become the new gathering place ’. This was occasioned by the fact that Apple offers more than 50,000 training sessions every week .
Furthermore, Apple has stunned every single corporation that is in the technology industry with its brilliant marketing strategies. These strategies have been intense and fresh with a sense of thoughtfulness that appeals to every buyer of an Apple product and seekers of Apple services. The Apple stores, the one-on-one programs to subscribers, the workshops and personal training, and the appointments made by Apple store personal assistants are all part of Apple’s marketing plan to retain the attention of their customers and build a stronger customer base. An article in USA Today rightly stated that, “ Apple’s arsenal of attention-getting tools holds lessons for any company; design cool, innovative products Invest in memorable ads” .
Perhaps one of Apple’s biggest strategies to fight off the intense rivalry from competitors is the signing of strategic agreements with other corporations like Volkswagen, Nike, Burton Snowboards and Starbucks. These agreements have made sure that Apple advertises its products in more than one way and also taps into markets that are originally meant for other products. For example, at the Starbucks, customers are able to access the iTunes WI-Fi Music Store without any charge at over 600 participating Starbucks stores. These customers are also able to search and preview the songs on iTunes stores. This promotes the sale of iPods as well as the use of iTunes to download music and videos .
As a result, Apple products and services get more visibility; which can result into increased inquiries from new and potential customers; hence increased sales. The agreements also help Apple in creating important strategic business partnerships that can promote its income stream through increased and better promotional platforms in diverse markets that target different product clientele.
Recommendations to Enhance Apple’s Strategy for Better Results:
All in all, Apple has done well for itself in terms of product innovation, satisfaction of its clients and achievement of the desired profit margins. There is little that Apple can do to change what it is already doing so well, but there are always ways and room for improvement that even large companies and corporations can adopt. There are a few recommendations that Apple can look at to ensure increased effectivity and productivity of their products and services. Despite Apple products being top notch in the technology industry, they are a bit pricy. Other competitors are trying everything possible in their endeavor of keeping the cost amount to millions, if not billions of dollars of their production down and products affordable. Additionally, though Apple is doing the opposite by trying to keep their products different, the corporation should find ways of keeping the high quality of their products at the same standards but also making them more affordable in order to attract untapped markets from the lower and lower middle class .
In this respect, Apple should compete with corporations like Samsung and Nokia that have made a great headway in large Third World and developing countries' markets. There is a lot of business to be done in these areas that Apple has not tapped into yet. Nevertheless, Apple has plans to go global and tap into markets in the Asia, Europe and Africa. While doing this, the corporation should think of building production plants in specific countries in these regions. This will ensure that it not only to lower its production costs, but also creates jobs for the natives of these countries. Creation of jobs is a way that Apple can use to ensure that they gain popularity and trust between the corporation and its publics. In addition, with production plants situated where the target market is the costs of products will also be lower since the shipping costs that would normally amount huge amounts of money will be eliminated along the marketing and sales chain.
In tandem with this should be the widening of the platforms for marketing and sales that have already been put in place by Apple. The strategies that the corporation is using to market its products are already impressive and making great headway. What could be done for the strategies as discussed above would be putting more emphasis on spreading the umbrella of coverage through partnerships with more corporations and businesses that are not necessarily competitors. The widening of the marketing platforms will also ensure more interaction with customers and the possibility of attracting new customer bases.
As mentioned earlier, Apple encourages the participation of its clients in the daily activities of its operations. This should be accommodated more by letting customers give more honest criticisms about the Apple products and services. Criticisms offer more room for improvement of the already great technologies that Apple products possess. Nevertheless, the customers can always possess ideas that the Apple ‘geniuses’ have not thought about, and this can be a great gateway for coming up with even better products and new inventions. In line with this, Apple should only lay more emphasis on and better the ways that have already been tried and tested to work effectively. From the lessons learned over the many years of challenges and successes, the only thing this tech-giant can do is replicate the good formulas that have worked for marketing and sales of Apple products and for the provision of quality services to the ever-anxious and highly anticipative Apple customer base .
At the same time, a corporation of Apple’s magnitude has to practice some level of corporate social responsibility. This can also be a great way to market Apple products, get community recognition and give back for the support the customers have shown. Apple could embark on organizational training, where they send their experts to companies to train their staff on different information technology areas. As a matter of fact, it is even better to do that for companies that use Apple products. This will ensure efficiency in the way these companies operate the products, and also get to find out new uses for the same products which may have not been known to them.
In the same line, Apple could offer sponsorships to smart students who are taking courses in information technology, especially in the development of products like those developed by Apple. Offering internships to such students is also a nice way of ensuring that they churn out astute I.T. experts into the job market. In return, they give back to the community, get more loyalty which could most likely translate to enhance marketing and better sales.
Also, in the long-term, why can’t Apple simply think of establishing a technology university where all the nurturing top brains will attend to study for information technology degress and other related courses? This will be an ambitious venture but it can finally stamp Apple’s authority in the technology industry and market. No other corporation will be able to compete at the level where Apple is. It will permanently have a marketing and publicity platform and a way of permanent corporate social responsibility to its communities.
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