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Introduction

Founded on April 1, 1976, Apple (original Apple Computer) is a multinational located in America, with its headquarter in Curpertino. The company designs, produces, develops and sells consumer electronics, on the fields of hardware, software and complete systems. In 2007 the word computer was no longer in the name. Steve Jobs (the current owner) decided to remove it, since it did not only sold computers anymore. Their focus shifted to more electronic devices, than only personal computers.

The most important products Apple sells are iMac, Macbooks, Iphone, iPod and iPad. The ‘i’ in front of any name originated from the word internet. The software Apple uses for its devices is OS Xand iOS, Itunes, Ilive and Iwork to be creative and production equipment.

Apple is currently one of the biggest mobile producers in de world (3rd). Samsung and Nokia come before. According to the magazine in America named Fortune, Apple was the most admired company from 2008 to 2012. Also was it considered as one of the most innovate consumer product companies. Some drawbacks of the company are regarding the working conditions at the production factories. Next the Apple’s own environmental and business practices were questioned.

Regarding the size of Apple, it has 393 retail stores in more than 390 countries. Next to these physical stores, Apple uses their very successful webshop to market and sell their products. Moreover, when apple went public in September 2012, it was the biggest publicly-traded corportation in the world, with an estimated current value of US626 dollar. The number of employees working at apple are around 60.400 full-time and 2900 temporary full-time, worldwide. The annual revenue in 2010 was around 65 billion US Dollars and it grew to 108 billion in 2011.

More important is the way of innovation of Apple, which all started with Steve Jobs and Wozniak. They were the first ones who invented the personal computer, a smooth integrated touchscreen and more. They were able to combine current technology with new technology and processes to create ‘revolutionairy products.’ Most of the people believe this happened because of the motivation and creativity of Steve Jobs. They also argue that it was all about the culture of Apple, which was formed by Steve Jobs also.  Wiki writes the following about apple’s culture: “Apple was one of several highly successful companies founded in the 1970s that bucked the traditional notions of what a corporate culture should look like in organizational hierarchy (flat versus tall, casual versus formal attire, etc.). Other highly successful firms with similar cultural aspects from the same period include Southwest Airlines and Microsoft. Originally, the company stood in opposition to staid competitors like IBM by default, thanks to the influence of its founders; Steve Jobs often walked around the office barefoot even after Apple was a Fortune 500 company. By the time of the “1984” TV ad, this trait had become a key way the company attempted to differentiate itself from its competitors.       As the company has grown and been led by a series of chief executives, each with his own idea of what Apple should be, some of its original character has arguably been lost, but Apple still has a reputation for fostering individuality and excellence that reliably draws talented people into its employ, especially after Jobs’ return. To recognize the best of its employees, Apple created the Apple Fellows program, awarding individuals who made extraordinary technical or leadership contributions to personal computing while at the company. The Apple Fellowship has so far been awarded to a few individuals including Bill Atkinson, Steve Capps, Rod Holt, Alan Kay, Guy Kawasaki Al Alcorn, Don Norman, Rich Page,and Steve Wozniak. Numerous employees of Apple have cited that projects without Jobs’ involvement often take longer than projects with his involvement.  Another presents the image of Jobs “wandering the hall with a flame thrower in hand, asking random people ‘do you work on MobileMe?'”.

At Apple, employees are specialists who are not exposed to functions outside their area of expertise. Jobs saw this as a means of having best-in-class employees in every role. For instance, Ron Johnson who was Senior Vice President of Retail Operations until November 1, 2011, was responsible for site selection, in-store service, and store layout, yet he had no control of the inventory in his stores (which is done company wide by then-COO and now CEO Tim Cook who has a background in supply-chain management). This is the opposite of General Electric’s corporate culture which has created well-rounded managers.

Under the leadership of Tim Cook who joined the company in 1998 and ascended to his present position as CEO, Apple has developed an extremely efficient and effective supply chain which has been ranked as the world’s best for the four years 2007–2010. The company’s manufacturing, procurement and logistics enables it to execute massive product launches without having to maintain large, profit-sapping inventories; Apple’s profit margins have been 40 percent compared with 10–20 percent for most other hardware companies in 2011. Cook’s catchphrase to describe his focus on the company’s operational edge is “Nobody wants to buy sour milk”.  The company previously advertised its products as being made in America up to the late 1990s, however as a result of outsourcing initiatives in the 2000s almost all of its manufacturing is now done abroad. According to a report by the New York Times, Apple insiders “believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products”.” (Wikipedia, 2012)

Technology Innovation

Apple uses technology innovations in all their products. For example in their latest macbooks and Ipads they use a Retina Display Screen, which is a very big innovation in the displayindustry. This display is able to make pictures extremely sharp with resolutions way bigger than FULL HD: 326pixels per inch. Furthermore Apple uses technology innovation to enhance the performance of all their computer products. They use faster processors, smaller memory parts, better coolers and overall improved hardware. Technology also included new software development scripts, which Apple also uses frequently. Their operating system is enhanced every month.

Process innovation

Processes are used in the operating software of their business/products and the use it during their complete product development. First of all the processes in apple’s factories are improved by process managers every day. Since the factories need to provide production of all the new products, they need to be adapted a lot. This leads not only to process innovation, but also to process development. All companies in the world need to stay competitive in the violent high-end market, therefore they also need to cut costs, which is partly done on the production department. But also on the processflows between the collaboration of all other departments. Since Apple stays competitive in many field of the market, we can assume that process innovation is a daily practice for them. A good example of process innovation of Apple is their checkout system at their webshop. Normally it took around 10 steps to finish your order, now it is possible to finish your order in 3 steps.

Product innovation

For the normal consumer, product innovations looks like the biggest part of Apple. Apple was, as mentioned
before, one of the first inventers of the PC. Next to that they were the first with Ipad. The other innovations however are combinations of current tec
hniques, included enhancements of these techniques(which can be said is innovation instead of invention). This combination leaded to the successful development of for example the Iphone. They started with the Iphone 1, which had already a lot of new features compared to its competitors (touch screen, ipod, phone, internet). They innovated this phone almost ones in the 2 years to Iphone 2, Iphone 3g, Iphone 3gs, Iphone 4, Iphone 4gs and Iphone 5. Although this looks like fast continuing improvement, if you take a look at the developments they realised, they are very scare. Only Siri (phone commanding), which already existed, but they just enhanced the performance of it. They made face-to-face calling, which also already existed, and they added lots of these small already existing features. The main improvements were made in the operation system and in the hardware (faster processor and better camera). There was nothing after the first Iphone what was a real big invention of a really big innovation. Only minor innovations in the sense of small improvements.            Regarding other products of apple, they invented the Ipad and the Macbook air. Both had its unique features which blazed away competition. At first the Ipad was a combination of current techniques, but just combined perfectly and enhanced (which is innovation), next they made the Macbook Pro. Here they were able to make all the components (hardware) extremely thin, to develop an ultra small and thin notebook. They succeeded and thus innovated perfectly here. The other products, such as Ipod and Macbook face only minor innovations compared to the competitors.

Business model innovation

As mentioned earlier, apple started as a computer company, but innovated their business model to also other devices. This mend that the complete business model needed to be changes, since they first only produced personal computers. They also had some interesting changes in the business model later on in distribution. They decided not to sell their products via regular retailers. They decided to make their own Applestores, and use their website as a distribution travel.

Future innovation suggestions or prediction

Of course I can propose apple to make really futuristic devices with everything on it, but that seems very unrealistic. Therefore I am going to propose a realistic innovation. I think apple needs to make a television, which includes their operating system. Customers should be enabled to use all their apple devices also on their television. Currently they have apple tv, but I want them to make a complete television in the apple design. But at the same time the television should be a recorder, music player, computer and television in one. All the current features of the operating system of apple should be included in the television. If they market it again as a revolutionary innovation, I am certain it will work out.

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