ISSUES: 1. What are some of Apple’s biggest successes and failures? 2. How much of Apple’s success can be linked directly to its culture? 3. How do the actions of Apple apply to the TCOs?
Without a doubt, when the topic of Apple’s successes comes up, the conversation course will at some point hit on the successes of the iPod and the iPhone. A slightly dated statistic from Q4 2012 estimates more than 250M iPhones have been sold globally since its release in 2007 (Shah, 2012). Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that more 350M iPods have found their way off store shelves and into the hands of consumers (Sloan, 2012). These astounding numbers have played critical roles, if not the critical roles, in the organizations biggest successes.
Culture is directly responsible for the organizations successes and failures. An interview with Steve Jobs by Popular Science roughly sums up the mindset of innovation at Apple. The interviewer asked Jobs what sort of market research Apple had done in the development of the Macintosh computer. “Did Alexander Graham Bell do market research before he invented the telephone” Jobs replied sarcastically (Isaacson, 2011, p. 170)? From early on, the work environment at Apple was shaped to be truly unique environment. When the Macintosh (also known simply as “Mac”) began to make headlines within the Apple organization, they made a daring move to literally segment and split into two unique functional groups: Apple and Mac, or more appropriately, traditional and radical. The traditional side of the organization functioned much like a traditional business. Routines and schedules set the pace. Staff members and employees interacted and function within the confines of established business model paradigms. (Isaacson, 2011). The Mac group however, organized itself in a complete non-traditional manner. Moisescot notes that Jobs actually encouraged the Mac group to think of themselves as rebels operating on fringe. He attempted to foster an environment of entrepreneurial values blended with an artistic perspective. A job hung a Jolly Roger flag on the building of the Mac group and was noted for saying “better [to] be a pirate than joining the Navy” (Isaacson, 2011, p. 211). The combination of splitting the organization created a competitive environment and truly fostered the creative environment that I believe is the key to Apple’s success.
A direct product of this creative environment is what Morrison coins as “Principles of Apple’s Success.” The CBS notes that there are several key components of the Apple business model that have pushed it along, sustained growth, and maintained a competitive edge. Among the principles for success, Morrison highlights Steve Jobs direction to not follow customers to solutions, lead them (2009). Isaacson further amplifies this position in the Jobs’ biography by discussing how Jobs felt towards customer desires and expectations. He discusses the troubles a customer faces in describing a capability or feature they want having no idea what it is they really want simply because they have never seen what they want before (p. 256, 2011). The mission at Apple was to harness this void and provide the customer with that answer with cutting edge products with intuitive features.
In order to realize success in this domain, Apple had to take an honest position on their creative efforts, which included embracing the organizations failures. By examining what went wrong, Apple felt they were better able to move the organization forward (Morrison, 2009). In the category of failures, a quick search will highlight several Apple efforts that flopped. From varying models of personal and portable computers, various peripherals including a floppy disk based monthly periodical and even a personal gaming console in the mid 90’s called the Pippin (Gruman, 2009). In many cases, many of Apple’s failures appear to be