Apple Inc: A Competitive Advantage

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The idea of establishing retail stores in the apple was first introduced in the company by its founder Steve Jobs in 1997 after the institution started facing many complications with the third parties tasked with the selling of its products. In May 2001, Apple opened the first two retails stores that were located in Fairfax and Glendale in Virginia and California respectively. The idea was highly productive as the two shops made a profit of about 1 billion dollars in the first three years of operation (Barbosa, 2017). Notably, the stores were aimed at showcasing the products of the company and to increase awareness of the innovations made by the organization. Since then, the entity has opened an additional 300 outlets in different parts of the world including China and the United Kingdom. The strategy also helped Apple to reduce the number of third parties selling its products and to increase its internationalization process.

Notably, the urge to provide a different customer care experience, the entity later introduced genius bar that was aimed at providing a friendly environment for its clients and to dispense advice (Aaker, 2014). Moreover, these shops were designed to provide technical support to customers that experienced specific problems with the applications and products of the institution. Most apple customers believed that these new stores would utilize advanced algorithms and to redesign appointments with the employees (Leswing, 2017).

Considerably, pre-booked appointments at the point of service were also increased to take a maximum of 15 minutes which was better than those offered by the retail shops. Equally, the new system allowed users without appointments to explain their situations once they walked into the store and to provide their phone numbers to enable getting feedback once the appointment becomes available (Aaker, 2014). The reputation of these stores was good among customers as most of them cited the quality services and its efficiency. Additionally, due to the development of these services, the companies started recording increased appointments on the repair of different commodities including iPhone models such as 6, 6s and 6 plus.

Environmental Background

Since its development in 1976 and successful operation in the technology industry, apple inc has launched different high-end products that have fetched good prices in both domestic and international market. Considerably, the company markets and manufactures various consumer and computer products including music players, and tablets. The institution has been successful in the market due to its brand development strategy, supply chain, innovation and its premium pricing approaches (Barlow, 2010). However, with the growth of the industry and global economy, the company is currently facing a high level of competition from other fast-growing global institutions such as Microsoft, Samsung, and LG. these enterprises produce similar goods as those of apple and have intensified their global participation over the last two decades.

The competition between Apple and Samsung has existed for many decades now as each company introduces quality products to attract more customers. For instance, apple first introduced smartphone products that dominated the cell phone industry. Later Samsung introduced a similar version of iPhone named Galaxy S. the product recorded high sales in the market and prompted Apple to introduce iPhone 4 that was a modified version of the previous model (Tabini, 2018). Apple has also over the years engaged in competitive practices with Microsoft particularly in the development of software.

Additionally, to increase their control of the market Apple has maintained the production of quality soft wares such as Mac OS and iOS. The iOS system developed by Apple revolutionized the industry due to its ability to respond to different gestures including swiping, tapping and pinching. Furthermore, it includes other modern features such as integrated search support, Bluetooth, cellular connectivity and its compatibility with the company’s cloud service. Mac OS operating system on the other hand that was developed by Apple for personal computers and Macintosh series of computers (Tabini, 2018). Introduced in 1984, the system can support various development technologies including Java, UNIX and a host of open source. While this system is primarily designed for laptop and desktop computers with hardware such as mouse and the keyboard as the methods of interfacing, iOS is intended for mobile devices that use touch screen as the main methods of interface (Rowland, 2018).

Apple also utilizes a strong and integrated global supply chain that consists of business partners, suppliers, and developers that enable the institution to be more competitive in the industry. Considerably, the firm chip manufactures, controls the production process and adheres to the strict software standards. Moreover, it only deals with established entertainment and music enterprises in the distribution of its commodities. Notably, the entity also has a network of software developers that help it in creating quality applications. As such, the organization has control over the entire supply chain process including the marketing of its products giving it a competitive edge over other players in the industry.

The different competitive strategies developed by Apple have over the years enabled it to control a significant percentage of both domestic and international market since 2007, the companies control of 5% has gradually grown to an average of 18% in the last quarter of 2017. This improvement can be attributed to the strategies adopted by the institution including the use of genius stores (Aaker, 2014).

Organizational Analysis

Operational management at apple Inc. primarily involves the application of relevant decisions that can enable the business to run smoothly. Considerably, the designing of the different products of the company is one of the important processes that enable the enterprise to be more competitive in the market (Leswing, 2017).

Product design process of the company includes different steps including the development of a design, framing of the startup, Apple New Product Process (ANPP), review and the evaluation of its effectiveness. To limit the risks involved in the production process, the company advocates for teamwork among its employees. The ANPP procedure helps in mapping of the creation, the persons responsible for the task and when it can be completed. Testing of the product and overall evaluation is carried out under the presence of both the engineering product manager (EPM) and the global supply manager (GSM) to enable them to certify the effectiveness of the product (Rowland, 2018).

The process and capacity design include the human resource management methodologies established by the institution and they include the provision of maximum support to the employees. The institution also works together with the supplies to increase the efficiency of its operation. The firm also emphasizes on innovativeness to ensure production of high-quality products (Adams, 2012).

Layout design and strategy for the apple Inc. concentrates on the importance of customers’ expectations. Most of the stores of the company are spacious with minimum decorations thus increasing the emphasis on its products. Similarly, some facilities of the firm emphasize on innovative office layout that can promote creativity and the efficiency of work among the employees.

Apple Inc. utilizes both automatic and manual scheduling methods. Considerably the former is used for activities production and supply chain and the latter is used in specific stores and facilities of the company (Barlow, 2010). Notably, the application of the two methods is aimed at maximizing the capacity of each equipment facility and human resource.

Problem Identification and Solution

Being one of the biggest companies in the world in the technology industry, Apple has experienced several problems over the last two decades that are consequences of some of the strategies set by the institution. Although the firm has tried implementing countermeasures to limit the effects of these complications, the competitiveness in the market from companies such as Samsung has limited these efforts. Considerably, these organizations have increased their participation in the market and produce similar technologies as those of apple. Some of the significant problems facing the entity include limited scheduling times, expensive singular options for apple care and long waiting times at the genius bar.

Apple emphasizes the production of quality products and thus ensures that their customers get value for their money. The manufacturing process of the institution that includes procedures like work optimization, arranging and controlling. The limited scheduling time in the company has resulted in increased cost and time of production. Moreover, this has led to overstretching of its employees as they have to increase their rate of work to meet the targets set by the management of the company (Fortune, 2018). Equally, it has reduced the utilization of the available resources through maximizing changeovers and increasing the inventory.

Several customers have also complained of the long wait times at the genius bar. Regardless of the store size and the type of problem the client may be having, it takes an average of 10–15 minutes to be served. In other stores, the peak times might stretch to about 30 minutes or even days depending on the geographical location of the store. Some stores are also very disorganized with long queues and inefficient services. Equally, the genius bar app that was developed by the company to help customers to book appointments online has been cited as ineffective by most of its uses. Although the booking process is fast, it takes several days to get feedback from the attendant’s thus limiting objective of these technologies.

Solution

To solve the different problems facing apple particularly on some of the strategies set to help their customers, the institution has to develop other countermeasures that will not only increase their effectiveness but also raise the productivity of their employees. The company can increase their investment in modern technologies such as video conferencing to act as a supplement to the in-person consolation. This method will reduce the waiting time in the stores and also reduce the length of queues in the genius bar. Additionally, it will enable the institution to record the conversations between their employees to ensure that each of the clients is attended to appropriately. Furthermore, the entity can adopt demand-based scheduling to limit the additional expenses incurred in production and storage of the surplus devices. Tiered pricing for AppleCare can also be used as a technique of reducing the problems encountered by the company as it will increase the affordability of services offered to customers.

References

Adams, S. (2012). How To Get Hired At An Apple Store. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/04/03/how-to-get-hired-at-an-apple-store/#83f67ba5e148

Aaker, D. (2014, July 23). The Genius Bar - Branding the Innovation. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://hbr.org/2012/01/the-genius-bar-branding-the-in

Leswing, K. (2017, November 12). Apple's 'geniuses' are straining under the iPhone's success, but revamped stores could ease the pressure. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-retail-redesign-2017-11

Barlow, G. (2010, October 23). The key to the success of the Apple Store. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://www.techradar.com/news/computing/apple/the-key-to-the-success-of-the-apple-store-902327

Barbosa, G. (2017, March 06). Ex-Apple Store chief talks Steve Jobs, Genius Bar and more in new interview. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://9to5mac.com/2017/03/06/ex-apple-store-chief-talks-steve-jobs-genius-bar-interview/

Genius Bar Reservation and Apple Support Options. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://www.apple.com/retail/geniusbar/

Fortune, (2018) Steve Jobs Thought the Apple Store's 'Genius Bar' Was 'Idiotic' At First. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2018, from http://fortune.com/2017/03/07/steve-jobs-genius-bar-apple-store/

Smith, M. (2013, October 01). AppleCare: What are your options & Is it really worth it?. Retrieved June 10, 2018, from https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/applecare-what-are-your-options-is-it-really-worth-it/

Apple Care Products (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2018, from https://www.apple.com/support/products/

Rowland, C. (2018). Apple Inc. Operations Management: 10 Decisions, Productivity - Panmore Institute. Retrieved from http://panmore.com/apple-inc-operations-management-10-decisions-areas-productivity

Tabini, M. (2018). Separated at birth: Why Apple won't merge OS X and iOS. Retrieved from https://www.macworld.com/article/2097721/separated-at-birth-why-apple-wont-merge-os-x-and-ios.html

January 19, 2024
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