Strategic management is what helps firms to be adaptive and successful in their environment. A Firm that can strategically manage itself better than others will always be more adaptive and successful than its rivals. Therefore, strategic management refers to a continuous process that organizations use to create a vision, analyze their internal and external environment and select one or more strategies that it uses to create value for its stakeholders (Ireland, Hoskisson & Hitt, 2008). Strategic management has four components, which are defined as follows: vision, which describes what the firm hopes to be in the future. The vision also has a mission, which is what businesses it will be involved in. The second component of strategic management is the internal environment, which refers to the set of conditions within the firm that influence the choice and use of strategies. The third component of strategic management is the external environment, which refers to a set of conditions that are outside the firm and affects its performance (Ireland, Hoskisson & Hitt, 2008).
The internal environment of Apple Inc
One such company that has been able to successfully adapt to its environment and select the right strategies to serve its customers is Apple Inc. This a company based in the US which designs and manufactures as well as markets a range of products. These include communication devices, media devices and portable digital music players as well as personal computers and a range of related software. To examine Apple’s ability to withstand competition and ability to meet effectively its customers’ needs, it is important to examine first its internal environment which is one major component of strategic management. Furthermore, the management of any firm will only be able to develop and implement effective strategies if they understand their firm’s resources, capabilities and core competencies (Ireland, Hoskisson & Hitt, 2008).
A firm can have two types of resources: tangible and intangible resources. Tangible assets refer to valuable assets which can be quantified or seen and they include financial capital and manufacturing equipment. Apple Inc. has a large financial capital which it has obtained from investors who have been attracted by the company’s performance. According to Hoshiko (2011), the company’s value of stock shot up past Microsoft’s in may 2010. Therefore, the firm is currently the most valuable technology company in the world by stock value. The financial muscle enables the company to attract and retain qualified employees. In addition, it enables the firm to carry out its operations effectively because it has enough financial resources at its disposal. Furthermore, the firm has been able to invest in research and development effectively because of the available financial capital (Hoshiko, 2011).
Apple Inc. also has intangible resources. This refers to assets that are not physically identifiable but can be used to contribute to the creation of value for customers. Examples include know-how, organizational culture, and reputation. Such intangible assets are built over time and they eventually become valuable to the firm. For instance, Apple Inc. has been able to build on its reputation and brand name that makes it stand out among its rivals. The company has been able to develop coveted gadgets that have endeared the firm to customers all over the world. It has the iPhone in the smart phone industry and the iPod in the in the music industry that has made it a force to reckon with (Cellan-Jones, 2010). Cellan-Jones (2010), a BBC’s technology correspondent, reports that the company’s strong reputation among customers was witnessed when it launched the iPad. Gadget fans mobbed stores in their thousands to be among the first ones to make a purchase.
The firm is also endowed with outstanding human capital especially in the top management. This is demonstrated by its ability to develop innovative products that have taken the market by storm in the recent past. Steve Jobs, the company’s CEO, in particular has been credited with much of the success the company is enjoying now. In fact Hoshiko (2011), the New York’s business correspondent, reports that a company that had been left for the dead a decade earlier experienced a turnaround with the return of Jobs. Since assuming the leadership, the company has experienced an increasing growth trend which has attracted several investors. In addition, the company has a chief operating officer, MR. Thomas Cook who has served the company for 13 years. He is in charge of the company’s operations and worldwide sales and the success in the sales of the company are attributed to his innovativeness. During the last three months of 2010 when in charge, the company reported a record profit and sales that exceeded by far the forecasts by analysts.
Capabilities refer to the ability of the firm to put together several different resources to help in accomplishing a given task. In an organization, the capabilities always form part of the functions of the organization such as finance, marketing, and manufacturing. Apple Inc. for example stands out in the research and development function. The company is able to integrate its resources such as work teams, finance, and equipment to succeed in research and development tasks. Its capability in research and development is demonstrated by its ability to develop products that meet the specific needs of the customers. Cheng (2010), reports that when the company launched its iPad in January 2010, it was a great move that was warmly received by customers around the world. However, the gadget lacked some valuable attributes that most customers would have loved to use. Such attributes were present in competing products such as laptops.
One key weakness of the gadget was its lack of screen lock option hence users could not type well with it because the screen kept on rotating. However, through research the company has been able to introduce the screen-lock application. Another revolution attained by the company was its ability to introduce innovations at a reasonably fair price. A case in point is the introduction of iPad2 at the same price as ipad, yet iPad2 had additional futures. The company’s CEO was quoted acknowledging the company’s research capability at the Ipad2 launch by saying that the company is way ahead of its competitors. He explained that while its rivals were striving to copy the first model of iPad, the company was launching iPad2 (McCracken, 2010).
Core competencies refer to the capabilities that a firm mainly focuses on and performs better in compared to its competitors. A firm can have a distinctive core competency that allows it to create value to its clients by carrying out some important activities such as innovation. Apple Inc. has a distinctive competency in innovation. This has enabled the company to develop technological innovations that its competitors have not been able to copy. According to McCracken (2010), Apple Inc. has been able to out-invent its rivals in the technology industry. He puts it that the company has been successful in reinventing a product category that its rivals had given up on for instance the iPad. He further adds that apple is not the first one to develop a product that has finger-friendly hardware as well as software. However, he says that the claims that the iPad is magical and revolutionary are not far from the truth. He adds that historically the iPad is the fast selling among non-phone products in the consumer electronics market (Apple, Inc., n.d).
Marketing is another core competency of the firm. The firm has been able to create demand and interest for its products globally in a way that no other rival company has done. First, the company manages to circulate information about upcoming products way before it is launched. This has resulted in high demand that sometimes exceeds the firm’s production ability. The company has witnessed high initial sales of its products immediately after the launch. For instance on the first day after the launch of the iPad, the company sold over 3000000 units in the US only (BBC, 2010). In fact the high-unexpected demand of ipad in the US delayed the international release as the company could not cope with the demand in the US. Immediately after the product was released to international stores, several customers around the world were seen queuing in long lines waiting to purchase the product (BBC, 2010). Lowensohn (2011) explains that although ipad2 is more or less a similar gadget to its predecessor, it has attracted a huge following worldwide than iPad did. He further explains that analyst had predicted that the product would make first day sales of over 200,000 compared to the first iPad. All these demonstrate the ability of the marketing strategies used by Apple.
SWOT analysis It refers to a technique that a company can use to evaluate its business environment. SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and weaknesses of an organization. SWOT can be used to evaluate Apple’s internal strengths and weaknesses as well as its threats and opportunities in the external environment. Strengths refer to the capabilities and skills that enable a firm to select, develop and implement its strategies and achieve its objectives as a result. Some of the strengths of Apple Inc. include its strong financial capacity which enables it to carry out research and come up with innovative products (Pahl & Richter, 2009).
Weaknesses refer to areas that the firm is deficient and therefore limits its ability to perform as expected. One weakness of Apple Inc. is lack of adequate manufacturing capacity. This is shown by its inability to meet the increased demand immediately after the launch of its new products. This leads to delayed customer satisfaction because some customers cannot get the products when they need them. Opportunities refer to the favorable conditions that are in the external environment and can promote the firm’s efforts to attain its objectives. An example of an opportunity that favors Apple’s efforts is the growing demand for quality technology products. This is seen in the increasing demand after the launch of a new product. The company sold 15 million units of the first ipad, however, the sales on the first day after the launch of ipad2 had exceeded the previous model’s by 200,000 (Griffin, 2007).
Threats refer to unfavorable conditions in the external environment that can hamper the company’s efforts to meet its objectives. One main threat that faces the company is competition. As the company strives to develop new technologies and software, its competitors have also continued to improve on their innovations. Apple faces competition from hardware companies such as Samsung and Dell. It also faces competition from software companies such as Linux and Microsoft (Griffin, 2007). Therefore, the company should focus on building its strengths, minimizing its weaknesses, capitalizing on its opportunities and neutralizing or avoiding its threats.
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