Research

Abstract

This paper presents the factors that contribute to Apple, Inc.’s immense success. My goal in life is to one day work for Apple Inc. The founders of Apple, Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak had a vision for the company which has formed what Apple is today. This paper’s purpose is the answer the question: Why is Apple so successful? The company’s goals aim to have their products have good aesthetic value, seamless software, and to exploit a niche market. Apple’s aspirations have led to their prosperity. The simplicity of their merchandise is shown throughout their mobile and digital music devices, and personal computers. Integration of various applications, and similarities in the application of the devices are the accomplishments that result from of their seamless software programs. The company strives the exploitation of a niche market, itunes and their various tablets have triumphed due to that. Though Apple is small in size compared to its competitors, that has not restrained them from triumphing in the business world.

Factors of Apple’s Success

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is an American firm whose wild success has gained a lot of attention in the last decade. Though the company has been around for several decades, Apple’s corporate success has fluctuated a lot until recently - now it is one of the undisputed leaders of every market it penetrates. Apple is a respected trendsetter and tastemaker for not only computers, but also tablets (a market which it single handedly revived), smartphones, music players, portable media players, and many more devices. Most successful companies have strategies and specific specialties that give them a leg up in the market, and Apple is no different. Factors that led to Apple’s huge success include their products’ good aesthetic value, seamless software, and the firm’s exploitation of a niche market.

    The first thing a consumer sees about a electronic or device is the outer layer - the part that is immediately visible to a potential buyer. Apple is a company that has mastered the use of visually pleasing aesthetics - Apple’s devices display good looks everywhere from the simple and uniform packaging to smooth lines and ergonomics in their handheld products. This trait is one that has become one of Apple’s trademark strengths, and competing firms like Samsung, High Tech Computer Corporation (HTC), Hewlett-Packard (HP), and many more often take cues from a product that Apple has already made ("Apple iOS 5" 2011). Apple first began their trend of great aesthetics with their handheld and mobile devices - namely the iPod and later, the iPhone.

    The original iPod, released in 2001, helped Apple further their aesthetics knowledge because its superior aesthetics were the main factor that led to this particular product’s success (Handby, 2012). When Apple decided to enter the portable music player industry, the company found competing companies’ products to be “big and clunky or small and useless" and also found their interactive interfaces "unbelievably awful” ("Apple iOS 5" 2011). The company kept that in mind and tried to improve on other companies’ mistakes when developing the iPod ("Apple iOS 5" 2011). The product of this thought process was a simple and clean looking media player that had an equally intuitive user interface - one that took advantage of natural movements and body gestures (Handby, 2012). This was an incredibly smart move - nothing at the time was differentiating itself from other music players (Lowendmac, 2012). The iPod differentiated itself not by its extravagant features; its ease of use, small learning curve, and clean aesthetics to match differentiated the iPod from other music players. Apple was also a very humble company - their successes did not leave them lazy. With each new iteration of the iPod, Apple found a huge way to improve their product (Lowendmac, 2012). Whether it was with more storage, a color display, the ability to play movies, more compatibility, new colors for the body, or a slimmer body, Apple was constantly pushing the limits of what already seemed like a perfect music player. This constant innovation has led the iPod to be an international household name, and has propelled the iPod to the very top of the music player industry (Handby, 2012). Press reviews and editorials agree that Apple’s iPods (now in various configurations, shapes, and sizes) are the premier music players that set the standard (Block, 2008).

    After Apple experienced the wild success of the iPod, they decided to enter a new market with what they had learned. They knew that simple products with good design and user interface could attract more buyers than gadgets with ridiculous amounts features (Apple Inc, 2013). They also knew that to attract consumers, they had to create a ‘cool’ product with unforgettable brand recognition (Block, 2008). Also, after the iPod’s huge success, the company would no longer settle with a product that was not the absolute market dominator. In the middle of the first decade of the millenium, Apple decided to enter the smartphone market. At the time of Apple’s arrival, the smartphone was in a very awkward maturing stage (Block, 2008). The demand for smartphones was increasing with each step forward in the internet and computing business, and competitors’ smartphones were all very clunky and not easy to use and learn. Apple took this into account when developing the iPhone, and also applied much of what they learned in aesthetics with the iPod to their new product (Apple Inc, 2013). When the iPhone was finally released (after much speculation, hype, predictions, and waiting), the consumer market was completely blown away (Block, 2008). Nothing like it had ever been seen before, and it was clear that this one product was going to completely change the smartphone business, the internet, and computing (home and mobile) as we knew it. The iPhone took the iPod’s approach to natural gestures even further (Apple Inc, 2013). Scrolling on pages went from flipping a little ball or mashing a button to flicking the screen (not unlike flicking a page of paper up a desk). Phones with dozens of buttons and full keyboards were being replaced with Apple’s creation - a phone with only two buttons and an expansive screen. Unintuitive and cramped interfaces were replaced with Apple’s minimalistic and simple touch based interface. Even the packaging of the iPhone was appealing - it made people want to open it and made the mundane task of unboxing a gadget exciting again (Block, 2008). Apple was not stuffing new features down the consumer’s throat, it was just reengineering the entire experience consumers had when interacting with their product.

    Before Apple’s wild success with the iPod and iPhone, Apple’s computers were often seen as a niche product that had huge software compatibility issues. Most people bought Microsoft Windows machines because there were several hardware suppliers (HP, Dell, Samsung, Life's Good (LG), Gateway, e-Machines, Sony, Asus, and many more) could produce computers with Windows and these firms could individually market and sell these Windows machines (Wilcox, 2008). The problem that this situation posed to Apple was that Apple computers did not run Windows, they ran Mac OS. Microsoft’s operating system was on a majority of the consumers’ machines, and thus most of the software programs written for personal computers was for Windows (Statcounter, 2012). This compatibility issue was a roadblock that Apple did not effectively overcome until it saw the iPhone and iPod’s success. After the iPod and iPhone, Apple used a lot of these two products’ successful design language and features to use on its computers. Because the iPod and iPhone had a strong hold on their respective markets, they brought new consumers to look at Apple’s other products. When these consumers saw Apple’s products, they saw a product that they were already familiar with (Wilcox, 2008). The design language on Apple’s computers, inside and out, was extremely similar to the design language on the iPhone and iPod. The software behaved just as consumers expected it to, and the materials used to make the computers was just like the materials used for their iPods and iPhones. These similarities made new products already seem familiar, and extremely easy to learn and use (Wilcox, 2008). This was especially appealing to the less technologically adept, because it required much less learning and much more using of the products. If a consumer had already used an Apple product of any sort, learning and familiarizing oneself with a new product was a quick and painless process (Statcounter, 2012). This factor alone was enough to make people pay more than usual for a computer that was compatible with less software (Statcounter, 2012). The user experience was simply unbeatable.

    Visually appealing products and great user experience had a great contribution to Apple’s products, but it was the addressing of specific needs that brought even more success to this firm. Apple’s products were devices for the person that needed it all - simplicity, reliability, and cutting edge features. The integration of various applications has helped them tremendously (Block, 2008). One of these applications is called ‘Siri’. Siri is a voice dictation application that takes voice requests from the user and translates them into certain functions on the phone (BBC News, 2008). Voice dictation and commands were not new to the mobile phone industry - in fact smartphones had been using voice command since before the introduction of the first iPhone ("Apple's Game", 2009). The difference with Siri was that it was much more intelligent - instead of machine-like commands, Siri was engineered to translate natural speech commands into machine language. Siri also had a personality - it offered witty responses and quick humor, just like a likeable concierge would (BBC, 2008). This mobile concierge offered everything previous voice command programs did, but it did so in a natural and easy to use manner. To users, the difference between Siri and its competitors was huge - Siri was a simple process that required no extra work, while its competitors’ was very tedious and often incorrect.

    Social media and networking have also become a huge part of computing and the internet - it is natural that Apple perfected its implementation of social networking into its products to provide the best seamless software experience for its user. In every one of Apple’s products, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Email synchronization is offered. Thanks to this feature, contacts, birthdays, calendar dates, schedules, reminders, notes, and media are all shared through these different resources (BBC, 2008). When something like a contact or note is edited in one source, all sources are edited. Information is always compiled into one intuitive menu for easy access. This simplifies everything and allows the user more time to live their social life in real life rather than spend extra time managing their online presence and social media (BBC, 2008).

    The integration of various applications like Siri and social media integration contribute a lot to Apple’s seamless software, but something else that contributes to the seamless design is application compatibility. It has already been stated that applications for compiling contacts are calendars are all compatible within Apple’s different products, but on closer look one will find that Apple-made programs aren’t the only ones that are compatible throughout all of Apple’s products ("Apple's Game", 2009). Apple has created an ecosystem that makes it easy for consumers to tailor their program for each of its devices - this means that 3rd party apps like Spotify and Youtube usually have counterparts for each of Apple’s products ("Apple's Game", 2009). All of the applications for Apple’s mobile computers (iPod touch, iPad, and iPhone) are all compatible and can run on each other with no hitches. Most of these apps even have extra optimizations for the extra screen space on tablets (Apple Inc, 2013).

    Aesthetic value and seamless software have both contributed greatly to Apple’s wild success, especially in recent years, but the manipulation of specific markets is something that allowed Apple to greatly increase its cash reserves (something that allowed Apple to innovate even more) and stock value, ultimately leading to even more success. The exploitation of niche markets like digital music and the tablet computers has been integral to Apple achieving its current position. In the early days of iTunes and the iPod, digital music posed a huge problem - piracy (BBC, 2006). The days of using Napster and various online repositories were young - people did not like the concept of paying for digital music if it was available for free elsewhere. In order to solve this, Apple did not send in lobbyists to Washington to change laws like many other companies did. Instead, they made it so easy and seamless to buy music, and subtly encouraged the impulse buying of digital products. They made iTunes available on all of Apple’s internet-connected products, and made the process minimalistic and simple ("Apple's Game", 2009 ). This way, users were greeted with a hassle-free process that put everything in one place. This is something free music sources could not provide (they had no reason to) so Apple won over many consumers.

    The exploitation of the digital music industry was just one way that Apple manipulated both the market and the consumer to its advantage. Apple was experienced enough to know that it had a special place in the computing industry - instead of following trends it could tell the consumer what they wanted (BBC News, 2006). Apple had become a true tastemaker in a market that was supposed to ignore this design and only focus on functionality. Telling the consumer what it wanted was exactly what Apple did with the tablet. At the time of the iPad’s introduction, the tablet industry was already existent. Like the smartphone industry before Apple had entered, the products were clunky and primitive in user experience / functionality ("Apple's Game", 2009). Instead of trying to fit an entire computer into a tablet, Apple instead sized up its iPhone and iPod touch interface to fit a tablet form factor. This received much criticism at first - people said they needed the functionality of a full computer on their tablet (Block, 2008). However, Apple’s iPad was not a tablet in this sense. It was a causal product, meant for consuming media (like the iPod and iPhone) rather than producing media (which was left to computers). This redefinition of the tablet market has led to a shift in the industry - tablets are targeted at different consumers and they are used for different purposes. This change has led to other tablet producers to follow, including HTC, Samsung, and even Microsoft (the original creator of the tablet computer). Instead of adapting to the market and taking what situation they were given, Apple changed the situation to one that was better for them - this in turn changed the entire market. This change allowed for more people than travelling businessmen and artists to find tablets appealing - the giant iPod touch / iPhone appealed to casual readers, education specialists, casual media consumers, small children, and everyone inbetween ("Apple's Game", 2009). The new look on the product, coupled with the versatility of the iPad’s features and the compatibility of all the software gave the word ‘tablet’ so much more meaning to all the people who were possible consumers of this product.

    Though much of Apple’s success and strategies have been covered, Apple will undoubtedly continue to find ways to innovate and maintain their position of market leader and tastemaker. Constant innovation, work ethic, and desire to improve are at the root of all of these strategies and success, and as long as these traits are deeply rooted in the company’s DNA, the firm will always see the wild success that it does today.












References

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