Here’s the thing about Apple’s “recent” success.

It isn’t recent.

The only thing that has changed are some numbers. Some big numbers: largest company in the world, second most profitable company in the world, most profitable retail stores in the world, best-selling smart phone, second best-selling smart phone, best-selling tablet computer, etc.

Other numbers have not changed: customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, consumer ratings, etc.

So now we have some new numbers which make it easy to say “Apple is better.” But Apple has not changed. Apple is operating from the same principles, discipline, vision, and methods that they have always (with Steve and team) been operating from. What people who understand have been saying is no more true now than it was ten years ago: Apple is better. Not in trivial, transient ways. Not in the “My beliefs are right, yours are wrong” sense. Apple is doing, and has been doing, things much differently than any company—in any industry—for at least the past ten years. Apple’s products and operations are vastly superior. Many people have recognized this all along. Some people will never recognize it.

It’s just that now all the numbers confirm it.

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23 comments

  1. I think Apple has been constantly improving, which is why they’re so good right now. For example, Apple supply chain management didn’t used to be so good, and there was definitely an Apple tax in the past. But now, competitors can’t match Apple’s iPad prices with devices of similar quality.

    1. Try this, the numbers speak for themselves, examples are not necessary because arbitary things about particular products and services means nothing to people who “get it”. We know why we buy, use and promote the company and their products and why the numbers speak for themselves.

  2. People hates apple for this same reason:

    Cheap goods.
    There is this awful biz strategy, one that i think will sink USA economy in the near future, the Microsoft and now Google license spree.

    Look at UK, it almost lost all its relevance in the engineering field, most of its cars are in foreign hands.

    That biz strategy sells the false idea that it helps the consumer. But the truth is, it kills the urge of discovery, of experimentation.

    Urge of discovery and experimentation is what differentiates Apple from others.
    When Jobs said : We tried making a desktop with touch and it just did not work… You can feel how he respect HP, and how he is hurt by their stupidity.

      1. Classy. They guy’s from Portugal, so perhaps you’d like to write a few paragraphs in Portuguese just to show us you’re not really that much of a jackass?

      2. Thank you Rohan. At times I think I am ignorant in some area and therefore don’t get what some bright mind is trying to say. Relieved this heap of confusion was not just with me.

  3. I remember a speech that Jobs gave fairly early on, about how he would save Apple economically. Was it at the end of a WWDC? He laid out the business model there: one coherent design-centered, integrated whole. Controlled from top to bottom. Computer as a work of art. Okay, it drove the business-centered nuts, but he promised that if Apple would stick to it, it would also be a huge success.

    It must be confusing for the ’90s set, who were sure Wintel was the winning combination: hardware makers competing tooth and nail and software to support them all was the only way forward.

  4. The article is right on target. However, there is one sentence from it I find inexplicable:

    >> Apple is better. Not in trivial, transient ways. Not in the “My beliefs are right, yours are wrong” sense.

    Saying “My beliefs are right, yours are wrong” is exactly the right sense. I can’t imagine what definition of “belief” makes them trivial and transient. Only trivial and transient beliefs could be trivial and transient. The Jobsian way is a set of beliefs about business and management that happen to be true, and contradict much of the supposed common wisdom from decades ago. How anyone would think the term “belief” doesn’t encompass belief in business practices and how customers should be treated I can’t imagine.

    1. Your point may be correct, but you’re taking his “belief” sentence out of the context. The author is simply saying the statement “Apple is better” is a fact, not an opinion.

  5. Maybe what we should say is that Apple’s “recent” successes are the result of what happens when you take the long view in your strategy for a decade or more. The payoff takes a long time to materialize, but when it does, watch out.

    It seems that many business executives only see as far as making the numbers for next quarter, maybe the one or two or three after that (not all their fault — boards and shareholders tend to demand this). Such thinking leads to risk-aversion and to a focus on the bottom line, often at the expense of things the company really should be investing in.

    Apple has done things like investing heavily in talent, supply chain and retail channel, when that money could have made the numbers look better if they had instead kept the bottom line lower. They’ve created products with a healthy, sustainable revenue model and lifecycle in mind, instead of just trying to hit a sales or market-share number at any cost. They’ve thought about how to supersede their own products, and then moved to do it, instead of fearing to rock the boat of existing sales.

    And the result? Not much, at first. But gradually, the effect of doing all of this in the same direction long enough builds, much like compound interest, to create huge explosive payoffs.

  6. Great account of Apple’s position and strategy. One point on Apple’s products always being better is that as a computer only, you may be right, but as a platform it wasnt always the best or even possible option. Software and data have turned into more generalized commodities with compatible file formats, web apps, etc. Macs can talk to Dells, share printers, etc. People don’t have to consider these constraints as much now when purchasing a new computer.

  7. I think there is in fact a company that compares to Apple and that is IKEA (and I mean this in a good sense).

    Come to think of it.. IKEA’s stock is private. So they’re even 1 up on Apple

  8. Not only is Steve (as in Apple) a phenomenal leader who cast a phenomenal, cutting-edge vision, he also knew how to surround himself with creative innovators… you are absolutely right; it was and is a sure recipe for success!

  9. Ditto – I live in Canada, so I can’t help but being a *little* North American centric ;-=)

    “America Online” -priceless

    but as commented above – World Wide Web. Look at the content of the comment, not whether the grammar or terminology is perfect.
    Example:
    In Canada, we say “honour, and favourite” not honor or favorite

    Give us a hassle about it and we’ll cut off your water ;-)

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