Apple, the world’s most valuable company in August 2011, has easily gained its place in the history books, alongside Microsoft, Sony and Nokia, as a company that has delivered transformative technology across the PC, music and cellphone sectors. Apple does something that their peers can only dream of: they bring magic to the everyday. Their products are attuned into how we live, and how we want to live, so they are both intuitive to use and prized above all else. People who use Apple products are not customers, they are fans.
When compared with all of the other companies discussed in this book, it is obvious that Apple is currently the ‘best’ Growth Champion. On all metrics – revenue growth, share price, profits, brand, fans – Apple is the winner and, given the past decade’s performance deservedly so. When you talk to other leading organizations the references to Apple as a model are frequent.
In the second quarter of 2011, Apple sold 20 million iPhones, 9 million iPads, 4 million Mac computers and 8 million iPods. Profits more than doubled to $7.3 billion on sales up 82% to a record $28.6 billion. In August of the same year, Apple took over from Exxon as the world’s largest company by market capitalization and had more money in the bank than the US government. When the late Steve Jobs announced his retirement, The Economist announced that, ‘the minister of magic steps down’ and declared, ‘no other boss in recent history has embodied and defined a firm as completely.’ Other commentators stated that he is not only ‘a genius’ but ‘also the last and greatest media mogul’ and ‘the only CEO in the world with rock star status.’
It is clear that Apple have succeeded by consistently delivering great products that people love, that they never knew they wanted, but by looking more closely at the company it can be seen that this has not happened by luck or the genius of one man but is built upon some distinctive capabilities that should continue to serve Apple well in the coming years:
- Apple probably has the best design team in the world. Right from the start, Apple has hired excellent designers who brought new thinking, new materials, and new design language into the company.
- Apple believes that it can deliver the best products by integrating the design and delivery of its products keeping control of the necessary elements of hardware and software.
- Apple has a deeply held self-belief – it believes it is doing the right thing and that you shouldn’t follow your customers but lead them.