In the world of accounting, we speak of tangible and intangible assets to keep track of a company’s property. A tangible asset is anything that has a physical existence like buildings, equipment, and land. Intangible assets are nonphysical resources and rights that have a value to the company because they give some kind of advantage in the market. Examples of intangible assets are goodwill, copyrights, trademarks, patents and computer programs and financial assets, including such items as accounts receivable and stocks.
Let’s have a look on Apple.
This company is said to be the most valuable company in history (Forbes, 2012).
Apple’s philosophy is saying NO to bells and whistles, focusing on essentials and building unique products that people want.
Apple is often criticized because of it’s platform lock-in.
But a golden thread through products, software, and the fusion of both cannot be achieved if the strategy is ‘Doing everything at any time with all accessories’. Whatever other companies decide to do, without limitation to essentials they will not get the first place user-friendliness and user-acceptance in the future. Just think about the time you spend for administrating a Windows environment and reading KB articles.
But the ‘It just works’ motto of Steve Jobs was affected by the
- iPhone 4 antenna problem
- Apple Maps fiasco
- lack of major innovations since iPhone 4
- underestimation of developing markets
- iOS 6.1 security problems with its passcode bypass
All these mistakes did not really affect the overall rating of Apple’s products because Retina and iCloud were introduced at the same time and whitewashed some faults.
What are the reasons of Apple’s success?
The reason Apple announcements are so widely anticipated is because they’ve consistently done things in the past that got people excited. They’ve made mistakes, but their batting average is breathtaking. In just one decade they developed the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, App Store, and iCloud.
The most valued company in the world only has a handful of products.
That’s unique in the electronics industry. Sony had more varieties of Walkman than Apple has products in total. The first thing Steve Jobs did on his re-appointment was reduce Apple’s computing line to just four models (2 desktops, 2 laptops), aiming to make each ‘best in class’.
Comparing Apple with Google and all its services apps and different UIs one could classify Google by ‘Doing everything, focussing on nothing’ or ‘Offering and trying out everything with no golden thread’. This statement is valid too for product lines of SAMSUNG or other competitors like HTC.
Saying NO …
Since the second Jobs era, Apple has made a habit out of saying NO.
Doing only a few things gives the focus to make them better.
Jobs said this to Nike’s CEO:
Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.
Most large companies traditionally succumb to demands to diversify – it’s not hard to imagine demand for a MacBook in different colours, say.
Regarding advertisement Apple says NO to Razzmatazz but YES to a simple messages reflecting the companies strategy. This NO is even extended to companies selling Apple products.
Doing the right things …
Many of Apple’s best choices were widely criticised at the time, but later proved to be insightful. For example, iOS launched with a seemingly primitive ‘one app at a time’ multitasking model. Apple decided that the benefits (better battery life, simplicity of use) outweighed the cons (less potential for power users). Likewise for not supporting Flash, having non-removable batteries, a single locked-down App store and dropping floppy drives.
The entire philosophy of iOS is built around making a computer that a grandmother could use without issue – installing an app is a two tap process, viruses are non-existent – and that’s only possible because they made other, tough decisions.
Apple is often criticized because of strong limitations in their operating system. But mobile malware explodes just on Android devices. See these stats on
The fact that most of the industry argued these decisions were wrong (before ultimately copying them) shows you how powerful these decisions were.
Apple had an unusual connection with what customers really wanted, not what experts thought they did.
UI and UX …
Ease of use is arguably the biggest factor contributing to the success of Apple products. Whether its the iPhone, the iPad or a Mac, consumers can pop the devices out of the box and know how to use them. Thats not the case with many products. And it helps Apples sales immensely.
A fascinating document reflecting Apple’s philosophy are the The iOS Human Interface Guidelines.
Fusion of Soft- and Hardware …
Whereas many companies in the computing and mobile markets offer their own hardware, but use another firms software, Apple controls both sides of the coin. By doing so, it can ensure that all its customers get the same experience. Even better, it can guarantee that the software works well with the hardware. By controlling software and hardware, Apple is putting itself in a great position.
Over the years, the company brought the mouse to the computer, welcomed USB to its Macs before all others and, now, has included the Thunderbolt flat-panel display in its products. The company has also been working on killing off the DVD drive. Some of its moves might not always be popular, but in one way or another, they turn out to be a success.
Design and material …
Mobile devices, computers, Apple TV, Apple router, etc are premium designed products without any bells and whistles. The iPhone 4S is a great example for a precious device. It’s built of sensitive parts but customers don’t care and often give cases a miss to not destroy the look. Consumers care more than ever about what a gadget looks like. Apple is a premium provider of premium products with premium prices. That is how it wants the world to view it.
More about Apple’s Design Philosophy.
Lot’s of rumors are published whenever an event is in Apple’s timeline.
But Apple keeps its product plans secret, but still stoke the rumor mill.
Integrated services …
Apple created it’s own world of devices and integrated services and it’s the companies integral plan. If you purchase a device all what you need is an Apple ID and everything else is provided by Apple and it just works. I talk about iTunes, App Store, Apple Store, iCloud, iMessage, etc. No other company offers this level of integration.
Pulling not pushing …
When companies want to try to sell products to consumers, more often than not, they follow a push strategy that determines what customers are after and then provides them with that. Apple, however, follows a pull strategy that assumes consumers don’t know what they want, but are looking for something new and exciting. Apple did that with the iPod, iPhone and iPad. And we all know how well that went.
Through a remarkable fusion of consistency, focus, saying NO, choosing the right things and distinctive products, Apple has built a brand cachet like Rolex that any company would kill for. But ultimately, it’s really simple:
- People want their products
- Product desirability is always followed by profitability
The modern era of mobile devices …
There is no doubt about it, the credit belongs to Steve Jobs and it’s Tim Cook’s job to continue a unique philosophy of developing extraordinary products. Steve Jobs is the father of all the intangible assets which mainly cause Apple’s success.
Many other companies act publicly not reflecting their philosophy, if their is one.
Apple never had let this happen. Advertisement and public relations are fully controlled by the company and have to fit into the omnipresent philosophy.
It’s a hard job for Tim Cook.
There are strong competitors, developing markets where high prices are not enforceable, and a crowds of consumers not willing to follow the companies philosophy. And last but not least there are shareholders setting other priorities.
However that be …
I’m an Apple fan as long as it makes sense to be one.
A mind map …
If you already use a mind mapping tool you may download this map on
or download the map here from my Dropbox account:
Alternatively take a look on this gallery.
Some topics are inspired by opinions of Oliver Emberton, Founder of Silktide, UK and Apple shareholder completed by Thomas Unterstenhoefer, GER, Apple device user.
The future …
J. D. Lace is a well-known author of many sophisticated articles about Apple.
See his article about
About Steve Jobs …
Here are some mind maps about Steve Jobs on Biggerplate.com the worlds largest free mind map library.
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