Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lessons of Apple's rise

Apple is one of the largest companies in the world, and after releasing new sales figures yesterday, those numbers continue to grow.  Apple hit new records for its stock price, quarterly profit & revenue and iPhone/iPad sales.

This monstrous growth is even more impressive when you consider that much of it came in the middle of a recession/slow growing economy.  There are many different reasons for Apple's success (far too many to be listed in this blog entry), but there are also a few lessons that any business can learn from Apple's rise.  Here are a few important points.

1)  Be first:  Speed kills.  Before there was any other tablet or smart-phone like the iPhone, there simple was the iPhone.  Apple beat all of its competitors to a lucrative market, a position that it has yet to truly relinquish. Takeaway: What can you offer that no one else does?  And how can you position yourself in the market for success?

2)  Be different:  Apple wasn't just first; it was totally unique.  Even at the risk of cannibalizing its own products (iPad sales are coming at the extend of Mac sales), Apple released a series of products (iPod, iPhone, iPad) that were totally different, or a vast improvement, on anything else available on the market.  Takeaway: Think about the products/services in your industry, and ask yourself, what can you do that can make you stand above the competition?

3)  Supply matters:  The iPad sold  9.25 million units last quarter, largely a result of Apple solving its supply problems (according to the article, shipping of an iPad is now 1-3 days after an order - at one point, it was up to six weeks).  If you cannot get a product to a customer quickly, especially in this on-demand society, it won't sell as well.  Takeaway: Do you have enough supplies to make your product sell, and sell quickly?  If you are a service business, do you have enough staff/capacity to properly and promptly perform the service you are selling?

4)  The Halo effect:  Apple refers to a "Halo effect" - whereby buyers of some of their products (iPad, iPhone, iPod) go on to purchase more expensive products at a later date (like a Mac) due to overall satisfaction with their brand.  Virtually business offers just one product anymore - how can you take advantage of a Halo effect?  Takeaway: Never stop at just one sale.  Instead, make sure your customers are fully aware of all of the products and services you offer - create your own brand, and your own halo effect.

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