By Malcolm Manness - November 27, 2012| Tickers: AAPL, XOM, GOOG| 4 Comments Share on emailEmail
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Malcolm is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinions of our bloggers and are not formally edited.
Understanding Apple – SWOT Analysis
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) now has the largest market cap of any company. It zoomed past Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and never looked back. It is one of the most popular and recognized brands worldwide, although it seems to draw as much hatred from some as love from others.
So let’s take a look at the iconic brand here a bit removed from the daily headlines.
I. - Strengths
1- User Interface
Without a doubt, Apple engineers have an extraordinary knack for envisioning simple, intuitive user interfaces. The Mac computer was leader in this for personal computers. (Yes - I know they bought the base design from Xerox PARC. Still, they did lots of work to refine it and bring it to commercial market.) The iPod revolution was based not only on the physical design, but equally on the ease of use of its click-wheel interface.
The iPhone and iPad then revolutionize the smartphone and tablet categories. All previous smartphones were pushed into a feature-phone category, and all previous tablet computers were totally shamed as iOS was so far in advance.
The Apple User Interface now extends into the Cloud. Apple has integrated their iCloud service in such a seamless manner, that it is almost transparent to the user. The user takes a photo on the iPhone, it is immediately uploaded to the Photo Stream in iCloud, and shows up on the user’s computer or iPad. It will also show up on other users who are specified in a shared folder.
2 – Hardware Design
Apple continues to innovate in the area of hardware design. Some innovations are: •their own A-series chips for iDevices: Where others use general purpose ARM based integrated circuit chips to drive their devices, each A-series chip is designed specifically for the devices it is to power, designed explicitly to meet Apple’s specific requirements; •the unibody design for the laptops: provides a lighter, stronger case for the MacBooks; •the multi-touch track pad on the laptops: was new & innovative; •the magnetic charger connection on the MacBooks;
•all the iDevices: the build quality is surpassed by no other; •The newest iPhone 5 is regarded as a gold standard in terms of its durability as well as the iOS.
In each of these examples, hardware design – aesthetics aside – is always of high quality, and uses the latest technology that is ready.
3 – Aesthetic Design
Apple has always been highly regarded for the aesthetics of its design. This has led many detractors to claim that the Macs were no more than pretty toys and those who bought them did so only for their looks. Users, however, particularly artist, always appreciated the fact that the designers of the operating system cared so much about aesthetics that they wanted the externals to reflect the high design ideals of the internal system.
Thus, the innovative lines of the iMac mirrored the minimalistic design philosophy of the Mac operating system.
This ideal of minimalism and clean simple lines has been copied by other manufacturers in computers and elsewhere.
4 – Supply Chain Management
If Steve Jobs was known as a genius of design, then Tim Cook is (so has been said) a genius of supply chain management. The efficient coordination of the suppliers of components and manufacturing is second to none. Additionally, Apple negotiates extremely favorable terms on components due to both the size of its orders, and its ability to pay in advance from cash when it is appropriate. At times it has helped to build production capacity in order to meet its demand, which is particularly important with brand new technologies. All this helps provides the...