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By Luanne Teoh on 08-25-2011


Yesterday marked the end of an era for Silicon Valley with the resignation of Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO. The news shook the global computer industry as Jobs announced his plan to take a backseat and is handing the reigns over to Tim Cook (former Apple COO) to run the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company.

As the world reacted in shock to the news and Apple stock took a temporary dip, here is our take on why Apple will not only be stable but will continue to thrive with its consumer focused strategy and brilliant products — Besides, how can you lose with a strategy that’s completely consumer focused, revolutionizing and brilliant at the same time?

1) Company Culture - Apple’s internal cult-like culture of Think Different is as distinctive a tagline as it is within its culture. Concepts like conventional wisdom does not seem to exist at Apple and is evident from its products, retail stores, marketing messages and leadership. In fact, the reason for its brilliant products is due to its culture and its culture creates brilliant products. How else can you explain a company that has continually revived, revolutionized  and invented new industries for the last three decades?

2) Superior Products  - With each product it releases, Apple either invents or revolutionizes an industry. Here are some examples.

  • iTunes and the revival of profits for the music industry that was seriously tanking with the onslaught of illegal downloads. Through iTunes, consumers gladly pay for music instead of downloading it free through shareware the way Napster first taught us how to do so on a  mass scale.
  • iPad and the invention of a whole new way of content consumption. Really, did we even have any idea what an iPad was before the iPad?
  • MacBook Air. A computer that is thinner and lighter than most magazines. Need I say more?
  • The iPod series which allows you to listen to music, watch videos and play games on the go.
  • iPhone and the creation of the the multi-billion dollar apps and games industry, jobs and companies across the globe.

3) Innovation & Design – According to a BNET report, the way Apple “reliably churns out the industrial equivalents of Da Vinci paintings stems from the meticulous care and feeding provided to a specific group: The Creatives.” The company culture and strategic management structure of Apple specifically challenges the status quo through the following;

  • Ignoring fads and competition – Take the extremely low-margin and red ocean of the Windows based Netbook for instance. In one sweep, Apple released the iPad and wiped out the Netbook demand. Incidently, the cheapest model iPad is five times the price of the cheapest tablet in the market (the HP Touchpad, currently on a fire sale at $99).
  • Product innovation – The invention of the iPod is another example of Apple innovating instead of competing. The MP3 player market was already in existence when the iPod was released and was dominated by Sony, Creative and smaller brands like Sonic Blue and Rio. Through one fell swoop of superior product design and marketing, Apple trumped the combined sales of all the MP3 players in the market.
  • Flattening corporate hierarchies - Most decisions come directly from Jobs as he puts himself in the front of photo shoots, keynotes, interviews and customers. Large companies with multi-levels of hierarchy will defer and split those roles between the head of corporate communications, head of marketing, the CEO, head of sales and a host of other inflated roles.

All three areas above are so deeply ingrained in Apple’s culture that the next chief that takes over (Tim Cook) will only have to follow the template that has already been set in stone for him. Especially when he will still have Jobs as his mentor and to help him oversee the company.

According to Jobs in a press release, “I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.”

Steve Job’s legacy at Apple’s include its 313 patents which lists Jobs as among the group of inventors. As Jobs leaves the Apple stage, I am reminded of a quote through a commencement speech he gave to Stanford University’s class of 2005 (video below).

– ”Remembering that you re going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart” – Steve Jobs (after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.)

There is something infinitely inspiring about a leader who knows when to quit while still at the top of his game.

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