EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists



Strategy

Read

  1. Fill out class info card: [link to be added]
  2. Read: What is strategy? (HBS course materials)
  3. Review: Price/Features matrix
  4. Read: Apple Inc. in 2012 (HBS course materials)
  5. Skim: Articles on Apple management changes

Case Summary

On October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs tragically died of cancer. The recently retired CEO of Apple Inc. was a legend: he had changed Apple from a company near bankruptcy to one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world. Moreover, he had revolutionized several industries in the process, including music, phones, and computer tablets. This case explores Steve Jobs' successes and the challenges facing his successor, Tim Cook. Could Cook continue to revitalize the Macintosh? With iPod sales declining for four straight years, would Cook be able to continue the iPhone's dominance of smartphones in the face of growing competition from companies such as Google and Samsung? Would Apple's newest creation, the iPad, continue to dominate the tablet market, or would the new competitors, ranging from Amazon to Samsung, steal, share and drive down profits? And could Apple thrive with Tim Cook rather than Steve Jobs at the helm?

Discussion Questions

  1. Apple 1976-1985
    • What created the initial opportunity for Apple?
    • What was their strategy at this point?
  2. Apple 1985-1997
    • What changed when the IBM PC came onto the market?
    • How did Apple respond?
  3. Apple 1997-2001
    • How did Apple survive its near bankruptcy in 1996?
    • What trade-offs has Apple made since Jobs began the Apple Turnaround in September 1997? Why were these trade-offs made?
  4. Apple 2001-2012
    • Describe how Apple brought a sense of "fit" into its product line.
    • What kind of strategic positioning does Apple employ?
    • Where does Apple fit in the price/features matrix?
    • Why did Apple embrace the Intel processor in 2006?
  5. Financials
    • Using Exhibit 1a, describe Apple's financial history. Look specifically at sales and net income.
    • Using Exhibit 1b, what products were driving this financial performance?
  6. What is your forecast for Apple's future? Consider the recent firings and management changes. Are they bad?

Amusing Links

  1. Apple “1984” Commercial
  2. Microsoft Vista Commercial (2006)
  3. Windows Laptop Hunters (2008)
  4. Steve Jobs Video
  5. SNL Weekend Update IPhone

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005