Apple Reaches $1 Trillion in Market Value: What Can We Learn from This Business Success?
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By Dr. Ronald Johnson
Professor, School of Business, American Public University
August 2, 2018, was a HUGE day in the world of business. On that day, Apple became the first U.S. company to reach a market value of $1 trillion. But what are the keys to Apple’s unique success?
Over the past 20 years, there have been three elements that helped Apple reach this significant milestone. Those elements are its business model, its leadership and its corporate values.
Apple Business Model Makes Customers Use a Closed Internal Ecosystem
Dr. Johanna Montgomery of the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change at the University of Manchester, England, believes that Apple’s success is due to its business model, specifically its physical supply chain and how it is used to create an end-to-end customer experience. This business model and strategy are useful in encouraging Apple customers to buy products in the Apple ecosystem.
For example, the Macintosh computer has always operated in a closed operating system. The next big Apple product was the iPod MP3 music player. In its first years, the iPod was only compatible with the Apple operating system. The iPod then used the Apple iTunes Store to sell and deliver music, movies and television programs.
The iPad tablet computer followed this closed ecosystem concept by using the App Store, where users were able to find the programs they needed to operate the tablet. This business model has enabled Apple to “own the consumer,” driving and holding consumers in its ecosystem.
Apple Had Visionary and Talented Leadership
Another reason for Apple’s success is the quality of its leaders, Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Jobs founded Apple along with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne on April 1, 1976, in Cupertino, California. Jobs was CEO until a power struggle with the board led to his resignation in 1985.
His return as CEO in 1997 began the turnaround to Apple’s current success. Jobs remained CEO until his death in 2011.
Cook became CEO just prior to Jobs’ death, and these two CEOs are the two leaders the public connects with Apple. However, both have a completely different approach to leadership.
Jobs was a very charismatic and volatile leader. If one were to look up the word visionary in the dictionary, you might see a picture of Jobs.
Cook, on the other hand, is the epitome of the laid-back leader. While many people viewed Jobs as a visionary, Cook is seen as more of a stable leader.
Also, Cook is a fierce defender of the Apple ethos established by Jobs. He constantly reminds his team to remember the “Apple Values.”
Apple Values Create Ethical Operating Framework for Its Leaders and Employees
After Apple reached its $1 trillion market value, CEO Cook told the staff that its market worth is not what drives Apple. Putting products and customers first and always staying true to the company values are the keys to Apple’s success.
Employees do their work according to a series of corporate values created in 1981:
- One person, one computer.
- We are going for it and we will set aggressive goals.
- We are all on the adventure together.
- We build products we believe in.
- We are here to make a positive difference in society, as well as make a profit.
- Each person is important; each has the opportunity and the obligation to make a difference.
- We are all in it together, win or lose.
- We are creative; we set the pace.
- We want everyone to enjoy the adventure we are on together.
- We care about what we do.
- We want to create an environment in which Apple values flourish.
Cook also recalled that Steve Jobs created Apple on the belief that human creativity can create the products that can change the world. It’s debatable whether Jobs or Cook has been more influential to the company’s success. But together, they have made Apple the company it is today – continuing to be poised for a very successful future.
About the Author
A product of the military’s voluntary higher education system, Dr. Ronald Johnson earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. He also holds a master’s degree in human relations from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from the University of Maryland University College. Ron’s classrooms were in the United Kingdom, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Bosnia. He considers it his highest honor serving military students to help them reach their academic goals.