If you asked people whether they thought Apple was in the same business as the other smartphone, laptops and other gadget manufacturers, their answers should be pretty unanimous and you’d be surprised by how many people actually told you that they thought Apple was different. If you asked why they thought Apple was different, then their answers would vary – anything from the design to their operating system and from the quality to the user experience. Now, if you think Apple is in fact different, why?
Below is the Business Strategy section in Apple’s 2010 annual report (you can find it here).
As it might come striking to many people, Apple explicitly clarifies its commitment is on bringing the best user experience to its customers by providing superior ease-of-use, seamless integration and innovative industrial design. And such commitment is toward their strategy to uniquely position themselves. UNIQUELY POSITION!
It’s astounding in three ways.
First, this was back in 2010, where the concepts like user experience or seamless integration were not even fully introduced. Such concepts were maybe the turf for some specific roles within a company like designers and system engineers. However they knew that such concepts were going to be their true north and decided to be committed at the entire company level.
Second, Apple didn’t want to be differentiated but wanted to be “uniquely positioned.” From a strategist’s standpoint, being differentiated is doing different things or doing things differently. It’s a good thing but itself is not sufficient to provide long-term sustainability and durability because such things are eventually imitable. On the other hand, being uniquely positioned means defining one’s own and unique axis of value and creating its own competitive dimension based on such unique axis. When you own such unique dimension, it’s a sum of a company-wide strategic efforts and your position will reinforce itself over time as long as you’re committed to it. Also, name one company other than Apple that manufactures gadgets but is not saying their strategy is to produce the most technologically advanced or superior products and become the world’s best manufacturer. In the game of the likes, it’s only natural that Apple has become Apple of today.
Third, Apple has stayed true to their commitment for the past 11 years. 11 years!! In fact it’s been longer than 11 years because there had always been a similar version of the statement for the same commitment in their strategy. Imagine, even till late 2010’s when the technology was much less sophisticated and computing power was a fraction of today’s, how challenging it would have been for them to manifest such commitment. But they kept at their commitment (a very similar variance was there in their 10-K’s till 2018 and then they took the Business Strategy section out from there 10-K’s) up until today and with the advancement of technologies now people see Apple in a different dimension from other manufacturers’.
Now I think I must mind you that I’m not writing this because I’m an Apple fan boy – even though I’m an Apple fan boy. lol
I’m only writing this because I’d love to see more entrepreneurs understanding the importance of the ability to define one’s own dimension to fight and staying committed to it! And THAT is strategy!
Now, I’d love to ask all entrepreneurs this question: What is YOUR strategy?