Apple’s Supply Chain Improvement post-Jobs era

When I think about Apple Inc, two relatively recent events occur to me: the death of Steve Jobs late last year and the highly anticipated release of the iPhone 5. It was speculated that disaster would occur by correlating the two previously mentioned events. With the death of Jobs, many thought that Apple’s production quality and perfectionism would suffer, including the release of one of their big sellers after Job’s death: the iPhone 5.

Tim Cook, Steve Jobs’ successor, has put people’s qualms and worries to rest following the release of the iPhone 5. Many attribute it to Tim Cook’s mastery of Apple’s supply chain. An article I read in the Huffington Post, highlighted the difference between Jobs’ revolution angle versus Cook’s evolution angle. Cook focused more on the product launch and its release as opposed to Jobs’ meticulous attention to the product itself. Cook has proven that focusing on the often burdensome task of Supply chain can in turn make or break a product’s reception and release, the company’s earnings and the company itself.

Cook’s attention to the supply chain aspect has sped up the global launch of the iPhone 5. His methods have prompted Wall Street to raise  price targets for Apple stock due to economic optimism following the launch. Under Cook’s “production vision”, the iPhone 5 will be in 100 countries by the end of the year, 30 more than the iPhone 4S in a similar period.  Cook introduced a dividend to pay out part of the more than $100 billion cash stockpile, raised salaries for the low-paid Apple workforce and sped up product rollouts. Cook has also invited business partners (investors, analysts and executives) into the “lions den” so to speak, an action not previously entertained under Steve Jobs, to have a more hands on look at the work that Apple was doing now.

Cook’s attention and focus on the supply chain management aspect of Apple, has clearly shown lucrative results. While Steve Jobs may have made Apple revolutionize the industry by focusing on the user experience, Cook has proven that dealing with all production aspects can yield loyalty, optimism and productivity from investors, partners and consumers.

I wholeheartedly think that Steve Jobs was brilliant in his tactic to surround Apple’s products with a mystique prior to their launch and releases, as well as perfecting theproducts for end users and from the user expereience. However, Cook has proven that attention to supply chain is equally as important to the company as whole, and inviting partners into the process strengthens their loyalty to the company.

Where do you stand on this matter? Do you think Jobs’ approach is superior to Cook’s? Do you think Cook’s approach can be maintained and will keep working for the years to come? Should product release come before product user experience?


2 thoughts on “Apple’s Supply Chain Improvement post-Jobs era

  1. I think that Cook focusing on aspects of the company such as increasing the wages of low-paid apple workers, giving business partners a more hands on look, and giving out a dividend really shows his dedication not only to Apple but to the stakeholders. Often times, in America, stakeholders are forgotten about and the main focus of the company is on the increasing the share price. However, by appealing to the “little guys” so to speak, I think Cook will see, and is seeing, the benefits.

    I think Jobs had a great plan in attempting to keep Apples new releases a mystery, However, I think it was almost too played out. People began to get frustrated and I know when the 4S was released, it was not what the consumer was exactly hoping for. Although it was still a success, as everything with apple always is, I think that Cook being more transparent and open to the stakeholders is helping Apple continue its great success.

  2. Interesting post. I say this because when discussing Apple it is not often that the management of their supply chain is brought up. As far as the question you posed I don’t think that one approach is superior and one inferior. I believe that both approaches are effective. However, both approaches will prove superior in different situations. In cooks’s approach the emphasis on supply chain management will work for a company that provides a product that is always in demand. The more efficient a supply chain is the greater the profits the company sees. Jobs approach, the focusing on the product, works for a company that is always seeking to bring the most cutting edge and state of the art product to the market in order to stay in demand. Apple, in my opinion, needs the latter. The company has to focus on the product in order to maintain the high level of demand that it currently enjoys. The moment that the company stops innovating and bringing the “next big thing” to the market it will likely falter and be surpassed by another innovative company. Similar to what apple did to RIM. Ideally you would want both, a focus on the product as well as a focus on the supply chain. However if forced to choose I would say that it depends on the company and its products. In Apple’s case I believe it would have to be the emphasis on the product itself because if it’s products are no longer the most innovative it will not matter that they have the most efficient supply chain in the industry. They are not immune to the viciousness of the competitive market, and they too can fall from grace and into oblivion. Agree or disagree?

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