Sound of the Evolution: Ear-itated No More.

“Can you hear me now?”

One word to describe Apple? Mine would be: Evolution. When taking any of their products into consideration, ask yourself this: When was the last time this product was updated? Probably not too long ago..

The trick with Apple is, that nothing is “too small” to change. Any change, no matter how seemingly incremental is done with purpose at Apple. This ranges from the bigger products such as laptops and tablets to the smaller, such as with their earphones. Considering there isn’t exactly a shortage of Operations-related Apple news on our blog site, what’s one more? Apple’s operations are so constantly in flux and evolving, there’s a lot to explore with their operations/products.

Shortly following the release of the iPhone 5, people were suddenly seeing a television commercial for the newly redesigned slick Apple earphones, now dubbed Earpods. The commercial effectively highlighted all the issues consumers had with the previous headphones incarnation, and explained how the new Earpods were designed for comfort, quality and sound transmission. While some might think this minor change to such a small product isn’t a big deal, the fact is that it actually is a big deal, especially from an operations standpoint.

Think back to product strategy options in chapter five’s Design of Goods and Services. When we think about Apple’s products and their constant changes and updates, this evolution technique of theirs is a clear example of the differentiation product strategy. Consider their aluminum laptops, iPad introduction, the iPod, the touchscreen smartphone and the App store. All of which revolutionized the electronic product industry, often imitated by competitors but never replicated. Apple effectively dominated their market because they introduced most of these product concepts, they wanted their products to have an edge that their competition lacked.

After the Earpods came to my attention, I read two articles on Wired and Engadget reviewing the Earpods and praising them for eliminating the problems that the older earphones had. Apple stated, “A breakthrough design for a more natural fit and increased durability, and an incredible acoustic quality typically reserved for higher-end earphones.” And they delivered. The sound is clearer, less rubber and metal, they feed sound comfortably on the edge of the ear canal, airflow and bass are sharper and they’re sleeker and conform to most ear shapes/sizes.

Operationally, when creating the Earpods Apple utilized Quality Function Deployment, wherein they identified customer wants and satisfied them. The Earpods differentiate in two ways, the first being that they’re physically/structurally very unique in appearance, sleek yet functional. The second is that they  retail for $29, the same as the old models. Not to mention, free with the iPhone 5 or new iPod. You get the quality of earphones that usually sell for $100+ but at the previous price. Apple listened to their customers and it paid off in satisfaction.

Where do you think? Do you think the Earphones are a testament to Apple’s evolution or is it an unnecessary change? Should Apple’s differentiation have a different target?


Samsung to set out the next big thing?!

This month has been filled with announcements including the new iPad mini made earlier this Tuesday, followed by Samsung on Wednesday, and Window’s 8 unveiling with Surface RT tablets on Thursday. With the holiday season around the corner, Google is expected to launch the Samsung 10 tablet and the LG Nexus smartphone next week. With Samsung becoming the closest competitor next to Apple with their latest product in the market, the Galaxy S3 has become a great success in the smartphone market.

In the ongoing legal issue between Apple and Samsung, Apple is expected to switch from using the A-series SoCs to TMSC, Taiwanese-based semiconductor firm which are used a lot on Android products. Samsung had originally manufactured the chip but didn’t get the chance to implement it into any of their products. I guess that means in the near future, Apple apps are going to look like Android widgets, so we are expecting to see changes in the future with our iphones and ipads. As Apple might be going downhill soon, Samsung on the other hand continues to rise in innovation. With Korea being the leading world in technology, Samsung puts amazing designs to make their products appealing to consumers. Not to mention, their graphics are better than the iPad 3, and apps are faster and can multitask a lot faster on the current Galaxy tablet as shown on one of their ads, you would see a woman turning over to the Galaxy tablet from the iPad. With all these numerous technologies emerging today, do you think Samsung will someday become the leading company in technology following the success of the Galaxy line?



Colorblind : Does Color Really Matter?



Apple has finally announced their iPad Mini. It’s set to be available for sale on November 2nd, with pre-orders starting October 25th. It’s 7.2 mm thick and weighs just 308 mg, but still has the same size screen as the iPad 2.  It features two cameras, a 5 megapixel rear camera and a 1.2 megapixel front camera.

A day after it was made available for pre-order, the Chicago Tribune released an article stating that the white iPad mini has been sold out. As we all know, all Apple products come in two colors, white and black, leaving only black iPad minis available for pre-order. The expected shipping date for the white has been set to two weeks while the black is still available to ship out November 2nd.

So, why is it that something so simple as color makes such a big difference in sales? Being black or white has no impact on the function or the performance of the product. I have seen many instances where the color of the product was made out to be just as important as its performance. There are some car models, clothing items, and other products that are priced differently due to color as well. One retail store I used to work at always priced clothes that were black more than other colors.

Even for me, I find myself being more attracted to white Apple products. My iPhone, iPad 2 , and iPod are all white. I think they look more feminine and pretty compared to the black. I have many friends that have chosen their phones and other Apple products based on color.

So tell me, does color really matter? How big of a role does color design of products play in your decision making? Would you wait for more of the white iPad minis to be available or just purchase the black model and receive it on time?,0,4979541.story

King of the Hill? Is Apple in Trouble?

Another day, another keynote by the great folks at Apple. It seems that this company continues to release products that are absolutely “magical”; but are they really?

On October 23, 2012 Apple released the iPad mini along with a slew of other products (13inch Retina MacBook Pro, updated Mac Mini, updated iMac) with a hoorah from the majority of the tech bloggers.  The iPad features a sleek new design incorporating a 7.9-inch screen packed into a lightweight chassis with incredibly slim bezel. This produces a beautiful product that will surely sell like hot cakes.

So what is the issue? Competition! Unlike the original 10inch iPad, the iPad mini launches into a market with some serious competition. The iPad mini has to contend with the likes of the Nexus 7 by Asus and the Kindle Fire HD by Amazon. On paper the competition sport much better specs and price points.


Most tend to agree the screen is the most important component of a tablet. Apple prides itself on producing products with screens that are the highest quality to produce the most like life images. Well if that is a fact, the iPad mini does not fit the bill. The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD feature higher pixel density (216 PPI vs 163 PPI) that theoretically should produce a much higher quality images. That fact alone should make the iPad Mini a flop.

The second specification that many tend to focus on when buying a new device is the processing speed of the device. You guessed it the iPad mini falls short in this category. It uses Apple’s A5 chip employed in the iPad way back in 2011 unlike the competition that uses the latest quad-core chip by Nvidia – the Targa 3.

Third and probably the most important – price. The iPad mini is priced a full $130 higher then the more powerful competition. This will surely turn away some consumers.

Are we seeing the demise of Apple? Is apple slipping on the design of goods? Will Apple be the next Sony? Many Apple fans will argue that specs do not matter and I tend to agree. All the specs above do not necessarily mean anything if the device looks beautiful and functions as it should. The issue arises when the early adopters become disappointed with the products Apple releases. This is what I’m afraid is going on with the iPad Mini. Many tech writers and die-hard Apple geeks are absolutely disappointed with the specs and price point of the iPad Mini. What I am afraid of is there early adopters will spread their disappointment to the early and late majority of customers and hurt sales.


What do you think? Is Apple in trouble?

Knowing the Future, for the Stability of Present

Knowing the Future, for the Stability of Present

Everything in our daily lives requires a form of forecasting for us to be able to predict what to wear, consume, and safety. Hurricane Sandy, which is forecasted to hit the East Coast, helps people with their safety and precautions we  have to take to secure their lives, family, and home. Many people are planning to evacuate because of the information given about the hurricane in advance. We depend on these types of information for our health and safety. Depending on whether the weather channel says if it will rain or snow, we all dress according to that. Due to the current weather situation, many fliers have to consider their delay and canceling of flights. This delays a lot of business process and other situations and airlines have to consider this when rescheduling flights for the process to run again. Forecasting is a major aspect of our life and the information is depended upon for the present to be as smooth as possible.

Most retailers have already forecasted for the sales of fourth quarter, holiday season. They want to produce as much as the demand is suggested for, their revenue depends upon it. Forecasting is a major  aspect of any job. It tells you how many to hire to produce a certain amount, how much of the product will be sold, and this information is critical because competitors thrive on an advantage to do better than you do. Halloween season creates a high demand for candy, which if forecasting did not occur either we would not have enough candy or surplus or either situations have negative consequences on the revenue and growth of the company.

Apple is on top of the technology world right now. Their products are sold and back ordered for months because their demand is incredible. Currently IPad mini in white are completely sold out and even though black ones are still available, their inventory does not have enough for those who demand it. They are losing on business for those that could have been sold if availability was an option. Having a demand forecasted accurately would help the business grow and keep consumers happy. Loyal customers will always stay as long as possible but those who are indecisive about a brand will potentially lose a customer if forecasting is not done accurately.

In what other ways do we use forecasting for our daily lives?,0,3996884.story,0,4979541.story

The iPad Mini: Bigger Problems for a Smaller Consumer?


It comes as no surprise that Apple has done extremely well over the past year.  They have released a new iPad, the iPhone 5, and are now apparently gearing up to release the all new iPad Mini.

There have been many rumors circulating around the release of the new Apple product.  However, none of them can be stamped with a guarantee.  Apple has been very quiet when it comes to questions about the new iPad Mini.  There are many speculators out there though.  Some of these speculations are as follows:

  1. The Screen:  The screen of the iPad Mini will be smaller than the previous iPad models.  It is said to be roughly 7.85 inches (diagonally).  This does not seem to be a shocker though, it is called the “mini.”
  2. No Retina Display:  The iPad Mini will not have the same screen resolution as the previous iPad models.  The newest Apple products are highly valued for the excellent screen quality.
  3. The Lightning Port:  This is a new feature that is also part of the iPhone 5.  The Lightning Port is where the iPad Mini will connect to supplementary technology, as well as chargers.
  4. Storage:  The iPad Mini will most likely fall in line with other Apple products.  The model(s) will most likely be available with 16, 32, or 64 GB storage components.

The iPad Mini seems to be a great idea to the naked eye.  People say it will be more convenient than the original iPad and easier to use.  There are also many rumors circulating that say the iPad Mini was designed so that it can be marketed to children and people who might have a lower income.  The iPad will be cheaper given the size of the product.  This could allow for lower income consumers to purchase and use the Apple product.  It is also said that the iPad Mini is going to be marketed to lower level educational institutions.  The smaller size of the iPad Mini allows for it to be more functional with children and young teenagers.  The interaction between child and technology allows for more efficient teaching inside and outside of these educational institutions.

Although this product sounds amazing, there are many questions that come along with it. There are a number of skeptics who are saying the iPad Mini is just simply a scam.  It is nothing but a shrunken version of the iPad.  It also seems to be very convenient for Apple to be releasing this product, which is going to be heavily marketed towards children, right around the holiday season.  The consumers will not only have to purchase the iPad, but they will also have to purchase the new adaptors for the new Lightning Port.  This being one more thing the consumer has to spend money on.

Apple is well aware of what they are doing.  They know that people have millions of accessories for their Apple products.  The release of new products that require adaptors is a whole new revenue stream for Apple.  Old products are going to be replaced by new products that are able to function with the new Lightning Port.  Some of these adaptors already cost upwards of $3o.00.  This is interesting too because Apple has to now forecast a whole new sector of business.  The Lightning Port provides Apple with a whole new realm of consumer purchases.  Adaptors will need to be produced and consumers will purchase them.  The iPad Mini also requires a new level of forecasting.  If they are in fact going to market to a younger generation, they will have to compensate for many younger age groups, schools, and other institutions.

Apple is the only one who can support or disprove these speculations.  However, one could still ask – what do you think?  Is Apple just trying to pull a fast one?



Apple is Taking Over China


Throughout this quarter, I have learned how firms keep their OM decision areas in line with their completive strategy. That reminds me a firm from global market and it shows us how they do business in other countries.  This is an example from an IT legend-Apple.



On September 26th in 2011, Apple opens its first retail stores in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Apple realized that Taiwan, Mainland China and Hong Kong are the great market which has a lot of opportunities to expand Apple businesses. Because in Hong Kong, people have vey high demand of smart phones such as iPhone and most Hong Kong people like the Apple products as much as Americans do. However, there were no any Apple retail stores, so people can only buy the Apple products from other local retailers or online stores. Since Apple has slowed the pace of large-store opening in China because there are too many copycats’ stores in the region. Apple also found some fake retail stores in China, but those stores are still cannot impact the sales of Apple.

However, Apple has competitor such like Sony Ericsson, Samsung are the tough for Apple since they already have large market share in mainland China. Even though Apple is a very large company in the global market; they still struggle to expand their businesses in other countries where have too many competitors. In the economic environment, since the Apple retail stores open in Hong Kong, it affects the resellers businesses. It is because the Apple retail store is too powerful in the market. Therefore, the small businesses may be bankrupt because of the new Apple retail stores opened. Nowadays, Apple is one of the well-known and successful companies in the global market; they created many new products which people would follow their idea to develop their businesses. Apple is an example of licensing strategy. They are using the resources from Hong Kong and China such as human resources; Apple established the factories to produce Apple products in China. Moreover, in the sociocultural environment, Apple has a successful strategy to cater for the Hong Kong culture. Hong Kong people require higher demand of great quality services and problem solving efficiency. Thus, Apple provides fast respond for customers’ problems and quality warranty for any Apple products. The strategy of Apple reflected that they have a great sense of Hong Kong culture. In the economic environment, Hong Kong and Shanghai are the developed cities; there have a lot of opportunities for foreign companies. Since there have intense competitions, foreign companies have to face risks and challenges, but they still stand to reap huge benefits in the future. Apple is the one of the big company that wants to reap the benefits from China market.

If you are an operation manager of a famous firm, how could you expand the business in global market? What issue should you concern about? And what competitive strategy will you apply to the global market but except develops the location/competitive strategy, design of goods and services, supply-chain management and managing the quality of products, what else?


Source: The Wall Street Journal by Jason Chow, September 26, 2011




Forecasts vs. rumors

Corporations like Apple, Samsung and Motorola; we hear rumors about them all the time. Like Apple with the iPhone 5, and Samsung with the new S3 and Motorola with the new Atrix 3.

I still can’t forget when everyone I know didn’t buy their iPhone 4 waiting for iPhone 5 and they were disappointed with the iPhone 4s. And now, the same thing is happening, people who are about to upgrade their phones and didn’t buy the S2 saying they’ll wait for the new Galaxy S3 and or iPhone 5.

Since I am obsessed with technology, and I keep up to date by buying the latest gadgets in the market. And while doing this course, during class when we were talking about product cycles and inventory management, I began wondering. At that very moment, I remember when I was thinking in my own world, when my teacher asked me a question that I didn’t pay attention to, and I had to ask her to repeat the question again. It was about the product life cycle and how short it is with technology.

Then during class, we started looking at the forecasting time horizon, during this part of the discussion; I was wondering what is their forecast period? Short?

We move on to the forecast methods, and during that very specific part I was trying to see which method they could possibly use? I know as the Professor said, forecasts are seldom perfect. However, they need some kind of forecast to keep the inventory right.

Immediately two blog posts of my colleagues came to my mind. First, Car dealerships with zero cars to sell. Corporations like Apple and Samsung do not want to be like those dealerships.

Second, Why Guess When You Can Forecast?

I quote from my colleague post:

“The mistake our team made was to purchase the product inventory from manufacturing companies without accurately forecasting the demand for those products.

The result? We ended up with far more inventory than we could sell. Food products are perishable; their expiration deadlines are much shorter than for other consumer goods. As those expiry dates approached, a considerable percentage of the inventory we had bought was wasted in our own warehouse. Needless to say, the company suffered some heavy losses.”

I think those corporations deal with this situation very frequently, in fact, the news of the S3 affected the iPhone 4s sales in some regions specifically in Bahrain. I do not have data to back my theory but I have seen this happening.

I wonder how does corporations like Apple deal with those rumors? How can they forecast the demand on the existing products when there is a rumor about a new product? I believe those corporations are living on the edge with their products and forecasts. They probably calculate the risk and add it to the product price to cover the forecast loses? I don’t know. But I can tell you this, it must be really hard.