The case of this week is Apple, Inc. in 2015. I have a feeling that many of you already own Apple products, an iPod or an Apple computer, perhaps a tablet, so the company really needs no introduction. It’s one of America’s most valuable companies in terms of market capitalization, stock price multiplied by number of shares outstanding. And it’s also one of the pioneers in terms of technology innovation.

And as you read the case, you will see the variety of products it has launched. And the reason for using Apple as the case is, that Apple has actually gone through two generations. It began as a computer company, and as you read the case, you will find it’s transformed itself to, really, a digital entertainment company, where it offers digital products of various sorts, digital content. And that’s one aspect to consider in this case. And the other is, of course, its advantages.

How did Apple develop its superior performance in a rapidly changing technology environment? And as you read the case, you’ll be able to come across various ideas that might explain how Apple has been able to obtain superior performance over a fairly long span of time, over at least the decade 2000 through 2010. And of course, the last question that you need to think about is, how sustainable is Apple’s advantage?

So as you reach 2015 and of course we all know the leader, Steve Jobs, passed away and so the company’s now under new management; we want to ask the question, what are the advantages that Apple has, have led to its success, and how sustainable are these advantages going forward, given that in any industry with high profitability, your competitors are watching you, trying to imitate you, trying to catch up with you and obtain some of those same profits for themselves?

I hope you find the case useful, and of course, I think it’s a very relevant case, and one that you have first-hand experience of. As you walk through the case, link it to the concepts around technology strategy, vertical integration, and diversification.

Apple Inc. in 2015, Harvard Business School, 9-715-456

After reading the case, respond to these questions:

  1. How has Apple performed in the PC industry? What is your evaluation of its performance in the PC business?
  2. Assess Apple’s iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, iWatch and ApplePay strategies and performance. How would you compare them to its Mac strategy?
  3. How durable is Apple’s current success and industry position? What threats does it face? What would you recommend?


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