Apple is an extremely well-organized company, exhibiting every aspect of Jobs’ conscientiousness and culture. The current team and CEO may have replaced Jobs, but his genius has neither match nor equal in qualities. He had an exceptional ability of creating products that never fell short of consumer expectations; his astute adeptness in outdoing an opponent resulted from an in-held quality. Jobs strongly made a revision to previous decisions, called of launching of products that had flaws and sent teams to start at scratch ifa failure was looming. Apple is to struggle for a leader with the discipline and a disciple of excellence such as Jobs. Can Cook and his team summon the conviction to knockout a product at the verge of a launch? If so, Apple still requires a leader who can send teams to scratch without pulling their morale down instead motivating it. Can Tim Cook and his team outlive the skepticism they receive since Jobs’ demise? It is clear that all eyes are on Apple, and few actually believe in the leadership’s ability to weather a storm or advance Apple’s legacy like Jobs. Since Apple is not the biggest company, by chance, it is its ability to deliver superior products all times, any deviation or perception of inferiority will lower the reputation. Apple must work with consciousness of scrutiny and public expectation that the leadership will prove itself. There must be internal meetings and agreements on how to deal with Jobs’ absence, there must be people who will stand up to just good enough products and seek their refinement, and there must be a conscious effort to raise the bar (Kendrick 2011).
Apple iPhone is a product that almost gives the competitors a knockout in the competition ring (Lai 2010). Its sales volume is record, but there are many issues that Apple overlooked and are inherent weaknesses concerning the iPhone. The craze of the iPhone has succeeded so far in concealing the hidden costs of an iPhone. Apple needs to reorganize internally and rectify these shortcomings; first, iPhones battery life is continuously negating Apple’s campaign and promise of a cheaper iPhone. The cost of replacing an iPhone battery is expensive by $45.96, and requires shipping costs since it is only replaceable at the company’s factory after 400 charging times (Lai 2010). The plan of refining the iPhone into half size and sleek device has compromised the battery capacity; Apple is facing the challenge in deciding what to do if competitors use this disadvantage as a scoring point.
The complimentary services accompanying the iPhone, though not pronounced are internal issues requiring articulation; the iPhone App. Store versus Google’s Android market is a real issue. Apple’s internal leadership seems to be indecisive on whether to pursue its own line, or adopt the Google style, that is more popular due to its allowance of downloading without vetting the Apps. The tight control of its application store and the vast choice Android users have from Google should and is giving Apple’s management a need for internal rethink of their product enhancement, alteration or collection (Lai 2010). Another product failure hidden in the shadow of its success is a security concern. The management must wake up to their failure in building a protective wall against security threats. Their competitor, Microsoft has a strong malware protection with Apple’s Mac OS X ranking lower in preference. It may be intrinsically strong, but the sluggish response by Apple to publicly known vulnerabilities is an internal challenge requiring proof of competence and restoration of confidence. For instance, Apple is the largest user of the Open SSL, yet it took 75 days to respond to a hole in it long after other small users; this is a dent in the management’s commitment to security and protection that is yet to show convincing results. Apple’s back up is another issue it is facing; its local backup system exposes the corporation to loss vulnerability. The company’s history of the unsatisfactorily handled Mobile Me places a challenge to the organization. Can they prove that they can handle a backup system such as cloud efficiently? (Fisher 2008)
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Apple is facing internal reputation issues calling for a need of strategic move. This results from the now widespread knowledge of the iPhones call dropping and slow connectivity flaws. In the recent past, companies beyond the Smartphone arena such as Toyota had to recall vehicles with factory weaknesses. The issue with Apple’s iPhone was thought to be resulting from AT&T’s weaknesses; a later discovery indicates that the problem had to do with a company flaw of an operations chip managing the service providers.
The internal leadership has come under sharp scrutiny concerning its alliance with AT&T and its willingness to grant them complete powers over the iPhone distribution (Eaton & Robischon 2010). The internal leadership must consider the costs and benefits of ditching AT&T and allowing Apple’s compatibility with other company’s service plans. It is arguable that Verizon Wireless has better services in comparison with AT&T, and while the initial costs of abandoning AT&T may seem expensive, the advantage may accrue from elimination of contractual power of bargaining to the buyer. iPhone records lower sales due to customers with allegiance to other providers, such as Verizon. The long run increase in sales, diversification across service providers and competition may work to Apple’s advantage. The consumer costs of service plans will go down and boast iPhone’s appeal and sales; moreover, the monopoly rights of distribution that has seen it increase data package costs by 150%.(Eaton & Robischon 2010). Competition on the frontier of making the internet more conducive for consumer adverts is also intensifying. Revenues seem to be in the adverts with Apple having to face Google rich potential of raking in millions. Google’s acquisition of AdMob places it strategically, and Apple’s has to reshape its approach to beat Google even after acquiring Quattro Wireless another mobile advertising innovator (Chun 2011).
There is some strangeness associated with vetting a large company’s financial weaknesses, but the financial pile up of Apple’s cash balance requires a closer internal look. There is a constant need to review the best place that will maximize shareholders worth. Apple ranks among the top financially healthy companies amongst its peers; however, the company has issues relating to non-payment of dividends and high earnings per share dilution (EPS). All in all, Apple is strong financially posting exceptional results and impressive ratios. The management challenge is the application of these resources in the most optimal manner; the company must also rethink the suitability of its retainer policy and its subsequent relevancy with time.
In its value chain product design and technology are the core capabilities of Apple, it has been able to perfect a chain of activities with innovation. Apple’s strength comes from its complete control of the production chain; it designs, funds and produces its own products. It is using iWorks, iTunes, iPhone and iPod to leverage its expertise. The advantage is indeed strong since it designs from scratch, with peripherals and applications through to the finishing stage. The management’s duty is foreseeing the 64-bit architecture, attractive cases in multiple colours and distinct styling integration systems. Apple is also an ardent marketer of its own products through advertising and adverts; these processes do not involve third parties who would otherwise limit its capacity or schedule (Fisher 2008).
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This is a strategic issue facing Apple, given its position as a market leader in technology it does feel an obligation of protecting its work through patents law suits such as those involving Samsung. The management is at crossroads and must choose the lesser evil. Suing receives counter suits while victory in the multinational arena is a zero sum game. Apple may win cases but also may win lousy reputation of insecurity, pettiness or arrogance. The non-suing is foregoing a company’s sweat while suing effects are long-lasting (Linzmayer 1999).
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Individual corporate codes have shaped companies’ corporate social responsibility responses for the last thirty years. But, individual or statutory codes are effective if they are measurable and embrace a company’s willingness to respond to a stakeholder complain of violation. A company’s consciousness of societal obligation is the composition of CSR (Gershon 2009). Apple Inc. has been a subject of discussion concerning its CSR commitments in the wake of complicated governance systems such as Fair Labor Association (FLA) and NGO lobby groups on corporate CSR performance. Tim Cook has not forgotten stakeholder’s complaints in 2008 concerning Foxconn case in China. Apple is a consumer of Foxconn products and the suicide cases resulting from the poor, working conditions made almost indelible dents in Apple reputation. The situation was gross to the extent of Foxconn asking workers to sign memoranda pledging against committing suicide. These events were a wake-up call that the ancient individual CSR policy was no longer sufficient for Apple. Following the incident, Tim Cook is following up with a more responsive approach that requires auditing and publication. The HERE 2012 report is a follow to salvage the poor reputation resulting from Foxconn case. The detrimental effect on Apple reputation did merit Cook’s visit to China (Foxconn location) and subsequent development of a collaborative CSR system; Apple is letting external observers into partner factories such as Foxconn. Perhaps this is the only way to silence critique of Apple’s irresponsiveness to CSR needs. Tim Cook’s work in joining Nike Inc. and Nestle SA in the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and the subsequent release of annual suppliers audit may be held as satisfactory for now (Backer 2012).
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In line with the concept of ethical leadership, Cook’s may have his moment of being his own man, in the field of CSR he may well be capitalization on Steve Job’s failures. Jobs never had time for social doing good ideology, his concept was a superior product to the consumer is better doing well than grants or handouts. Cook’s incorporation of CSR in Apple’s new vision is encouraging, and a new strength frontier; Cook did launch a CSR program of up to $10,000 annually as a corporate charity model. The move communicates Apple’s evolution and new perception of CSR. This move is, however, devoid of innovation and uniqueness, it appears as a copy cut of other Forbes 500 company’s strategy; the unique Apple aspect is missing. This shabby look on the program seems to indicate that Cook is only acting as a response to media critics, the program is a flop, just like owning an iPhone ushers the consumer to a particular club and so should participation in CSR programs indicate the Apple superb signature of quality. Tim Cook must not develop a strategy from the external, it should be inside out; the CSR program should also never be centered on measures and obligation. Cook needs to develop CSR programs along values of integrity, zeal, empathy among others. Lawsuits are another issue arising from stakeholders; Apple has a reputation of suing without enough evidence, which results in severe publicity of arrogance, despite prospects of winning the case/a favorable ruling (Chun 2011).
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Apple’s public relations concerns extend into their products too, there are ethical concerns relating to the lock-in approach they adopted in their attempt through blocking all non-iOS operating system; the result was the creation of an iTunes store monopoly (Linzmayer 1999). This is a field of unethical play creating conflict between it and stakeholders. Its refusal to license FairPlay DRMor Apple Lossless format codec hence prevents its content, i. e. iTunes with Apple Lossless encoding or content from iTunes store, from the use of devices from other manufactures. The iTunes controversy extended to the European Market, in which Apple was met with accusations of violating the EU free trade agreement, through preventing the purchase of content through the customer’s details of the country of pay. Additionally, Google voice controversy is another emotive issue affecting Apple’s reputation with stakeholders; Apple refusal to grant users’ ability to download Google voice and consequently disabling the iPhone brought conflict between Apple’s developers and iPhone consumers. Apple argues that the use would have a negative impact on the iphones functioning through re-routing voicemails from Apple to Google applications (Eaton & Robischon 2010). This has led to widespread issues to dealing with Apple’s reputation in that vast market; these instances indicate a widespread positioning of PR issues and some of them are ingrained in Apple’s organizational culture. Tim Cooks has to deal with questions of whether he has to reverse some previous decisions, admit previous violations without appearing s a revolutionary leader (Linzmayer 1999).
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Organization’s structuring enunciates its embrace of ethical behaviour; for instance, such ethical concerns are not new to Apple too. Its reputation was yet again in mud, after changing licensing agreement between Adobe and its iPhone OS. Steve Job's, and Apple’s reputation was indeed an issue that spread on the social sites, upon allegations of changing the initial agreement to exclude the use of programs written in languages other than from the iPhone OS WebKit. This exclusion of Adobe Flash is a non-competitive behaviour showing fear of iPhone of non-opening their products into fair competition. Apple changed the terms of the license from the initial one requiring only prescription of Apple on the use of Public APIs, to a requirement of non-private APIs, specification of language, and a consequent banning of other developer tools such as Lua, Unity 3D, MonoTouch among others (Apple Computer 2012). It was seen as blatant lies on Steve Jobs parts through his reaction to the issue “Thoughts on Flash”. Jobs seems to have a reputation of insincerity on any public issue touching on Apple’s conduct; there is no record of admission of liability, offer of apology on all such instances, it is, therefore, imperative for Cook to think through his crisis response approach. Cook is, however, deserving credit since reversing John Wiley and Sons ban from selling at Apple retailers shops after publication of ‘Icon: Steve Jobs’ without his authorization (Fisher 2008).
Tim Cooks and his team must understand the evolution of CSR and ethical marriage to strategic thinking. His understanding of strategy fed from ethics and CSR issues will help him articulate effective social responses, he will be able to employ the relativism approach snce not all social demands warrant an answer, however, he will appreciate that actually all corporate responsibilities to a society are not demanded. This will assist him to avoid the Jobs’ path into an illuminated one (Mele & Guillén Parra 2006).
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