Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Big 5 lessons from Apple's success

Eye-popping sales figures... Industry-shaping technological prowess... Mind-numbing financial strength

What a tremendous success it has been! The Apple juggernaut has trounced all pundits' expectations, steam-rolled all competition into pulp, gatecrashed into the 'PC' market with unquantifiable fury, and totally destroyed all existing business models in its industry.

It is a heart-warming story for those who have followed (the late) Steve Jobs' life and times.

It is a detestable nightmare for the likes of HP, Dell, Microsoft, RIM, Nokia and Google.

It is grand fodder for case-studies that are being churned from leading b-schools portals.

But what is it that's made this amazing success possible? Can it be replicated by Apple itself in the future, or by anyone else? How far can Apple really go? Will it end sometime?

Here is my analysis of the Big 5 lessons from Apple's decade of uncontrolled steam-rolling, left-right-and-centre!

1. Mega success is a unique template
Really big successes - where companies trample everyone else and romp home with full glory - are almost always based on unique business models. There is nothing "standardisable" about such models except the underlying features - genuinely unique disruptive models, firm belief in what the company is trying to achieve, and a loyal fan base. So Apple's model of success just cannot get replicated by someone else. Students of management will remind us of the commoditisation phenomenon, rightly. But other than that, corporate history teaches us that such "repeats" by someone else is almost impossible. Just check out the stories of Microsoft, GE, WalMart, McDonalds, Dell, and Google to get a feel. In each of these cases, no one could repeat their business models with similar success rates.