Innovation Strategy Essay
Team C has chosen Apple Corporation to use for this assignment.“Apple is the innovator for consumer technology” according to a March 2013 article on Forbes.com titled “Apple Cash, Margins And Innovation: The Obvious Strategy.” Apple did not invent the music player, computer nor cellular phone but has made their products so recognizable that is difficult to have a conversation regarding the latter without including the Apple brand. Their innovation strategies have resulted in the popularity of iPods, iPhones, iPads and iTunes. As this company continues to push boundaries, “it is anticipated that Apple will introduce an iWatch which is speculated to provide alert messages such as texts, emails or incoming calls this year and an iTelevision with IOS interface next year”(“Apple Cash, Margins And Innovation: The Obvious Strategy”, 2013).
Apple has built an Innovation Factory – one that harnesses creativity in its people, stimulating new ideas, and launching successful, profitable new innovations…Apple leverages its diverse culture, innovation processes, partners and networks to seize the new opportunities in the marketplace and grow its business, exponentially (“Apple’S Innovation Strategy, Innovation Process & Innovation Model”, n.d.). Incremental and breakthrough innovation and approaches have resulted in continuous improvements as Apple has become a trusted household name. Incremental and Breakthrough Innovation
The Apple Corporation has had many innovations throughout the life of the firm. Some of the innovations were incremental or small improvements to a current product offered by the company while other changes are breakthroughs in their technology. Apple’s innovation strategy has been to have a healthy balance of both incremental and breakthrough innovations to the product offerings, but the key to their success has been the building of anticipation for each kind of release. Incremental innovations to Apple Technologies include the upgrade to the technology and the minimizing or shrinking of the iPod line of products.
Apple released the iPod in 2001 and offered small changes like making the iPod compatible with Windows in 2002, the offering of the iTunes store in 2003, the iPod mini in 2004, and incrementally changing size as well with the iPod Nano, or iPod Touch for example. (“Ipod + Itunes Timeline”, 2013). Incremental changes to product offerings by companies are a great way to keep a product that is currently familiar to consumers, fresh and exciting without pushing them to use something completely new and different. For a company to remain competitive in the market place though they must also offer something new, or a breakthrough in technology offering on the market at that time.
Apple has been successful because the company releases both types of innovations regularly. In 2007 Apple followed up the incremental updates to the iPod with a breakthrough technology release of the Apple iPhone. As stated in an article by Pimo (2012), “When first released, the iPhone was a breakthrough in mobile technology boasting unprecedented sensor technology, a brand new operating system, which actually fits the operations of a computer inside the attractive body of a phone. iPhone as we know today has restructured the entire world of Mobile gadgets and was Apple’s ace in the world of technology” (8). Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement is important within any organization in order to keep running effectively and efficiently. Such improvement begins up at the top with management and trickles down the organization. Apple knows that its employees must work together in order to continuously improve work practices and remain a competitive firm. “Continuous improvement requires the mindset that improvement never ends and that you may never achieve perfection” (Page, 2010, p. 229). Apple has proven time again and again that continuous improvement is a necessity.
Innovation is a huge aspect that helps drive this company and has helped it remain on top. As apple continuously improves itself from within as well as externally it is able to achieve incremental goals. By constantly having a drive to improve Apple is able to locate areas and processes that may need improvement. This is an essential step to solutions regarding improvement. Competition does not sleep which is what makes companies like Apple have an initiative to continuously improve. Continuous improvement can lead to improved customer satisfaction, lower costs, better quality, and the list keeps going on. The key is to think of continuous improvement as long-term rather than short-term with one-time accomplishments. Improvements are incremental which ultimately enhance sustainability and profitability of Apple. Products and processes, for the most part, can always be improved to better a company as whole. Incremental versus Breakthrough Approach
A company must consider the importance of both an incremental and a breakthrough innovation. Focusing on just one of these approaches can limit the company in the marketplace and ultimately lead to a negative consumer opinion. If a company continues to focus on breakthrough technologies then they are not focusing on ways to improve their previously released products. Failure to maintain and update products out on the market will frustrate users as the competition maybe be making slick new but subtle changes all the time.
If Apple for example were to have released the iPhone and never followed up with software updates or new options like iMessage and Siri then the glamour and awe surrounding the release of the phone would have died out and consumers would have moved on to the competition for those incremental improvements. On the other hand if a company focuses only on incremental innovation then they could be seen as slow to keep up with the industry or even out dated. If Apple had continued to only update the iPod line slowly with changes in software and maybe adjustments to buttons or size then they would have eventually been passed by other companies that created exciting new media players or smartphones. Ultimately, consumers would have stopped purchasing from Apple and moved on to the competition. A healthy balance of incremental and breakthrough innovation at a company is vital to the company ability to compete in the marketplace and in the end to its success.
The Apple Corporation has had many innovations throughout the life of the company and has been able to stay competitive in the market place. They have done this because the innovations were incremental or small improvements to
a current product offered by the company while other changes are breakthroughs in their technology. Apple has proven time again and again that continuous improvement is a necessity and it can lead to improved customer satisfaction, lower costs, better quality, and the list keeps going on.
Apple Cash, Margins And Innovation: The Obvious Strategy. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/darcytravlos/2013/03/24/apple-cash-margins-and-innovation-the-obvious-strategy/ Apple’s Innovation Strategy, Innovation Process & Innovation Model. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://appleinnovation.blogspot.com/p/apple-innovation-ebook_9768.html iPod + iTunes Timeline. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/pr/products/ipodhistory/ Page, S. (2010). The Power of Business Process Improvement: 10 Simple Steps to Increase Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Adaptability. New York, NY. Pimo. (2012). 11 Tech and Science Breakthroughs of the 2000s. Retrieved from http://listverse.com/2012/01/08/11-tech-and-science-breakthroughs-of-the-2000s/