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Apple SWOT Analysis / Matrix
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SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that can be used by Apple managers to do a situational analysis of the company . It is a useful technique to map out the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Apple is facing in its current business environment.
The Apple is one of the leading firms in its industry. Apple maintains its dominant position in market by critically analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis a highly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the organization such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.
The SWOT Analysis framework facilitates an organization to identify the internal strategic factors such as -strengths and weaknesses, & external strategic factors such as - opportunities and threats. It leads to a 2X2 matrix – also known as SWOT Matrix.
The Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis / Matrix enables the managers of the Apple to develop four types of strategies:
- SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
- WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
- ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
- WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective
The core purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a company can use to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Apple strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.
Step by Step Guide to Apple SWOT Analysis
Strengths of Apple – Internal Strategic Factors
As one of the leading organizations in its industry, Apple has numerous strengths that help it to thrive in the market place. These strengths not only help it to protect the market share in existing markets but also help in penetrating new markets. Based on Fern Fort University extensive research – some of the strengths of Apple are –
- Strong distribution network – Over the years Apple has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
- Highly successful at Go To Market strategies for its products.
- Automation of activities brought consistency of quality to Apple products and has enabled the company to scale up and scale down based on the demand conditions in the market.
- Strong Free Cash Flow – Apple has strong free cash flows that provide resources in the hand of the company to expand into new projects.
- Superb Performance in New Markets – Apple has built expertise at entering new markets and making success of them. The expansion has helped the organization to build new revenue stream and diversify the economic cycle risk in the markets it operates in.
- Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. Apple is investing huge resources in training and development of its employees resulting in a workforce that is not only highly skilled but also motivated to achieve more.
- Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
- Strong dealer community – It has built a culture among distributor & dealers where the dealers not only promote company’s products but also invest in training the sales team to explain to the customer how he/she can extract the maximum benefits out of the products.
Weakness of Apple – Internal Strategic Factors
Weakness are the areas where Apple can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a company can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.
- The marketing of the products left a lot to be desired. Even though the product is a success in terms of sale but its positioning and unique selling proposition is not clearly defined which can lead to the attacks in this segment from the competitors.
- Financial planning is not done properly and efficiently. The current asset ratio and liquid asset ratios suggest that the company can use the cash more efficiently than what it is doing at present.
- The profitability ratio and Net Contribution % of Apple are below the industry average.
- Need more investment in new technologies. Given the scale of expansion and different geographies the company is planning to expand into, Apple needs to put more money in technology to integrate the processes across the board. Right now the investment in technologies is not at par with the vision of the company.
- Investment in Research and Development is below the fastest growing players in the industry. Even though Apple is spending above the industry average on Research and Development, it has not been able to compete with the leading players in the industry in terms of innovation. It has come across as a mature firm looking forward to bring out products based on tested features in the market.
- High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry Apple has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
- Not highly successful at integrating firms with different work culture. As mentioned earlier even though Apple is successful at integrating small companies it has its share of failure to merge firms that have different work culture.
Opportunities for Apple – External Strategic Factors
- Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of Apple products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
- The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Apple to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
- Decreasing cost of transportation because of lower shipping prices can also bring down the cost of Apple’s products thus providing an opportunity to the company - either to boost its profitability or pass on the benefits to the customers to gain market share.
- Stable free cash flow provides opportunities to invest in adjacent product segments. With more cash in bank the company can invest in new technologies as well as in new products segments. This should open a window of opportunity for Apple in other product categories.
- Lower inflation rate – The low inflation rate bring more stability in the market, enable credit at lower interest rate to the customers of Apple.
- Organization’s core competencies can be a success in similar other products field. A comparative example could be - GE healthcare research helped it in developing better Oil drilling machines.
- New customers from online channel – Over the past few years the company has invested vast sum of money into the online platform. This investment has opened new sales channel for Apple. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.
- The new technology provides an opportunity to Apple to practices differentiated pricing strategy in the new market. It will enable the firm to maintain its loyal customers with great service and lure new customers through other value oriented propositions.
Threats Apple Facing - External Strategic Factors
- Imitation of the counterfeit and low quality product is also a threat to Apple’s product especially in the emerging markets and low income markets.
- New technologies developed by the competitor or market disruptor could be a serious threat to the industry in medium to long term future.
- Intense competition – Stable profitability has increased the number of players in the industry over last two years which has put downward pressure on not only profitability but also on overall sales.
- Increasing trend toward isolationism in the American economy can lead to similar reaction from other government thus negatively impacting the international sales.
- Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of Apple
- The company can face lawsuits in various markets given - different laws and continuous fluctuations regarding product standards in those markets.
- New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
- The demand of the highly profitable products is seasonal in nature and any unlikely event during the peak season may impact the profitability of the company in short to medium term.
Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Apple
Although the SWOT analysis is widely used as a strategic planning tool, the analysis does have its share of limitations.
- Certain capabilities or factors of an organization can be both a strength and weakness at the same time. This is one of the major limitations of SWOT analysis . For example changing environmental regulations can be both a threat to company it can also be an opportunity in a sense that it will enable the company to be on a level playing field or at advantage to competitors if it able to develop the products faster than the competitors.
- SWOT does not show how to achieve a competitive advantage, so it must not be an end in itself.
- The matrix is only a starting point for a discussion on how proposed strategies could be implemented. It provided an evaluation window but not an implementation plan based on strategic competitiveness of Apple
- SWOT is a static assessment - analysis of status quo with few prospective changes. As circumstances, capabilities, threats, and strategies change, the dynamics of a competitive environment may not be revealed in a single matrix.
- SWOT analysis may lead the firm to overemphasize a single internal or external factor in formulating strategies. There are interrelationships among the key internal and external factors that SWOT does not reveal that may be important in devising strategies.
Weighted SWOT Analysis of Apple
In light of the above mentioned limitations of the SWOT analysis / matrix, corporate managers decided to provide weightage to each internal strength and weakness of the firm. Organizations also assess the likelihood of events taking place in the coming future and how strong their impact could be on company's performance.
This method is called Weighted SWOT analysis. It is better than doing simplistic SWOT analysis because with Weighted SWOT Analysis Apple managers can focus on the most critical factors and discount the non-important one. It also solves the long list problem where organizations ends up making a long list but none of the factors deemed too critical.
Limitation of Weighted SWOT analysis of Apple
This approach also suffers from one major drawback - it focus on individual importance of factor rather than how they are collectively important and impact the business holistically.
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SWOT Worksheet & Template
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References / Citations & Bibliography
- M. E. Porter, Competitive Strategy(New York: Free Press, 1980)
- A. D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1962)
- O. E. Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies(New York: Free Press, 1975);
- L. Wrigley, Divisional Autonomy and Diversification (PhD, Harvard Business School, 1970)
- R. E. White, Generic Business Strategies, Organizational Context and Performance: An Empirical Investigation, Strategic Management Journal7 (1986)
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