If you were in charge at Apple, what would you do? See Effective Management p378.

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Apple became the first trillion-dollar company by market capitalization in 2018. After a volatile October, however, its stock fell below $200 per share and dipped below the trillion-dollar milestone. Still, the tech giant remained the most valuable company in the world, with Amazon close behind. The entire market faced volatility...

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Apple became the first trillion-dollar company by market capitalization in 2018. After a volatile October, however, its stock fell below $200 per share and dipped below the trillion-dollar milestone. Still, the tech giant remained the most valuable company in the world, with Amazon close behind. The entire market faced volatility late in the year, including the "FAANG" five: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google.

The keys to Apple's success were clearly Steve Jobs, iTunes, and the iPhone. An often-overlooked Jobs statement in the business community that explained the company's success was "my model for business is The Beatles." By this, Jobs meant that four individuals contributed to a product that was bigger than the sum of its parts, resulting in them becoming the best-selling recording act in history. Jobs further clarified the statement by saying business success comes down to teamwork, not just one person.

Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs, but he has rode the coattails of his legendary predecessor, mainly by keeping the iPhone in the spotlight. The iWatch and other developments in the post-Jobs era through 2018 have not drawn as much attention. Challenging Spotify in the music space, however, has been a notable success, although Apple had already established itself as the "savior of the music business" because of iTunes.

If I were in charge of the company, I would keep the focus on being a big player in music software and other solutions for professional artists. Apple built its image on user-friendly and secure software for creative minds—not so much for office cube professionals. Under Cook, that image has waned in favor of targeting the mainstream. Even though that strategy hasn't hurt Apple's bottom line, it has dampened its image with the art crowd. I would work to regain the company's image as the tech provider for the creative community. At the same time, Apple should take steps to improve its products for office professionals. Microsoft Office by far continues to overshadow Apple office software products.

Jobs handed the baton to Cook because of his background in engineering and marketing. Those crucial factors have contributed to Apple's continued success, but at the same time, Cook has moved in the direction of generic corporate marketing instead of standing out as unique and innovative, which are the characteristics that shaped Apple's image up to Jobs's death in 2011.

Now that Apple has proven to be a revenue champion, it needs to focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) by improving its diversity in the workplace. Apple reported in its 2018 CSR report that it employed 32% female, 9% black, and 12% Hispanic workers. I would work at boosting those numbers. I would also build upon Apple's impressive investment in solar energy for its data centers.

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Steve Jobs was certainly central to Apple's operation and success. His charismatic leadership, innovative ideas and centralized decision making brought Apple to the pinnacle of success. However, let's not forget that it's the team that worked to develop new products and the same talent is still there; the only thing missing is Jobs' magic touch.

I would continue with the innovative product development and launches, as has been the strategy of Apple for the last decade. Our product has to be at least a few generations ahead of our competitors, so novel that it should not even be in the research division of any other company. Our success is contingent upon such products. Remember the first iPhone; it was beyond anything that was conceivable at that time. Apart from refreshing our product line and new product launches, we have to maintain our margins. We can use our cash reserves for acquiring small but innovative companies whose products are crucial for our product development.

There are no substitutes for Steve, but Apple has been doing fine without him. The stocks are near record high and Apple is projected to attain a market valuation of 1 trillion dollars (US) in the near future. Steve's leadership cannot be replaced, however we can do all we can to keep Apple ahead of the pack. I would go with centralized decision-making at Apple, with Tim Cook leading Apple (instead of just managing it) and all employees following one theme (decided by the CEO and top management) with passion to deliver the most innovative product. Apple is synonymous with novelty and style and as long as these continue to be the theme, Apple will stay successful. I would motivate my engineers and developers and stress that they are the same guys who gave us the iPod, iPhone, iPad and iCloud; now is the time to shift gears and bring out something new using the same passion they displayed under Steve's leadership. And I believe that Apple will continue to lead the market for years to come. 

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