Careers at Apple
Apple's mission is to manufacture top quality computer hardware and software for businesses and personal users, while retaining its status as market leaders and innovators in the world of premium consumer electronics.
When Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne first started Apple Computer, Inc., personal computers were a relatively new and very niche-interest thing, beloved only by a small number of dedicated hobbyists. The year was 1976, and their first product was the Apple I. Designed by Wozniak, it was a basic computer kit that came with no case – customers had to build their own, usually wooden one, or simply install it in a suitcase. To fund its release, Jobs had to sell his car and Wozniak had to sell his calculator.
Wayne soon left the company, but Jobs and Wozniak remained, incorporating their company in 1976, before releasing the vastly improved Apple II. Aided by mentoring and investment from Mike Markkula, the following three years saw an average annual growth rate of 536% as they carved a niche for themselves in the small, but lucrative, home computing market.
In 1980, Apple also sought to break IBM and Microsoft's grip on the business computer market with the Apple III. Later that year, their initial public offering became the most lucrative of any company since 1956. Share prices instantly rocketed and over thirty early investors became overnight millionaires.
Early on, Jobs had realised that to sell computers to a mass market, rather than just to people with programming skills, a quality graphical user Interface was key to success. In 1984, trying to realise this ambition, Apple released the first Mackintosh computer. They advertised their new product with a commercial during the 1984 Superbowl. Some have come to regard this event as a historic moment when personal computers ceased to be the preserve of a small number of dedicated hobbyists and broke into the mainstream.
After an ongoing feud with CEO John Sculley, in 1985, co-founder Jobs was ousted from the company as the board grew increasingly frustrated by his expensive and highly experimental approach to product development. Jobs then founded rival firm NeXT.
Without Jobs, Apple shifted to producing more expensive equipment. Apple had garnered such a dedicated core of enthusiastic consumers, that the higher price tags didn't seem to adversely affect sales and profits initially continued to rise, although as the 1990’s progressed, Apple increasingly blundered with a series of expensive and unsuccessful forays into PDAs, digital cameras, cd players, video consoles and TV appliances.
While it was focusing on these unsuccessful ventures, Microsoft was rapidly usurping its market share of the personal and business computer markets, as Windows became a universally standard operating system found in homes and offices across the globe.
In 1997 Apple brought their co-founder Jobs back on board when they acquired NeXT. He became CEO, and oversaw Apple's return to success as they released new models of Mac as well as developing lots of well received software packages such as Final Cut Pro.
The 21st century saw Apple fully return to form, far exceeding even their early successes, with iPods becoming dominant in the portable media player market, as Apple Macs increasingly established their reputation as an upmarket, “cool” alternative to machines running the more popular Windows OS. From 2003-2006, Apples stock increased tenfold, as investors were impressed not only by Apple products and the company's performance, but also by Jobs' prodigious talents as a product developer and marketer.
In 2007, Apple Computer, Inc became simply “Apple Inc.”, as Jobs announced a new focus on consumer electronics. Since then Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad have become ubiquitous parts of modern life and the company's growth continued even through the global recession. They achieved in 2015 a record market capitalization of $775 billion, and today, Apple is the world's largest tech company in terms of revenue generated.
Jobs passed away in 2011, months after stepping down as CEO, but the company continues to enjoy growth. Apple also continues to engage in many high-profile acquisitions, in recent years buying companies such as Beats Electronics and hardware sensor giant Primesense.
Why work at Apple
Benefits at Apple
Business model of Apple
In the 20th century, Apple catered primarily to the home computer market, selling products which, although coming with a premium price tag were still affordable for the mass market.
In the 21st century, however, following Jobs' re-branding of Apple Computers Inc. to Apple Inc., Apple has focused increasingly on the consumer electronics, with the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad becoming flagship products. They continue to cater to the premium end of this market.
Central to Apple's value proposition is design. Apple is famous for meticulously designing products to be as user-friendly and elegant as possible.
Its loyal customer base has proven their willingness time and time again to pay a premium for items designed by Apple, and Apple's reputation as brilliant designers is integral to their brand image. Their electronics ranges are usually high-performance and users have come to associate Apple with a certain standard of quality.
Apple sells its products wholesale to electronics retailers the world over. They may also be purchased from apple.com. Another key channel is the 479 Apple Stores that operate in 18 countries.
The iTunes store functions as a channel through which digital content is sold.
Since very early in its history, Apple has been noted for having a large core of enthusiasts who exhibit very strong brand loyalty, buying Apple products over and over again. Apple maintains its strong relationship with its customers through offering phone and web-chat based customer service channels, in addition to providing in-person assistance at their various stores worldwide.
Apples key activities are designing and selling their products. They are famously fastidious in all aspects of the hardware and software design of their products, and invest a lot in quality control to ensure products meet the standard their customer base has come to expect.
Aside from design, quality control, branding is a huge part of what Apple does. Apple is extremely conscious of controlling the image it projects and it has painstakingly and consciously cultivated an image of quality, precision, sophistication and class that enables it to justify the higher price tags its products commands relative to its rivals.
Sale of third-party digital content through the iTunes Store channel is another key activity that generates a modest portion Apple's revenue.
The manufacturing of some key bits of Apple hardware is outsourced to companies such as Foxconn, making them key partners in Apple's business.
The record companies, film studios and publishers who own the rights to the digital media Apple sells on the iTunes store are also important partners.
Third party developers who create the programs available in the app store are key partners and valuable contributors to Apple's Macintosh and iPhone ecosystems.
People comprise a key resource for Apple, as they are hugely dependent on top-range hardware designers and software engineers to produce their goods. Over the years Apple has accumulated huge numbers of very talented staff, who remain a valuable asset to the company.
Physical resources, such as the 479 Apple stores around the world are also valuable and important to the business.
Apple's hugely respected brand is a key resource that enables them to sell their goods for a higher price tag than many of their direct competitors.
Apple spends a lot on the manufacturing of its goods, but crucially invests heavily in every aspect of the design, quality control and product testing stages as well.
They operate on a premium pricing strategy which means they also must expend substantial resources in marketing and maintaining their brand image.
While home computer sales comprised the majority of revenue for most of Apple's history, in the last decade or so this has changed as Apple has focussed on smaller consumer electronics.
- The sale of iPhones typically generates between 30-50% of the company's revenues each quarter, and is these days consistently their biggest earner.
- iPads are the second biggest earner, typically generating around 4-9% of Apple's quarterly income.
- Sale of Macintosh computers is still lucrative, but typically generates less than 5% of Apples income, and this figure has declined a lot in the last few years.
- Sale of other products, including Apple watches and iPods generate around 3-6% of revenue.
- Apple's internet services, including iTunes, Apple Care and Apple Pay typically also account for 3-6% of revenue.
info: Having previously served as COO, Tim Cook took over as CEO after Steve Jobs' untimely exit in 2011. He holds an MBA in business from Duke University. Before joining Apple, he worked for IBM for 12 years, was a COO at a division of Intelligent Electronics, and was vice-president for corporate materials at Compaq.
info: After earning a Marketing and Merchandising degree from Ball State University, Indiana, Angela Ahrendts held several high-profile corporate merchandising and design roles before becoming CEO of Burberry in 2006. She joined Apple in her current role in 2014, and is the second highest paid executive after Tim Cook.
info: Jonathan graduated in Industrial Design from Newcastle Polytechnic before joining Tangerine, a London design agency. Joining Apple in 1992, he has led the team that is responsible for the physical design of all Apple products since 1996. A prolific designer who has created over 5000 patents, Ive has been recognised with countless awards for his work.
info: Craig earned his Masters in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Berkeley before joining Steve Jobs' company NeXT as a software engineer. Federighi worked for Ariba from 1999 until 2009, when he rejoined Apple in his current role. He oversees the development of all Apple operating systems and software packages.
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