Apple Inc.`s Knowledge Management


AppleInc.’s Knowledge Management

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary

  2. Role of Knowledge Management

  3. Apple Inc.’s Corporate Culture as Learning Company

  4. Apple Inc.’s Best Practices and its Useful in Knowledge Management

  5. Apple Inc.’s Business Operational Plan

  6. Apple Inc.’s SWOT Analysis

  7. Recommendations

  8. References

Apple Inc.’s Knowledge Management


Apple Inc. hasmanaged to establish a substantial value among highly competitiveindustry of personal computers. It has done this by coming up withinnovations, while creating a path very different from the othercompetitors in the market. It has done this successfully by coming upwith products that ooze quality, superior customer service, anddesign elegance, at the same time, outsourcing its actualmanufacturing only to trusted manufacturers. However, in order tooutdo itself and other competitors in the market, the companyintegrates knowledge management as part of a need to come up withbest practices, while utilizing key capabilities and resourcesresponsible for a thousand of patents’ portfolio. Apple Inc. hassuccessfully forged its way into a more comfortable position in themarket however, it would not rest on its laurels. The position isnot permanent and thus the company has to find new ways to createvalue for the shareholders, the customers, and making profits. Thehistory of the company in innovative products like the iPhone andiPod offer sufficient evidence that it is ready to continue with itsinnovative path.

Apple Inc. is aUnited States multinational corporation, which is headquartered inthe city of Cupertino, California. The company designs, creates, andsells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers,and online services. One of the famous hardware products that thecompany produces is the Mac computers, the iPhone smartphone, iPadtablet computers, and iPod media player. Some of its online servicesare iCloud, the App Store, and the iTunes Store (Kane, 2014). TheApple’s consumers’ software includes the IOS operating systemsand OS X, the iTunes browser, the Safari browser, and theproductivity and creativity suites.

Founded in 1976by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak, Apple’s main aimwas to design, create, and sell computers. The company wasincorporated to Apple Computer Inc. in 1977 and Apple Inc. in 2007,for the sole focus of shifting its focus to consumer electronics. Itssize in terms of revenue as an IT company is only second afterSamsung, and the 3rd largest mobile phones maker(Lashinsky, 2012). In 2014, adding to the company being the largesttrade corporation in terms of publicity by markets capitalization,Apple Inc. became United States first company valued in excess of$700 billion. As of January 2015, the company employs over 72,000permanent employees, at the same time, maintaining over 430 retailstores in 14 countries (Kane, 2014). It also runs the Apple Storeonline and also iTunes Store, which is the largest music retailer,worldwide. The worldwide annual of Apple Inc. totaled $182 billionUSD as of 2014. The Apple Inc. enjoys high quality brand loyalty.According to 2014 edition of interbrand report of Best Global Brands,the company is regarded as the most valued brand with a total of$119.9 billion. In the year ending 2014, the company continued tohandle significant criticism in regard its contractors’ laborpractices, and also for its business and environmental practices,which includes the original place of its source materials. Thepurpose of this paper therefore is to examine how the corporationcaptures, develops, and shares the organisations knowledgeeffectively by exercising the best use of the knowledge. This is bypresenting, explain, and discussing the research topic incorporatingit into the knowledge management topic. In addition, the paper willalso look into recommendations made by providing the justificationand identification of risks and strengths that backs up assessment ofthe main topic that relates to the organization.

Roleof Knowledge Management

To begin with,Apple Inc. can be regarded as a learning organization. Kane (2014)identifies a learning organization as the one, which seeks to createthe kind of future they want. As it is known, learning is acontinuous process, and for the company like Apple Inc., it serves asinnovation to its own members, and the one in which creation,adaptation, and transformation in itself, is able to meet theaspirations of the individuals, both on the outside and from within.There are five main factors, according to Lashinsky (2012), inlearning organization. These are: personal mastery, building sharedvisions, systems thinking, team learning, and mental models.Knowledge management serves as a tool that is meant for learningimplementation. Apple Inc. requires effective knowledge management,which will help the company to distribute the knowledge (Harman &ampBrelade, 2000). Apple Inc. is at a higher level and is involved witha lot more than just knowledge management. For Apple Inc.’s work,the process is meant to enhance learning importance and integrationof all the aspects of knowledge that is there to learn. For thecompany to learn about potential relationship, there is need toswitch between the LO and KM potential, and therefore, the company’sneed for knowledge management.

According toScott (2008), Apple Inc.’s connection between its learning processand knowledge management presents a new method of creating new ideasin order to adapt to the changes that are experienced in the company.Companies that the definition of KM makes a general use of itsinformation communication technologies to its maximum. As timeschanges, however, so do the definitions. At the time when people justconsider communication and databases, they assume that it meansacquiring software, which will organize and distribute compiledinformation while in the company (Harman &amp Brelade, 2000). KMdoes not only mean utilizing technologies to the company’sbenefits, but is also means adaptation to organization’s beliefsthat encourages the sharing of information within the company, whileinteracting with the company. In a nutshell, knowledge management cantherefore be defined as:

  1. Application of entire organization’s combined knowledge to achieve the set goals of the company.

  2. Ensure that people acquire accurate knowledge at the exact right time place.

  3. Create an environment where people are encouraged to come up with, learn, apply, and be in a position to share the knowledge acquired as a cohesive unit.

  4. A way in which information is prevented from overloading through the credibility of sources and clear access to the information needed most.

AppleInc.’s Corporate Culture as Learning Company

SinceApple Inc. is known as the manufacturer of computer peripherals,personal computers, mobile phones, and music players, it is still themost successful computers’ company, while at the same time,popularized the graphical interface in globalized businessenvironment. Its success came in 1978, at the time when they realizedthere was a need to start working in groups in order to put Apple inthe market (Kane, 2014). Apple Inc. never ceased to incorporate theprocess of learning and creativity for innovation. The company knewit was the best way of adapting and rapidly changing the stringentrequirements demanded worldwide.

Apple Inc.executed its learning philosophy by create over five products in aspan of a decade. These products include iPod – the playerrepresents a departure for technology conquest era market, iTunes,which is quite perfect software that has a good model in business, inwhich it has convinced a lot of consumers worldwide. In addition, theemergence of Smartphones was developed in a very short span and hasstill not found a rival to date, and finally the Apple Store. Theserepresent examples of how constant update and learning the companyhas embraced to ensure constant innovation and creation of infeatures and products.

AppleInc.’s Best Practices and its Useful in Knowledge Management

A lot oforganizations try as much as possible to find a way to make theirbest business practices, but sometimes they make a few mistakes whilemaking decisions. However, other companies on the other hand, becomesuccessful when they integrate their best practice system, and thusmake a huge difference. Lashinsky (2012) stated that best practicesmeans that the organization attempts to find out and uses the bestmethods to ensure the company is successful by achieving its goalsand targets. Best practices assist the company recognize itsweaknesses and strengths by setting up strategies carefully and moreclearly. This is done by making up of a real plan in the future. Whenan organization applies its best practices, it means that theorganization is aware of developing continuous quality of productsand services, while increasing its competitive advantages. Accordingto Scott (2008), best practices may be used in any form of business,for example, the new software construction and development ofbusiness management. In addition, best practices can present asection of transfer knowledge that is documented in manuals,software, and lists.

The electronicsindustry presents a competitive market, especially in companies suchas Samsung, Nokia, and Blackberry. All these companies are successfulin their line of products that ensures they acquire more profit andthe position of huge market. In 2007, Apple Inc.’s best practicescame when they came up with new products for instance iPod, iPhone,or MacBook. It also became the largest competitor to the mobileindustry worldwide (Dalkir, 2012). In 2010, over 14.2 million iPhoneswere sold for over 20 billion USD for Apple Inc. It later rose to 92%the following year to become the most profitable product for thecompany. On the other hand, 3.98 million MacBook were sold (Kane,2014).

Apple Inc. CEOonce stated: “Our goal is to remain at the intersection ofhumanities and technology”. The company attempted to adapt to ahigh technology for using simple user interfaces. The interfacesdepended on the ability to integrate the Apple Inc.’s business bestpractices. The company uses and applies all the ideas and principlesto create a new thing to innovation. In real sense, the Apple Inc.’sproducts are not easy to get and integrate its products into people’slife. But after that, the target market recognizes the simplefeatures and integrates it quickly. The Apple Inc.’s best practicesare best done to ensure that their customers remain satisfied withtheir products by giving the best software services therefore,making them proud use of its products and services.

According to Harman &amp Brelade (2000), the success of the productis dependent on the experiences of from failures, efforts put tolearn, or the employees’ innovativeness. To say that a company asapplied its best practices as a learning organization means that thecompany in question wants its employees to identify the best way tomake profits. These will impulse the employees to have betterawareness for improvement of their skills, ideas, and knowledge forcreation of better products. Unsuccessful products or the errors madein the past for the company in question can propel employees torealize and understand the kind of products with the way price andquality satisfies the target market, so as to successfully create newproducts appropriate to the consumers’ predilection (Desouza,2005).

Lashinsky (2012)noted that employees can make discussions and exchange betweenthemselves to find out a solution to solving the problems stemmingfrom such errors. However, by applying best practices to a companylike Apple, is not easy. Dalkir (2012) advices that leadership has tobe felt first before ensuring that employees learn and follows sincea leader encourages the employees by giving ideas, innovative, andtough solutions. Apple Inc. uses best practices in learningorganization, which enable the company, realize the successfulsection that triggered its better innovativeness. For example, it ishard to come up with the idea of how an iPhone remains the company’smost successful product to date.

AppleInc.’s Business Operational Plan

Just like anyother organization, all departments of Apple Inc. are formed in a waythat it places similar functions in groups. The main divisions, whichinclude, marketing, finance, human resource, and production have beenadopted by a certain functional approach. Knowledge management inthis case is put into practice by creating hierarchies in eachfunctional subsystem. The operational management is also used in thiscase to produce activities in each division. In Apple Inc. theemployees are put in groups on the basis of resources and expertisein order to reduce the costs and triggers increase in flexibilitywith its operations. The current structure put in place wasincorporated as a result of a learning process that incorporatedknowledge management that created a better control of the activitiesin the organization and stay away from hierarchies (Kane, 2014).

The relativelyflat structure of Apple Inc. has helped decentralizedresponsibilities and authorities of its management. Knowledgemanagement in the company encourages the managers and employees atthe lower rank to engage in fostering the company’s strengths. Oneadvantage of this, are numerous. For instance, it helps to enhanceplanning, triggers decision making, and process control. Apple Inc.also focuses onits marketing operations that require certain levelof knowledge, especially on major business areas like iTunes andiPhones. This section shows a better responsiveness to the outsideworld.

In the treasurydivision, the company is responsible for provision of the company’sfinancial policy. This area also demands better management, in orderto handle better the international transactions of the company, byguaranteeing liquidity and the management of risk. The role occupiedby the financial manager very crucial for this management strategy.Scott (2008) noted that the last internal problems of Apple Inc. werein sale force form, which directly addressed the corporationdirectly. In 2012, Apple Inc. depended on 350 manufacturers, at thesame time, IBM had over 600 direct salesmen. However, Apple Inc. hassince focused on coming up with more established sales staff. A lotof issues that concerns these kinds of sales were identified inregard to the price of various products. The company also has issuesof marketing since it has failed before to communicate Macintosh’sbusiness image. The fact of the market is that the strategy that hadbeen put in place did not improve its fame neither did it focus uponthe level of technology. It should be noted that any kind of productsare supposed to be manufactured based on the level of the customers’needs. At the time, knowledge management was not applied as afundamental importance to getting closer to the market demands.

AppleInc.’s SWOT Analysis

Accordingto Dalkir (2011), Apple Inc. is rated among the most global brands inthe 2013 list of top 100 most valued brands. This strength is as aresult of continuous learning process that the company has integratedin its culture. The brand loyalty is also one of the company’sstrength, and their market base tends to be very gentle on theproblem of the product. With brands that have this kind of loyaltyfrom its esteemed customers is obviously strength.

With thisstrength comes the demand, and with the demand, the market base ofthe company’s products increases or stabilizes. Secondly, thestrength comes from the popularity the company has over the lastdecade, and also the innovative media and entertainment products havesince sank into the American culture. Again, the strength comes fromits innovation and design. The use friendly and aesthetic value hasallowed the product to maintain the loyalty from the consumers. Thishas led Apple’s design team to come up with intuitive products thatdemands the attention of consumers.

Secondly, thereare instances of weaknesses that the company and its products have.Delay is one of the weaknesses. Kane (2014) noted that iPads that haddifferent level of connectivity were released to the market atseparate times. Several months later, the consumers were still on thewaiting list. Although during its release, iPhone4 was the highestscoring smartphone, the company later remained in denial since theproduct had a fault in its antenna. There are also cases of poorservices offered, according to Lashinsky (2012). Recent experiencesfrom the consumers claim that the smartphones, especially 4G, haddownloading and connectivity problems. This shows that despite thecompany’s best practices that integrate knowledge management isstill not in a position to react to the customers’ complaints inregard to poor downloading and connectivity problems.

Apple Inc. iscurrently presented with an opportunity to partner with ATT, the onlytelecommunications company, while a lot of competitor phones may beused with a lot of carriers. Those customers unwilling to change toATT from the current carrier are more likely to forego being aniPhone owner (Scott, 2008). Apple Inc. partnering with otheradditional telecommunications carrier could led to an increase in thenumber of iPhone sells, and in turn, could encourage the consumers toattempt using other Apple products.

The second factor is the international sales. Apple Inc. is at thefore front controlling the demand of iPads. In 2012, iPad projectionswere estimated at 19.6 million units the end of 2014 saw the salesreach 207 million units (Desouza, 2005). This success presents anopportunity to the company to eliminate its Apple TV hard drive, andthus turning it into a fully high stream media box, which is capableof interconnection with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Again, it is easyto notice the level of intelligence that Apple Inc. employs in itsattempt to integrate its knowledge management to ensure that suchopportunity is grabbed and implemented to the advantage of thecompany.

Finally, Apple Inc. numerous successes and opportunities also has itsfair share of threats. Despite the market share gains in the recentyears, the sales of the company are still way back from thecompetitors, especially in the personal computers market like HP andDell (Harman &amp Brelade, 2000). Additionally, there are othersmartphones that work with a number of carriers that poses asignificant threat, for instance, the ATT, and is only approved byApple. Customer reports rates this as the least scoring carriers forthe satisfaction of customers (Montano, 2004). Again, iPhones, whichare Apple’s flagship products, continues to solely be associatedwith the partner, while the consumers have recently expressed a lotof dissatisfaction that can threaten the strategy of the companyamong other products. This iPhone present a major consumers inroadfor them to purchase these products.


AppleInc. has the potential to be more than it is today. Studies have beencarried out by the company on how it is able to utilize knowledgemanagement to propel its level of innovation. There is need for thecompany to take an approach to identify important areas required tomanage knowledge, and not attempting to impose a system across thewhole of the organization. The company needs to identify a managementtool that its system require the technology more so the consultantsthat advises on the manner in which the analysis, audits, and flow ofthe company should be handle. Again, by integrating knowledgemanagement into the company’s system, it is going to be easy whenapplying new technologies.

Eventually,Apple Inc. will be able to create the capability to design newproducts, manage, and share them effectively to facilitate newcapabilities. With this, Apple will ultimately use it to propelinnovation and improve on its existing products. The company wouldalso improve on its knowledge and the depth it already has. The keyfactor at this point is the intersection and knowledge sharing. Allother successful companies with huge brand names and wide range ofinnovative products in today technology-based market, owes theirsuccess to knowledge management approach.


Dalkir, K.(2011). Knowledge management in theory and practice. Cambridge, Mass:MIT Press.

Desouza, K. C. (2005). New frontiers of knowledge management.Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Harman, C., &amp Brelade, S. (2000). Knowledge management and therole of HR. London: Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

Kane, Y. I.(2014). Haunted empire: Apple after Steve Jobs.

Lashinsky, A. (2012). Inside Apple: How America`s most admired-andsecretive-company really works. New York: Business Plus.

Montano, B.(2004). Innovations of knowledge management. Hershey, PA: IRM Press.

Scott, M. (2008).Apple, Inc. Westport: Greenwood.