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How Apple Is Organized for Innovation

  • Joel M. Podolny
  • Morten T. Hansen

apple inc case study

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, in 1997, it had a conventional structure for a company of its size and scope. It was divided into business units, each with its own P&L responsibilities. Believing that conventional management had stifled innovation, Jobs laid off the general managers of all the business units (in a single day), put the entire company under one P&L, and combined the disparate functional departments of the business units into one functional organization. Although such a structure is common for small entrepreneurial firms, Apple—remarkably—retains it today, even though the company is nearly 40 times as large in terms of revenue and far more complex than it was in 1997. In this article the authors discuss the innovation benefits and leadership challenges of Apple’s distinctive and ever-evolving organizational model in the belief that it may be useful for other companies competing in rapidly changing environments.

It’s about experts leading experts.

Idea in Brief

The challenge.

Major companies competing in many industries struggle to stay abreast of rapidly changing technologies.

One Major Cause

They are typically organized into business units, each with its own set of functions. Thus the key decision makers—the unit leaders—lack a deep understanding of all the domains that answer to them.

The Apple Model

The company is organized around functions, and expertise aligns with decision rights. Leaders are cross-functionally collaborative and deeply knowledgeable about details.

Apple is well-known for its innovations in hardware, software, and services. Thanks to them, it grew from some 8,000 employees and $7 billion in revenue in 1997, the year Steve Jobs returned, to 137,000 employees and $260 billion in revenue in 2019. Much less well-known are the organizational design and the associated leadership model that have played a crucial role in the company’s innovation success.

  • Joel M. Podolny is the dean and vice president of Apple University in Cupertino, California. The former dean of the Yale School of Management, Podolny was a professor at Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
  • MH Morten T. Hansen is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a faculty member at Apple University, Apple. He is the author of Great at Work and Collaboration and coauthor of Great by Choice . He was named one of the top management thinkers in the world by the Thinkers50 in 2019. MortentHansen

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Harvard Business School

Apple Inc. in 2020

By: David B. Yoffie, Daniel Fisher

After a decade as CEO, Tim Cook is facing one of his biggest strategic transitions of his tenure. While Apple had performed spectacularly well under Cook, Apple's core business was maturing. Sales of…

  • Length: 31 page(s)
  • Publication Date: Apr 6, 2020
  • Discipline: Strategy
  • Product #: 720454-PDF-ENG

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After a decade as CEO, Tim Cook is facing one of his biggest strategic transitions of his tenure. While Apple had performed spectacularly well under Cook, Apple's core business was maturing. Sales of iPhones, iPads, and Macs were flat or down. However, Apple's new hardware-Apple Watch and Airpods-as well as services were growing rapidly. This case explores Apple's history and Cook's strategic options for driving new hardware and services into Apple's mainstream in the next decade.

Learning Objectives

This case can be used for several purposes, including industry analysis, introduction of complementary assets, sustaining competitive advantage and expanding corporate scope.

Apr 6, 2020


Harvard Business School


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apple inc case study

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Apple Inc. Operations Management: 10 Decisions, Productivity

Apple operations management 10 decision areas, productivity, consumer electronics, smartphone, digital services business case study analysis

Apple’s operations management (OM) involves innovative strategies for the 10 decision areas to ensure that all aspects of the business run smoothly. In operations management, the 10 decisions relate to product design, quality management, process and capacity design, and location strategy, as well as inventory management, supply chain management, and other operational areas. In this case, the 10 decisions of operations management are carefully implemented through coordinated efforts to limit the effects of the strong competitive pressure noted in the Five Forces analysis of Apple Inc . With considerable leadership in the consumer electronics and computer technology market, Apple Inc. is an example of success in addressing the 10 decision areas of operations management. Operational effectiveness and strategies involving technological innovation help Apple’s business thrive despite competition with information technology and consumer electronics firms, like Samsung, Google (Alphabet) , Microsoft , and Sony , as well as companies competing with Apple TV Plus video-streaming services, such as Netflix , Disney , Amazon , and Facebook (Meta) . This success highlights the importance of Apple’s strategies for high-productivity goals and objectives in operations management.

Apple Inc. has a dedicated team of senior managers and operations managers for handling the implementation of measures to address the 10 decisions of operations management. The company has excellent performance in maximizing efficiency and productivity in operations management. This operational efficiency translates to competitive advantages and capabilities that fulfill strategic objectives, ultimately leading to the achievement of Apple’s mission and vision .

10 Decision Areas of Operations Management at Apple Inc.

1. Design of Goods and Services . Apple’s processes in the design of its products are handled through multiple organizational components and officials. For example, Mac development and production involve a Senior VP for Hardware Engineering and a Senior VP for Software Engineering. Similar activities and cooperation are seen in operations for the company’s online services. This coordination reflects the nature and characteristics of the organizational structure (company structure) of Apple Inc . In this decision area of operations management, decision-makers coordinate with the company’s Senior VP for Operations. This system of interactions ensures that the outputs in this operational area are successful in making Apple excel in the design of its technological products.

2. Quality Management . This decision area of operations management emphasizes quality standards and controls. Apple’s Senior VP for Operations coordinates with other Senior VPs to ensure compliance with the company’s quality standards. The company is known for high-quality standards that permeate different areas of the technology business, including product design and development, retail, marketing, online sales, industrial design, and human resource management. Quality management ensures product quality that matches the premium brand, which is a business strength shown in the SWOT analysis of Apple Inc . The consumer electronics business has a holistic approach to ensuring quality to address this area of operations management. Apple’s generic competitive strategy and intensive growth strategies also account for quality standards for competitiveness and effective business growth.

3. Process and Capacity Design . Apple’s human resource management strategies include support for maximizing workforce capacity for product development and design. In addition, the company works with suppliers to ensure efficient processes and adequate capacity in this decision area of operations management. For instance, suppliers are given directives for process design, as well as the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct to optimize their human resource management. Moreover, the company’s operations managers strive for technological innovation in its facilities to optimize operating capacity and process efficiency. The consumer electronics and online services business has a comprehensive approach for this decision area of operations management, while accounting for the industry trends noted in the PESTLE/PESTEL analysis of Apple Inc .

4. Location Strategy . Apple’s location strategy is selective, involving limited authorization of resellers. Authorized resellers are generally located in urban centers to maximize foot traffic and brand exposure. At present, the company has hundreds of stores around the world. This area of operations management coordinates with the marketing mix (4Ps) of Apple Inc. , particularly the distribution strategy for consumer electronics, such as iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. Despite this limited approach to reseller authorization, the company is now among the most profitable in the world, and Apple Stores have the highest revenue per square foot of retail space in the United States. Thus, the iPhone maker’s selective location strategy successfully satisfies this strategic decision area of operations management.

5. Layout Design and Strategy . Apple’s layout design and strategy emphasize customer expectations. For example, company-owned and authorized-reseller stores are spacious with minimal décor to ensure focus on the products for sale, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and accessories. At Apple’s other facilities, this decision area of operations management is addressed through innovative office layouts that encourage creativity and efficiency of workflows. Creativity is a critical factor among employees involved in product design and development processes at Apple Inc.

6. Job Design and Human Resources . This decision area of operations management requires job design and human resource strategies specific to the trends in HR management in the information technology industry. In this business case, Apple’s company culture (work culture) supports job design and HR strategies based on Steve Jobs’ original emphasis on excellence. However, the company has been gradually changing its HR strategies under Tim Cook to reflect a sociable workplace with competitive compensation for optimum employee morale. Apple Inc. has mastered job design and human resource strategies for continuing support for its leadership in the consumer electronics industry.

7. Supply Chain Management . Apple’s supply chain is among the most efficient and streamlined in the world. To address this decision area of operations management, the company uses automation of processes and regular monitoring of suppliers. In this monitoring, operations managers evaluate supplier capacity and productivity, as well as compliance with the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct. The automation aspect serves as a strength of the corporation’s approach to supply chain management. Apple’s corporate citizenship, CSR, ESG, and stakeholder management programs are applied alongside strategies in this area of operations management for an effective and sustainable supply chain.

8. Inventory Management . In this decision area of operations management, Apple Inc. uses different methods of inventory management, such as the serialized method for tracking and control of products. The company also uses the first in, first out (FIFO) method, so that most old models are sold before new models are released to the consumer electronics market. Apple Store managers also handle the inventory management of their respective stores.

9. Scheduling . Apple’s decisions in this area of operations management deal with a combination of automation and manual processes. Automation is used for scheduling activities in the supply chain and production processes. On the other hand, manual scheduling is used for individual Apple Stores and in some aspects of the company’s offices. The main aim of the information technology firm in this decision area of operations management is to maximize the capacity utilization of facilities, equipment, and human resources.

10. Maintenance . Apple’s operations managers address maintenance needs through various personnel, work teams, and business processes involving policies for high productivity and efficiency. For example, the company has maintenance teams for its various facilities. IT teams also function as maintenance teams for Apple’s servers and other information technology assets. The VP for Human Resources ensures that the company’s personnel are always at an adequate capacity to maintain high performance. Thus, Apple effectively addresses this decision area of operations management for stable operations throughout the business organization.

Productivity at Apple Inc.

Apple’s operations management monitors and evaluates productivity through multiple criteria. The company’s global size and diverse activities translate to different standards, benchmarks, and criteria for measuring productivity in different business areas. The following are some of the productivity metrics applicable to Apple’s operations management:

  • Revenue per square foot (productivity of Apple Stores)
  • Product units per time (productivity of suppliers and the supply chain)
  • Milestones per time (productivity of employees in product development)
  • Apple Inc. – Benefits .
  • Apple Inc. – Find a Store .
  • Apple Inc. – Form 10-K .
  • Apple Inc. – Online Store .
  • Apple Leadership – Executive Profiles .
  • Apple Supplier Code of Conduct .
  • Chen, X., Deng, T., Shen, Z. J. M., & Yu, Y. (2023). Mind the gap between research and practice in operations management. IISE Transactions, 55 (1), 32-42.
  • Fine, C. H., Padurean, L., & Naumov, S. (2022). Operations for entrepreneurs: Can Operations Management make a difference in entrepreneurial theory and practice? Production and Operations Management, 31 (12), 4599-4615.
  • Helo, P., & Hao, Y. (2022). Artificial intelligence in operations management and supply chain management: An exploratory case study. Production Planning & Control, 33 (16), 1573-1590.
  • Sancha, C., Gutierrez-Gutierrez, L., Tamayo-Torres, I., & Gimenez Thomsen, C. (2022). From corporate governance to sustainability outcomes: The key role of operations management. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 43 (13), 27-49.
  • U.S. Department of Commerce – International Trade Administration – Software and Information Technology Industry .
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  • This article may not be reproduced, distributed, or mirrored without written permission from Panmore Institute and its author/s.
  • Educators, Researchers, and Students: You are permitted to quote or paraphrase parts of this article (not the entire article) for educational or research purposes, as long as the article is properly cited and referenced together with its URL/link.

Table of Contents

Apple target audience , marketing strategy of apple, 5 key takeaways from apple marketing strategy, a case study on apple marketing strategy.

A Case Study on Apple Marketing Strategy

Breaking through with several inventions in the world of technology, Apple Inc. has been carving infinite milestones ever since its inception. Even though its innovations speak for themselves, this highly-valued giant corporation has invested heavily in its marketing team to soar high up as a tech maestro. Apple Inc. realized the role of brand marketing in the success of a venture from the start as a crucial way to connect with its target audience. This brand's marketing is so vigorously carried out and well-thought that it is often an inspiration and a place of research for marketing professionals. Here we bring you a well-curated case study on Apple's marketing strategy, the key takeaways to learn from this venture, and how to incorporate the same in your business and marketing strategies. 

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To understand its key strategies for marketing Apple products, let's first understand what Apple's target audience is like. Apple's target audience consists of middle-class and upper-class users who can pay higher for products that provide them with an incredible user experience. This means that these users have a higher disposable income and are willing to pay more for as high-priced products as Apple's. 

Let's take a look at Apple's target audience with this comprehensive analysis sourced from Business Research Methodology's report on Apple Segmentation :

Besides this primary classification, Apple also explicitly targets professionals working in specialized software like music, video, photography and all kinds of design careers. These working professionals prefer Adobe’s Final Cut, Photoshop and related editing software which work well with Macbooks and IPads than other operating systems. 

Even better, business professionals prefer Apple products such as iPods and Macbooks for their day-to-day work. Products like iPads and Macbooks are lighter and portable, so they are often selected by students (upper-class), educational institutions and teaching. 

Now coming to the marketing strategy of Apple, it is a combination of well-designed products with the right user experience, promotional campaigns, distribution, and pricing. Let’s take a look at all these features of Apple marketing strategy in detail:

Focus on Finer User Experience

Apple’s branding strategy is based on its stylish, more straightforward and lush products that focus on providing a user interface that is very simple to use and learn. They are lighter, easy to carry as well as durable. This minimal look and user experience makes it a perfect sell to its target audience, which comes from the middle to upper class.

Suave Yet Simple Advertising

Storytelling is such an essential part of every Apple ad as well as a marketing campaign. Often these ads focus on minimal design as well as high-quality images. They are either blended with music or a simple story. Apple consciously ensures that its advertising and marketing don’t use too much jargon or filler language in its ads. Instead, it shines a light on the product to let it speak for itself without showing what the price is like or using complicated words for its features.

Targeting the Right Markets

Apple is excellent at tapping into its target audiences like a genuine tech witch who knows their aspirations, preferences and pain points! Its market research is always on-point and crystal clear in its products, curation, and features. 

Here are the major critical takeaways from Apple Marketing Strategy:

  • Tapping into your target markets and audience is the key to curating and selling user experiences that value the preferences of its people. 
  • With simplicity and finesse in design, the right products with minimal designs and features can create a perfect impact for your brand.
  • Incorporating emotion in your advertising and marketing can also help you connect with your audience better. 
  • Don’t exaggerate the copy and conceptualizing of your advertising and marketing campaigns and prefer the “less is more” approach. Create shorter yet emotional and empathetic ads to captivate your target audience.
  • When you create an international brand value through quality and minimal, sophisticated design, you don’t need to compete in terms of price. Instead, your price will set you apart for your user experience and design features.
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Thus, we hope we have helped you understand what Apple’s marketing strategy is about! Want to read more case studies about top brands and their marketing strategies? Join Simplilearn’s specialized PGP Digital Marketing certification in collaboration with Meta Blueprint and Harvard Publishing. This certification can help you level up your career in digital marketing through case studies, industry projects, masterclasses from industry experts, ad marketing tools from Facebook, Google, and related marketing tools. 

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Apple Inc. Case Study

Central problem, analysis of situation, identify alternative strategies, course of action, reference list.

The case study analysis is based on Apple Inc’s products and its marketing abilities to satisfy loyal consumers. It discusses how Apple has been able to keep producing competitive and innovative products, in keeping with the changing demand and tastes of consumers.

Apple Inc is a leading innovator producing designs with no substitutes in the market. Some of these “product innovations include the iPod, iMac, iPhone, and iPad” (Kotler & Keller, 2012). However, the company has to play hard to remain competitive through the manufacture and the marketing of revolutionary products.

The market for Apple evolutionary products is well segmented and differentiated. By targeting the music lovers (Kotler & Keller, 2012), Apple Inc has been able to market the iPod to people who love to listen to music at any place and time. The most appealing aspect of Apple’s marketing abilities is the ability to reach all people even if they have never had the chance to use its products.

For reason, the company has been able to displace the Walkman with the innovative iPod. Apple has also managed to shift its marketing strategies and involved mass electronic retailers in an attempt to quadruple the number of existing outlets (Kotler & Keller, 2012).

To advertise, the company uses the pull strategy whereby marketing activities are directed towards the final consumers with the aim of inducing them (Kotler & Armstrong, 2010). This strategy has seen the iPod increase its popularity, in effect increasing the market share of Apple’s products and performance. Through personal selling, the company was able to sell millions of pieces of iPhones in 74 days (Kotler & Keller, 2012).

Apple Inc has been targeting the technologically savvy generation that understands modern methods of marketing. The company has been using valued added pricing strategy by reducing the prices of iPhone and including new features like apps, video games, video capabilities, impressive pictures, and fast processor. The launch of the iPad has increased Apple’s market share even more.

The strength of Apple Inc is that it has invested in research and development to design new products using the latest art of technology. The success of iPod has enabled the company to successfully reach the different segments in the market (Marketing Teacher Ltd, 2011). This has increased its market share and paved way for its other products like the iPhone and iPad. The company has also specialized in IT brands for its products.

This has ensured repeat business for loyal customers. On the other hand, one of the weaknesses of Apple Inc is a report that the Apple iPod Nano screen was faulty (Marketing Teacher Ltd, 2011). This forced the company to replace the faulty devices and batteries.

There has been a complaint on the downloadable music files (Kotler & Keller, 2012) as well, and this has put Apple under pressure to increase the price of music (Marketing Teacher Ltd, 2011). Music producers see iTunes as a weakness that is affecting the music industry.

Alternative strategy applicable in ensuring that Apple remains on top of producing innovative products includes increased research and development. This can only be achieved through the allocation of finances to programs to increase innovations.

This would increase its market share by keeping loyal customers. The drawback is that Apple requires financial investment in these programs. Another strategy could be a continuation with value added pricing strategy to increase customers and market share. Its drawback is to invest more financially.

Apple should continue investing more in research and development to design more innovative products that would satisfy its loyal consumers. This would sustain the organization’s goals although it would have an impact on its budget as more finances would be required. It is recommended that the company adopts the alternative strategies discussed.

To achieve this, Apple Inc has to increase its financing, carry out market research to determine consumer satisfaction and how the company is fairing in the market. Apple also needs to undertake an evaluation of the actual and standard progress of its innovative products as a way of checking market and product performance.

Kotler. P., & Armstrong.G. (2010). Principles of Marketing . New York: Pearson.

Kotler, P., & Keller, K. L. (2012). Marketing Management (14 ed.). New Jersey. Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Marketing Teacher Ltd. (2011). SWOT analysis Apple . Web.

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IvyPanda. (2024, February 22). Apple Inc.

"Apple Inc." IvyPanda , 22 Feb. 2024,

IvyPanda . (2024) 'Apple Inc'. 22 February.

IvyPanda . 2024. "Apple Inc." February 22, 2024.

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IvyPanda . "Apple Inc." February 22, 2024.

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Home » Management Case Studies » Case Study: The Business Strategy of Apple

Case Study: The Business Strategy of Apple

Apple Inc is a multinational American company that design and sells computer software, consumer gadgets and personal computers. It was co-founded by Steve Jobs , Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. Apple Inc is well-known for being innovative as they kept on producing new innovations from the first Apple computer Macintosh to the more recent iPhone and iPad series.

Today Apple Inc. is very well known in the world because of their advanced technology in products such as iPods, iPhone, Macbooks, Apple TV and other professional software. All the high tech products provide consumers with a better living standard in many different ways. Moreover, Apple Inc’s dominant position in the global market has changed the trend of consumer usage of electronic appliances such as in virtual communication. People will never need to carry multiple devices where each one only offers a handful of functions. Furthermore, Apple also created a substantial value in highly competitive market and industry which help them to achieve competitive advantages in an industry with stiff competition. In addition, it resolves the other external factors that present difficulty challenges to Apple Inc. Therefore, now Apple Inc is known as a strong company and the market leader in industry. Now, let us discuss about the current expansion strategy that used by Apple that make the company has greater success in marketplace.

Business Strategy of Apple Case Study

The first strategy that use by Apple Inc for their current expansion strategy is creating innovative idea that slightly different from the competitors that already exists in market and industry. In order to make the company more innovative, Steve Jobs focused innovation on competitive pressure and value proposition by stressing his management style on customer center innovation and customer experience. As CEO in Apple, Steve Jobs carefully evaluated competitive pressure and opportunity in market place by continuously pursuit customer experience innovation. He also focused their business and IT strategy on customer center experience. It means that Apple will be more focused on looking outwards, market and business drivers rather than at the products or services that already exist. Steve Jobs focused on this strategy because the customers can help the company to understand what customers need and scarcity of the people so that he can use the feedbacks as inspiration to deeply investigate and then to create more innovative, creative and highly advanced technological product or services that can fulfill the needs of the customers. Therefore, Apple products design is always attractive and elegant compared to those existing competitors. Apple products like iPods and iPhones are good examples that show the innovation of Apple Company by creating digital lifestyle .

The second strategy applied by Apple is differentiation . Apple is using Macintosh as operating software whereas other personal computer’s producers are using Windows. The differentiation in operating software gives Apple a competitive advantage in the personal computer industry. Macbook users are satisfied with Macintosh performance because it is very energy saving where the processor will automatically “close” those programs which are not in use when it is in standby mode. On the other hand, Windows does not have such technology. Thus, Windows’ users might have to charge the laptop more often due to the battery consumption is higher than Macintosh.

In terms of design, Apple came out with an ultra-thin Macbook Air which is extremely thin compared to those existing laptops. To those consumers who prefer lighter and thinner laptops will definitely be attracted to the Macbook Air. Apple does not produce laptops in various colors like Dell or Hewlett Packard to increase the choices for consumers. However, to those consumers who are concerned about technology and high performance, Apple is still the preferable choice.

In terms of applications and software, Appstore provides a platform for customers to download software and applications according to categories. It is easy to search for any application or software by using Appstore. iTunes allow consumers to categorize and download songs easily . By using iTunes, consumers can choose their preferable album cover for their songs. They can also “synchronize” and update the songs in their iPhone with a laptop. Besides that, iTunes also allow consumers to transfer photos from iPhones to PCs.

As for pricing, Apple is using skimming pricing strategy where they set high selling price for their products. However, there are still a lot of loyal customers who prefer to spend more money on Apple products. This is due to the self esteem where consumers feel good by carrying Apple products because it somehow shows their status as being up-to-date and their taste is better than others. Some customers think that Apple products are not cheap but also not high-priced products because the value of Apple products bring to them is never disappointing.

Other than that, Apple is using specialization strategy where they customized customer’s laptop according to their requirements. Customers are required to add in features into the laptop which can serve them better. Beside this, Apple also emphasizes customizability on the part of entertainment that offer computer-build for high performance such as gaming. Gaming plays important roles to help Apple to customize in features and specification to make the products more attractiveness and creativity.

In a nutshell, the key to Apple’s success is down to creating a unique product with the ability for it to be customized to suit each individual’s needs.

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apple inc case study

Apple Scores Win in Labor Case Involving Fired Retail Staff

(Bloomberg) -- The National Labor Relations Board dismissed the most serious allegations against Apple Inc. in a high-profile case involving fired retail store employees, though officials still maintain that the company mistreated workers.

Last year, the company terminated five workers who helped organize union activity at its store in Kansas City, Missouri. The workers were let go for missing work, showing up late and failing to properly mark their attendance, Apple said. But the Communications Workers of America, or CWA, alleged in charges filed with the NLRB last year that the workers were actually fired for their unionization efforts. 

NLRB prosecutors originally dismissed the firing allegations last October, but the union filed an appeal in November. On Thursday, the NLRB rejected the appeal, telling the CWA “that the evidence was insufficient to show that the employer discharged the employees because of their protected activities rather than the legitimate business reasons relied on by the employer.”

Still, the general counsel’s office determined that Apple did violate the law in other ways, including by coercing employees to waive their legal rights, threatening them with worse working conditions because they supported a union, and interrogating them about their labor activism, NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado said Friday.

The general counsel’s office also found that Apple violated the law by holding mandatory “captive audience” anti-union meetings, Blado said in an email. Absent a settlement, the NLRB plans to issue a complaint against the company.

“We strongly deny these claims and look forward to providing the full set of facts to the NLRB,” Apple said in an emailed statement. Complaints issued by NLRB prosecutors are considered by agency judges, whose rulings can be appealed to labor board members in Washington and from there to federal appeals court. The agency lacks authority to make companies pay punitive damages for violations or hold executives personally responsible for violations.

Apple has clashed with union groups and the US labor board over the last two years as retail stores in the US push to unionize. So far, only two locations — Oklahoma City and Towson, Maryland — have successfully unionized. A store in Short Hills, New Jersey, is voting this weekend to determine if it should take that step.

Also this weekend, the Towson location will vote on whether to authorize a strike ahead of new bargaining talks with Apple. The two sides have reached a series of agreements, but none of the terms represent a big change from Apple’s existing policies. The union told employees that there are ongoing negotiations regarding pay, overtime, unpaid leave of absences, time-away benefits and scheduling.

Earlier this month, the US National Labor Relations Board ruled that Apple illegally interrogated staff at its World Trade Center store in New York City.

(Updates with additional NLRB allegations fourth paragraph.)

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Apple has clashed with union groups and the US labor board over the last two years as retail stores in the US push to unionize.

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Apple Inc., 2008

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apple inc case study

David B. Yoffie

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  • Apple Inc., 2008 (TN)  By: David B. Yoffie and Michael Slind

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Case Study: Enhancing portfolio performance with long-term options

Case Study: Enhancing portfolio performance with long-term options

apple inc case study

Koen Hoorelbeke

Options Strategist

Summary:  This case study explores how using long-term options instead of direct stock purchases can enhance investment efficiency. It features a fictitious investor, Sarah, who utilizes a two-year call option on Apple Inc. to control more shares with less capital. This approach offers reduced capital outlay, enhanced potential returns, and flexibility in managing investments, demonstrating a strategic advantage for traditional investors.

Introduction :

Investing in stocks through traditional buy-and-hold strategies is a proven path to wealth accumulation. However, savvy investors are continually exploring more efficient methods to maximize their returns and manage risks. Long-term options offer a strategic advantage by providing the potential for high returns with less capital compared to direct stock purchases. In this case study, we will explore how long-term options can be utilized to optimize investment returns through the experience of a fictitious investor, Sarah, who is looking to refine her investment strategy.


Meet Sarah , a seasoned buy-and-hold investor with a diversified portfolio. Her strategy traditionally involves purchasing blue-chip stocks and holding them for long periods, relying on their stable dividends and steady appreciation. However, Sarah is eager to optimize her investment strategy to enhance her returns and manage her capital more efficiently.

Sarah wants to maintain exposure to her favorite stock, Apple Inc., which she believes has strong long-term growth potential. However, she is also keen on preserving capital for other investment opportunities that might arise. Buying additional Apple shares outright would require a significant capital outlay.

Solution: Using long-term options:

Instead of purchasing additional shares of Apple directly, Sarah decides to invest in long-term options. She chooses a call option with a strike price close to the current market price but expiring in two years. This option gives her control over a much larger amount of stock than she could afford to buy outright.

Financial comparison:

  • Cost: Apple is trading at $150 per share.
  • Sarah considers buying 100 shares, requiring a capital outlay of $15,000.
  • Cost: A two-year call option with a $150 strike price costs $3 per share (option premium).
  • Sarah buys 10 contracts (each contract representing 100 shares), controlling 1,000 shares.
  • Total cost: $3,000 (10 contracts x 100 shares x $3 premium).
  • Sarah spends only $3,000 to control 1,000 shares, compared to $15,000 to own 100 shares outright, freeing up $12,000 for other investments.
  • If Apple stock rises to $200 over the next two years, the value of her options would significantly increase. Her options could potentially be worth $50 per share (the difference between the market price and the strike price), equating to a total of $50,000 (1,000 shares x $50), minus the initial $3,000 premium paid.
  • If Apple's stock price falls, Sarah's maximum risk is the $3,000 premium paid, compared to a potentially larger loss had she purchased the stock outright.
  • Sarah retains the flexibility to exercise her options to acquire the shares if beneficial or to sell the options as they appreciate in value. She can also let them expire if the stock underperforms, minimizing her losses.


By integrating long-term options into her buy-and-hold strategy, Sarah efficiently leverages her capital, enhances her potential returns, and retains flexibility in her investment approach. This case study exemplifies how long-term options can be a powerful tool for traditional investors looking to maximize their financial strategies without compromising their long-term investment goals.

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