Making Sense of Apple’s Strategy

Written in response to the article ‘Apple iThrone’ (Jan 29th 2015) in The Economist. The ‘Four Schools’ of Strategy Whittington (2002) proposed four categories of strategy: Classical, Evolutionary, Processual and Systemic. With roots from the Enlightenment and a ‘Scientific Method’ approach, the Classical school is a systematic top-down approach whereby rational strategy formulation, performed by senior managers, is then later performed to maximise profits. The implementation is closely monitored to ensure objectives are reached and sufficient resources available and utilised. The Classical school depends on the “rational economic man” and assumes that people are all motivated uniformly toward profitability. The approach inherently separates the formulation of strategy (by a small few) from the implementation (by the many) and with the goal of long-term planning, does not consider that strategy can emerge from trial and error nor must adapt to a dynamic environment. Whittington describes the Evolutionary perspective where markets determine, in Darwinian fashion, which companies will survive i.e. continue to maximise profitability. As markets determine the strategies companies must adopt, this downplays the value of managers as strategists to concentrating on efficiency e.g. cost control. Similar to Darwin’s Natural Selection, the perspective relies on a diversity of companies/products from which[…]

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Solar Eclipse

I didn’t know about the solar eclipse until a couple of days ago and I hadn’t left myself enough time to get some goggles. All of the local shops had sold out. Solar eclipses are rare and being able to see a solar eclipse properly from your little spot on our planet, even rarer. So, I decided I’m not going to miss out. The two options were to borrow a welding mask from someone at work or make myself some goggles. I did the latter because I didn’t want to look a dickhead stood on top of a hill wearing a helmet. I got a pair of 3D cinema glasses from my collection of 3D cinema glasses (that I am reluctant to bin, just in case 3D cinema has yet another revival in a decade). I popped out the lenses. I then cut out out some squares of mylar sheeting (from a ‘space blanket’) and stuck them in layers over the glasses. Okay, I admit, it’s probably not very scientific but I basically got my really bright site light (the thing you see on the floor in construction sites) and sat in close to me and kept adding layers until[…]

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Evaluating the adoption of a SOA approach to developing applications

At the current ‘evolutionary stage’ of E-Business technologies, the multi-tier architecture (illustrated in Figure 1) utilised by Picture Rights can be regarded as a more traditional design. As a common business approach, this multi-tier architecture is relatively mature and stable with the advantage of being well-supported. When based on standards, this architecture allows for future developments because each tier can be readily exchanged due to defined interfaces between tiers. This model automates many activities of the business processes, for example, a client could submit a web form with a picture attachment to request a quote. However, the model fundamentally relies on the human operator as input to the process so the level of automation is ‘capped’ e.g. the user may have to re-submit multiple forms. The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an alternative approach whereby the most relevant group of technologies is the Web Services Architecture (WSA). The primary goal of adopting a WSA approach is to enable automation by providing interfaces between the company’s electronic business systems and external or internal software applications. Figure 2 outlines the operation of web services. The WSA does not replace the existing architecture but is complementary: the web service still uses a web[…]

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The contribution of Amazon’s e-commerce activities to our current ‘digital revolution’

Jeff Bezos setup Amazon in 1994 and began trading on the Web in 1995 in the initial, subsequently regarded, commercialisation period of the Internet’s development. Many consumers adopt technology in a relatively passive process, likened to following fashion (as opposed to making informed decisions about standards or scalability) – demonstrated by a study of mobile phones in colleges (Katz, 2006). By default, one may therefore see Amazon’s business success from a hard-deterministic perspective i.e. the availability of technology enabled Amazon to (luckily) thrive. However, Amazon’s strategy, in its early adoption of e-business technology, involved a process to co-construct the e-business technologies (i.e. Web) to bring about change – the ‘digital revolution’. Amazon’s innovation lay within the use of technology to transform commercial and the social landscape so this essay focusses on Amazon as a retailer of books in its first decade of growth. The Digital Revolution The ‘digital revolution’ describes the “changes to society and business, beginning in the 1990s, that were brought about by technologies such as digital networks, computer software and new digital media” (T320, Block 1 Part 1, p.26). Despite a widespread acceptance in contemporary society that the digital revolution is humanity’s most radical technological leap, some[…]

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My Digital Life: Social Media

I had to create a 90 second video clip about social media for a module I’m studying, here it is: How I made the video. Using an open source application Freeplane, I did a brainstorm of ideas for the presentation. I concluded that I would need to deliver the presentation as audio-visual to include the many ideas, although the majority of initial points were eventually omitted due to time constraints on the video. I then completed a storyboard to help me put the seemingly disjointed ideas into a logical order. I planned each section and then viewed the media resources available to include one image per point raised. The media was useful but because I didn’t have time to listen to all the music available, I decided to select a commercially available piece to help create the atmosphere I desired. (Corner Stone Cues – Requiem for a Tower). Due to file size constraints, in order utilise the 60-90 seconds available to me; I decided the final presentation needed to be 640 x 480 resolution (with 1500 bps) and having PAL-compatible 25 frames per second. I found Google Picasa too restrictive for this purpose and it didn’t allow me to crop[…]

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What is Kickstarter?

Crowdsourcing is the model by which a party can outsource activity to a larger unspecified group of people. Activity may range from processing, assessing through to, in the case of Kickstarter, financial funding ad benefits are gained from the size and variety of a crowd. As discussed in the interview from The Strand (2010), Kickstarter allows “micro financing” small projects in a non-traditional investment model where projects tend to be “driven more by creative expression than some sort of commercial interest”. A project’s success mutually benefits stakeholders and relationships tend to be relatively more involved between investors and organisers. Kickstarter operates through a website that enables individuals or groups to list a creative project that requires financial funding. Projects need to have clear goals with something produced on completion and are only successful if funding goals are met or exceeded. Potential funders are encouraged to donate by the project’s goals and (strictly non-financial and non-equity) rewards such as crediting funders or receiving an item from the project’s limited initial production. Different tiers of donations are rewarded differently. Kickstarter handles payments securely through third-party payment processing providers to ensure money if protected. Card details may be given but no money is[…]

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Ubiquitous, Embedded and Ambient Computing Explained

Mark Weiser (1991) extended the concept of ubiquitous computing and offered insights into its implementation. The concept distinctly refers to computers that are so well integrated and accepted to all aspects of human activity, people are not conscious of their presence. These computers would be almost everywhere and interoperate to subtly enhance our lives – that is to say that although the produce may be observed, the methods are not. The scale of ubiquitous computing can range from interconnected health monitoring technologies around a person to large art exhibits. Applications could vary from home automation responding to predicted behavioural patterns through to cities automating themselves and reporting on social or environmental anomalies. The embedded computer is typically a small component integrated within a device that provides a limited functionality. Embedded computers enhance the device’s performance by processing and responding to environmental sensors or user input. Users are typically unaware of their presence and typically do not interact directly with them. Ambient computing is the strategy to introduce useful information to end users in a more passive or subtle process. This is achieved by devices providing a limited scope of information, for example energy usage and by using methods more natural[…]

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Twitter

From my forum post… As an IT & Marketing Manager, social network sites seemed to be an inevitable convergence of the dual disciplines I practise so I reluctantly adopted Twitter in my professional role back in January. “Reluctantly” because I’m aware the young demographic of users are not the business’ target market of decision makers; but there seems to be wider-stakeholder expectations to embrace social networking. On a practical level, I needed to reserve the username and not end up with some ugly username suffixed with a numerical sequence (that reminder of how common your name really is) to prevent an impostor masquerading as us. I remind myself that Twitter keeps 14 year old schoolgirls happy gossiping about their lives and as an adult, it is hard to draw any meaning from this. Perhaps, that’s where Twitter shines. It’s an equalizer. In a society that seems to be increasingly segmented (socio-economically) perhaps Twitter provides a platform for celebrities, the rich and the poor to talk about what’s important to them. Okay it may seem mundane and not ‘news worthy’ but there is no obligation to read Tweets. The platform itself and potentially the content will determine popularity. I think people[…]

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Windows XP Backup-Restore Procedure

On occasion, you may need to re-install Windows XP because a system has become ‘unhealthy’ due to malicious software (e.g. viruses) or just general cluttering. For the last decade, I have, on an annual basis (at least), had to backup files from my Windows drive, save them elsewhere, re-install Windows and then put the files back in Windows.It’s not enough, it would seem, to backup up the ‘My Documents’ folder, only to find that later, you’re missing those vital Microsoft Word templates. I’ve developed a guide to this procedure for the following reasons… This process can be risky because of the potential for data loss by not capturing all the files you should have backed up. The process of searching through folders for potentially needed files (often involves finding out what file extensions mean) is tedious. The guide contains common file locations so you just need to worry about those folders. This process is time-consuming, therefore some step by step instructions (removing the need to re-think) should help speed things up for now and any subsequent times. I don’t claim this procedure to be a definitive guide and I make no assumptions bout your level of knowledge or expertise. It’s[…]

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