Apple Computer: Evolution of Product Line

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTA066
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1976 - 2003
Organization : Apple Computer
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : Global
Industry : Computer, PC

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Background Note

Operating from a garage, college dropouts Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak founded Apple Computer in 1976. Jobs functioned as the business manager and Wozniak as the technical expert. Their first product was Apple I, which differed from other PCs as it was sold without a keyboard or a monitor. This design greatly restricted Apple I from being used with other products like printers, etc.

Inspite of this, demand was high. Apple was able to generate sales of $174,000 in the first year. The following year, Apple solved Apple I's problems by providing a monitor, keyboard and eight peripheral device slots. Providing connectivity to external devices greatly improved the versatility of the Apple II.

Product Line Evolution

Apple products enjoyed wide recognition among end-users both for their attractive designs and their powerful applications in high end computing in the education, multimedia and entertainment industries (See Figure (i)). A large portion of this credit was due to Jobs who had always seen himself as a product architect rather than as a businessman (It was this attitude that led to his ouster in 1985)...

Betting on digital technology

Apple had long been branded as a niche player in the home and business computer market. Apple's product development strategies since 1998 seemed to indicate that Steve Jobs had not tried to break this notion. But Jobs had relied on products (both hardware and software) that would position it as a company that combined computing with consumer electronics, through use of digital technologies...


Exhibit I: Apple: Five-year Financial History
Exhibit II: Apple: Product wise, Geographic and Unit Sales Data for 2002
Exhibit III: Evolution of Apple's Product Line
Exhibit IV: Apple: Current Product Portfolio


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