A. Company Industry Position Apple is the iconic company behind the mouse-driven Macintosh computer, the phenomenal iPod music-player and the recently launched iPhone. The company’s marked inventiveness keeps it in the lead (Economist. com website) and secures its place in the industry. Apple’s relentless efforts and continual investments in research and development are seen to usher in more innovative breakthroughs that will further fuel the company’s further growth and market expansion.
B. Industry Characteristics. With its founder, Steven Jobs, at its helm, Apple creatively designs personal computers, portable digital music players and mobile communication devices and proceeds to manufacture and market them. The company as well offers to sell and to service related software, peripherals and networking solutions. (Google Finance website) Apple has such an immense following that is made up of the individual consumers, the small and mid-sized business (SMB) enterprises, the education sector, the government agencies and the “creative consumers. ” (Apple Inc. 008 10-K) The latter pertains to Apple’s special niche market composed of young and trendy people who can afford to discard relatively new gadgets for want of more updated versions of the same products.
The more recent ventures of the company include the selling of a myriad of products manufactured by other companies specifically to cater to such special market niche. These products include application software, printers, storage devices, speakers, headphones, accessories and peripherals of all sorts, and digital content that are all tailored for the Mac, iPod and iPhone. Apple Inc. 2008 10-K) Apple has an established market all around the world.

It has set up a dynamic marketing network through its “online stores, retail stores, direct sales force, and third-party wholesalers, resellers, and value-added resellers. ” (Apple Inc. 2008 10-K) It should not come as a surprise to know that Apple puts up with a lot of aggressive competition in all the markets it caters to – markets for computers, digital music devices, mobile communication gadgets, all the related paraphernalia and for the services attached to these products. Apple Inc. 2008 10-K) But no matter how stiff competition can be, Apple has emerged as an undisputed market leader. In fact, Apple has reaped increased earnings this economically difficult year (2008) while most of other companies incurred huge losses. In the same tune, Apple offered last Black Friday only 8% off its new MacBook, 4% off a 20-inch iMac, 5- 8% off iPods and none off iPhones while analysts predicted discounts to reach 15% (Frommer, Yahoo! Finance webpage). Apple is obviously not keen on competing based on prices.
As the company behind such signature products as iMac, iPod and iPhone, Apple can well afford to price its products higher without having to worry about losing the market to competitors offering cheaper products. Technology and its optimization are among the factors behind Apple’s success. Its products are deemed “new technology” and the technological aspects of its products are optimized for exclusivity. Thus, users of any one of Apple’s products are bound to be captured clients for the others in the company’s menu.
The technological inter- relatedness of Apple’s products presents a distinct advantage that it is wisely making the most of. Apple’s products are theoretically homogeneous; the market is awash with all kinds of computers, music-players and mobile phones. But then, such products are more considered as rather unique. Author McNees has written that “in a mature market with highly homogeneous products, well-executed small differences can make [a given product] unique and [sought after]. Indeed, the leverage brought on by Apple’s industrial-design machine makes its product stand out in the market. This constitutes another major advantage enjoyed by the company. Meanwhile, there are also serious disadvantages that Apple is saddled with. For one, the company is highly susceptible to the adverse effects of a prevailing bad economic condition which both causes the market value of the company’s shares to take a dive and substantially reduces the earning and spending capacity of its market.
Apple also happens to be in the middle of a litigation arising from its past stock option granting malpractices. Adverse findings of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) at the conclusion of the investigation that it is conducting will materially damage the company’s name, financial condition and operating results. (Apple Inc. 2008 10-K) (Please see II to IX and a portion of X in the Excel document) X.
Based on the foregoing, I do not recommend that the 10,000 shares of Apple be purchased now. I would recommend keeping it as cash and then buying the Apple shares when the macro-economic factors affecting the finance world and especially the stock markets have begun to improve. At this point, the market can generally do worse and Apple might just go with such downturn with no sufficient ammunition – like significant good news – available.
Works Cited
“Innovation Lessons from Apple.”  Economist.com.  7 June 2007.  The Economist Newspaper Limited.  26 November 2008 <http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm? story_id=9302662>. 
“U.S. SEC Form 10-K of Apple Inc. for Fiscal Year ending September 2008.”  Apple Inc.         26 November 2008 < http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2008/10/21results.html>.
Frommer, Dan.  “Apple’s Black Friday Sale:  No 15 Percent Discout.”  Yahoo! Finance. 28 November, 2008.  Yahoo! 30 November 2008 < http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/article/136179/Apples-Black-Friday-Sale%3A-No-15-Percent-Discount>.
“Apple Inc.”  Google Finance.  29 November 2008 <http://finance.google.com/ finance?q=Apple>.
McNees, Donald.  “Hat trick:  retaining customers, finding growth and achieving attractive returns are not easy in today’s mature financial markets, but a handful of companies are doing all three.”  The Free Library by Farlex. 29 November 2008 < http://www.the freelibrary.com/Hat+trick%3a+retaining+ customers%2c+ finding+growth+and+ achieving…-a0158908311>.
White, Gerald, Ashwinpaul Sondhi and Dov Fried.  The Analysis and Use of Financial Statements.  New York:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998.
Brigham, Eugene and Joel Houston.  Fundamentals of Financial Management.  Orlando, FL:  The Dryden Press, 1998.

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