Apple may have finally gotten too big for its unusual corporate structure

“If GE can build jet engines, tidal energy farms, freight rail data systems, mining equipment, and medical devices, how is it that the world’s most valuable company can’t find the time to make a full line of personal computers and PC peripherals alongside its market-leading smartphones and tablets?” Matthew Yglesias writes for Vox. “The answer goes back to Apple’s corporate structure, which, though fairly common for a startup, is extremely unusual for an enormous company.”

“There are two main ways to structure a business,” Yglesias writes. “You can build divisions that are built around particular lines of business or you can build functional groups that are built around particular kinds of expertise.”

“If you look at [Apple Inc.’s] executive team you’ll find that there’s no senior vice president for iPhone who works alongside a senior vice president for Mac. Nobody is in charge of Macs or iPhones or iPads or really anything else, because Apple is almost entirely functional,” Yglesias writes. “Most CEOs do not attempt to manage enormous global companies with purely functional structures, because even though it sounds good, it’s extraordinarily difficult to make it work in practice… Functional Apple struggles to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

“Even though regularly updating desktop Macs should not be that difficult, objectively speaking, it tends not to happen in part because it’s not anyone’s job to make it happen,” Yglesias writes. “The functional organization values collaboration on top corporate priorities above all else, and that means basically everything comes ahead of desktop Macs.”

Tons more in the full article – very highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Yup.

What if Apple were to spin off the Mac by creating a subsidiary – Macintosh Inc. – so that the resulting company could focus solely on the Mac and give it the level of attention it currently lacks but so richly deserves?MacDailyNews, November 23, 2016

And, as we wrote a year ago:

Sometimes Apple, the world’s most profitable and most valuable company, still operates as if they only have five guys from NeXT working around the clock trying to do all the work on a shoestring budget.

Can’t manage to have a compatible Remote app or Apple Music-capable Siri for the Apple TV launch… Can’t have enough Pencils and Keyboards for the iPad Pro launch. Seriously? Can’t have any stock on hand for two months after the so-called the Apple Watch launch date. Can’t update their professional Mac for nearly two years and counting?

Why are these amateurish mistakes and lapses happening with startling regularity? You know, besides mismanagement?

Oh, you say, but Apple is making tons of money! Why, yes, they certainly are!

Listen, let’s be honest, Steve Ballmer could’ve generated the same kind of money “running” Apple Inc. given the massive momentum Steve Jobs handed over at his death. Sometimes, in fact, it looks like Steve Ballmer is running Apple. Although, no, it doesn’t really, because even Ballmer would have updated the Mac Pro by now, made sure he had enough Apple Watches ready so as not to pretty much totally kill launch momentum, and also had enough Pencils and Keyboards on hand for the iPad Pro launch. Of course, Ballmer would have never had the handle on the big picture that Tim Cook has – our issues with launches under Cook have to do solely with launch supplies and software polish.

We’re coming up on two years now (this December 19th) since the Mac Pro debuted with no updates which, along with the rest of the string of snafus (going back to John Browett, Apple Maps, no iMacs for Christmas 2012, no iPad 2 units for launch, etc.), is what understandably prompts this sort of “joke” and “failure” talk and the feeling that Apple is a bit sloppy in recent years.

We hold Apple to a high standard and we expect the company to execute better than they have of late. (read more) — MacDailyNews, November 27, 2015

SEE ALSO:
Apple is missing out on holiday sales of Air Pods – November 25, 2016
What’s really wrong with Apple’s Mac Pro? – November 23, 2016

28 Comments

  1. If you follow Apple for a long time one would realize Apple’s structure is built that way because ALL THE THREADS OF THE WEB ENDED IN THE HANDS OF STEVE JOBS.

    Apple was designed as an EXTENSION of Jobs.
    Jobs thought of the ideas, planned the marketing etc and his lieutenants executed them.

    All the CEO in such a structure is DECIDE what to do , make a list and get his SVPs TO DO.

    For example the CEO should say : one new iPhone a year (radical new features every two years. “the new Phone should be LIKE THIS “), Macs updated “(this, this and this model etc every x number of months with THESE NEW FEATURES : , work on THIS new project (Watch, Apple TV etc).
    The CEO of Apple has to be the LEAD INNOVATOR and DECIDE course of Action.

    PROBLEM IS COOK IS A MANAGER AND NOT AN INNOVATOR.
    HE DOES NOT ‘DECIDE’, he rather (as other articles detail) ‘COACHES’ i.e he says “Hey Guys what do YOU LIKE to WORK ON?”

    Jony Ive goes like ‘Watch bands, Coffee Table Book, Fashion Show, Christmans tree… ”
    Cue “Fashion Shows, rock concerts, Sex filled romp of Dr. Dre’s Life… ”
    Ahrends “Fashion boutique.. ”

    ETC.

    Cook could EASILY have said ‘Do iPhone, Do Macs’ and “Software guy (Federighi) get the OS Ready, new version every two years, Hardware guys (get me the designs, I want the Macs and the iPhones to be like THIS… ) etc.

    BUT FROM ALL INDICATIONS HE DOESN’T. HE LEAVES HIS SVPS TO COME UP WITH THE IDEAS.

    I know I am being CRUDE here, but I’m using the above extreme examples to illustrate the differences.
    In short for Apple to work with it’s structure you need a genius like Jobs who is Entrepreneur and innovator, hardware, software guy, marketing guy, inspirational leader, negotiator etc.

    With a Manager, a Operations guy who just wants to PROVIDE TOOLS to his team but NOT LEAD it don’t work so well.

    (CHEW ON THIS : Jobs had such good taste he could ARGUE WITH IVE as history records — in spite of Jobs saying he said no one tells Ive to do Ive has told reporters he stormed out of meetings after being unable to shift Jobs and even Forstall argued with him. Now in reality no one argues with Ive, if he isn’t interested in certain types of Macs like Towers — as it isn’t fashionista enough — it ain’t going to be made. Like I’ve written extensively before it isn’t about money, demand –Msft shipped 300 million win 10 licenses and aiming for 1 billion — , resources or iPads — iPads demand has fallen to about HALF it used to be and Macs make more money etc ).

    1. Dave, do you really think that is how business is done? Well ok, it is in very unsuccessful companies. The guy up top rambles on about doing things and the company just produces… wait.. isn’t that how microsoft works under Steve Ballmer…

      It just worked so well…. how many Billions did they just throw away???

      1. I believe I’m right at about Apple.

        Ballmer’s Microsoft was the REVERSE. Msft under Ballmer was divided into DIVISIONS with each responsible with it’s own stuff and reporting to Ballmer. there was little of the CROSS RESPONSIBILITY that was common in Apple where for example Ive does both iPhone AND Mac. Federighi does both OSX and iOS.

        Msft was rife with internal problems because of these divisions , there was for example issues between the Mobile group and the Windows Desktop group. Windows Mobile was under the Entertainment and Devices Division which also had Xbox etc. They controlled various MOBILE OS like Win Mobile, Win CE, Zune, Kin etc and made different phone versions but the Powerful Windows Desktop division crushed all those efforts (perhaps realizing that iOS at Apple was actually more powerful than DESKSTOP) and took over the Phone work as well. Because of this the Microsoft phone version are not compatible with the earliest (the OS is completely different) and Win Mobile became a dead end.

        In recent years there has been re organization at Microsoft to make it more unified.

        Note also what I’m saying is actually close to what the ARTICLE describes, I’m just adding the reason why Apple is so unique is that Jobs created it that way as himself in the centre.

  2. My view is that the company may have become way too fragmented as a result of all the obsessive secrecy to a point where the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing… and that each group utlizes its own design/product philosophy rather than A coherent, comprehensive and consistent companywide vision.

    I see this fragmentation even at intra -product level…

    Too many inconsistencies…

    Hope all these go away soon.
    Plus i cant wait for the move to the new campus to be completed ….. i have no doubt its a huge distraction.

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