Steve Jobs resigns, will it change Apple?

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

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Shocked? Not really.  Should shareholders be worried?  You bet.  Steve Jobs, is by far, the most innovative and creative leaders of our time.  He has taken Apple from the brink of bankruptcy to being the most powerful, innovative company in the world in the last decade.

We all know what happened to Apple the first time Jobs exited stage left.  So should shareholders be worried of a repeat?  I think maybe so.  This is not to say that Cook is not or cannot lead an effective organization, continue to grow, and that he would not do the right thing for the valuation of the firm.  However, when an iconic leader steps aside I don’t believe we fully understand the impact. I don’t think it will affect Apple’s ability to compete, at least not in the short-term.  They are so far ahead of everyone else in delivering innovative technology, UIs, and thinking about competition differently it would take a substantial effort to beat Apple at their own game.  However, with a global economy they should be worried about two kids in a garage and keep the mindset that they must continually innovate to stay ahead of the competition.

As rapidly as technology changes, you have to wonder if Steve Jobs has built sustainability into his organization that will last well after he is gone.  I tend to believe not.  The power of iconic leaders to motivate and engage employees, clients, and shareholders is very difficult to replicate.  So I have to assume that all of the goods that come with great leadership might also dissipate once a great leader moves on.  The proof will be how Apple adapts as an organization  to a changing of the guard and my guess is that in 3-5 years we will know if Apple has significantly changed or if they will be able to maintain their edge.  Time will tell.

Steve Jobs resigns from Apple, Cook becomes CEO | Reuters Steve Jobs resigns from Apple, Cook becomes CEO | Reuters.

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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Culture, Innovation, Leadership


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B-School Capstone: Distilled Spirits- Drink Up?

This post is the first in a series of posts designed to discuss an intriguing industry and quite possibly the most challenging analysis I conducted during my masters program.

Part I- The Assignment and Industry

Now that the rush of my final semester in B-School has well passed, I can actually take time to write about some interesting research, case studies, and other material that I found interesting.  One such project was my final project in my capstone class.  In my Global Competitive Strategy class, the mother of all classes, the assignment was simple.  As a cohort, choose an industry.  Then, each team chooses a company within that industry to analyze, determine a strategy, and present it to the cohort.  The interesting component here is the presentation.  As a participant, you critique your presentation against others, look at their strategy, and then have an opportunity to come back to the group and present any adjustments to your strategy.  Simple enough in theory but more difficult to execute.

Without much thought of the actual assignment, the cohort unanimously chose the Distilled Spirits industry- for the obvious reason- taste testing.  However, if you actually think about the evolution of the industry, it turned out to be very intriguing.  Here you have a mature industry, highly regulated and taxed, which competes against other social pleasures, where the product is a commodity (or is it?).  On top of that, the industry is globally competitive with a twist of specialization when you consider micro-brew shops are popping up all over the place. Additionally, add the “brew your own” people who do just that, brew and drink their own spirits.

Once we started peeling back the onion we realized this is a highly complex industry with many pressures. There are tons of suppliers for raw materials and packaging world-wide. The costs of entry are quite high, especially with the licensing piece so threats of new entrants is relatively low.  Buyers have high bargaining power and many choices.  Shelf space in on-site service (e.g. bars) is tight.  Distilled spirits can be substituted with wine, beer and other legal and non-legal drugs.  Rivalry among competitors is high.  Depending on the geographic location there are more than 4,000 distilled spirits brands at various pricing levels.

The industry as a whole is a highly profitable oligopoly.  The primary issues are companies have a traditionally high advertising spend.  The sales to advertising ratio is 6-9% compared to a 3% US industry average.  Trading up to higher priced brands is the key to industry growth.  The US Industry is also regulated through a Three Tier Distribution Structure which screams inefficiency.

The Company we selected was Constellation Brands.  With all of these complexities in the industry, how would we put together a competitive strategy for a firm we didn’t even know?  Unless you’re IN the industry really, Constellation Brands isn’t a well-known company… until you research their brands especially their wines. Robert Mondavi, Arbor Mist, Black Velvet, Svedka, Blackstone, and Corona Extra are a few of the more prominent brands.

In my next post I’ll discuss the value chain, rent appropriation, and who makes the money within the Distilled Spirits industry.

Related articles

Sources for this post:

  • Trading-Up patterns from 2006-2009; State of the Industry –,
  • Standard and Poors’ Industry Survey Journal for Alcoholic Beverages, page 27, May 7 2009 Publication
  • Statistical Report for Distilled Spirits for July 2010 found at

Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Industry


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Amy Judd – Gravatar Profile and About Me

Image representing as depicted in Cru...

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Finally I’ve been able to concentrate, just a little, on my blog.  Hoping to get this thing back up and running.  For now, I only have energy to update my profile a bit.

One cool feature I stumbled on about a year ago is About.Me.  I read an article about the beta site that would allow a user to claim their identity and centralize their public information.  I loved the idea and joined way back when.  Check it out if you can.  A lot of creatives out there have really cool “micro” sites if you will.  A good example of offering a way for people to take charge of their online profile.

Amy Judd, USA – Gravatar Profile and my About Me profile

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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Innovation, Social Media


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Infographics Of The Day: How Good Is The U.S. At Innovating? | Co.Design

Infographics Of The Day: How Good Is The U.S. At Innovating? | Co.Design.  I tend to think the U.S. is pretty good and innovation.  What surprised me most about this article is that Sweden is also really good at driving innovation.  I would not have thought they are also a leader in this space.  My initial thoughts were that maybe Korea or Japan might be a close second, but not Sweden.

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Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Innovation


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Embrace Infant Warmer Gets Its First Test Baby | Fast Company

Fast Company magazine cover: June 2010

Image by karen horton via Flickr

Embrace Infant Warmer Gets Its First Test Baby | Fast Company.

This is a fantastic idea for developing and emerging countries and I would think this innovative approach would also be useful in remote portions of developed countries.  I love to see new ways to solve a problem and at a cost that is more reasonable for the target audience.  Here, infants can be warmed by using what looks like a small hand warmer used by skiers.  This is a novel approach for solving a real third world problem.  My hat is off to those involved with seeing the issue through a new lens.

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Posted by on August 29, 2010 in Innovation


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Influence Project

A segment of a social network

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Influence Project.  Read about this interesting project from Fast Company and started to wonder how a person’s social sphere of influence can truly affect behavior.  So I decided to participate and see what the results are.

Here is my influence link if you care to participate.

Thinking back to company culture, how can a person’s sphere of influence within an organization serve as a catalyst to change the organization’s behaviors?  Can a few key individuals within an organization truly begin to change the culture or would it take more than that?  I guess the answer depends on the size of the organization and the person.  But, can a large company change the culture by focusing on changing the behaviors and attitudes of a few key people?  Would it spread like a social network?  Just food for thought.

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Posted by on July 21, 2010 in Culture, Social Media


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Chinese Working Conditions Raised … Along With the Price of Gadgets? | Fast Company

The Apple Logo

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Chinese Working Conditions Raised … Along With the Price of Gadgets? | Fast Company.

After reading this article I began to wonder why Apple is having a PR issue with this.  By that I mean, I would think a large organization like Apple would have already known about working conditions in factories that are supplying them with products.

If this is a surprise to Apple, I wonder if they are reconsidering their operations and supply chain procedures or if they are hoping this will all blow over?  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

In today’s globalization I would think any company, especially one the size of Apple, would have an inner department responsible for their CSR program.  If Apple does not have one, now might be the time to reconsider.

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Posted by on July 6, 2010 in CSR


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