We all love Apple, right?
I mean what's not to love, (putting aside for the moment it's tricky and ongoing problems it the supply chain and workers that may or may not exhibit the tendency to hurl themslves from the roofs of factories at an alarming rate), they have redefined the smartphone market, created the tablet market, and converted legions of fans worldwide and morphed from 'the other guys' in computing, to a global and incredibly profitable industrial colossus.
Apple's 2nd quarter in 2012, one that was rated a 'miss' and a disappointment by many analysts just happened to offer up these kinds of figures:
Quarterly revenue - $39.2B
Quarterly net profit $11.6B
35 million iPhones sold
11.8 million iPads sold
4 million Macs sold
That's some miss.
And with the latest iteration of the iPhone set to drop in September, Apple certainly figures to continue the insane sales and earnings momentum.
Just imagine how much they would earn if they cared about sales and profits.
What's that you say? Of course they care about sales and profits. Well, take at look at this recent quote from Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, Johnathan Ive:
"We are really pleased with our revenues but our goal isn't to make money. It sounds a little flippant, but it's the truth. Our goal and what makes us excited is to make great products. If we are successful people will like them and if we are operationally competent, we will make money," he said.
Makes sense right, and is completely logical for a product company. Focus on making great products first, last, and at all times, and it is likely that financial success will follow. Not terribly profound either, until you did a little deeper into the piece, and find that little nugget that Ive, Apple's guru of design, imparts about the rest of the organization and the process, i.e., those parts of the company not involved in 'making great products'.
What does Ive and Apple feel they need out of those functions, (and in theory, people).
Operationally competent. Not wonderful. Not fantastic. Not 'best in class'. Just operationally competent.
Don't screw it up for us product builders. Don't get in the way. And, by implication, don't ever forget which side of the table you sit on.
Sure, Apple is kind of an outlier. It's products continue to enjoy such love and popularity in the market that it would be kind of hard for the 'operationally competent' folks to rain on the parade.
But, if you really think about it, not screwing up might be the extent of their potential contributions as well.
It's always tough sitting on a General & Administrative Expense line, but it stings a little bit more when you see the differences between you, the G&A guy, and the real earners.
Builder of Great Products v. Operationally Competent.