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Is Apple Finished Disrupting Markets?

This article was first published on 12 February 2013.

It’s hard to resist a good story about Apple.  Few companies, if any, have left a footprint on the world as big as this organisation in the last ten to fifteen years.  Now that Steve Jobs is no longer at the helm, there are those who believe that it’s all down hill now for Apple.  Not the author of this article.  He argues that the culture at Apple runs deep and that it has a laser sharp focus on bringing new products to market in a disruptive way.  That focus on disruption is specifically aimed at buying Apple the longest window possible without competition in the new category they’re just created.  Importantly, he argues that, far from being in decline, there are still a number of industries or products to which Apple might turn its attention in the months and years ahead.

The author circles around the idea that there’s something deeper at Apple than just a product (or even a series of products).  He doesn’t describe it as such, but I think he’s attempting to describe what Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad called a “core competence”.  The idea of “core competence” has been terribly bastardised and misused since it was first coined almost twenty years ago.  By definition, real core competencies are difficult to describe, define and, most importantly, unbundle and copy.  

My own experience tells me that there are lots of organisations with products and skills but very few that actually have deeply embedded core competencies.  I’m not sure how to define Apple’s core competence (although one could play around with some dimensions of it) but there’s no doubt that it enables them to transform industries and redefine competitive space giving them a wealth of options for generating new value for both consumers and Apple stockholders.  It will be very interesting to see how they exploit their core competence over the coming months and years and whether it shows any signs of decay in the absence of Steve Jobs.

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