Supply Chain as a Sword and a Shield: Lessons From Apple

Open Access
Stern, Lauren Elizabeth
Area of Honors:
Supply Chain and Information Systems
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Felisa Del Carmen Preciado, Thesis Supervisor
  • John C Spychalski, Honors Advisor
  • Apple
  • Supply Chain
  • Pricing
  • Contracts
  • Suppliers
  • Quality
  • Products
In the past few decades, Apple has gone from being an incredible startup success story, to a company on the very brink of failure, to its current status as one of the most valuable and emulated companies in the world. It originally got its start through technological innovations, laser-like focus and a sometimes uncanny understanding for what consumers would want, and those things have certainly been constant themes during its periods of success. But one of the biggest reasons for its outstanding success in the past decade has been the way Apple has leveraged its supply chain both to control costs and to give it a competitive advantage unmatched by any of its competitors. This paper analyzes the Apple supply chain to try to identify the way in which Apple has taken advantage of its supply chain, adapted it to changes in the market, and used it as both a defensive and offensive competitive weapon to become one of the most successful and influential companies in the world. It also compares the supply chain strategy used by Apple with those of its competitors to explain Apple’s recent triumphs as well as some of the risks it faces in the future.