During this time Apple has been able to apply the newest techniques to carry out its operations in a really efficient way, without a doubt, this is an area that Tim Cook knows inside out, he was the one who gained Steve Jobs’ trust by highlighting and leading this area.
So Apple has built a proprietary ecosystem that controls every step of the supply chain process from concept and design to the nearest Apple Store . In fact, on many occasions and due to the synergies in this process, Apple obtains discounts on some pieces, improves its production capacity and saves on air transport fees.
One of the revolutions in distribution was led by Steve Jobs on his return to Apple, buying a large amount of air transport that was ostensibly more expensive than sea transport, but which allowed a change in the distribution model.
As I said, this boom in supply chain operations began when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997. At the time, many companies used ocean freight to move their parts to their assembly plants, but Jobs took it upon himself to revolutionize that facet at Christmas 1998 by purchasing as much air space as he could to transport the production units of the first iMac. In fact some companies like Compaq tried to imitate Apple finding that Cupertino’s company had a virtual monopoly.
Although no doubt the first time Apple showed its distribution capabilities to the end user was with the iPod , which was distributed days after the order via web (something that was really new at that time). What they managed to do was avoid having a huge inventory of product to manage. This efficiency in operations and distribution means that Apple can lower its costs and increase the margin of its products .
Another of Apple’s concerns in recent times has been to introduce increasingly better machinery for the assembly of its products, since the arrival of the unibody products this is increasingly appreciable externally. However, from a technological point of view, Apple has made many more advances in this area, for example, the lasers it bought in large quantities that allow it to micro-perforate the aluminium covers to let the green light from the iSight camera’s LEDs escape.
Some time ago, an interesting article was published in Business Week, which is worth reading if you are interested in these topics, I link it below.