Apple’s stock vs. Amazon’s stock from Dec 23rd to Jan 29th
In the midst of the lively debate, Scott Jordan posted a link to a great article in the Atlantic by Derek Thompson on February 1st, titled: “Why Amazon Is Special and Apple Is Not—in 1 Paragraph.” Derek Thompson writes:
‘An incumbent with high margins, especially in technology, is like a deer that wears a bullseye on its flank. Assuming a company doesn’t have a monopoly, its high margin structure screams for a competitor to come in and compete on price, if nothing else, and it also hints at potential complacency. If the company is public, how willing will they be to lower their own margins and take a beating on their public valuation?’
~ Eugene Wei”
So, what both of these authors are saying is that, while Apple does a great job designing and delivering products and customer experiences that customers love, its profit margins are high. That makes Apple vulnerable to competitors who can try to offer products that are as elegant and seductive and charge less because they are willing to settle for lower profit margins.
Amazon, on the other hand, optimizes its business to run at the smallest possible profit margin in order to keep prices low and to keep customers coming back for more.
I have long been fascinated by Amazon’s business strategy. I’m not sure that I understand it. This week’s article is my attempt to wrap my mind around it.
Our Pioneers’ group debate about Amazon and Apple migrated to the question of whether it’s okay for a public company to pursue a long-term strategic direction without taking into account the needs of its shareholders for quarterly earnings. You can join the discussion here.
Here's my article:
What Makes Amazon Tick?
Understanding the Levers that Amazon Uses to Run its Business
By Patricia B. Seybold, CEO and Sr. Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, February 7, 2013
What levers does Amazon’s management team use to steer their $60+ billion global ecosystem? The management team’s goals appear to include: Drive margins down, generate sustainable growth in free cash flow, leverage Internet infrastructure, and invent constantly. Some of the strategies they employ to achieve those goals include: eliminate defects early, reduce variable costs and leverage fixed costs, and invest in automation to deliver value and convenience to customers.