Ipad by Apple Inc Research Proposal

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Background

Apple Inc is a multinational technology company that was founded in 1976 as Apple Computer Company and incorporated in 1977 in California USA. It later rebranded to Apple Inc. to capture its expansion into the production of consumer electronics products (Linzmayer, 2004 pp. 300). Among its globally recognized brands which include Macintosh computers, iPhones, and iPods, IPads have received the greatest attention from consumers, the media, and the industrial players. Apple has a workforce of about 35,000 employees spread across the world. Its sales during the period ended September 2009 amounted to the US $ 42.91 billion (O’Grady, 2008 pp 156). Its advertising campaigns are quite unique and mainly focus on incorporating aesthetic value into its designs.

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As a result of the innovative strategy, they have carved out a unique reputation in the consumer electronic market especially in the US market (Corporate information, 2010). This has earned it an endorsement from the media industry where the Fortune magazine voted it as the most admired company in America in 2008 followed by a similar endorsement by the same magazine as the most admired in the world in 2009. As a result, IPad is expected to be a major hit with the customers.

The Apple IPad is a tablet that comes with an interesting range of features which include the ease of accessibility to the web, email, photos and videos all merged within the same device. It also has built-in apps that were designed to make the best out of the multi-touch screen. These apps come with an extra advantage to the user as they work from any orientation (Apple, 2010). The tablet which retails at $499 makes it the most affordable in the market today relative to the competition has an attractive color and sharp text which enhances its readability (Kobie, 2010). Web pages for example can be viewed on a page at a time thereby helping to retain their crispiness. Scrolling through the pages is done using the fingers hence making navigation easier and more interesting.

Project rationale

The handwriting recognition flaws crippled the functionality of this iPad in its initial foray into the market-leading to its withdrawal from the market in 1997 despite being touted by technology analysts as one of the most ingenious inventions (Stone & Vance, 2009). The iPad was reintroduced into the market in 2010 hitting the market with its newfound versatility. Previous production and marketing strategies have been dealt a cropper by a myriad of problems emanating from high production costs, high cost of advertising and distribution (Ferrell, Hartline & Lucas 2002 pp 240). However, streamlining of these bottlenecks promises to solve these problems. The tablet is also faced with a potential problem of low software interoperability which is likely to hit it hard. This is because some Wintel-based software are incompatible within the Apple computing environment a problem compounded by lack of incentives by software developers to develop apple compatible software due to its smaller market share (McFaul & PC Telemart, Inc, 1984 pp 148). The study is thereby commissioned to propose a road map for reducing the production and selling costs of the iPad in addition to solving the problem of interoperability of software.

Objectives

The company deems it necessary to examine its production and selling processes in order to understand why the cost of production, distribution and marketing, advertising and designing is very high. We suspect that the production technologies in use are too expensive leading to a higher cost per unit of output. The lack of complimentary support software from software developers is also thought to increase the cost of production. Poor marketing and distribution channels also hamper the selling of the iPad. The study should establish a clear relationship between the high production and selling cost versus the low sales volumes and sluggish growth of its market. The management strongly believes the production processes are to blame and as a result laid out the ultimate objective of the study as; to propose better ways of improving production processes. This broad objective has been narrowed into:

  • To identify possible flaws in the current production technology
  • To identify ways of reducing production and selling costs
  • To examine ways of increasing interoperability
  • To create incentives for developers to develop support software

Possible methodology

The research agency to be chosen must have significant experience in market research in the consumer electronics industry. The agency will be expected to be capable of undertaking both qualitative and quantitative research. Since the tablets are designed for the youthful market, consider confining your study on the youthful segment. All the requisite information about the iPad including its market performance and its features will be provided. Personal interviews will also be allowed but upon placement of appropriate appointments since most of our staff operate within a very busy environment. Monthly staff meetings might prove helpful for this purpose. The company shall give assistance in contacting individual staff members where possible.

Reporting and presentational requirements

Regular reports will be required on the progress of the study. These can be communicated through meetings or emails where possible. For clarification on any issues, we recommend the use of emails and telephone calls. Upon completion of your study, you will be required to give a formal presentation during a board of directors meeting. You will also present a bound copy of the report alongside a soft copy.

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Timing

The whole study is expected to take a period of two months commencing 12th of May 2010. There shall be a briefing on the 18th of June where a mini-report on the progress will be issued. Submission of the findings is expected to be done on the 10th of July followed by the presentation on the 13th of July.

Budget

The full budgetary allocation for the whole research study is pegged at $20000. This amount can not be exceeded and the company shall not be liable to any additional costs. The research agency shall be expected to give a breakdown of the direct costs.

Background

Apple Inc was founded in 1976 as Apple Computer Company and incorporated in 1977 in California USA (Apple, 2010). To capture its expansion into the production of consumer electronics products, it was re-branded to Apple Inc. (Linzmayer, 2004 P. 300). It produces a wide range of globally recognized brands which include Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPods and IPads. Apple has a workforce of about 35,000 employees spread across the world. Its sales during the period ended September 2009 amounted to US $ 42.91 billion (Bureau of labor statistics, 2010). Its advertising campaigns are quite unique and mainly focus on incorporating aesthetic value on its designs which have largely contributed to the impressive sales volumes worldwide.

The Apple IPad is a tablet that comes with an interesting range of features which include the ease of accessibility to the web, email, photos and videos all merged within the same device (Kobie, 2010). It also has built-in apps that were designed to make the best out of the multi-touch screen. These apps come with an extra advantage to the user as they work from any orientation. The tablet which retails at $499 makes it one of the most affordable in the market today relative to the competition. It has an attractive color and sharp text which enhances its readability (Pantaleo & Pal 2008 pp 54). Web pages for example can be viewed on a page at a time thereby helping to retain their crispiness. Scrolling through the pages is done using the fingers hence making navigation easier and more interesting.

Objectives

The major objective of this research proposal is to propose better ways of improving the iPad’s production processes. This broad objective is to be broken down into three sub-objectives chiefs among them being to propose better ways of reducing the production and selling costs. The proposal will thus seek to investigate why despite having a formidable brand name and innovative strategy, Apple is still faced with high selling, distribution, advertising, marketing and designing cost of the iPad. The research report will thereafter seek to propose better ways of managing these costs and increasing its sales volumes amidst intense rivalry from its competitors who had earlier on launched their own versions of tablets into the market. Emphasis will be focused on optimizing the benefits while minimizing the cost of production and selling.

The second sub-objective of the proposal will be to identify possible flaws in the current production technology of the iPad tablets and explore avenues of increasing interoperability. The ultimate aim of identifying flaws will be to eradicate all bottlenecks in the production process with the aim of using the technology that yields the lowest cost per unit of output. Due to the low market share of the Apple products in the market, developers have low incentives to produce support software for the tablet. The study will therefore propose ways of wooing developers to develop support software for the iPad platform. To achieve this, the agency will examine ways of creating incentives for these developers to develop compatible software. The agency will also evaluate the prospect of increasing the compatibility of the devices with Wintel-based software.

The third sub-objective will examine consumer knowledge and attitudes towards iPad and apple products. This will help Apple to identify the most effective marketing techniques for the iPad so as to attain its targets more accurately. It will also assist Apple to gauge itself against the competition which will aid in strategic planning. The company will want to evaluate itself against other key competitors which include; Asus Eee Pc T-91, Lenovo ThinkPad ×200 Tablet, Dell Latitude ×T2, HP TouchSmart tm2t series, Toshiba Portege M750 and Samsung NP-Q1U. This will enable it to know its position in the target market.

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The last objective will be to investigate the approach adopted by stakeholders in this market to choose their research supplier. This knowledge will also be crucial in decision-making and planning in the company.

Approach and methodology

Due to the nature of the study, the research will employ both qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research will come in handy when measuring those aspects of data that can be quantified such as the consumer’s perception of the iPad and satisfaction derived from the consumption of the products. To carry out qualitative data, personal face-to-face interviews will be conducted using questionnaires. The sample group to be interviewed will consist of four groups as follows:

Group A Group B Group C Group D
North ABC1 East C2DE West C2DE West ABC1
  • These groups will consist of Users and non-users
  • A mix of males and females

Our research assistant will need to introduce the iPad tablet to the interviewees.

They will give a brief description of the iPad and later display it alongside those of potential competitors. While doing this, the assistants will ensure that they don’t cause distraction of attention on the interview.

On the other hand, quantitative research will be administered to capture quantifiable aspects of the study such as the iPad’s performance in the American market. It will also be employed to evaluate the productivity and efficiency of the current production technology. Quantitative research will be conducted using telephone interviews on the target groups. Results of the interview will be filled in the questionnaires. The reason for the choice of a telephone interview is that it presents a relatively cost-effective approach when compared to other methods. It also offers an opportunity to generate an unbiased sample thereby minimizing sampling errors and increasing reliability.

The primary source of reference material will mainly constitute books and websites. This will be achieved by analyzing peer-reviewed articles and journals from various websites and also reviewing the company’s and competitor’s websites. A representative sample will also be generated from a list of other consumer electronics companies from where personal interviews will be administered to the staff and data collected from journals and websites. The results of the book and website reviews in addition to results from interviews captured in a structured questionnaire will be forwarded to the research staff for analysis. Still, photos and videos will also be taken as part of data collection using digital and video cameras. These will provide supportive reference material for use during data analysis and presentation.

Focus group

The research will focus on users and non-users between the ages of 18 to 55 years. A sample of 1200 will be generated from the larger population which will be administered the questionnaires. The research will be carried out among potential users and current users in 4 states namely; Delaware, Texas, New York and New Jersey. The potential users will be those who intend to purchase the iPad in the next year. This sample will be divided into four groups:

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Group Age Sample Size
A 18-25 500
B 25-35 250
C 35-45 250
D 45-55 200

Reporting and presentation procedures

The report will be presented to the management of Apple using PowerPoint slides. This will be professionally done to ensure it captures the attention of the audience while delivering the key points precisely. Printed copies of the report will also be issued to the board of directors for reference. A mini report will be issued on the 18th of June to update the board on the progress of the study. These can be communicated through meetings or emails where possible. The agency will use emails and telephones to make clear any issues. Upon completion of the study, a formal presentation will be given during a board of directors meeting scheduled for 13th July. A bound copy of the report alongside a soft copy of the report will be sent to the marketing manager three days prior to the formal presentation.

Timing

The research project is to take a period of two months commencing 12th of May 2010 and end on 13th of July 2010. This is in compliance with the set timeframe in the brief. The agency will issue timely weekly progress updates every Wednesday at 9.00 am. Any discrepancies in your timings will be deliberated and considered appropriately so that all the necessary adjustments are put in place on time. This will be done to ensure your deadlines are respected. The timetable for the research project will be as follows:

Questionnaire design

  1. The questionnaire is designed to take about 30 minutes. The content will be as follows:
  2. Age
  3. Area of residence Delaware/ Texas/ New York /New Jersey/ none of these
  4.  Present occupation
  5. Have you used a tablet? No/Yes
  6. Do you intend to own one in the next 12 months? (If NO skip to terminate the interview and add in the questionnaire)
  7. Did you own the tablet? No/Yes
  8. Type of tablet used or owned
  9. How was your experience? Bad/ fair/ good/ excellent
  10. How would you rate the cost of the tablet? Very affordable/Fair/expensive/ too expensive
  11. How often do you use the tablet? Always/ occasionally/once/
  12. Main use of the tablet entertainment/surfing/photos/others specify
  13. Length of the time used
  14. Did you experience any problems during use? Yes/No (If No skip to skip to question 15)
  15. What problem was experienced?
  16. What would like to be added to the tablet?

Budget

Below is the breakdown of the cost of research. The amounts quoted are exclusive of VAT and are subject to the assumptions made in the proposal. The fees outlined in the budget are only projections and thus the agency reserves the right to make adjustments as the management deems fit.

  • Equipment                                                              $ 3000
  • Consultancy cost                                                   $ 5000
  • Remuneration for personnel                              $ 6500
  • Cost of data collection and analysis                  $ 1500
  • Research material and daily expenses              $ 2000
  • Transportation cost                                              $ 700
  • Stationeries and other items                               $ 500
  • Other expenses                                                      $ 800
  • Grand total                                                         $ 20,000

Personal CVs and related experiences

This study will be undertaken by Precision Research Inc. under the directorship of Robert Burns who has 15 years of experience in market research. Through the years he has accumulated a wealth of experience especially in consumer electronics having served as the head of research and development in Dynamic Machines and Electronics Company based in Nevada. He later worked with internationally renowned research firms before founding his own firm Precision Research Inc. Precision Research has recently been involved in a number of high-profile market research projects for leading consumer electronics firms.

Pritchard Marton will be the lead researcher for the research project. Marton joined the agency in 2001 having previously worked with high-profile companies in top positions. He is a holder of a master’s degree in international business administration. Since he joined the firm he has overseen the undertaking of big research projects both within the United States and internationally by Precision Research Inc.

Conclusion

Barely two years after being launched the iPad tablet is already faced with a cocktail of teething problems emanating from high production costs, high cost of advertising, and distribution. These threaten to derail the company’s ambitious targets. This proposal, therefore, seeks to propose ways of improving the tablet’s production processes all aimed at reducing the production and selling costs to enable it to compete with the rivals competitively. Included in the research will be a formal presentation of the research study report on the 13th of July.

Reference

Apple, (2010) Apple and environment: Designed to make a difference [Online]. Web.

Bureau of labor statistics, (2010) Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing: Nature of the Industry [Online]. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections. Web.

Corporate information, (2010) Apple Inc, the Winthrop Corporation [Online]. Web.

Ferrell, O. C., Hartline, M. D., Lucas, G. (2002) Marketing strategy, South-Western, pp 239-245

Kobie, N. (2010) As Apple gets ready to unveil its own tablet computer, we look at the competition already out there [Online]. Itpro, Web.

Linzmayer, W. (2004) Apple confidential 2.0: the definitive history of the world’s most colorful company, No Starch Press. pp 300-305

McFaul, E. J. and PC Telemart, Inc, (1984) PC Telemart Software Directory, Volume 8, Part 1, PC Telemart, Inc., pp 147-152

O’Grady, J. D. (2008) Apple Inc: Corporations That Changed the World, London, Greenwood press. pp 147-160

Pantaleo, D. and Pal, N. (2008) From Strategy to Execution: Turning Accelerated Global Change into Opportunity, Springer, 50-98

Stone, B. and Vance, A. (2009) Just a Touch Away [Online]. The Elusive Tablet PC, New York Times, Web.

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