Apple’s mission statement is as follows: “Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.”
You can find this statement as part of the “About Apple” section attached to all of their press releases:
Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Apple’s five software platforms — iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.
Versions of the “make great products” mission statement have come up repeatedly over the years. Here’s how Steve Jobs once put it:
One of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there. And you never meet the people, you never shake their hands, you never hear their story or tell yours. But somehow in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something’s transmitted there. And it’s a way of expressing to the rest of our species, our deep appreciation. So we need to be true to who we are. And remember what’s really important to us. That’s what’s going to keep Apple, Apple: is if we keep us, us.
Tim Cook echoed this sentiment when he stepped in as chief executive in 2009:
We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.
Some websites report that Apple’s mission statement is “to bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software and services.” This statement appeared in Apple’s annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2017. However, it does not appear in their most recent report, and in any case should not be interpreted as a public-facing mission statement.
When Steves Jobs and Wozniak founded Apple in 1977, they started off with the following mission statement:
Apple is dedicated to the empowerment of man—to making personal computing accessible to each and every individual so as to help change the way we think, work, learn, and communicate.
There’s a real difference between “the empowerment of man” and “making the best products on earth”. But aspects of the original mission live on in Apple’s commitment to values such as accessibility, and in many ways the above statement has consistently informed Apple’s brand vision over the decades.
Apple Vision Statement
Apple does not currently have a public-facing vision statement. Granted, they are the biggest company in the world, with a market cap of $3 trillion; maintaining that position while continuing to make new products is arguably visionary enough.
When it was founded in 1977, Apple’s vision statement was as follows:
Man is the true creator of change in this world. As such, he should be above systems and structures, and not subordinate to them.
This evolved in the 1980s to the following:
To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.
Both of these vision statements put forward a human-centric view of the world. Apple’s place in it is to create tools that serve humanity. Specifically, Steve Jobs articulated that he saw the computer as “a bicycle for the mind”:
I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts.
And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.
Although Steve Jobs was right that computers would revolutionize the way humans interact with the world, Apple fell behind its competitors. Steve Jobs left the company, and by the 1990s, it had lost most of its market share to Windows-based PCs.
In 1997, Apple brought back Steve Jobs. Since then, the company has fulfilled two major visions. The first was the combination of iPod and iTunes, which completely changed how people purchase and listen to music.
Then, in 2007, Apple released the iPhone. Within a few years, smartphones were everywhere. By giving people a computer they can carry around with them, Apple dramatically changed the way we interact with technology.
Since then, Apple’s revolutions, if you can call them that, have been relatively minor. They’ve launched few new products since the iPhone, and their annual announcements often highlight iterative improvements to their existing products.
Yet the word on the street is that Tim Cook intends to pull off one more major product launch before he leaves. Whether that’s VR, AR, a smartcar, or something else, it’s very possible that the big reason Apple doesn’t have a public-facing mission statement is because they’re cooking up something big – and for now, whatever it is, they’re keeping it secret.
Apple Corporate Values
Apple lists several values on their website:
- Inclusion and Diversity
- Racial Equity and Justice
- Supplier Responsibility
Some of these, such as accessibility, point back to Apple’s earliest mission statements. Others, such as supplier responsibility, seem to be a response to criticism. Yet others, such as privacy, emphasize what makes their products stand out from their competitors.
I don’t doubt that Apple is serious about these values. But for the most part, they appear to exist largely to make Apple’s products more appealing to customers who care about these social and environmental causes. What they don’t indicate is how Apple makes decisions and operates as a business.