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Apple philosophy: compete by owning key technologies

Business success today requires taking a hard look at what competitive advantage your brand has, and owning technology is very likely one of them.


Striking advice from Apple

Recently Apple CEO, Tim Cook reminded people that everyone should “own the key underlying technologies” of their business, which is why Apple created iTunes when Napster already existed, and why they are dumping Google Maps for their own proprietary map product, said Doug Perlson, co-founder and CEO of

[ba-pullquote align=”right”]”At the end of the day, every business is going to be defined, in part, by the technology they use.”[/ba-pullquote]Perlson reflects on Apple’s wisdom, noting that as a startup CEO, even he is tempted simply adopt the technology platforms of others to build his business, but notes that while he is no Apple fanboy (and says he owns an Android phone and a PC), “At the end of the day, every business is going to be defined, in part, by the technology they use. And if you use someone else’s technology, you will never have a true tech advantage over your competitors.”

“If the technology is core to your business,” Perlson added, “you’d better own the technology and constantly improve it, customize it for your business, and train your team on how to get the most out of it. That is where you will find your competitive advantage.”

Does your business need to become a tech company to survive?

[ba-pullquote align=”right”]”Own the technology that is core, and outsource what isn’t.” -Apple’s philosophy[/ba-pullquote]Owning technologies can be easily interpreted by literal personalities as a demand for businesses to own all technologies they possibly use, but Perlson advises that there are areas of all businesses that should be owned by third parties, for example, infrastructure and hosting. “For this technology, let the engineers at Amazon figure out how to scale your infrastructure. They will without a doubt be able to do it for less money and less headache than if you did it yourself. Own the technology that is core, and outsource what isn’t.”

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While Perlson says most tech companies understand how to outsource, he is shocked that billion dollar real estate brokerages are outsourcing nearly all of their technology – they just don’t get Apple’s concept. “Whether it is their CRM, their website, their lead generation or their advertising solutions, nearly all of them either use vendors that also work with their competitors, or have had their tech built by an outside third party.’

[ba-pullquote align=”right”]Brokerages are now attracting top performers by offering proprietary technologies.[/ba-pullquote]Although he acknowledges that quality team members is a major component of succeeding in real estate, having high quality tech tools is also important, as brokers are now attracting performers with technology. Perlson says, “it’s not just because they like shiny things – it’s because it generates business and establishes a competitive advantage. So if you are trying to build the best business you can, be like Apple; own your key technology, and make it great.”

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Roland Estrada

    June 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    That’s funny I saw almost the exact same post here –
    I would also add Apple has been smart enough to buy the right tech as well, starting with their purchase of Next from Steve Jobs in 1996. Apple’s other secret weapon is keeping it simple. Sounds easy doesn’t it. As outlined in Ken Segall’s book “insanely Simple”, it’s not that easy. The book by the way, is a great model for any business, especially real estate. 

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