Apple PESTEL Analysis

  • Apple has fundamentally changed how consumers communicate and access information. But to some extent, it is a victim of its own success.
  • Reliance on Chinese manufacturing is problematic on a couple of fronts. Rising labor costs associated with the emerging Chinese middle-class impact company profit margins. Increased environmental regulation in the country might also impact manufacturing operations.
  • Apple’s ability to innovate in the wake of Steve Jobs has been diminished. Once unique technology is being easily replicated by competitors such as Google and Samsung.


Apple is a company that has fundamentally changed aspects of the way we communicate with each other.

Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple now has a line of innovative technology products including the iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch, and iPad. It also has a long list of propriety software and hardware to support its numerous devices.

Understanding the Apple PESTLE analysis


Apple has a much-publicized cash balance, with recent reports putting the figure at $195.57 billion.

In the United States, this has stimulated discussion over corporate tax legislation. Worsening income inequality as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has also exacerbated this issue for the company.

Apple is also heavily dependent on China for manufacturing. The continuing conflict between the U.S. and China has resulted in import restrictions and a general focus on renewing the American manufacturing industry.


With an emerging middle class numbering in the hundreds of millions, Chinese manufacturing also represents an economic threat to Apple. The Chinese middle class is demanding higher wages, which has the potential to erode the cost advantage of manufacturing Apple products.

Stagnating wage growth in the United States also means consumer purchasing power is on the decline. This is reducing revenue in lucrative key markets.


Few social trends have been as significant as the uptake of smartphones among consumers. Once a consumer owns a smartphone, there is now a societal expectation that it will be upgraded in 1-2 years. 

However, the tendency to upgrade a device for social status is fading. Younger generations are becoming more discerning consumers, with a need for both affordability and functionality. Inevitably, Apple will need to reduce its dependence on the iPhone which accounts for almost half of its sales.


Apple faces strong competition from Google and Samsung for technologically advanced products. Many of Apple’s signature products such as Apple Pay have been easily replicated.

This problem was exacerbated by the death of Steve Jobs, who was unmatched in his ability to innovate. Current CEO Tim Cook is a logistics and optimization specialist. His modus operandi is to extract money from consumers with high-margin accessories such as dongles, cables, and adaptors. While effective, this strategy is not unique.


Like many similar companies, Apple has entered the highly lucrative (but also highly regulated) financial services industry.

Reports suggest it is also planning to enter automobile manufacturing – which is also heavily regulated. Both industries have the potential to increase insurance and compliance costs for Apple.

The company is also reliant on intellectual property laws to maintain its product range integrity. Piracy and associated litigation expenses are a constant concern


Apple faces several environmental issues going forward. The safe disposal of its devices is perhaps the most significant.

Pollution from manufacturing facilities in China is also likely to become increasingly regulated as China tightens emissions laws.

Rising energy costs also mean the company is having to spend more money on maintaining data centers and other infrastructure.

Key Highlights of Apple’s PESTLE Analysis:

  • Background:
    • Apple, founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, has transformed communication and technology.
    • The company offers a range of innovative products including iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch, and iPad, along with proprietary software and hardware.
  • PESTLE Analysis:
    • Political:
      • Apple’s substantial cash balance has raised discussions on corporate tax legislation in the United States.
      • U.S.-China conflicts have led to import restrictions and focus on American manufacturing, impacting Apple’s dependence on China.
    • Economic:
      • Chinese manufacturing’s emerging middle class threatens Apple’s cost advantage due to rising wages.
      • Stagnating U.S. wage growth reduces consumer purchasing power and revenue.
    • Social:
      • The rise of smartphones and the expectation of frequent upgrades have driven consumer behavior.
      • Younger generations prioritize affordability and functionality, impacting Apple’s iPhone-centric sales strategy.
    • Technological:
      • Apple faces competition from Google and Samsung, with replicated products and features.
      • Steve Jobs’ innovation is missed, and Tim Cook’s strategy focuses on high-margin accessories.
    • Legal:
      • Apple has entered regulated financial services and is considering automobile manufacturing.
      • Reliance on intellectual property laws, piracy, and litigation costs pose legal challenges.
    • Environmental:
      • Disposal of devices, manufacturing pollution, and energy costs are environmental concerns for Apple.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Apple’s success and innovations have led to challenges, including reliance on Chinese manufacturing.
    • Rising labor costs and environmental regulations in China impact Apple’s operations.
    • The company’s ability to innovate post-Steve Jobs is under scrutiny, as competitors replicate its products.
    • Entering regulated industries like finance and potential automobile manufacturing introduces legal complexities.
    • Environmental issues like device disposal and energy costs require attention for sustainable operations.

Related to Apple

Who Owns Apple

As of 2023, major Apple shareholders comprised Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway with 5.73% of the company’s stock (valued at over $130 billion). Followed by other individual shareholders like Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, with about 3.3 million shares, Artur Levinson, chairman of Apple, with over 4.5 million shares, and others.

Apple Business Model

Apple has a business model that is divided into products and services. Apple generated over $394 billion in revenues in 2022, of which $205.5 came from iPhone sales, $40 billion came from Mac sales, over $41 billion came from accessories and wearables (AirPods, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats products, HomePod, iPod touch, and accessories), $29.3 billion came from iPad sales, and $78.13 billion came from services.

Apple vs. Android


Apple Business Growth

iPhone and Services sales represented the main revenue drivers in 2022. Within the service revenues, the fastest growing sub-segment was the advertising business Apple built on top of the App Store, followed by the Mac, Accessories & Wearables, and the iPad.

Apple Profits

Apple generated almost a hundred billion dollars in profits in 2022, compared to $94.6 billion in 2021 and over $57 billion in 2020.

Apple Distribution

In 2022, most of Apple’s sales (62%) came from indirect channels (comprising third-party cellular networks, wholesalers/retailers, and resellers). These channels are critical for sales amplification, scale, and subsidies (to enable the iPhone to be purchased by many people). In comparison, the direct channel represented 38% of the total revenues. Stores are critical for customer experience, enabling the service business, and branding at scale.

Apple Sales By Distribution Channel

In 2022, Apple generated 62% from indirect channels vs. 38% from its direct channel. In 2021, 64% of Apple’s sales came by indirect channels vs. 36% from its direct channels in 2021.

Apple Value Proposition

Apple is a tech giant, and as such, it encompasses a set of value propositions that make Apple’s brand recognized, among consumers. The three fundamental value propositions of Apple’s brand leverage the “Think Different” motto; reliable tech devices for mass markets; and starting in 2019, Apple also started to emphasize more and more privacy to differentiate itself from other tech giants.

Apple Mission Statement

Apple’s mission is “to bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.” And in a manifesto dated 2019 Tim Cook set the vision specified as “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.”

How Much Is Apple Worth?

In 2022, Apple is worth two and a half trillion dollars. Apple generated over $205 billion from iPhone sales in 2022, which accounted for over 52% of its net sales—followed by services revenues at over $78 billion, wearables and accessories at over $41 billion, Mac sales at $40 billion, and iPad sales at over $29 billion.

Apple Cash On Hand


Apple Employees


Apple Revenue Per Employee

Apple had 164000 full-time employees as of 2022, generating $2,404,439 per employee.

Revenue Per Employee


Apple Mission Statement

Apple’s mission is “to bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.” And in a manifesto dated 2019 Tim Cook set the vision specified as “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.”

The Economics of The iPhone

It costs Apple $501 to make an iPhone 14 Pro Max, and the company sells it at a base price of $1099. This makes Apple’s base markup on the latest iPhone model at 119% Apple is the only tech company able to sell its tech products at a such a premium, thanks to a combination of hardware, software and marketplace.

Tim Cook Salary

While Apple Tim Cook’s salary has been $3 million since 2016, most of Tim Cook’s compensation is performance-based. For instance, in 2022, while the salary of Tim Cook was $3 million, he had total compensation of over $99 million, which comprised stock awards and other incentives and bonuses.

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