The best way to get to the essence of any company is by evaluating its priorities. These priorities are like an unwritten constitution. The analog in theology is dogma which when codified becomes doctrine. In law it’s common or case law. In business, priorities are hard to discern and are usually only anecdotally observed.
At Apple the top priority is the product.
Sounds trivial, but very few companies place product first. Those who do tend to be producing creative works (e.g. movie or advertising studios, companies built around a creative process). Most companies place either production or distribution first.
Placing product first forces the bizarre behavior that Apple is well known for: being innovative and quixotic. It makes them foolish and hungry. Sometimes it even makes them catastrophically destructive to competitors.
- These definitions are from Wikipedia:
Constitution: A set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is.
Dogma: The established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or by extension by some other group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioner or believers.
Military Doctrine: an established procedure to a complex operation in warfare. The typical example is tactical doctrine in which a standard set of maneuvers, kinds of troops and weapons are employed as a default approach to a kind of attack.
Common law: also known precedent, is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action.