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Deregulation and globalisation mean that it is easier for firms to employ workers and make products through networks of third-party suppliers whose efforts can be amped up or services sloughed off with ease.
The firm sells 1,000 i Phones, i Pads or Macs every couple of minutes.
The frequency with which consumers shop for groceries, which has been declining for a decade or more, may have picked up thanks to the spread of e-commerce. The rate of new consumer-product launches is probably slowing or in decline. A crude gauge of production speed can be gained by looking at the inventories of industrial firms, which mainly comprise half-finished goods, or “work-in-progress”.
The ratio of work-in-progress to sales points to a slowdown over the past decade (though if you exclude Boeing, an aircraft-maker, it is merely flat).
It has shortened from over 100 years for the spindle (invented in 1779), to 13 years for mobile phones, according to Diego Comin and Martí Mestieri, two scholars.
Patent registrations, which, though an imperfect measure of innovation, probably track it to some extent, have been growing by about 11% a year for the past half-decade, compared with a long-term average of 6%.
’ The silver bullet, you might say, is speed, this idea of speed.” The shareholders’ reports of the firms in the S&P 500 index of America’s biggest are littered with “speed”, “fast” and their synonyms, not to mention a goodly dollop of “disruption”.
Mavericks and geese America’s executives worry that they won’t keep up with this quickening world.
Others worry about the things they may do in the attempt.
Hyperactive bosses are accused of slashing jobs and overdosing on share buy-backs to hit quarterly earnings estimates.
Such hyperactivity in the world’s biggest company by market value makes it easy to believe that 21st-century business is pushing its pedals ever harder to the metal.
On Apple’s home turf in Silicon Valley the idea that things are continually speeding up is a commonplace.
The speed with which ideas zip around the world has increased.