Wow! Apple Turns Over Its Inventory Once Every 5 *Days*

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Apple turns over its inventory once every five days.

That's part of why a new report from the technology research firm, Gartner, ranked Apple's supply chain the best in the world. And it's pretty amazing when you think about it. This is a company that sells hundreds of millions of hardware gadgets all over the world and yet it doesn't actually need to stockpile its goods.

The only company on Gartner's list of 25 companies that turns over its product faster is McDonald's, which is not exactly in the electronics business. Dell and Samsung rank two and three in Apple's category, turning over their inventory roughly once every 10 and 21 days respectively.

We calculated these times from the report's "Inventory Turn" metric, which estimates the number of times a company's inventory is sold in a given time period. Apple's number is 74, according to Gartner (or 76, according to Forbes). From there, it's a common practice to divide by 365 to "estimate the number of days [of] sales sitting in inventory."

Fascinatingly, if you read about that inventory turn metric, you will find things like this: "Although results vary by industry, typical manufacturing companies may have 6-8 inventory turns per year. High volume/low margin companies (like grocery stores) may have 12 or more inventory turns per year or more."

So a typical company in manufacturing might do 8 inventory turns. Samsung does 17. Dell, which practically invented hardcore electronics supply chain management, does 36. Apple is doing 74!

Via @courtenaybird

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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