Tim Cook has predicted that, eventually, China would become Apple's largest market. So far so good. According to a study by Counterpoint, which is referenced in this post by Marketwatch, Apple's share of the smartphone market in China rose to 12% in October. This is up from only 3% in September, which is an incredible increase.
Based on the pace of growth of iPhone sales in China Counterpoint said:
This might allow Apple to even reach the No. 1 smartphone player in December or January in China.
Apple’s stock price has been on a tear since July. We’ve watched it climb from less than $400 to $564 as of this morning. I’m seeing plenty of articles discussing the likelihood of Apple returning to its previous highs of about $700 but it’s lot like any of this is being driven by major news. From where I sit Apple financial news hasn’t been anything terribly exciting lately. We’ve seen a couple of quarterly reports and some pretty normal announcements about how many new iPhone models sold on launch weekend. We’ve seen the new iPad Air rollout and we’re seeing analysts speculate about how many will be sold this Christmas season.
Tim Cook made a memorable comment on the last Apple quarterly conference call. He said it would be an iPad Christmas. With exactly 3 weeks before the jolly holiday, iPad interest seems to be solid, and I suspect Tim Cook will be proven correct. This morning mobile analytics firm Localytics shared some interesting data. They tracked usage of a variety of tablets and smartphones from Black Friday to Cyber Monday and compared the data against the prior week. And guess what?
Last week CNBC ran a story about billionaire investor Carl Icahn having a “good conversation” with Tim Cook. Icahn says they both agree that Apple stock is undervalued, and that Apple is still studying Icahn’s proposal for a $150 billion stock buyback. Icahn has made it pretty clear to Cook that he isn’t going away. So, why is that exactly?
iPhone 6 is already the topic of rumors and speculation. Over the weekend Bloomberg reported on the possibility of Apple moving to larger display sizes next year. Rene Ritchie has been writing about just that here on iMore for a while now as well. Now, some of us may remember Apple bashing large screens in the past. Part of that was technology. Competitors were using OLED and PenTile subpixels to get to larger sizes, and Apple argued color saturation on those displays wasn’t good enough. Tim Cook has always been clear on the idea that they don’t want to sacrifice on quality to deliver size, whether this quality sacrifice come from color reproduction, power consumption, durability, or something else. Another part of that was one-handed ease of use, which Apple in the past equated to hardware narrowness, but which everything from BlackBerry 10 to iOS 7's gesture navigation have shown can also be handled by software. If there is one thing that’s certain (other than death and taxes), it's that technology keeps improving. Whatever compromises Apple felt users would face with a larger iPhone screen will eventually be bypassed. And when that happens, it is only logical to assume larger iPhones will follow.
Apple just finished reporting its fiscal Q4 2013 results, which ended in September. Overall it was a very solid quarter, with just under $38 billion in revenue, gross margin of 37% and earnings per share of $8.26 (fully diluted). Was it a record quarter? We have to keep in mind that Apple’s Q1 (December) is the big one every year, driven by holiday sales. But as far as comparable Q4 periods, this was a record setting quarter for iPhone sales, with 33.8 million units sold. They also tied last year’s Q4 shipments for the iPad (though no records were set on the Mac). So what does it all mean?
Before the iPad launched it was rumored to cost $1000. When Steve Jobs announced it at an Apple special event in 2010, the starting price ended up being $500. Given the expectation and the presentation, the price sounded great. Now, following the latest iPad event, and the introducing of the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini, there are grumblings that the price is too high. That Apple is blowing it. In a short, but very worthwhile blog post today, independent analyst and consultant Benedict Evans published his thoughts on iPad pricing.
In the past week there have been countless stories run about the alleged production cuts of the iPhone 5c. I say “alleged” because that’s all it is right now. Allegation. And at least one of the analysts (who I shall not name) making this allegation has a very spotty track record on all things Apple.
Last week Apple announced the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. They'll be shipping both starting tomorrow, and shipped iOS 7 just yesterday. Surrounding this enormous product roll out has been some of the worst Apple coverage I've ever seen. It's been clear for a number of years that many mainstream financial analysts and media outlets simply don't "get" Apple. This week made it painfully clear just how badly they don't get it, and how big of a problem that is.
Yesterday Apple made the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c official. And Wall Street collectively shrugged at the news. Rather than simply attack Apple's strategy or dismiss investor reaction, let’s talk about Apple the company and the stock. Let’s have a discussion about what these guys are doing (or perhaps failing to do) when it comes to meeting the expectations of the market.
It looks pretty much certain that Apple will unveil a trade-up program across its retail stores soon. 9to5Mac reported on it and iMore heard it was a go as well. TechCrunch claims it's already being tested at some stores, and has even through some numbers around. They’re suggesting an iPhone 4S in good shape might fetch as much as $200.
With Google’s recent release of the updated Nexus 7 tablet at $229, a lot of comparisons have been made between it and other low priced tablets on the market. It sure seems like Google wants to put pressure on vendors to offer solid specs with affordable price tags for consumers. After all, this helps sell more devices, and that increases the potential market for Google services, which is where the search giant makes its profit. This isn't dissimilar to how the race-to-the-bottom in App Store pricing has commoditized software, which benefits Apple's hardware-centric revenue model. But it does prompt the question, will it force down prices, or catalyze a price war, such that nobody really makes any money on hardware? And if so, what will become of Apple's business model?
The results of fiscal Q3 are in, and Apple stock is actually up almost 4% in after hours trading. All this really tells us, of course, is that Wall Street is reasonably happy with the news. The Street expected an overall worse combination of Q3 results and Q4 guidance. So what does it all mean?
Yesterday Bloomberg put out a story discussing a likely deal between Apple and Time Warner. The idea, apparently, is to bring Time Warner cable subscribers the ability to watch content via the Apple TV box in addition to being able to use the traditional cable set top box or iPad and iPhone apps.
Over the last week Apple announced changes to CEO Tim Cook’s compensation. The changes are quite non-standard and there has been much discussion on the topic. Here’s the situation: Cook was granted one million restricted stock units after taking the CEO job. Some people incorrectly call these stock options. They aren’t the same thing but it doesn’t matter for this discussion. So, what's changed and what does it all mean for Apple investors?
Starting first thing in the morning, Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference opens its doors. Tim Cook and other execs will take the stage to share all that is new from Apple. And unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that Apple’s share price has dropped from $700 last September to below $400 in April, and has now recovered slightly to about $440 as I write this.
Last week Techpinions.com posted a really good editorial by John Kirk discussing how much of a joke it is to consider Android the winner in the smartphone space simply because they have the most market share. The very next day, Business Insider tech editor Jay Yarow pubished a post with a headline that read, “Apple Should Be Furious That It Has Such A Tiny Sliver Of The Smartphone Market.” Here's John Gruber’s response at Daring Fireball. And here's my take...
Ahead of the testimony it will be giving before the U.S. Senate tomorrow, Apple (via The Loop) offered up a nicely detailed 17-page PDF document with all sorts of good information inside. The most interesting number is this: Apple pays $1 out of every $40 of income tax collected by the US Treasury. Isn’t it incredible to think that one company is responsible for 2.5% of all US income tax collection?
It’s quite popular for people reporting on Apple’s financial position to quote the absurdly high level of cash the company holds on its balance sheet. At the end of last quarter the $145 billion is more than a rainy day fund, which is why the board of directors approved a massive stock buyback and dividend hike. Of course Apple won’t be using much of its cash to do this. Instead, it raised debt. Why? Because so much of the cash -- about $102 billion -- is not on US soil. Instead this money is held in other countries.
According to research by Cannacord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley, Apple still rakes in a whopping 57% of the profits in the mobile industry, while Samsung grabs the other 43%. Note that I said “mobile industry” not “smartphone industry”. In case you’re wondering why this adds up to 100% despite the presence of other players, it looks like the small profits from guys like BlackBerry and HTC are offset by losses from LG, Motorola, Nokia and others. The report also apparently goes into some detail on how Samsung should overtake Apple to be #1 in profitability. This is a red herring, and here's why...