Business

The market, the madness, and the Apple television

It seems you can’t read about Apple these days without someone saying that they’re about to make a big splash into the television market. Apple, of course, hasn't and won't pre-announced anything. But that hasn't stopped Wall Street analysts claiming that the company’s TV strategy is flawed. That's right, Apple's unannounced, unreleased, entirely presumed by someone not-Apple, strategy is flawed. But I digress.

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In what world should Amazon enjoy more future confidence than Apple?

There is no question that Apple has done some amazing things. It has become the largest company in the world, by market value, because it has redefined industries. It redefined the music business, it redefined smartphones and it redefined tablet computing. Apple did not invent these businesses. Most observers would argue that the likes of Handspring/Palm and RIM invented smartphones and stylus-oriented computing devices, including Apple's Newton and Microsoft's Tablet PC certainly pre-dated the iPad. But Apple massively and permanently redefined consumers’ expectations in these markets. While doing so, they built up an incredibly profitable hardware business.

So why is it that Apple’s stock hasn’t actually outperformed Amazon by that much?

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HTC statement about Apple royalties confirms the money is irrelevant

When HTC settled its patent lawsuit with Apple by agreeing to some set of undisclosed terms, analysts did their job, which is to estimate what this means to the stock.

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Recent studies on iPad mini and Windows 8 are both bullish for Apple

Now that the iPad mini has been available for a while, we’re starting to see some interesting industry research headlines pop up, based on consumer surveys. Earlier this week, Cowen and Co. made headlines with one particular study that I wanted to bring up for discussion.

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Are the risks to Apple's stock as serious as some investors think?

The equity research arm of Barclays just put out a report on Apple, and it has a handy chart summarizing all of the main concerns investors have with the stock right now.

The concerns are: 1) Long term operating margins; 2) competition for iPhone; 3) competition for iPad; 4) no “next big thing; 5) concerns over maps; 6) management changes; 7) production execution; 8) execution risks in vertical integration

Let’s dive into these a bit, shall we?

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Is Apple jamming too much new product into our hands this Fall?

This Fall season, Apple is busier than ever before. Back in 2010, Apple had their product launches spaced out. Spring saw the original iPad. Summer had the iPhone 4 in its traditional spot. Fall saw new iPods. This year, however, they just finished rolling out the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, and they’ve given us impressive new updates to the iPod lineup as well, mirroring many of the updates in the iPhone 5. Soon enough it looks like we’ll be seeing the iPad mini announced.

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Why the iPhone 5 is exactly what Apple and investors need it to be

The financial markets are usually right. Not always, but usually. Today Apple stock is trading higher, following the iPhone 5 launch. It’s only 2 percent higher, but it tells you that most people were quite happy with what Apple announced, from a financial perspective.

Apple already revolutionized the smartphone market. They’ve revolutionized a few markets in their time on this planet. First they brought us the GUI and mouse. Then they created the iPod. Now they’ve brought multi-touch mobile computing to the masses. Let’s not debate who invented each particular item. In the end, execution is what matters. Apple is creative, smart, and executes well.

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Could Apple offer iTunes affiliate revenue to carriers as a subsidy for LTE data plans?

Last week we saw Amazon drop a bit of a bomb on the competition by offering a $50 per year data plan. At 250MB a month, it isn’t a very good data plan, but people will buy it. I wondered how Amazon could have negotiated such a good deal with AT&T. Perhaps they’re cutting them in on revenue from users who shop on Amazon while using a Kindle Fire HD via the LTE data network? It was purely speculation, but it intrigued me enough that I spent a bit more time thinking about this whole topic. And I quickly realized that Apple actually has a pretty well-established iTunes affiliate program.

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Should Apple fear Amazon?

On Thursday afternoon, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos got up on stage and introduced the world to an awesome set of updates to the Kindle Fire. Amazon doesn’t just want to have the best priced tablet (Kindle Fire is now $159), but it also wants to have the best tablet “at any price”.

To that end, the 8.9” Kindle Fire HD is hitting the market in November. It has great technical specs, and comes with a $299 price point (16 GB, Wi-Fi only) and a $499 price point, which includes 4G (LTE) and 32 GB of memory. That’s between $200 and $230 cheaper than a comparable iPad.

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Can Apple keep setting new iPhone sales records?

In a few short weeks, the iPhone 5 should be upon us. One of the interesting metrics that has been talked about of the iPhone is how all new models effectively outsell the cumulative total of prior models. For example, the iPhone 4 sold more than the total of all original iPhone, 3G, and 3G models.

So far the iPhone 4S has not yet reached this goal, but it will by the time next quarter’s results are reported. By my estimate, after 3 quarters of sales, Apple has sold about 83 million of the iPhone 4S compared to 88 million of the iPhone 4.

Here’s a chart showing how many of each iPhone model Apple has sold to date. The totals add up to Apple’s reported numbers, but the splits are based on an educated guess. My assumption is that when a new model is released, the vast majority of shipments are for the new model. Not really rocket science.

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