April 28, 2012
Applesauce: All Things Apple
Michael Harper for Redorbit.com
Apple released record high numbers yet again this week during their earnings call, saying they had China to thank, but how long will they be able to ship their products outside of the eastern country? Ongoing legal bullying may place a hold on some of their products from being exported, as well as prevent some Apple devices from being sold in China. Then, in an ongoing pursuit to be thinner and sexier, Apple may be dropping their heaviest laptop. Also, developers of Apple software had just 2 hours to make preparations for their annual pilgrimage to the Cupertino Mecca. All this and more in this week´s issue of Applesauce!
Too Hot Ta Trot
Apple had its earning call on Tuesday and, as anyone who´s been following Apple for any length of time could have predicted, their numbers were outstanding.
The new iPad has been going like gangbusters, selling 11.8 million units last quarter alone. The popular tablet did have some help from little brother, however. iPhone sales were also strong, landing into the hands of 35.1 million happy customers worldwide, representing an 88% year-over-year increase. Tim Cook was understandably pleased, and said he had the Chinese markets and economy to thank.
“It was an incredible quarter in China,” Cook said. “It is mind-boggling that we could do this well.”
Just as in quarters past, Apple systematically and humbly set their bar low, telling analysts to expect earnings to be around $8.68 a share with $34 billion revenue. The actual numbers, of course, were slightly higher. Not so much higher to appear as if they are patting themselves on the back; just high enough so they could act slightly surprised and blush when they announced the number.
Apple´s total revenue was up from last year to $39.19 billion at $12.30 per share.
Some analysts, however, decided to exercise caution as they warned of a potential slump in Apple´s stock price in the months leading up to an expected new iPhone. Turns out, when a company religiously releases a bestselling and wildly popular device on an annual basis, people hold off on buying until the newest model is released. A Canaccord analyst went one step further, claiming Apple would actually lose marketshare in between now and the time the new iPhone is released.
Michael Walkley, speaking to Reuters said, “However, with increased channel inventory and seasonally slower iPhone sales given growing consumer expectations for the iPhone 5 later this year“¦Apple will lose smartphone market share during the summer.”
It´s a stretch, but I´m willing to go on record to say the next iPhone will be another hit, surprising Apple and analysts alike, in which case, any marketshare lost will be recovered and any slip in stock price will find footing once more.
Remember those playground days of yore, the more innocent times when schoolyard toughs would bully the smaller, weaker kids for their lunch money? Do you also remember the day you realized the class bully came from a rotten neighborhood and broken home and simply didn´t have any money to buy their own lunch, let alone new clothes or haircuts?
It seems this dynamic is still at play in the world of business, though the situation I´m about to mention does stretch this metaphor awfully thin.
Chinese computer display and LED maker Proview Technology has fallen on some hard times, and as a way to pay off their creditors, they have decided to throw any money they can find at their lawyers as they sue Apple for trademark infringement.
Proview claims Apple deceived them when they purchased the iPad trademark from them when they used a false company name with which to purchase the intellectual property. In fact, they may have even been on the brink of bankruptcy when Apple first came around asking to buy the trademark. They were, after all, willing to part with intellectual property in exchange for some cold-hard cash.
Now, seeing how wildly popular the iPad has turned out to be and how incredibly rich Apple is, Proview is taking Apple to court not only in China, but the United States as well.
Their goal? To rid the world of those blasted iPads once and for all!
One of Proview´s lawyers, Xie Xianghu told BBC News in February, "We are now working on a request to China Customs to ban and seize all the import and export of the iPad products that have violated the trademark."
Helping them in their fight are the Chinese courts, who this week ruled Shenzhen Proview is still the legitimate owner of the iPad trademark. What´s a company like Apple to do? In the weeks before the new iPad announcement, they ramped up production by 20% to make sure Apple stores would have enough stock to supply what ended up being a record-setting opening weekend. Since these court decisions affect the last leg of their production chain, Apple needs to settle these legal issues in order to make some Chinese people very happy.
After all, Apple is the new kid in class, and though they are top dog in America and other parts of the world, it seems Proview doesn´t appreciate their cocky attitude. Now that they´re in a new playground, Apple can either pay off the poor and destitute bully Proview, or get pummeled half-to-death in front of the pretty girls at the new school, a bruise to the reputation that, believe you me, isn´t easily overcome.
Could Apple be saying “Goodbye” to its largest laptop? If research analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is correct, then Apple will jettison this 6.6 pound whopper in favor of a thinner, sexier 15-inch version which could resemble the current MacBook Air. If this is true, it could be the best of both worlds, a sort of perfect Reeses-Chocolate-and-peanut-butter harmonious balance.
The new, rumored MBPs could make use of Intel´s Ivy Bridge chips and a high-resolution Retina display, just like iPhone and iPad. The 17-inch has always been the largest MacBook Pro and, if you´ve used one or seen one, you know how large it is. While not completely unsightly, (No recent Apple product has been, with the exception of the “fat” iPod nano) the big MacBook Pro can be a beast if one needs to haul it from place to place.
It´s a delicate debate as one has to choose between extra screen real estate and portability. One option proposed by Slashgear is the option of hooking up a new, Ivy Bridge powered 15-inch thin hybrid to an external display via Thunderbolt to achieve minimum weight and thickness with maximum screen size. Plus, as Apple´s Display´s currently run $999, this creates a tidy mark-up for those pro-customers who want portability plus extreme screen size. Or, you could simply be one of those people who buy a 27-inch iMac and lug it around to coffee shops, which, when you think about it, is really the most sly way to show a room full of stranger´s awkward photographs of your half-naked wife cradling your fully-naked baby by way of your desktop background image.
WWDC is a fun, special time of the year when developers of Apple software, both OS X and iOS alike, gather together in San Francisco to attend conferences, work one-on-one with Apple engineers, and get drunk in one of Frisco´s many fine watering holes.
While this event has always been popular with the Apple faithful, the introduction of the App Store and popular product announcements during the keynote presentations has made this conference the event of the year, quickly selling out tickets for the past 4 years.
To quote John Gruber, loved and loathed Apple pundit, “Three years ago it sold out in a month. Two years ago it took a week. Last year it took 12 hours. So, if you want to go, I wouldn´t -redacted- around.”
Turns out, those on the west coast didn´t necessarily have time to -redacted- around, as the tickets had both gone on sale and sold out while they were still in bed.
Wednesday morning at 10:30 ET, Apple announced the dates of this year´s WWDC, sending developers on a mad dash to get their tickets and travel arrangements in order. Then, just under 2 hours after the announcement, Apple had sold out.
As mentioned earlier, Apple has previously taken the opportunity to announce new products, namely new iPhones, during the keynote presentations. So, while developers were waiting for these WWDC dates to be announced so they could improve their programming skills, analysts, pundits and tech press waited for these dates to be announced to adjust their new iPhone predictions.
The jury still seems to be split on whether the new iPhone will be announced this June or this fall. As you likely remember, Apple bucked their summerly-cycle when it announced the iPhone 4S in October rather than June. This seems to have thrown off those of us making predictions about future phones, as now we don´t know if last year was simply a fluke to be attributed to a earthquake-shaken supply chain or a new tradition to be held to going forward.
As always, we´ll never know until the Cupertino gang send out invitations to the press. One thing that is highly likely, however, is the announcement of iOS 6 during the WWDC keynote. As for rumors of what the new generation of iOS will hold, few details and rumors have been released as of yet, but perhaps we will finally get deeper Siri integration?
Will another Apple engineer lose yet another iPhone prototype in a local watering hole during WWDC? Will American cell carriers band together to seek lower subsidiary costs for the next iPhone? Will former RIM co-CEO´s Lazaridis and Basille be found outside Apple´s campus drunk, unshaven and looking for work? If any of these things happen, you can be sure to read about it here, on RedOrbit.com!