Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 04: Apple's Senior Vice President of iOS Scott Forstall speaks about the new voice recognition app called Siri at the event introducing the new iPhone 4s at the company's headquarters October 4, 2011 in Cupertino, California. The announcement marks the first time new CEO Tim Cook introduced a new product since Apple co-founder Steve Jobs resigned in August. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Apple just flat-out killed it last quarter, largely on the strength of iPhone sales. Most analysts, technological and financial, now readily agree that Apple reinvented the smartphone business with the iPhone by putting a computer in your pocket. What's perhaps less apparent is that Apple also reinvented the business model for mobile communications. That's why this headline from CNET provokes a double-take: "iPhone Soaks Up 75 Percent of All Mobile Phone Profits."
What?!?! Three quarters of all profits available in the mobile space go to Cupertino? That's remarkable. Here's CNET:
Though it holds only around 9 percent of the global mobile phone market, Apple raked in 75 percent of all profits across the industry last quarter, according to Asymco analyst Horace Dediu.
That left rival Samsung with 16 percent of the profit pie, RIM with 3.7 percent, HTC with 3 percent, and Nokia rounding out the list of 1.8 percent. All together that pie represents around $15 billion in profits for the final quarter of 2011.
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Apple Store in Beijing.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — well, actually, it was just the USA — Apple made stuff in America. In fact, it manufactured its computers in California, right in its own Cupertino back yard. As Minyanville points out, until 1992, Apple hardware was made in the USA. Now iPhones and iPads are made anywhere but.
I know, 1992 seems like a century ago. There was no Web to speak of, and certainly no smartphones or tablets. Computers were not yet truly ubiquitous in the workplace. They were far from common in homes. But the writing was on the wall.
So why did Apple move its production overseas? Good question, and one that the New York Times recently asked:
Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”
The new Apple store at the Americana in Glendale.
Any questions? The consensus on Wall Street was that Apple would earn $10.14 a share and record $39 billion in sales for its first fiscal quarter, according to Bloomberg. Instead, it did $13.87 a share on $463 billion in sales. Eyes are still being put back in their sockets:
"Those numbers are just unimaginable," said Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer at First Empire Asset Management, which has $4 billion under management, including Apple shares. "It’s still an extremely well-managed company and they are showing that the product pipeline is sufficient even now to generate growth rates that are unrivaled."
Apple is now pretty darn close to being a $400 billion company, by market capitalization. It currently has two major things going for it: it's vacuuming up more and more market share for smartphones, as these devices become much more popular and begin to define the future of mobile computing; and it's ideally positioned to thrive in the post-PC age, as consumers shift away from old-school laptops and desktops and move to ultrabooks and tablets.
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Apple Store in Beijing.
It looks as if the next big Apple product will be...big! After moving away from the computer business into the much more portable consumer device and cellphone game with iPods, iPhones, and iPads, the next frontier for Apple is reportedly TV. And not just any TV, but a TV that will, naturally, completely re-invent the whole idea of TV according to Apple's design values.
Felix Salmon has been pondering the "What's Next" question for Apple and comes to an essentially mathematical conclusion:
Today, however, Apple’s market capitalization is $362 billion. If the company invents a new product which is just as successful as the iPod, and which makes Apple just as much money, and which is completely unanticipated by the market, how much should the stock rise? The present value of $25 billion in future profits is still substantial — but even if you put it at $20 billion, that just gooses the share price by 5% or so. If you look at Apple today, the company’s cash in the bank — its liquid assets — is a significantly larger number than the total revenue it’s made from every iPod ever sold.
If you grow to 50 times your previous size, your new products don’t become 50 times more successful. Or even 10 times more successful. Apple, like all companies, has certain economies of scale, and it has millions of people devoted to its ecosystem. But the market isn’t going to give it credit for having a pipeline filled with unknown products that are going to be bigger than the iPod. The iPad will evolve; the Apple TV will get Siri voice control; the computers will get faster and thinner. All of these things will be profitable for Apple — the company’s not going away any time soon.
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A man checks his email on a Blackberry.
Attack the iPhone, get over 210,00 page views. That's what Business Insider's Matt Lynley has achieved with this post about why he likes the BlackBerry more than the iPhone.
OK, it's a slide show. That's part one of what I should recognize by now as a classic bit of BI linkbaiting-and-switiching. It's also a bait-and-switch in that Lynley only seems to prefer the BlackBerry because he's bored with the iPhone, which he's been using for four years.
However, he makes a very salient point along the way.
The BlackBerry still absolutely kills it with email. So it was in the beginning. And so it is still.
There's a whole grand saga playing itself out in the mediasphere these days, as business-minded BlackBerry users (read: productive types) grapple with the decline of BlackBerry's makers, Research in Motion, and adapt themselves to the giddy world of the iPhone, much of which seems designed for esthetes and teenagers (read: they like toys), but which is...getting better at the whole enterprise thing.