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Apple, a budget chopper

Apple's balance sheet, as it emerges from the data provided to comment on the presentation of the tax results dominated by iPod. The most important signal derives from turnover: the player returned to being the main profit asset for Cupertino after a quarter last year in which sales had produced a lower economic return than that of computers.

The budget speaks of 3.42 billion dollars in turnover more than double (+ 120%) compared to 1.55 billion dollars in the last quarter. The Macs instead produced a considerable turnover of 2.4 billion dollars (+ 9%) compared to 1.55 billion dollars in the quarter of September. The number of iPods is also impressive: 21 million were sold, 50% more than last year but also 141% compared to last quarter.

During the fiscal quarter report, Apple pointed out that in part it is the return obtained with the launch of the new iPod shuffles. According to Npd, Oppenheimer specified that Apple holds 72% of the market for digital music players in the United States and that the data collected abroad on the markets from which there are official data indicate progress. "It's about confirming that our advertising and channel management strategy works." Apple also wanted to highlight, perhaps in indirect controversy with those who insinuated a reduction in the appeal of iTunes, that its online music store had 28 million visitors and conquered 85% of the digital music market . Important, above all, the contribution of iTunes Gift Cards which were "very popular during the Christmas gift period" so much so that Apple recorded a doubling of sales.

A proof of the success of the iTunes Store in the turnover produced under other services and music products which also includes the turnover of iTunes (in addition to that of the accessories for the iPod). Sequential growth of 40% that year on year of 29%.

Internationally, Apple has four markets where the iPod exceeds 50% of the market, it is Japan, Canada, Great Britain and Australia. Tim Cook then cited Italy, with other European nations, as one of the countries where the iPod continues to grow at very high rates, between 10 and 20%.

Among the controversial points was the fact that the use of new sales channels and the price reduction of the iPod caused a drop in profits. Oppenheimer refused to answer a specific question on the matter, stressing that the margin of more than 30% of profit on the products sold represents a level higher than that of Apple's forecasts. According to Cupertino, the gain, higher than that of the rest of the market, is the result of the decrease in the costs of the iPod components.

As for the Macs, the growth compared to last year is very sensitive (+ 28% in units sold and + 40% in turnover). Compared with the previous quarter, the leap forward exists only in terms of turnover but not in terms of units. Oppenheimer, when asked for a comment, said that Apple is growing for the eighth quarter out of nine more than the market is growing and in the case of the December quarter the rate is three times greater than that of the market.

When asked about the reasons why Apple is growing faster than the market and about the much-hailed "halo effect", the flywheel effect of the iPod, Oppenheimer replied by citing a number of factors that are driving the increase in sales, including also the flywheel effect "but there is also the operating system and the whole ecosystem that are driving". Cook also mentioned BootCamp among the factors of interest for the market, which has been downloaded in 1.5 million copies since it was made available. Despite the success of his system for booting Windows, Apple will help Parallels in his effort for a virtualized environment that is evidently seen as an alternative to Boot Camp.

Among the most "virtuous" markets is Europe which grew by 27% in units and 38% in turnover compared to last year and 44% in units and 73% in turnover compared to the previous quarter. At least compared to the previous quarter, the United States is losing ground, falling by 20% in terms of units sold and 52% in turnover. The US instead increased by 21% in units and 30% in turnover compared to last year. But the drop in the US is due to the comparison with a quarter, that of September, which was very profitable for Cupertino thanks to the purchases for schools. As for Japan which has shown a decline for several quarters (Apple drops by 14% in units and 20% in turnover), Oppenheimer admitted that the results are not good, but must be contextualized in a nation where PC sales " they are very weak. The Japanese market * said Oppenheimer * indeed the weakest in the world ".

As for the prospect of a stop of sales pending Leopard (whose launch is scheduled for spring) Apple sees no risk. "There was no stop when we launched Tiger," said Oppenheimer.

Asked about the data coming from the Pro market, Oppenheimer reiterated that one of the strategic elements will be the release of the Adobe applications "Photoshop presented in beta * said Cook * has had excellent feedback from customers".

Interesting considerations on Apple stores and on competition with other sales channels. Oppenheimer confirmed some analysts' forecasts that increasing iPod distribution channels would reduce sales. In fact, year on year the turnover of the stores grew by just 6% and compared to the previous quarter the number of units sold even dropped by 5%. "In any case," Cook then said, underlining the relevance in terms of store visibility * 50% of customers who enter them previously owned a PC. "

Few, if any, news on new products announced during Macworld.

The long series of questions on the iPhone have almost all been avoided by postponing to later dates when we are closer to the launch of the phone. To those who asked for information on the dispute with Cisco on the Oppenheimer brand, he reiterated Cupertino's known position: the cause without foundation because they are two different products, a mobile phone and a Voice Over Ip phone, which cannot be confused. An analyst also asked why iPhone doesn't work on 3G networks, at which Cook pointed out that it was a choice following the pact with Cingular that has a good EDGE network. "For the rest * said Vice President Tim Cook suggesting that a UMTS version under study * we are attentive to the market and new technologies".

Among the questions of greatest interest was the question of the cannibalization of iPod sales by the iPhone. Apple managers have not given a precise answer, postponing each evaluation to a later date

No specific forecast on Apple TV n about its contribution to the balance sheet for the current quarter "There will be a few useful weeks * said Oppenheimer * because we will start marketing it from February". Cupertino in any case places great trust on the media extender, considering it the 21st century DVD.