Don’t worry, Apple fans. When CEO Tim Cook talks about the new products he plans to introduce this year he isn’t just referring to variations on familiar themes, such as a large-screen iPhone. “We’re working on things that you can’t see today,” he told analysts in a conference call following his company’s latest earnings report. That may be small comfort to investors who are concerned that Apple is losing its mojo. Cook didn’t engage with a question about activist investor Carl Icahn’s campaign to persuade the company to repurchase $50B of its shares this year. “We’ve been buying back stock,” the CEO said, noting that the company returned $100B to shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases. That wasn’t enough to satisfy investors who drove Apple shares down 8% post-market. The main concern appears to be its projection that revenues for the current quarter will come in between $42B and $44B — either down or flat from $43.6B in the period last year. Apple says that its forecast reflects some quirky developments. For example, due to inventory problems in late 2012 some sales were pushed into early 2013, a problem Apple avoided in the latest holiday season. Execs also cited the strengthening dollar vs the Yen and Australian dollar, and the continuing slide in iPod sales. “All of us have known for some time that iPod …
Apple shares are up more than 6% in pre-market trading after its announcement about the weekend sales — the first that included its new iPhone 5C and 5S. Analysts expected as many as 8M units to be sold worldwide. That would have handily beat the previous opening weekend record of 5M set last year with the release of the iPhone 5. With the new sales figures, Apples says in an SEC filing that it expects its fiscal Q4 revenues to come in “near the high end of the previously provided range of $34 billion to $37 billion” with gross margins “near the high end of the previously provided range of 36% to 37%.” Demand for the iPhones was “incredible,” CEO Tim Cook says, “and while we’ve sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5S, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough new iPhones for everyone.” Unlike last year, people served by T-Mobile and Japan’s DoCoMo were able to buy the new iPhones on the opening weekend. China also was in on the action; last year customers had to wait 90 days for the iPhone 5 outside of the gray market. In addition to the iPhone news, Apple says that more than 200M iOS devices run its new iOS 7 operating system. That makes it …
The company has to sell more than 5M iPhones globally to beat the first-weekend record it set last year when it introduced the iPhone 5. And Apple watchers are optimistic that will happen, with estimates ranging from 6M to close to 8M, after seeing the long lines of customers in major markets eager to lay their hands on the latest models: the iPhone 5C and 5S. A 7M-to-8M result appears “doable”, Cowen and Co. analyst Timothy Arcuri says — largely because the new iPhones are available to a broader array of consumers. Unlike last year, people served by T-Mobile and Japan’s DoCoMo can buy the new iPhones on the opening weekend. There’s also China, where customers had to wait 90 days for the iPhone 5 outside of the gray market. Initial sales likely will favor the lower-priced iPhone 5C, the analyst says, estimating that the there are about twice as many units of that model available vs the top-of-the-line (and more expensive) 5S. Apple likely will change the mix in December to favor the 5S leading to combined sales of about 50M.
Investors continued to hammer Apple after it made clear yesterday that it will continue to try to keep profit margins high on its iPhones, and not release a budget-priced model that might help it expand into developing markets. Shares dropped 5.4% to $467.83 today following downgrades from firms including Bank of America, UBS and Credit Suisse. On top of yesterday’s price drop, it translates into a $34.8B decline in the company’s market value since Monday. While investors love the iPhone’s high profit margin, estimated at about 40%, they also wanted the company to go after new buyers overseas, especially in China and India, who might be enticed by a device that costs about $400 (not including a carrier subsidy). Instead, the 5C came with a $549 price tag in the U.S., and about $733 in China. A budget phone was “nowhere to be found” as Apple maintained its focus on “profit share over unit share,” with the 5C expected to generate margins of about 50%, says Cowen and Company’s Timothy Arcuri. Hopes for a big deal with China Mobile at an event today also came to naught: China certified the new iPhones to run on the company’s network, but so far there’s no deal. At an event today the companies played a video of yesterday’s iPhone unveiling in California. But Apple still …
Investors were hoping that a low-priced iPhone would help Apple to expand in developing countries. But shares are -2.8% following a presentation where Apple CEO Tim Cook played up the features of his new iPhone 5C and 5S, but with higher prices than some analysts had anticipated. The company calls the 5S — available in silver, gold, and gray but not black — “the most forward-thinking phone ever made.” It will be the first mobile phone with a 64-bit chip, the A7, which the company says is 40 times faster than the one in the first iPhone and great for gamers. It will have a separate chip to handle an accelerometer to help the iPhone record the kinds of fitness information others provide on dedicated devices. It also boasts an improved battery that can power 10 hours of talk time, 10 hours of LTE browsing, and 250 hours standby. The new camera has a larger sensor, two LED flashes, and automatic image stabilization. A “burst mode” can shoot 10 pictures in a second, and video also can handle 120 frames per second for replay in slo-mo. The company confirmed that the phone will have a fingerprint security sensor, called Touch ID, that’s in the home button. It can learn multiple fingerprints — …
That’s the way things look ahead of tomorrow’s long-awaited product announcement. Just about everybody anticipates two new iPhone models — as well as an updated iOS 7 operating system, and perhaps a Pandora-like Internet music service and a software upgrade for Apple TV — that plug holes in Apple‘s business model but probably won’t dazzle fans who expect the company to dance on technology’s cutting edge. One year after it introduced the iPhone 5, Apple’s iPhone 5S is expected to offer high-end users some modest improvements. It likely will have a more powerful processor, a better camera, fingerprint recognition for security, near field communications, and some new colors. In other words, it will have just enough to reassure iPhone fans that they don’t have to envy Android users who’ll approach the holiday shopping season with several improved choices from manufacturers including Samsung, Motorola, and Sony. But investors will be more interested in the second model, expected to be called iPhone 5C, that Cowen and Co. analyst Timothy Arcuri predicts will be little more than “a glorified iPod Touch with a cellular radio.”
I’ll believe it when I see it. Still, former Wall Street Journal tech journalists Amir Efrati and Jessica Lessin have a lot of people wondering about the possibility this afternoon with a report that the e-retail giant is “considering” just such an offering, citing “people familiar with Amazon’s effort”. They note that the talk involves a phone that consumers could order directly from Amazon without having to sign a multiyear contract with a service provider that would subsidize the device. How would Amazon recoup the $200 or so cost to make the smartphone? The article acknowledges that this is one of many “unanswered questions about the plan and what strings will be attached.” The writers say that Amazon could offer the device to people who pay $79 a year for Amazon Prime, which includes free shipping for some products and access to the company’s video streaming service. They also speculate that Amazon could sell ads and steer smartphone owners “to shop for goods through Amazon.com and to purchase digital media and apps through its app store”.
Apple would have had to stop importing and selling the iPad 1 and 2 for AT&T and the iPhone 4 for AT&T and T-Mobile, among other products, if U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman hadn’t stepped in today to veto a U.S. International Trade Commission ban on them. The ITC ruled on June 4 that Apple had infringed on Samsung patents dealing with 3G transmissions. It would have taken effect after a 60-day waiting period if the Obama administration didn’t overturn it. Froman did so, he said, based on the order’s impact on “competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers.” He added, though, that the veto “is not an endorsement or a criticism” of the ITC. It also leaves open the opportunity for Samsung to “continue to pursue its rights through the courts.” This is one of several patent infringement charges that Apple and Samsung have flung at each other. Apple had argued that the patents in this case governed essential services, which would require Samsung to license them on generous terms. Apple praised the administration for “standing up for innovation in this landmark case,” CNBC reports. Samsung says it was disappointed with the decision adding that it “has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.”
It’s not just the earnings pushing the stock up about 4.3% in post market trading. Investors will be delighted by the higher-than-expected iPhone sales: 31.2M in the quarter vs expectations for about 27M. As for the core financials: Apple had net income of $6.9B, -21.8% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $35.3B, +8.6%. The top line number was just a little higher than analysts projected. But earnings at $7.47 a share were well ahead of the $7.32 consensus forecast. CEO Tim Cook says he’s “especially proud” of the iPhone number. He also sorta addressed the Street’s frustration over the long time it has taken Apple to disclose its next blockbuster product. The company is “laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014,” he says. On other fronts: Apple says it sold 14.6M iPads in the quarter that ended in June, a little shy of some projections and down from 17M in the period a year ago. It also sold 3.8M Macs, pretty much on target with forecasts and down from 4M last year.
People who can’t live without a smartphone may be surprised to learn that they’ve been in the minority until this year, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center‘s Internet & American Life Project. About 56% of the 1,127 adults questioned in May said that they own a computer-like, Web connected phone, up from 46% in a similar study last year. Pew says that another 35% in the new survey own a conventional mobile phone, and 9% don’t own a cell phone. As you’d expect, young adults are most likely to own smartphones: About 81% of 25-to-34 year olds have one; the number drops below half the population at age 55 and older. About 39% of those between 55 and 64 own one, sliding to 18% for those 65 and older. When it comes to smartphone operating systems, Google and Apple successfully held off threats from Blackberry and Microsoft: Among all cell phone owners 28% have a smartphone powered by Android (up from 20% last year) while 25% have an iPhone (up from 19%). Another 4% use Blackberry (down from 6%) and 1% are on Windows (down from 2%). But researchers found distinct differences in preference by demo. For example, Android beats Apple among those 54 and younger while Apple wins among college grads and in homes with incomes above $75,000 a year.
For those of you who can’t get enough iPhone news: The new model will be “similar in size and shape to [the] current one” and will go into production this quarter The Wall Street Journal reports citing “people familiar with the device’s production.” The paper adds that later this year Apple will offer a low-priced iPhone. Like the existing models, it will have a four-inch screen but with a different casing and colors. What else can the Journal tell us about the new iPhones and how they’ll differ from the iPhone 5 which was introduced in September? The paper says that information “remains unclear” — journalism jargon for “we don’t know.” Apple could use some upbeat news. Rival phone makers including Samsung and others using Google’s Android platform have been gaining ground on the iPhone. Apple’s shares closed today at $429.90 — down 19.4% so far in 2013, and -38.9% since mid-September. Today Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope cut Apple from the company’s “conviction list” and slashed the price target 12.9% to $575 although he still rates the stock a “buy.”
Apple dominates digital music sales, with nearly 70% of the market, while Amazon is far behind at about 12%, NPD Group reported last year. So it’s easy to see why Amazon is so eager to pry consumers from Apple and its iTunes ecosystem. And the new Amazon MP3 store optimized for iPhones and iPod touch offers people who have those devices their first opportunity to buy and listen to tunes bought directly from Amazon, the e-retail giant says. They can avoid iTunes — where Apple takes a cut of transactions — and buy directly from Amazon by using a web app that works within the Safari browser. That could be a big deal to frequent buyers: Top selling singles typically go for 99 cents on Amazon, and $1.29 on iTunes. “Since the launch of the Amazon Cloud Player app for iPhone and iPod touch, a top request from customers has been the ability to buy music from Amazon right from their devices,” says Amazon Music VP Steve Boom. Songs bought from Amazon also can play on non-Apple devices including web browsers, Android-powered phones and tablets, and Roku and Sonus home entertainment systems.
Video programmers have been eagerly waiting for technicians to figure out how to present their ads to millions of iPad and iPhone users. And they’ve finally done it. “In the near future, by the end of this month, you will see advertising even on the iOS platform,” Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said today at the Goldman Sachs Annual Communicopia Conference. Indeed, ads are already up on streams of ESPNU. That will be followed by ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3. “We have already had advertising in the desktop and PC (and) on the Android phones,” Rasulo says. “Now we will have it on the iOS platform as well.” That will result in “the monetization that we always envisioned.” There’s still an open question about when Nielsen will be able to count mobile viewers, a key to determining how much advertisers should pay. Rasulo says he expects that to be resolved “in the near future.”
We’ve been waiting to see what YouTube would do since last month when Apple said that the license had expired for it to offer the Google-owned video service pre-loaded into iPhones and iPads. And here’s the answer: a new app out just before Apple’s press conference tomorrow, where it’s expected to unveil a new iPhone with a 4-inch screen, up from 3.5 inches, making it more suitable for video viewing. Google says in a blog post that the software, available at the App Store, will enable users to watch tens of thousands of official music videos. People also should find it easy to access YouTube channels to which they subscribe, create playlists, and share videos on email and social network platforms (including Facebook, Google+, and Twitter). No word about advertising on the new app; it was believed that Google wanted out of its pre-load agreement with Apple because it barred YouTube from showing ads on the phones and tablets. Google says that iPad users should have the optimized YouTube app “in the coming months.” YouTube says that it has 1B mobile views a day, equal to about a quarter of its total views. And YouTube isn’t just for people using their broadband connections during their lunch hours at work: The heaviest viewing period, Google says, is during the evening prime time period.
iPhone and iPad owners who like to watch YouTube videos may soon have to deal with commercials. Apple said today that its license to carry the YouTube app has expired, which means it won’t come pre-loaded with iPhones and iPads. Not to worry: Google is developing a new YouTube app that will available in the App Store — and videos can still be viewed within the Safari browser. But the change could affect the mobile YouTube experience, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield says. He believes that in their original 2007 carriage deal, Apple agreed to give YouTube a prominent place on its devices’ home screens as long as Google didn’t include ads. “With consumers shifting to mobile devices at an increasingly rapid rate and Google investing serious dollars in higher quality programming for the YouTube platform…we believe Google could no longer allow its YouTube app on iPhones and iPads to go without advertising,” Greenfield says. Unlike other companies such as Facebook that are struggling to find a compelling way to integrate commercials and content on a mobile device, he adds that spots on YouTube should command “very compelling” prices.
Apple CEO Tim Cook vigorously defended his company today from charges that it has enabled the Chinese companies that produce iPhones, iPads and other products to mistreat workers with low pay, long hours, and unsafe conditions. “No one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple,” he told the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. “We care about every worker.” Although he says “the supply chain is complex” he adds that every worker has a right to competitive wages as well as fair and safe working conditions. “Apple suppliers must live up to this in order to do business with Apple,” he says. He added that hiring of children is “extremely rare in our supply chain, but our objective is to eliminate it totally.” He called use of child labor “a firing offense.” Apple also says it has found violations to its rule capping work at 60 hours a week but has begun to “manage working hours on a very micro basis….We can do better and we’re taking the unprecedented step of reporting this monthly on our website so its transparent.”
UPDATE, 3:05 PM: Everyone wants to know what’s up with Apple’s plan to introduce its own TV set, but CEO Tim Cook offered no updates in a conference call with analysts. He’s still upbeat about the Apple TV box, which ports Internet video to TV sets, but refers to it as a “hobby.” He’s unconcerned about the growing competition to the iPad from new tablets. His view is that people who are interested in the iPad won’t settle for devices with fewer functions. Even the Amazon Kindle Fire, one of the hottest-selling electronic products this past holiday season, has had no “obvious impact” on iPad sales. Indeed, Cook says that the iPad probably cannibalizes more Windows PCs. On the iPhone 4S, Cook says that Apple “made a very bold bet as to what the demand would be, and we were short of supplies throughout the quarter.” He adds that the company is still short in some countries. “We could not be happier.” It was just introduced in China and “the demand there has been staggering.” The company expects fiscal 2Q revenues to come in at $32.5B with earnings of about $8.50 a share.
PREVIOUS, 1:40 PM: Shares are trading +7% after hours following an amazing report for the last three months of 2011: Apple revenues came in at $46.3B, up 73.3% vs the same period last year — and well ahead of the $38.9B that analysts expected. And the company had $13.1B in net income, up 117.6%. Here, too, the results at $13.87 a share were well ahead of the $10.08 consensus estimate.
This is the first phone to run the new version of Google’s Android operating system known as Ice Cream Sandwich. Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus will use Verizon’s network and is expected to be in stores any day now; it went on sale in the UK yesterday. But, strangely, neither Samsung nor Google has set a firm date for the U.S. release or said how much it will cost – and the model sent to gadget reviewers ran on T-Mobile’s network. Still, most are gushing over the device. Among its more striking features: It uses facial recognition technology so you can unlock the phone by putting its camera in front of your face. Also, it’s said to be able to take pictures instantly without the common and annoying cell phone shutter lag. The Galaxy Nexus has a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED screen and a 1.2 GHZ dual core processor.
Our colleagues over at BGR say that “it is the best Android handset we’ve seen far as hardware and software go…The phone finally feels like it has a personality, even if it’s that of a robot from a TRON-like world.” Engadget says that it’s “an impressive flagship phone and Android 4.0 is a significant step forward for Google.” USA Today’s Ed Baig says that “many new features are indeed a welcome treat” — but adds that he needs more time to give it a full review: He notes that the facial …
Sluggish sales of iPhones during Apple’s fourth quarter contributed to revenue that was up more than 39% year-over-year at $28.27 billion but missed analysts’ estimates. Earnings per share were $7.05, less than the street’s $7.39 target — the first time the company has missed EPS estimates, or any estimates, for that matter, in seemingly forever (OK, since 2004). Wall Street was stunned. Apple reported after the bell this afternoon, and the stock was down as much as 7% after hours before rebounding slightly. (At least one analyst predicted such a drop.) Shares of Apple had risen to a new high, $422, on Friday.
Sales of iPods, iPads and computers came in mostly as predicted, leading some to believe that the lower-than-expected iPhone number — 17.07 million units — was because consumers (and maybe even Apple) held back on buying iPhone 4s in favor of waiting for the new iPhone 5 or even 4S, which new CEO Tim Cook introduced in his first public appearance the day before the death of company co-founder Steve Jobs. That should be considered a possibility, especially considering that Apple offered better-than-expected guidance for the first quarter.