UPDATE: Apple Leaves Company Watchers Still Waiting For Next Big Thing After World Wide Developers Conference
Apple‘s software updates and new services presented at today’s World Wide Developers Conference may excite its fans. But they didn’t impress company watchers hoping to hear something that will reinvigorate the company as its main profit drivers — the iPhone and iPad — lose market share to competitors. For example, the company offered nothing new about its acquisition of Beats Audio, or about Apple TV. Shares were down about 1% shortly after the event ended.
CEO Tim Cook said that the goal was to offer a seamless experience to people who access services and data from different Apple devices. He announced iOS 8, which he calls “a giant release.” An update to Apple’s Safari web browser will handle HTML5 video, giving users the capability to watch streaming services including Netflix without a separate plug-in. This could be important to Hollywood, because it should take away another barrier to a TV-like experience on consumer tablets, phones and computers.
Tim Cook hinted in his call with analysts today that Apple wants to become a bigger player in TV. He says that the company has already sold 20M of its Apple TV streaming boxes, which accounted for $1B in sales last year. That helps to explain why, in February, he stopped calling the product a “hobby.” As it has grown, and become more sophisticated, “it didn’t feel right to me” to treat it so dismissively. He doesn’t appear to feel threatened by Amazon’s deal today to land several popular shows from HBO and add HBO GO to the Amazon Fire TV platform. “We have HBO GO already on Apple TV,” the Apple CEO says. As for the programming: “They got some older content from HBO. I haven’t had a chance to evaluate exactly what it is.” While Apple fans eagerly wait to see what new products the company might unveil this year, Cook says “I’m feeling very good about that [TV] business and where it can go.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook disclosed the number, which includes hardware and software sales for the streaming video device, at the company’s annual shareholder meeting today. And at $1B in sales “it’s a little hard to call it a hobby anymore,” he says. He continued his Dance of the Seven Veils with his promise to introduce products that will excite consumers — and investors, who’ve grown anxious as the iPhone and iPad have lost market share to Android-powered rivals. “I’d like to unveil some new products today,” he told shareholders before adding: “I was just kidding about that last part.” He did say, though, that the company increased its spending on research and development by 32% and that will become evident in new products including ”some things that are extensions of things you can see and some that you can’t see.” Cook told an investor that he wanted to keep his plans secret because “you can see we’re getting ripped off left, right and sideways.” Activist investor Carl Icahn planned to use the meeting to lobby for a resolution urging Apple to repurchase $50B of its stock, but he abandoned the effort early this month saying that he was content with its current spending.
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 CEO Tim Cook probably just disappointed a lot of people who’ve been hoping to see his company unveil a new blockbuster product line such as an iWatch or Apple TV set. He teased the possibility in April when he said that “we have a lot more surprises in the works. … We have some really great stuff coming in the fall and across all of 2014.” But he just told analysts during a conference call that he didn’t necessarily mean a new product line. He simply meant new products. And “you’ve seen that,” he says with the recently refreshed line of iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Analysts also have been hoping for a new, low-priced iPhone that could expand Apple’s market share in developing countries.
Cook said he hopes to satisfy those consumers by continuing to offer the iPhone 4s “as the entry offer” versus the pricier new 5c and 5s models. “Some people were reading rumors that the 5c would be our entry phone,” he said. “That was never our intent.” While he doesn’t worry about flagging demand for his iPhones, Apple may find itself with an insufficient supply over the holidays. There’s already a “significant backlog” for the 5s. And it’s “unclear” whether the …
Apple‘s share price fell right after CEO Tim Cook closed today’s new product event without a major surprise such as an update to the Apple TV or an iWatch. We’ll see whether investors warm to the gadgets as they digest the details. As expected, the company upgraded its iPad line: The new iPad Air tablet weighs 1 pound (down from 1.4 pounds) and is 7.5 mm thick (down 2 mm). The 16 GB Wi-Fi version with a Retina display will cost $499; a version that handles cell phone connections will cost $629. They’ll have the A7 chip, also in the iPhone 5S and ship beginning November 1. They’ll come in silver, white, black and “space gray.” The company will keep its iPad 2 which will cost $399. As for the iPad Mini, it will have a Retina display and A7 chip and a battery that’s supposed to last 10 hours. It will be available sometime next month for $399. No touch ID — which some expected to see. The original iPad Mini will remain in the line up for $299.
The company is stuffing its zippiest technology into a new, high-end Mac Pro computer that will cost $2,999 and be available by year end. With its ability to handle real-time 4K video editing, “it will change the way I make movies,” director-producer …
Steve Jobs never did it but today Apple’s current boss Tim Cook made his social media presence official. Right now let’s just say Rupert Murdoch doesn’t have to worry about the executive Twitter competition. Unlike the wide ranging and often highly opinionated tweets the News Corp boss blasts out to his almost 470,000 followers, Cook, as you can see from his tweet on the left, kept it all very bland. His inaugural tweet Friday was about Apple and how proud he is of the company’s commitment to its customers. Still that didn’t prevent Cook form racking up followers. Within a couple of hours of the verified account’s first activity, Cook had over 85,000 followers on Twitter. More were joining him by the minute. Currently, the CEO himself is only following 11 people on Twitter including Job’s widow Laurene, who has yet to tweet herself, NBC’s Jimmy Fallon and CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Cook’s not the only new Twitter presence from Apple – there’s an @iTunes account that started tweeting on September 18. The newly announced iPhones and iOS Update are not yet on Twitter, but give them time.
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 — …
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn again took to Twitter to chat up Apple — just more than a week after he tweeted he has “a large position” in the computer giant, believes it to be “extremely undervalued” and spoke with CEO Tim Cook about it all. Today, he tweeted: “Spoke to Tim. Planning dinner in September. Tim believes in buyback and is doing one. What will be discussed is magnitude.” Icahn last week had told Reuters that Apple should repurchase $150 billion worth of its shares after borrowing the funds at an interest rate of 3%, saying the stock should trade at $700 if earnings increase as little as 10% and his advice was followed. Last week’s tweet helped boost Apple stock — down 23.4% over the last 12 months — by 5%; today Apple is mostly flat and is trading at $502.73 a share, up about 13 points since Icahn confirmed his stake rumored to be worth about $1 billion. In March, Apple announced plans to buy $100B of its shares by the end of 2015, calling it the largest share buyback of any company in history. At the time, it raised its dividend 15% to $3.05 a share. Of course famed corporate raider Icahn has played less nice with media-centric companies before including Blockbuster Video and more famously Lionsgate.
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.
Apple‘s Tim Cook faced the billion-dollar question right off the bat at the annual AllThingsD tech conference Tuesday night: “Is Apple in trouble?” The CEO threw out a few calculated bones: the unveiling of a new iOS and OS X refresh in June at its WWDC conference, the hire of ex-EPA head Lisa Jackson as the company’s new environmental czar. But, as he did last year, Cook again skirted the toughest topics in his second visit to the AllThingsD tech conference leaving Applewatchers frustrated. “We believe very much in the element of surprise,” he said. “We think customers love surprises.” (UPDATE: Check out the full conversation below.)
If shareholders are concerned over Apple’s dipping stock prices — down 36% since September — Cook appeared unfazed. “The beauty of being around for a while is you see a lot of cycles,” he said. “Our North Star is always on making the best products. So we always come back to that.” But for all the emphasis on quality of usage, e-commerce and customer satisfaction over the number of units sold in the smartphone arena, Cook didn’t offer new-product reveals or the kind of game-changers Apple needs to maintain the pace set by the late Steve Jobs. (He did reveal that Apple bought 9 companies in the past year but didn’t announce them all.) Pressed on why Apple doesn’t expand its iPhone line with larger screens, stylus tablets, or cheaper alternative models like its competitors do, Cook blamed the trade-offs involved in crafting variants in a line versus improving the same model. “Are we now at a point that we need to do that?” he asked.
UPDATE, 11:08 AM: Apple‘s part of today’s proceedings is over after Sen. Carl Levin finally drew blood. He hammered CEO Tim Cook and other Apple execs for creating business arrangements that ensured that the company’s “crown jewels” — economic rights to more than two-thirds of its worldwide profits — “are in three Irish companies that you control and don’t pay taxes.” Cook acknowledged that he has “no current plan” to bring that cash “home at the current tax rate.” Levin noted that this was entirely Apple’s choice: The arrangement in Ireland was signed by “three people working for Apple.” He also observed that the company repatriates profits from Latin America and Canada but not elsewhere. “We cannot continue a system where a multinational company as phenomenally successful as you can make a decision as to where the profits are going to flow. An American company where the R&D is 95% in the United States. You had R&D tax credits, all the benefits of living in this country, [including] protection of patents….You made a unilateral decision where these profits are going to be taxed or not taxed. Folks, that is not right.”
PREVIOUS, 10:13 AM: Tim Cook seems to be in command so far in his appearance before the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to defend Apple against charges that it parks cash overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes. He began his testimony throwing down a gauntlet calling for “dramatic simplification” of U.S. corporate taxes. “Apple has always believed in the simple, not the complex,” he said adding that it should also apply to the tax code. He called for a revenue-neutral change that would lower corporate income tax rates and provide for “a reasonable tax”– which he said should be a single digit percentage — “that allows the free flow of capital back to the United States.” It would probably increase Apple’s U.S. taxes, he says, but “it would promote U.S. economic growth.”
The consumer electronics company has more than doubled its stock repurchase program with plans to buy $100B of its shares by the end of 2015. “This is the largest share buyback of any company in history,” Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer says. In addition, Apple raised its dividend 15% to $3.05 a share. Even so, CEO Tim Cook says that the company will still have plenty of cash for acquisitions and “will not underinvest” in new initiatives. Execs added that they plan to borrow cash, taking advantage of today’s low interest rates. The board began paying dividends in August and authorized a $10B share repurchase plan in October. Apple had $12.5B in cash from operations in the quarter and $145B on the balance sheet at the end of March.
UPDATE, 1:25 PM: Apple ended the day at $485.92, -3.2% — the stock’s lowest closing price since February 8, 2012. The performance stood in contrast to the slight rise in both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500. Investor concerns about how much and how quickly Apple can grow are sure to weigh on CEO Tim Cook as he prepares to talk with analysts on January 23, when the company releases its earnings for the last three months of 2012.
Wouldn’t it be swell if the studios and networks felt the same way about their own runaway production? Apple‘s chief Tim Cook took on his Bad Apple critics in interviews this week — one airing tonight on Rock Center With Brian Williams (see the video below) and the other with Bloomberg Businessweek. Now Cook is claiming a line of Apple’s Mac computers will be manufactured in the U.S. in 2013. Certainly the Cupertino company has met with terrible press recently on at least two fronts — those Chinese worker walkouts over allegations of oppressive Foxconn working conditions on the new iPhone 5, and The New York Times exposé about Apple using creative accounting and legal loopholes to deprive U.S. and California government coffers of billions in badly needed corporate tax dollars while the fiscal cliff looms. When Williams asked Cook why Apple isn’t
Apple reported disappointing Q4 results last week and shares were down about 9.5% over the last month as investors wondered whether the company can continue to fly high. On Monday, in its biggest management shake-up in years, Apple announced the departure of software chief Scott Forstall and retail head John Browett. Forstall, who oversaw the launch of the flawed Apple Maps this year and the Siri voice-enabled assistant had often been described as an heir-apparent to Steve Jobs, but is said to have clashed with management since Jobs’ death. He’ll leave next year and serve as an advisor to Apple CEO Tim Cook in the interim. Eddy Cue, who helped create the iTunes music store and the App Store, becomes responsible for Siri and Maps in the wake of Forstall’s departure. A new search is underway to replace Browett with the retail team reporting directly to Cook in the meantime. The company said the changes, which give increased responsibility to a number of execs, will “encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams.”Jony Ive, head of industrial design, will also oversee Human Interface across the company. Bob Mansfield will lead Technologies, a new group that combines all of Apple’s wireless teams and Craig Federighi will lead iOS and OS X, combining the mobile and desktop operating systems in one team.
This had to hurt. Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged this morning that his company’s Maps product — which replaced Google Maps in the new iPhone 5 and iOS 6 operating system — “fell short” of his company’s standards. “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” he said in a public letter. Cook’s mea culpa follows widespread reports across the Internet from people who became lost after relying on the Apple app for travel directions. For example, New York Times writer David Pogue wrote this week that he used his iPhone to reach a speaking engagement, but “When the app told me that I had arrived, I was sitting in a random suburban cul-de-sac.” Cook says that “The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get.” But he added that, in the meantime, they can download map apps from competitors including Bing, MapQuest, Waze, Google, and Nokia.
That has to be a real concern for the company today: Apple sold 5M units in the smartphone’s opening weekend in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK, it said today. That means demand for iPhone 5 already exceeds the supply. Some people who pre-ordered will have to wait until next month to receive them, Apple says. And production could slow after the phone’s manufacturer, Foxconn Technology Group, shut a factory today in China following fights that Bloomberg says involved as many as 2,000 workers with 40 people hospitalized. A Foxconn spokesman wouldn’t say whether the plant makes iPhone 5 parts. Meanwhile iPhone 5-mania is just beginning: The new smartphone will be offered in 22 additional countries beginning Friday, and will sell in more than 100 countries by year-end. Apple CEO Tim Cook says this morning that although “we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.”