AMITIAE - Saturday 26 April 2014

Cassandra: Myth and Opinion - Apple, Profits and the iPhone 5c (Amended)

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


With Apple results appearing to dumbfound Wall Street, the stocks leaped when the markets opened on Thursday morning and the graph looks (aptly) like a wall. Perhaps as a result of Apple's results, when Amazon produced its results, the graph looked almost the same, except that instead of up, unusually, Amazon's share prices took a massive dive.

After years of punishing Apple and its investors for results that were usually at the top end of the company's guidance, while rewarding Amazon for a series of losses, Wall Street may have had to rub its eyes and see the reality: Apple makes money. Perhaps some are also waking up to Google's special brand of vaporware as products come and go (rumours about GMail+ this week) with the recent descent following a general trend that has continued over the last couple of years.

shares values shares values shares values

Shares Widget: Yahoo! Sourced Data - Up, Down and Sliding

Several of the analysts made comments about Apple after the Q2 2014 figures were out. Their abbreviated views are available in a posting by Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Fortune. A notable absence is Trip Chowdry who gave Apple only 60 days of life a few weeks back unless the iWatch appeared and Tim Cook was replaced by Jon Rubinstein.

As Cook has over-seen several record quarters, it appears to many that Apple is actually in rather good hands. As for future products, Cook keeps teasing us, but a massive readjustment at the wearable devices division over at Nike made some Apple-watchers sharpen their pencils.

Apple is certainly changing in ways that Steve Jobs might never have approved, but he knew that Cook would do the job and would not be looking back over his shoulder in the direction of where the puck had been, like many analysts still are. Cook has introduced shareholder dividends and a share buy-back scheme, both of which Jobs did not want.

Shareholders are also to have a share split: one share will turn into 7, with a corresponding division of price. Fluctuations will then be less dramatic and it will be easier to buy one $80 share than one costing $560. Apple is also continuing to move in the direction of energy-efficient operations: saving the planet and keeping fuel costs down at the same time, much to the annoyance of some who put profit top of the list and climate concerns down the bottom.

Several commentators are still taking pot-shots at the decision to introduce that iPhone 5c along with the iPhone 5s. Before they were announced, many analysts were insisting that in order to see growth Apple would simply just have to go down market and bring out a cheap iPhone. The iPhone 5c clearly was not it and Apple had to be punished. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, Android was going to wring the chicken iPhone 5c's neck.

iPhone 5c Some chicken. Some neck.

Those that copy and paste their opinions from certain sources are still telling readers that the multi-coloured iPhone was a flop. Daniel Eran Dilger has some words on this on AppleInsider and points out that if you look at the figures from the carriers, rather than the speculation from those in the breathless press, the iPhone 5c was the second most popular smartphone of the 2013 Xmas and new year period.

As part of a longer analysis he also examines the words of Tim Cook at last week's Conference Call in which it was reported that 69% of iPhone 5c buyers were new to iPhone, adding that 60% had switched from an Android phone. Dilger also refers to an earlier article of his (22 March) in which he shows a table with the numbers: Apple's iPhone 5c 'failure flop' outsold Blackberry, Windows Phone and every Android flagship in Q4, which hardly sounds like the disaster that some are still trying to make out of the iPhone 5c.

For another take on analysts' opinions, try the current version of The Macalope (but avoid drinking anything near the keyboard while reading).

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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