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  • The Apple Shareholder’s Meeting: Sorry, No Stock Split!

    February 28th, 2013

    So a certain Wall Street trader released a bogus report Tuesday afternoon claiming Apple shareholders were prepared to approve a stock split at Wednesday’s meeting. As you might expect, it never happened, it wasn’t going to happen. But the stock price soared for a bit, which likely gave the trader in question a decent profit, but it’s not likely he’ll face any consequences for pulling that stunt.

    In any case, not much of significance actually occurred at the shareholder’s meeting. With a certain measure off the table after last week’s court action, the rest of the proceedings were predictably boring for anyone who doesn’t own Apple’s stock.

    And so, perhaps because nothing changed, Apple’s stock price drifted somewhat lower during Wednesday’s trading day, even though the market, overall, soared over positive economic news.

    Not much of note came out of the question and answer session with CEO Tim Cook either. He said he realized shareholders were disappointed over the stock price, but said that they should look at the long term first, and revenue and profits next. All right, nothing surprising there. He also said that Apple was working on “new categories” of products, but, as usual, that was as far as the statement went. Whether Apple means a smart TV set, or a smartwatch, or both or neither, can only be guessed.

    In response to a question about Apple placing second best compared to Android in market share, Cook replied that “success is not making the most.” And certainly, with 69% of handset industry profits last year, he has a point in making that argument. Unfortunately, far too many members of the media, who should know better, keep demanding that Apple enter this or that product space, or add new iPhone or iPad models to better compete with all the varieties the competition offers. Somehow these so-called journalists don’t realize that having too many models may actually dilute the prospects for success. It certainly confuses customers, who wonder which of twelve dozen similar and not-so-similar models should be considered. If you want an iPhone, choose among three, pick the storage you want, select the carrier, buy and enjoy.

    The only other announcement of note was that Apple’s plans to move to the new spaceship-style campus was delayed slightly until some time in 2016, and that the company is “seriously considering” returning more cash to shareholders.

    Otherwise, the situation on the Apple front is surprisingly quiet so far this year, although the media has been polluted with stories about whether or not the company is in deep trouble and suffering badly compared to Samsung in the mobile platform business. Aside from that slight MacBook Pro refresh on February 13, which surprisingly merited a press release, there’s no indication when Apple will deliver the big product introductions.

    Will there, for example, be another set of iPad upgrades this spring, or, having taken care of business last October, will Apple wait until the fall to deliver the next round of upgrades? Will there soon be an iPad mini with Retina display, or are the prices of LCD panels and accompanying components still too high? What about the next iPhone? Will there be a cheaper version? Will Apple wait until September once again, or will it happen by summer? If the latter, you’d expect iOS 7 to be introduced in the next few weeks, ahead of the developer’s conference. The same ought to be true for the next revision of OS X, assuming Apple will continue to follow an annual release schedule.

    When it comes to hardware, you have to wonder whether Apple hopes to soon install a Retina display in the MacBook Air, or will there be a separate, costlier lineup with that enhancement? It all depends on how quickly Apple can bring down the cost of raw materials, which means you shouldn’t expect an iMac with Retina display for a while. Indeed, since that model has already had a major upgrade, any changes this year would likely be confined to the usual performance refreshes.

    When it comes to the Mac Pro workstation, I’ll accept Tim Cook’s statement last year, in a letter to a Mac user, that there will be an upgrade this year. What form it’ll take is still open to argument, but I’d think that Apple will use the time to streamline the design, making it not just smaller but a whole lot lighter. I expect Apple could incorporate the very same expansion capabilities in a box half the size, and half the weight. Maybe it would have to be thin and long, or square overall, but such a configuration ought to work. The Mac Pro is largely based on an aging form factor, the tower, which has been used in the PC business for ages, and it’s time for something better.

    And, no, I do not expect Apple to ditch the optical drive on a Mac Pro, although it may be an option on the next model. Yes, I understand that Apple wants to wean us from optical drives, but there have to be limits, and I expect Apple will demonstrate a common sense approach with this model.



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