In keeping with expectations, Apple reported that 13 million iPhones were sold the first weekend. This is a record, and not just for Apple. It’s a record for the industry. Despite being the darling of the tech media until profits came crashing down, Samsung never came close to Apple when releasing new Galaxy smartphones. In short this should be an incredible achievement, right?
Well, not to Wall Street. On Monday, Apple’s stock price was down. In fairness, so was the rest of the market, so it may have just been part of the trend. But you’d think news that portends great success for an alleged “minor” iPhone revision would be reason for investors to want to buy more Apple stock. But it rarely seems to work out that way in the real world.
And, of course, when you look at the internal changes in the new iPhones, the enhancements are quite extensive. Preliminary benchmarks reveal results that actually approach those of recent entry-level Macs. The camera is capable of near-professional results, and the reviews of 3D Touch are mostly off the charts. If that’s a minor refresh, then the standards for minor are screwy.
In all fairness, this year’s sales figures include China. Last year’s didn’t, and that could certainly count for a decent portion of the sales increase, but I wouldn’t care to guess how much. It’s also clear Apple is rushing the new iPhones into lots of other countries in the next few weeks.
Overall, financial analysts appear to be more bullish on Apple. Wells Fargo continues to award Apple an “outperform” rating, with an expected stock price increase to between $125 and $135. Gene Munster, of Piper Jaffray, set a price target of $172 with an “overweight” rating. Clearly the situation is far better than in the past few years, where the skeptics reigned supreme.
Still, the critics will continue to claim that Apple is mostly a smartphone maker, and thus you shouldn’t take any of their other products seriously. Of course, Apple was once regarded as strictly a Macintosh company, and with growing Windows domination in the 1990s, Apple’s prospects for success were viewed as extremely dim. Funny how things have changed.
As most of you know, Macs are doing better than ever. Sales increases continue to outpace the PC industry, which is on the decline. That situation probably won’t change that much with the release of Windows 10. Although Windows 8 was a disaster, it’s not as if anyone has to buy the new OS to get its replacement. It was made available free to PC users running Windows 7 or 8/8.1, so there’s no incentive to go out and purchase a new PC unless you absolutely need one. Meantime, Apple is getting more corporate clients, and offering Macs to IBM employees is a plus.
At one time, it was thought the presence of tablets would essentially kill the market for PCs, but that hasn’t been the case. Tablets occupy that ephemeral spot between smartphones and PCs. To some, it’s perfect, although phablets clearly grab some of the market formerly owned by tablets. But it’s not quite the PC replacement it was once touted to become. There are things you just cannot do on an iPad, or maybe you can but not quite as flexibly.
The iPad Pro does make a case for using a tablet as a productivity tool. Apple Pencil has the potential to become one of the best of the breed, and can be used for high-endcontent creation and other chores where a touchscreen is, itself, not sufficient to get the job done. The attachable keyboard is useful, but it doesn’t seem to be the sort of device you’d place on your lap. Other than the things you can do with an Apple Pencil, a real laptop would appear to be more suited to productivity tasks. The iPad Pro doesn’t seem to change that.
As I’ve written before, my experiences with the iPad have been hit or miss. It works well enough, and my wife adores hers. But I cannot record my radio shows on an iPad because there’s no way for a sound capture utility, such as Audio Hijack, to function on an iPad due to Apple’s sandboxing limitations. If that changed, maybe. I could, however, see editing an audio waveform on an iPad, assuming I had full control of file location and management for handling my radio shows, which consist of 12 separate audio files. Well, that’s another problem.
All things considered, perhaps tablets will ultimately achieve a steady sales rate once things settle down. Future improvements in iOS will probably add additional productivity options, and maybe attachable keyboards will be offered that aren’t so clunky to use. Regardless, there’s no evidence to indicate the iPad won’t produce decent revenue for Apple.
Apple Watch? No idea where it’ll go. It’s too early in the game, but when it becomes able to perform all functions without being tethered to an iPhone, it may really come into its own as a possible smartphone alternative for those who don’t need the larger display. Or maybe the fitness and alert functions will be sufficient.
I do expect Apple TV to do well, but sales will never approach those of a smartphone. But selling ten or 20 million a year would be a pretty good place to be, particularly as it makes customers still more dependent on the Apple ecosystem and thus more inclined to stick with Apple for everything that Apple makes.
Well, maybe not the Apple Car, if such a beast ever appears.
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