What can we learn from Apple’s Earnings?

Scott Francis
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Apple’s earnings came out a few weeks ago, and I found some of the information revealed to be startling.  But what can we learn from it?  AAPL Orchard has a great overview of the earnings and some thoughts regarding takeaways.

  • Apparently we haven’t hit peak Mac yet.  The Mac is up 21% YoY, setting a new quarterly sales record.  That is astonishing in the once “dead” PC market.  And it reminds me a bit of how people keep saying BPM is dead.  Maybe the “Mac” isn’t dead after all.  Apple still creates a compelling value proposition of hardware and software that work well together.  I think that, anecdotally, the iPad and iPhone experiences are causing people to look for a similarly good experience in their computers.
  • We also learn that IDC and Gartner can’t accurately forecast shipments.  They’ve gotten the Mac numbers wildly wrong so many quarters in a row, and right after they publish estimates, Apple delivers *actuals* that prove them wrong.  I think if I were them I would just move my publication date to AFTER Apple’s earnings call. The real take-away is to do your own research, not to just rely on the headlines.
  • iPad sales are down, but still dominate the category.  I wonder if they need a refresh of software suited specifically to the screen size?  Again, this category calls into question the accuracy of analyst research.  I see a lot of tablets at our office, but only one of them isn’t an iPad.  It just feels like we’re getting closer to the “answer” for iPads but that the answer isn’t hardware-driven, it is software-driven…
  • iPhone was up 16% YoY, and anticipated to be up even more in their 1Q15 (4th calendar quarter of 2014). Unclear yet whether the iPhone is increasing it’s share of “smart phones” but it is definitely increasing share of phones, and of the high end of smart phones, if these numbers hold up.

So, while the market was focused on “the next thing” – Apple’s earnings on “the incremental things” is blowing the doors off, and Samsung’s earnings had a sharp decline at the same time.  I still think the long-term advantage Apple seems to enjoy goes back to the Apple Experience.

What can we learn from Apple?  We can pursue that same kind of long-term advantage for our own business by investing in the customer experience (but without the kind of resources Apple has at its disposal!).  We can stick with it for the long haul.  And we can look for synergies in products and services. A new “rocketship” product or service might be just the thing to put a halo around your existing product line.

 

  • arustgi

    Great article. Its funny how, with apple, we rehash the same themes over and over again. This article reminds me of this article written about Apple 5 years ago. http://daringfireball.net/2009/04/complex

    • so true :)
      Maybe because Apple itself doesn’t articulate how it thinks about these things (on purpose), people are enabled to assign whatever they want to apple’s actions. If you’re anti-apple, lots of opportunity to take shots at them, without response from anyone from Apple who could easily disprove you.