By Michael Evans
Apple's fourth-quarter results are quite staggeringly good against a backdrop of gloom and recession. It is clear that Apple is making progress in almost all its product categories and the iPhone, in particular, seems unstoppable.
Everywhere you go these days there is someone stabbing away at an iPhone screen, presumably texting or emailing. Even more noticeable, though, is the number of people wearing the distinctive white iPod earphones. The iPod and iPhone have exposed millions to Apple products and philosophy for the first time; I believe this is by far the best advertisement for Apple. I wonder if anyone has done research to find out how many iPod or iPhone users, satisfied with the user experience, have gone on to try a Mac. I am convinced the percentage of converts would be surprisingly high.
Visit any Apple Store on a Saturday afternoon and the crowds are amazing. Apart from the stuff to see, where else can you go for a free half-hour on the internet? It has reached the stage where genuine prospective buyers have difficulty getting near a machine to a make test run.
Up to this last year Apple was a niche marketer. Macs have been making steady progress for years, but it is the iPhone that has transformed the company. The danger now is that Apple becomes another bloated Microsoft and begins to forget the enthusiast user-base that has supported the company through thick and thin over the past 25 years. I love to see Apple succeed, not least because I do own a few shares, but the company has a difficult balancing act to perform in the coming years. I hope not to be disappointed.