Our British cup is full and brimming over this week. Not only do we get a UK Kindle store, which opened for business two days ago, but this morning sees the opening of the world's largest Apple Store on the Piazza in Covent Garden. This retro-style emporium is so large that, according to one report, the entire flagship New York store could fit comfortably in the atrium.
This sounds a bit unlikely, but there is no doubting the scale of the building. Period features such as the gas lamps and stone arches, inside and outside, complement the usual Apple minimalist display of the latest technology. The atrium, over a courtyard dating from 1877, was originally an area for horse-drawn deliveries to the enormous building.
London is now well served by Apple stores. The existing Regent Street store, the flagship that is now about to lose its broad pennant, is said to be the most profitable retail store in the capital on per-square-foot sales. Apple watchers expect that the new store, which is more convenient for shoppers from the eastern suburbs, will ease the pressure on Regent Street which, on Saturdays, often resembles a geek zoo.
Another stonking quarter for Apple as sales of iPads soar and even the established Mac market is on a roll. "It was a phenomenal quarter that exceeded our expectations all around, including the most successful product launch in Apple's history with iPhone 4," said Steve Jobs. "iPad is off to a terrific start, more people are buying Macs than ever before, and we have amazing new products still to come this year," he continued. The 3.27m figure for iPad sales was almost expected as the device is rolled out across the world. There seems to be no slackening in interest.
But the surprising thing is that Mac sales are also forging ahead with 3.47m computers sold during the quarter - no less than 33% higher than sales in the same quarter of 2009. It proves that there is no cannibalisation of Mac sales by the new iPad; on the contrary, it confirms the "halo effect" of devices like the iPhone and iPad in bring new customers into the Apple world. Before the iPod Apple was definitely a niche producer. The iPod brought vastly increased exposure for the brand, but it was the iPhone in 2007 that started the big conversion. People who had never before considered a Mac suddenly found that they liked the iPhone way of doing things. The iPad will only boost this trend as Apple begins to take an ever larger share of the world computer market. Tantalisingly, Steve dropped a hint that there are "amazing new products still to come this year". So far, rumours have predicted a new 10.7in MacBook Air - something that all Mac users will welcome - and a smaller iPad with, perhaps, a 5in or 7.5in screen.
Both of these developments, if they come about, would add to Apple's success rather than cannibalising other products in the range. Many iPad users who do not use the device extensively for video or games would welcome a smaller pad which would be ideal for book reading and productivity applications. And a smaller Air will appeal to Mac users who want a more portable full-function machine with physical keyboard and faster processor.
Anyone interested in the corporate Apple phenomenon will be captivated by Andy M. Zaky's in-depth analysis of current and future performance published today on appleinsider.com. Zaky, who already has an impressive track record in forecasting Apple results, is convinced that the company is entering a "golden age" in 2010 with a staggering 70 percent earnings growth. Based on his analysis he is projecting $15.51 earnings per share on an "explosive" $63.4 billion revenue in 2010.
In the four years he's been following Apple he has seen the company grow from a mid-sized tech stock to become the second largest corporation in the USA in terms of market capitalisation, with consistent earnings growth of well over 50 percent per year. Apple is now larger than Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Hewlett Packard and Intel yet still enjoys the sort of growth rate of small-cap technical stocks. He maintains that if present levels of growth continue into next year Apple will surpass Exxon to become the largest corporation in America.
This is a company with current cash reserves of $41 billion and a staggering record of new-product announcements. iPad has already been a magnificent success and sales of two million per month are possible; and the iPhone 4 is in very short supply and will surely boost revenues dramatically between now and the end of the year. And news earlier this week that Mac sales were still surging forward, despite the arrival of the iPad, shows that traditional revenues are holding up well. Apple stock, which closed today at $256 is said by many commentators to be heading towards $350 a share by mid 2011.
(Disclosure: MacFilos holds stock in Apple, Inc.)
Today's launch of the new aluminium uni-body Mac Mini reminds me that it's the Mini that first brought me into the fold exactly five years ago. For some time I had been interested in Macs but company policy tended to PCs, as was quite usual in 2005. The Mini came along and had a very attractive price tag, so I decided to gamble £300. I didn't know what to expect, but I had really thought I would be advertising it on eBay before month's end.
So much has happened since then in my Mac life that it seems incredible it is only five years ago. On 15 June 2005 I walked into the new Apple Store in London's Regent Street and came away with a basic Mac Mini. Four days later I was back to collect a PowerBook G4. I think I must have gained a good impression from OS X.
I still have that G4 and it has been in almost daily use for five years, despite the miserly 1GB of RAM and 60 GB disk. But a variety of Macs has passed across my desk since then - including two MacBook Pro 15s, a MacBook Pro 17, a MacBook 13, a MacBook Pro 13, a MacBook Air and an iMac. Can this really be true, and all in five years? Probably.
I still have the Air and my last late-2008 Pro 15, both awaiting eBay. One of the refreshing things about Macs is how easily they sell and how much they return. While they are often said to be overpriced, they are much more competitive when you take into account the software that comes bundled as standard and, of course, that attractive resale value. The true cost of ownership, all things considered, is not that different from expectations in the PC world.
That visit to the Apple Store has had other repercussions: three iPhones, an iPod touch and an iPad, plus countless accessories, cases, stands, monitors and what have you. Not to mention this blog. It's been worth it, though.
At a stroke, Cupertino has removed the Kindle's one unique selling point and paved the way for a sweeping success for the iBookstore. With 100 million iOS4 devices out there, there is absolutely no chance of the iBookstore being a flop unless the pricing structure is obviously unattractive, which I seriously doubt. Indeed, if any proof were needed, Apple claim to have captured 22 percent of the ebook market in under two months.
As I've been saying for months, portability and syncing is what the ebook market demands and to have two such major players, Amazon and Apple, committed to synchronisation represents a turning point in ebooks. We are getting a glimpse of the future.
Tomorrow's launch of the iPad in world-wide markets will bring yet another frenzy of media attention, capping a remarkable five months of almost constant announcements and revelations. In ten days' time we expect the launch of the new generation iPhone - the much-leaked model - and the introduction of the iPhone fourth-generation operating system. Crucially, this new OS will be available to the millions of existing iPhone users (although not all features will work on the original phone), thus increasing the feel-good factor and serving as an encouragement to upgrade a two- or three-year-old phone.
All this comes against a backdrop of booming iPhone and iPad sales, increasing Mac sales and news that Apple Inc has eclipsed Microsoft as the world's biggest technology company. This sort of success feeds on itself. Tens of millions who would never have considered an Apple product have been drawn into Cupertino's net by the iPod but, more significantly by the iPhone. They have had their first taste of the Apple way of doing things and, clearly, they like what they get. Satisfied iPhone users, as I know from personal experience with friends and colleagues, are now considering a Mac computer because they feel comfortable with the company and its products.
Apple profits soared 69% in the first quarter of 2010 - and the new iPad hasn't yet been taken into account. The company this morning reported pre-tax profits of $4bn (£2.6bn) compared with $2.4bn in the same period last year. Sales, mainly thanks to the continued success of the iPhone, rose $3.5bn to £15.5bn. Phone sales doubled to 8.7m in the first quarter. The second quarter will be boosted yet again by the US launch of the iPad, with over one million units sold in the first 28 days, and the added bonus of international sales starting on May 28. Already Apple have sold out of the first batch of iPads in the UK, on pre-order, and deliveries have now been put back to June 7. In the third quarter of 2010 the new fourth-generation iPhone - the much leaked lost-then-found iPhone - will provide another major fillip. It looks like Apple is on a roll.
Author: Michael Evans
After four months of quick-fire announcements from Apple, with the announcement of the iPad, followed by the launch; the updates to the MacBook Pro line and the details of the new iPhone 4.0 OS, we are now just a month away from the expected launch of the new phone. Some people think that we will actually get our hands on the new phone in June, but most bets are on an announcement followed by a July store availability.
As usual, the rumours are in overdrive. A couple of weeks ago we had the story of the lost suspected 4G iPhone that was subsequently bought by Gizmodo and revealed to a ready audience. Few people seem to think that this lost phone was other than a genuine prototype, if not a near-production model. For once, therefore, we probably have a fairly good idea of what we are going to see at the June conference in San Francisco. More to the point, expectations have been raised and there will be a great sense of disappointment if the new phone doesn't materialise on the date.
Apart from the physical aspects of the new device, which is expected to include a front-facing camera for chat use, the new OS, already announced, promises significant improvements even for owners of existing iPhones. Not least of these improvements is a form of multi-tasking which has been in demand ever since the introduction of the first model in 2007.
Author: Michael Evans
Yes, folks, for the cost of that new MacBook you could buy four whole shares in Apple, Inc. If you'd invested the cost of a PowerBook G3 in Apple stock in 1997 you would now be $330,000 better off. Of course, you wouldn't have had the pleasure of using the laptop for the past 13 years but, at least, you could compensate yourself with over 300 MacBook Pros.
This fascinating insight comes courtesy of Gizmodo and the inescapable conclusion is that you're better off buying Apple stock than Apple products. Of course, if everyone did this the plot wouldn't succeed, now would it? What I do find really interesting is the relationship between the cost of the PowerBook G3 in 1997 - $5,700 - and the $1,000 tag of a similar product now. In 2010 terms, that Apple laptop would have cost $7,600, approximately seven times as expensive as the modern equivalent. But whichever way you look at it, buying Apple stock would have been a smart move.
Commenting on the Gizmodo piece, pixelpushing tells us his girlfriend did actually invest the value of a new MacBook Pro in Apple stock instead of taking the computer. She has now trebled her money, so can well afford a new device. Another contributor, jconnor, believes that in the next ten years the growth will be double and that Apple will be the first trillion dollar company. This does sound a bit far fetched, I admit, but do think twice when you're buying that new MacBook Pro. Four or five Apple shares at $272 each might be a better investment. Or might not.