Wall Street ranks Apple world’s most respected company, analysts raise target share prices

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Barron’s reports that institutional investors have returned Apple to its number one slot in its annual ranking of the world’s most respected companies, after it was beaten last year by Berkshire Hathaway.

Apple topped this year’s ranking by scoring 3.94, giving it a wide margin of victory. Berkshire scored 3.58, and the mean was 2.37. Apple received the highest number of Highly Respect votes …

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AAPL climbs to #5 in Fortune 500 as gross revenues reached $170B

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Apple’s gross revenues of $170B were enough for the world’s most valuable company by market cap to climb one place in the Fortune 500 ranking, from 6th to 5th place.

Apple was placed behind Walmart, Exxon, Chevron and conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway (which owns large chunks of such well-known brands as Heinz, Coca-Cola, Mars and American Express). Phillips 66, General Motors, Ford Motor, General Electric and Valero Energy make up the rest of the top 10.

While Apple ranks fifth in terms of revenues, its huge cash reserves mean that it has tended to alternate with Exxon as the world’s most valuable company when measured by market capitalization, and is arguably significantly undervalued by most measures …  Read more

Opinion: It’s time to bring back the mobile professional’s workhorse, the MacBook Pro 17

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Many of us were deeply disappointed when Apple discontinued the MacBook Pro 17. While the Retina MacBook Pro 15 introduced at the same time offered higher resolution, sometimes there’s just no substitute for physical screen size. Photographers and videographers in particular loved the combination of the sheer size and the option of a matte screen.

I loved mine enough to immediately sell the three-year-old one I owned at the time in order to replace it with the last model made, to maximize its useful life. I still love it enough that I’ve just laid out a thousand bucks on a 2.5-year-old machine to fit 2TB of SSDs, giving it the best of both worlds: lightning-fast performance combined with huge storage that allows me to have all my files with me when I travel.

There may not be too many others who’ll follow my admittedly extravagant example, but I do think it’s time for Apple to revisit its decision and bring back the mobile professional’s workhorse …  Read more

Wall Street unimpressed by Beats acquisition: “Not what we want to see”

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Judging by a roundup in The Wall Street Journal, analysts and investors appear not to share the enthusiasm for Beats acquisition express by Tim Cook and Eddy Cue. While Cook said he was “excited [...] about this new chapter in our history” and Cue believed that “combining the two companies will help [music] grow again,” Wall Street is more skeptical.

“To see this kind of money spent for a company that gets most of its revenue from hardware business is not what we want to see,” said Dan Niles, chief investment officer of hedge fund AlphaOne Capital Partners …

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Opinion: Will Apple’s Smart Home concept bring home automation to the masses?

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It’s the 21st Century: weren’t we all supposed to be living in automated homes by now? Where we walk in the door after a long day to have our home playing some soothing music, informing us that it’s run us a bath and that dinner will be ready in 45 minutes? Where a robot has done the cleaning, changed the flowers, accepted a parcel that arrived while we were at work and fed the cat?

That dream seems to be a long time coming. I’m a reasonably techy guy who loves the idea of home automation, yet even I only have three examples in my home (which I’ll mention along the way). Most mass-market consumers haven’t even noticed that the products exist, and the few who have tend to view it all as too complicated or fiddly.

If anyone can change that perception, it’s Apple. Which is why the Financial Times report yesterday that Apple is working on a new approach to home automation that may be unveiled at WWDC next week caught my attention …  Read more

Samsung’s lawyers calling Apple a “Jihadist” and the trial “Apple’s Vietnam” not helping settlement talks …

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While FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller may be confident of Apple and Samsung reaching an early settlement on their patent disputes, a court-mandated update on the talks seems to tell a different story, with each side explaining why talks were not going well, reports The Verge.

For Apple, that includes statements made by Samsung’s lead attorney John Quinn, who referred to Apple as a “jihadist” and called the protracted trial “Apple’s Vietnam” in a pair of interviews …

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13th anniversary of first Apple Store: risky gamble to most profitable retail space in the world

Today marks the 13th anniversary of Apple’s retail stores, the first ever store having opened at 10am on 19th May 2001 at Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Virginia. The video above shows Steve Jobs giving a preview of the store six days before it opened, and below the fold you can see an animated GIF of the growth of the U.S. stores since then.

Amazing as it seems today, the move was considered at the time to be a risky gamble, with critics arguing that they couldn’t possibly make money. Businessweek ran a story entitled Sorry Steve, Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work and TheStreet.com agreed in a piece headlined Apple’s Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel …  Read more

Apple and Beats not such strange bedfellows, argues Bloomberg

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Steve Jobs and Jimmy Iovine in 2008 (Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage via Getty Images)

A Bloomberg analysis of the presumed acquisition of Beats Electronics by Apple says that while the two companies may have very different cultures, the partnership is not so strange as it might first appear.

“These aren’t strange bedfellows at all,” said Peter Csathy, chief executive officer of entertainment law firm Manatt Digital Media Ventures. “Steve Jobs really drove the relationship with the music industry. The executives at Apple and Beats know each other very well, and there’s a comfort level there” …

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Despite court battles, Apple switches back to Samsung as main iPad display supplier

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The court battles between the two companies doesn’t seem to have harmed Samsung’s position as a key supplier of components to Apple. DisplaySearch figures show that Apple switched from LG to Samsung as the primary supplier of its display panels for iPad Air and iPad with Retina display last quarter, reports CNET.

Samsung Display reclaimed its position as the top iPad display panel supplier, shipping 5.2 million units of 9.7-inch panels with a resolution of 2,048×1,536, accounting for 62 percent of total shipments of that display size and resolution [...]

LG Display [...] saw its share of that display size/resolution plunge to 38 percent in the first quarter from about 61 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 …

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Opinion: What is Apple’s thinking in spending $3.2B on buying Beats?

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Apple’s apparent purchase of Beats took everyone by surprise. I must confess that my immediate reaction was to be slightly appalled. As someone whose audio tastes run more to B&O and B+W, I’ve always viewed Beats headphones as over-bassed, over-priced fashion items. But then my tastes in music admittedly differ somewhat from those of the typical Beats customer.

Even so, it’s still a little baffling at first glance. Tim Cook himself said a year ago that Apple asks two questions when considering an acquisition:

Would it help us make a great product, and would the culture fit at Apple?

My immediate answer to both would be “no,” so why would Apple spend $3.2B on a headphone manufacturer with a small sideline streaming music service … ?  Read more

Opinion: Can Apple maintain its $100 tier flash storage pricing for iPhones & iPads indefinitely?

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There’s a certain marketing genius to Apple’s tiered pricing for flash storage on its iPhones and iPads. Since customers can’t add storage via a microSD card later, they have to decide in advance how much storage they need, and many of us are going to err on the side of safety, bumping our purchase up to a higher price-band.

Adding $100 or $200 to the price of an iDevice for maybe $5-10 worth of flash storage/controller capacity is an important source of income for Apple, and one of the reasons its margins are so high. Whatever the company makes on a 16GB device, if it can upsell you to a 32GB or 64GB (or even 128GB, in the case of the iPad), almost all of the premium charged on those beefier models is pure profit.

It’s not money Apple would give up lightly, but I do wonder whether it’s sustainable …  Read more

Strong iPhone 5s sales sees Apple gain market share in Japan, Australia, UK, France & Spain

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Kantar data showed that Apple saw its smartphone market share rise in five out of nine countries surveyed “primarily due to the strong performance of the iPhone 5s.”

The iPhone gained market share in Japan, Australia, UK, France and Spain, with its strongest growth in Japan, where first quarter market share grew by 8.6 percent, from 49 percent in 2013 ro 57.6 percent in 2014. Apple’s success in the country followed a deal with Japan’s largest wireless carrier, DoCoMo.

Japan’s love affair with Apple shows no sign of fading. Even though the iPhone has now been available on Japan’s largest carrier, NTT DoCoMo, for a number of months Apple still accounts for more than 40% of sales on the network. The success of the iPhone is also filtering through to the iPad, with almost a quarter of Japanese iPhone owners also owning an iPad. With smartphone penetration in Japan lagging well behind Europe and the US, Japan will remain a key growth market for Apple …

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