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

kantar

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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Analysts respond to AAPL earnings, rating the stock a strong buy

Photo: USA Today

Photo: USA Today

Early overnight reports collated by Fortune unsurprisingly show analysts pleased by the higher-than-expected iPhone numbers, with five out of five rating the stock a buy, their price targets ranging from $75 to $252 above yesterday’s closing value. Apple reported iPhone sales of 43.7B against expectations of 38B, and revenue of $45.6B against the consensus estimate of $43.5B.

  • Katy Huberty, Morgen Stanley: Price target $630

  • Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray: Price target $640

  • Brian Marshall, ISI: Price target $600

  • Brian White, Cantor Fitzgerald: Price target $777

  • Peter Misek, Jefferies: Price target $625  …

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Live blog: Apple’s Q2 2014 earnings call

As we previously shared last month, Apple is scheduled to hold its quarterly conference call to discuss its earnings report from the second quarter of its fiscal year: this includes 43 million iPhones, 16 million iPads, and 4 million Macs. As the company reported, it earned $45.6 billion in revenue during Q2. Apple has already made news as it announced the first split of its stock since February 2005.

In terms of product announcements during that timeframe, Apple was relatively quiet; it expanded iTunes Radio to Australia and added NPR support, rebranded iOS in the Car as CarPlay with compatible cars arriving later this year, introduced a cheaper 8GB iPhone 5c in several non-US markets, replaced the iPad 2 with the iPad 4 at the same price point, and announced its worldwide developer conference scheduled for June 2. Apple is currently positioned to save new products for the latter half of the year as it did in 2013.

Investors and analysts are sure to raise this point during the call, and we’ll be listening and bringing you coverage starting at 5pm EST/ 2pm PST. Read more

Apple reports $45.6 billion revenue for Q2 2014: 43.7m iPhones, 16.3m iPads, 4.1m Macs, 2.7m iPods

130521141911-tim-cook-hero-tax-code-614xaApple just announced its second quarter results for 2014 with revenue for the quarter coming in at $45.6 billion. That’s compared to the guidance it previously provided of $42 – $44 billion and estimates by analysts averaging approximately $43.5B. Apple’s $45.6 billion in revenue reported today is also up from the $43.6 billion in revenue in the year ago quarter.

Break down of device sales for Q2 2014 include 43.7m million iPhones, 16.3 million iPads, and 4.1 million Macs. Compare that to an average of 38M iPhones, 19.3M iPads, 4M Macs, and 3M iPods predicted by the analysts leading up to today. In the same quarter last year, Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones, 19.5 million iPads, just under 4 million Macs, and 5.6 million iPods.

It also reported net quarterly profit of $10.2 billion, or $11.62 per diluted share in contrast to quarterly net profit of $9.5 billion, or $10.09 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.

“We’re very proud of our quarterly results, especially our strong iPhone sales and record revenue from services,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re eagerly looking forward to introducing more new products and services that only Apple could bring to market.”

“We generated $13.5 billion in cash flow from operations and returned almost $21 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the March quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “That brings cumulative payments under our capital return program to $66 billion.”

Apple is providing guidance for its next quarter of revenue between $36 billion and $38 billion.

The question of the day for Tim Cook and other Apple executives on today’s call will surely be the new product categories that Cook previously said were coming across 2014 and have yet to make an appearance in the first quarter. With Apple’s WWDC developer conference just around the corner, we’ll have to wait and see if Cook gives us any clues of what’s to come during the call today at 2:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. EST. Stay tuned to our live blog for coverage. 

Apple’s full press release is below: Read more