UBS analyst Steven Milunovich today issued a new investor note in which he asks the question, “Is Apple an anti-fragile monopoly?” The note was obtained by Business Insider and focuses on Apple’s place in the smartphone market and its potentially monopolistic power…
In the note, Milunovich explains that Apple’s considerable power when it comes to smartphone pricing is a sign that it may have monopoly-like reach. The analyst explains that one characteristic of monopolies is pricing power, something that Apple puts a focus on with its average selling price numbers for iPhone.
“One characteristic of monopolies is pricing power. iPhone’s ASP of almost $700 last quarter has rebounded to an all-time high despite currency pressure and could further rise with the iPhone 8,” he writes.
Milunovich continues by talking about Apple’s fragility, pointing to the concept of “anti-fragility” as it relates to the company’s potentially monopolistic status. Essentially, anti-fragility is a principle that refers to how a company responds to stressors or shock with an increase in capability, resistance, and robustness.
By suggesting that Apple is an “anti-fragile monopoly,” Milunovich is saying that the company is able to respond to situations with such strength, that it can’t be knocked down from its success. Additionally, Milunovich suggests that Apple could be “developing a greater ability to compete and adapt” than its competitors such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft.
Milunovich points to fellow analyst Horace Dediu in making his case:
“[Deidu] argues that Apple’s position is less fragile than it first appears, which investors are picking up on with increased emphasis on services and the installed base. Although Apple is viewed as less powerful than its large cap tech brethren, it exhibits superior pricing power.”
Milunovich’s argument is an interesting one as he’s suggesting that in being a monopoly, Apple has set itself up to be resilient to failure, despite the plethora of people who claim that the company is doomed. The monopoly argument all-around, however, is especially interesting seeing how Milunovich focuses so heavily on Apple’s pricing power, despite the company losing dramatically in terms of marketshare to Android.
What do you think of Milunovich’s argument? Let us know down in the comments.