Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street’

Aways From Apple’s IPhone Event 2013 And A Positive Outlook For 2014

Aways From Apple’s IPhone Event 2013 And A Positive Outlook For 2014

First things first: If you stuck to credible rumor sources (I listed some of them in earlier Instablogs about AAPL) you got over 90% of the September 10 Apple announcements correct.

For those still following talking heads or other sell side analysts disappointed why there was no Apple TV set and no dirt cheap iPhone please find my outlook below. It should hopefully prove more accurate.

This outlook is also reassuring to long term AAPL investors since Apple seems to be (once more) a victim of “buy the rumor, sell the news” on Wall Street following the Sept 10 event:

1. iPhone 5C: Cheaper Doesn’t Mean Cheap, Newer Isn’t New

The iPhone 5C introduction is not a new strategy behind the curtain it just looks like a new strategy to the average consumer in front of the curtain. It’s basically marketing the current iPhone strategy better: Apple simply put its second newest phone (iPhone 5) in fancier clothing for the first time. As long time Apple watcher Gruber aptly put it:

The iPhone 5C has nothing to do with price. It probably does have something to do with manufacturing costs (which are lower for Apple), but not price. Apple’s years long strategy hasn’t really changed. It’s just that instead of putting the year old iPhone 5 in slot 2, they’ve created the 5C to debut in that slot. The 5C is, effectively, an iPhone 5. This is the notion that one size does not fit all a radical idea for the brand. Its mechanism to address it is a “good+better” portfolio. Note that this is not at all like the iPad where the Mini is actually suited to different tasks. The iPad can be thought of as a “small+big” portfolio.

People clamoring for (really) “cheap” iPhones fell into the same trap as sell side analysts predicting a feature phone “iPhone nano” a few years ago (which of course never materialized). Same for netbooks or cheap desktops bundled with ISP contracts Apple never played in these low end market segments in the past.

Market share isn’t everything, gross margins do matter. There’s a good example for this playing out in the phone market right now a little quiz:

Globally, out of the 10 best selling mobile phones of all time 9 where made by whom?

You probably guessed the correct answer: Nokia (NOK) the company just called it quits and sold its devices division to MSFT. The only other phone on the top 10 list was made by Motorola Mobility now owned by GOOG and a shadow of its former self in the phone space (despite the billions invested by GOOG).

This ironic tweet from today sums up the situation nicely (as AAPL shares are being sold off):

Wall Street is most disappointed in Apple for not introducing cheap phones that lose money like the rest of the mobile phone industryThe only thing that puzzled me is why Apple didn’t differentiate the iPhone family with feature sets and colors earlier as it did with the iPod family in the past. 2013 looks a little late to make this separation.

2. Big In Japan (yes, Japan still exists)

NTT Docomo is finally an official carrier for iPhone this is understated by the market focused on China (more about this in 3.). Docomo long was a hold out for local Japanese brands also thanks to its i mode heritage. This is big news and probably the end of the line for most of the remaining “Galapagos” smartphones sold exclusively in Japan.

With about 60 million subscribers and a powerful 4G network (branded “Xi” with over 15 million subscribers ), NTT Docomo and high end Japanese consumers are as important if not more important short term for AAPL as China Mobile is longer term.

3. China Mobile Is Most Probably Coming, Wait For 4G Network

Many sell side analysts got the AAPL China Mobile story wrong for months. There are various technical reasons (TD LTE and before that a different 3G standard) why Apple isn’t on China Mobile yet. Details can be found in this good article, also indicating the technical hurdles will be resolved soon:

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has now certified both the 5S and slightly cheaper 5C with its network access license.

Looking closely at the MIIT document, it shows two iPhone variants that have’t been announced yet: the A1516 variant of the iPhone 5C, and the A1518 version of the iPhone 5S. Perhaps those will support China Mobile’s 2.5GHz TD LTE network, which is expected to go live nationwide later this year.

So the certification points to the new iPhone 5S and 5C eventually appearing on China Mobile’s TD LTE network, but it’s still too early to tell. Indeed, China as a whole is awaiting its 4G roll out.

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