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Earnings preview: No news is good news?

Dan Moren | April 22, 2014
Scientists might argue that the root cause of Earth's rotation is angular momentum, but come on: We all know it's money, plain and simple. We don't sit down every three months to hear Apple talk about physics, after all.

The iPad

Like the iPhone, Apple's tablet had a good holiday quarter; the company moved a very healthy 26 million units. Also like its smartphone sibling, that number will probably decline going into the non-holiday quarter. As long as I'm taking shots in the dark about sales volume, I'm going to estimate that it will be down around 15 percent, at just over 22 million units.

The iPad rumor mill has been quieter than the iPhone, so questions from analysts will likely revolve around whether Cook thinks that iPad growth is slowing, and whether the company is worried about its competitors in the tablet space. If Tim Cook doesn't take that opportunity to ding rival Samsung for its misleading tablet sales numbers, well, then he isn't the man I thought him to be.

The Mac

Mac sales have been pretty steady over the last few years, generally falling between 4 to 5 million units. I wouldn't expect that to change, given that the only new model to be introduced recently is the Mac Pro — which still isn't shipping in volume. However, given that the pro desktop is likely to make up only a small portion of the company's Mac sales anyway, it probably won't hurt Apple's bottom line for the quarter.

And speaking of the Mac Pro, this may be one place Cook would be willing to give a little, as the analysts call it, color on the situation. Even after four months, the Pro is still showing delays of at least a month, which may prompt analysts to ask what the hold-up is. Given Cook's expertise on operations, he may detail a few of the factors that have gone into the slowdown.

All and sundry

While these are the more major topics that might arise during Wednesday's conference call there are, as ever, a slew of smaller things that could possibly get some attention. One is the Apple TV, which has apparently continued to sell well, if not amazingly. This quarter saw the introduction of a major challenger in the form of Amazon's Fire TV — analysts might ask Cook how he sees the difference between the two offerings.

There have also been reports that the iTunes Store has been encountering some challenges (keep an eye on the company's Music and Services break-out figures), and that the iTunes Radio streaming service hasn't performed up to expectations. Cook might find himself fielding questions about whether Apple will move to compete more directly against streaming rivals like Spotify and Pandora.

And with this past quarter's launch of Microsoft Office for iPad, there might be an opportunity for Apple to once again boast about its impressive adoption rates in the enterprise sector, and how the addition of Microsoft's productivity suite will only serve to solidify the standing of Apple's tablet.

 

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