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Apple set to be first $1 trillion company

Dominic Rushe (via SMH) | April 9, 2012
The world's insatiable appetite for all things Apple appears to be reaching new levels.

Topping that performance will be hard. In his report Munster forecast that Apple would sell 33m iPhones during the March quarter – 11 per cent less than it sold in the holiday season. But those results excluded mainland China.

In January Apple's launch of the iPhone 4S triggered a near riot in Beijing after a crowd of 2,000 – some of whom had waited overnight in freezing temperatures – lost patience and started pelting the store's windows with eggs.

China remains a tiny market for Apple. But that is changing. Earlier this year Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty predicted Apple could sell 40m iPhones in China this year as it forges deals with the country's top three telecoms firms.

There are more than 150m "high-end Chinese subscribers" in the country, according to Huberty, but Apple can only reach 10 per cent through its partnership with China Unicom.

Cook has called China Apple's second most important market. Recent revelations about poor conditions at Apple's Chinese factories may have damaged the brand's image in some eyes, but they do not seem to have affected sales in China or elsewhere.

But in order to push Apple over the $US1,000 mark, White is predicting that Cook will need to cement his place as Jobs' true heir with the launch of a new product – a television.

Apple has long been rumoured to be eyeing the TV market – a move that could prove as disruptive to broadcast media as Apple's iPod proved to the music industry.

Foxconn, the Apple manufacturer at the centre of the recent workplace abuse scandal, recently bought an 11 per cent stake in LCD display maker, Sharp Corp, further fuelling rumours that an iTV (or whatever) is in the works.

Cook has done little to dampen the rumours. Apple already has a TV product – a set-top box called Apple TV. But it has not set the world on fire.

Cook recently hinted there may be something else in the pipeline. "Apple doesn't do hobbies as a general rule," he said speaking about Apple TV. The company "always thought there was something there, and that if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling that string, we might find something larger", he said.

"The key risk to the Apple story is pace of innovation," Munster wrote in his report. "While we have not seen anything to make us believe innovation will slow, it is the fundamental barrier that stands between shares at $US600 and at $US1,000. Apple has won the ecosystem and interface war, and must continue to innovate around its leadership position to grow the business.


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