The latest results from Apple are out, and you would need the prophetic powers of a character from science-fiction to second guess what the future holds. It depends. We know what Apple has to do, we know that it has got the money to throw at it, we just don’t know if Apple can do it. Roll the dice and let’s see.
The results were okay, a tad better than expected in the run-up to their release, a fair bit worse than was being anticipated a year or so ago.
We have reached peak iPhone. The company sold 40.3 million in the quarter to June, 15% less than a year ago, but better than expected. The company says demand for the iPhone is on the up again, and that the fall in sales has passed its low point. Well maybe, but hands up if you are an iPhone owner who is thinking of not upgrading when the current two-year contract is up. The author of these words just raised his hand. (Making it hard to write this article.) Maybe we have reached peak feature. The rate of growth in new, must-have features, has surely slowed right down.
So net income in the quarter was $7.8 billion, 27% down on last year, but iPad sales were up, as were sales from services. Apple even said that the music business has reached ‘inflection point.’ Meaning it’s looking exciting.
But this is the world’s biggest company by market cap. And when you are that big, it becomes difficult to grow. It could become bigger than the Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson put together and still see its share price fall.
To grow it needs to find another iPhone, a new type of product that no one has ever thought of, (or done well,) but which everyone will want, and is willing to pay big bucks for.
Maybe the Internet of Things will provide the opportunity.
There is an alternative, find another industry which is even bigger, in terms of revenue, than computers/smart phones. For example, an industry that boasts four companies in the Fortune list of biggest companies in the world by turnover. Maybe, if Apple could find such an industry, it could bring its design flair to the table, add a bit of fairy dust/computer magic, and by extending the Apple halo effect, charge a premium.
But to do that it has to find such an industry. One option is a product beginning with a C, ending with an R, with an A in the middle.
If it could, as it were, join those letters and get the product right, or Apple-like, it could just get its market cap over one trillion dollars.
So, Tim Cook, the boss, needs to get in the driving seat, Jonathan Ive, the design guy, needs to press hard on the accelerator, and maybe Apple can drive off into the sunset, its shareholders with beaming smiles, sitting on the back seat of the Apple Car.