Apple Watch: Cook's books - some numbers for you

FIRST of all - this one: I'm nearly up to 500 Apple Watch posts, but I'm not going to make it to 500. The 300th, you might remember, was about the passing away of Steve Jobs. But this post is getting towards the last Apple Watch you'll see here; it has just a couple of weeks to run. Not my decision. Perhaps it's a triumph for negative commenters - fans don't tend to weigh in as much.

But in the time left, I will get a few more Apple Watches in, including a very interesting comparison of a Mac vs a PC for professional photographers and some app news.

Apple just had another earnings call, and that's always an opportunity to look at the numbers. Every earnings call Apple has leads to some pretty funny press - I remember a few years ago Apple was doing well in every single category, with amazing profits, stratospheric ... and the press seized on the only decline, which was iPod sales. With an iPhone in your pocket, demand for iPods naturally lessens.

Anyway, some figures. Tim Cook reckons 20 million people watched the WWDC keynote in June, over 400 APIs were opened with the announcement (and release to developers) of iOS 8 and of course, lots of other things were announced at WWDC.

Apple's shares were up 20 per cent year-over-year, Apple's highest growth rate in seven quarters. iPhones sold well - 35 million. That's over three months, so that's a rate of over 380,000 a day. Not terribly bad, I think. Mac sales grew 18 per cent year over year - this while IDC reckons the PC market in general is shrinking 2 per cent a year! The Mac figures surprised Wall Street analysts. iTunes billings reached an all-time quarterly high, thanks to very strong results from the App Store. Overall Apple revenue was US $37.4 billion (about NZ$43.72 billion).

All this Wall Street called 'uneventful'. How boring it must be, to be them.

However, they almost all expect Apple's growth to accelerate into the December quarter. Now for the part all those press Chicken Lickens seized on, including here on the Herald - as Tim Cook put it, "iPad sales met our expectations, but we realise they didn't meet many of yours."

Analysts IDC reckon there was a 5 per cent overall decline in the US tablet market plus a decline in the western European tablet market in the June quarter.

The tablet market may have passed its peak - every product has one - but Apple is proud of its products. Cook cited a survey conducted by Changewave in May which had Apple's iPad Air showing a 98 per cent customer satisfaction rate. Not bad at all - but iPad mini with Retina display passed it, achieving an astonishing 100 per cent customer satisfaction rate (I have one of these - love it). The survey also found strong numbers still planning to buy iPads rather than other tablets (63 per cent of those considering tablets).

Tim Cook went on to say "If you sort of back up from this, the category that we created, which has been in a little over four years, we've now sold 225 million iPads. Which is, I think, probably a larger number than anyone would have predicted at the time, including ourselves, quite frankly."

You want to beat Apple up for that? Be my guest.

Sales might be down, but iPad usage figures keep rising. Chitika Insights produced numbers showing how much web browsing iPad users do compared to the those who use competing tablets. Chitika sampled "tens of millions of US and Canadian tablet-based online ad impressions" between July 1 and 7, 2014. What they found is that iPads account for 78 per cent of all tablet web traffic. The Amazon Kindle Fire came in at second place ... with just 7.3 per cent. In other words, tablet sales are in general decline compared to a year ago, but Apple's holding its ground in this market that, may I remind you, Apple also created, just as Apple created the smartphone market.

Apple held 27 per cent of all tablet shipments in the second quarter of 2014, Samsung 17.2, Lenovo 4.9, ASUS 4.6, Acer 2, 'others' 44.4 per cent. But Apple did used to have much more of this tablet market than 27 per cent, as that means 73 per cent of tablets aren't running iOS.

In other numbers, most are also good for Apple, which is not just earning money, it's also spending it - Apple showed a 36 per cent year-over-year increase, helping the Inc reach US$4.36 billion in total Research and Development costs so far this fiscal year - lending credence to the anticipation of new products in new categories. The new data shows Apple's investment in R&D has actually been accelerating, growing faster in the June quarter than in previous quarters.

Retail sales are also still strong for Apple, and on August 2nd the Inc will open its 12th retail location in China. In the second Chinese new store opening in as many weeks, this follows a new one in the southwest city of Chongqing (July 26th).

But here's one metric Apple won't be celebrating: Apple has been hit with a class action lawsuit over alleged labour violations, with more than 20 thousand plaintiffs involved. The lawsuit was granted class certification: it alleges the company's treatment of Apple Store and corporate operations employees constitute multiple California Labor Code violations.

All in all, though, Apple fans are holding their breaths waiting for something new. Apple seems to be holding its breath as well, acquiring companies and pumping huge amounts into R&D, and making interesting hires.

On the less exciting side, perhaps, are rumours of a 12-inch Retina display MacBook Air some time down the track (and possibly lesser updates to the 11- and 13-inch Airs before then). An iMac with a Retina display would be awesome. A 4K Thunderbolt monitor would be, too. An iPhone 6 has to come out - exactly what that will entail, no one knows but the 'net is rife with rumours it will be 'bigger', dimensionally.

As for an Apple watch ... the future is uncertain. But for Apple news, tips, help and reviews, there's always my rewritten site.

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