Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Too many Apples a day – or on the market – cause confusion says The Notebook Company

The current infusion of Apple products being introduced onto the market is causing confusion, which, at the end of the day does not auger well for the second most valuable company in the world. Because, when consumers are confused, they are cautions when it comes to buying.

This is according to Christopher Riley, managing director of laptop and accessories retailer, The Notebook Company – one of the biggest local sellers of the Apple iPad tablet range.

“Apple is in danger of confusing the market,” said Riley. “It might be the leading seller of tablets, but the current rash of product launches – and the confusion with iPad tablet names – is not good for business at the end of the day.

“When the Apple iPad 3 came onto the market it was called the New iPad. Then, when the Apple iPad 4 was introduced it was called the New iPad with retina display. But the problem,” said Riley, “is that the iPad 3 – called the New iPad – also has retina display.

“But it doesn’t stop there. Apple, which was dethroned as the most valuable company recently by Mobil Exxon, has also introduced the iPad mini. Some consumers – certainly some of my customers – think this is actually the iPad 4.

“When consumers are confused they tend to halt, or stall, purchase decisions because they don’t want to come across as stupid. Also, the sales cycle is a lot longer because retailers, like ourselves, have to explain things to customers in more detail – or customers have more questions. This extends the sales cycle.”

Apple starts to report slowing profits

Meanwhile,  at the end of last month Apple’s share price started nosing southwards, falling to $439,88 – giving it a market capitalisation of $413 billion (R3.6 trillion), compared to oil behemoth Exxon Mobile, who clocked in with a market value of $418 billion. Apple first superseded Exxon Mobil in August 2011 as the most valuable corporation based on the value of its stock. A year later it toppled arch rival Microsoft as the most valuable firm in the world in history with its stock valued at $622 billion.

But Apple has started to see its inner core bruising after a somewhat dull forecast accompanying its record quarterly profits, which pointed to a possibly less stellar growth.  Despite a record quarterly profit investors got cagey after hearing that gross margins further down the line would be 37,5% to 39,5% lower than expectations.

To get a clearer picture of the more gloomy prognosis  one has to cast one’s mind back to when Apple’s stock price hit more than $700 a share . This was reached in  September  last year, but, since that zenith, the price has dropped by 37% . The company also shed $60 billion in market capitalisation.

The Notebook Company’s Riley said some market analysts are postulating that Apple is losing its edge due to a dip in innovation since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs. There are also tangible  signs that it is losing traction to Samsung, which now leads the smartphone market, and to others using Google’s Android operating system.

Despite Apple’s stellar performance in the past it is questionable whether it will be able to maintain the margins it is accustomed to. With the possibility of smartphone price wars Apple’s traditional market positon of holding the high ground with premium products aimed at the high end of the market may bite deeper and deeper into profits from each device sold.

“But although Apple is receiving some negative press currently, it must be remembered that the tallest trees attract the most wind velocity. Apple has reached such heights these past few years that the wind velocity they are encountering is pretty fearsome.
“But Apple is by no means rotten to its core,” Riley quipped.

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