Apple needs to be careful or it risks being seen as greedy with a subsequent consumer backlash. Consumers may well ask why they're continuing to pay margins that are significantly greater than those required for the long-term viability of the platform. Greedy profiteering doesn't tend to go down too well with the public.
While it's true that Apple's gains have been related to its success in increasing revenues, volumes and market share, it's also widely regarded that Apple's margins are by far the highest in the consumer electronics industry, all while sitting on more cash than it knows what to do with.
I think there's already been a major shift in the past 3 or 4 years in how Apple is viewed by the public. Certainly my opinion has shifted substantially. With so much cash I expect far more from Apple and am less tolerant to mistakes than I used to be. I'm also less likely to upgrade just for the sake of it if I see it as simply padding an already massive cash hoard and I'm less vociferous in my recommending Apple products for friends or colleagues. It's a far cry from when Apple was the underdog in the early 2000s.
Also, Apple no longer has that "golden shield" which was the genuine warmth and affection people had towards Steve Jobs. Under Steve, Apple could literally get away with anything. I think Apple's behaviour in hoarding so much cash is a product of and reaction to its experience in nearly going under, something that Steve was obviously deeply affected by. The danger is being too paranoid about the past.
If people want to nitpick, they'll always find a reason to do so. Apple shouldn't waste its time trying to please tabloid journalists who write trash to get hits. Let's go through the accusations leveled against Apple:
- Labor practices: We've been hearing iHaters criticize Apple for years about using "slave labor." On articles that raked Apple over the coals over labor practices at its contractors' facilities, commenters vehemently declared that they would never buy another Apple product until they moved all production to the US. The funny thing is there wasn't a murmur about dozens of other CE companies using those same slave labor factories. For that matter, the computer that they were using to post such nonsense was probably built in the same "slave labor" factories that they're vilifying Apple for using. It's amazing how everyone loves to point out that Android is destroying Apple and they joyously look forward to the day Android finally finishes off Apple, but when it comes to labor practices, there isn't a murmur about those Android manufacturers using the same terrible factories that people criticize Apple for using.
- Tax avoidance: Apple didn't write the book on tax avoidance. They're just following it. Surpisingly, though, the media has been pretty fair to Apple. As an Apple shareholder, while I don't take issue with Apple's tax avoidance practices, I applaud the media for refraining from the instinct of singling out Apple.
- Patents: Many love to call Apple a patent troll, conveniently ignoring what a patent troll actually is-an entity whose business revolves around buying up patents with no intent to create a product/service using them but instead, to sue other companies over said patents. Apple has not been in this business. And also, people refuse to acknowledge the fact that an impartial judge ruled in Apple's favor in the cases where Apple won. And Apple has never sought an injunction over a standards-essential patent. Google bought Motorola and has used standards-essential patents to sue Apple, which has caught the ire of European antitrust regulators. For all the criticism of Apple's patent suits, Apple has yet to catch the attention of antitrust authorities.
You claim that greedy profiteering doesn't go well with the public. Do you know what Microsoft's gross margin is? According to Yahoo! Finance, it's 75% while Apple's gross margin is 40%. Whose doing greedy profiteering? Are you happy about padding Microsoft's enormous profits whenever you buy a PC or buy Microsoft Office?