Apple execs focused on software driven product cycle, says analyst

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Fresh off a meeting with senior executives at Apple, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said the company sees product cycles as being driven by software rather than hardware and is expected to announce major software updates at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.



After meeting with Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer, Senior Vice President of Retail Ron Johnson and Vice President of Internet Services Eddy Cue, Huberty issued a note to clients reiterating her Overweight rating for the company and downplaying concerns about the company's margins and the possibility of iPhone saturation.



Huberty also restated her belief that the company's Earnings Per Share could reach $50 in 2013, driven by "lower priced iPhones, iPod like market share in tablets, and expanding distribution in China and other emerging markets."



According to Huberty, Apple executives highlighted the fact that "the company generally views product cycles as software driven" during their meeting. Given the software emphasis, Huberty suggested that "major feature/function updates" will come at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, which runs from June 6 through June 10 in San Francisco.







After Apple announced that it would "unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS" at the conference, rumors swirled that the company would hold off on announcing a next-generation iPhone as it has in years past.





Though Huberty said Thursday that Apple did not confirm during the meeting whether an iPhone hardware refresh was in place for later this year, she did address investor concerns that a delayed refresh would affect profits. Since Apple sees itself as software focused, major feature updates in iOS 5 and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion are expected to drive sales.



Huberty also took away from her meeting with the company's executives the message that Apple has several "potential tailwinds" that could better the company's margins, such as improved product costs, lower warranty expense and higher iPad ASPs.



Apple is confident that the iPhone has room to grow, according to the analyst. Given that Apple sells the device in just 90 countries and approximately 185 carriers, compared to over 175 countries and more than 575 carriers for competitors, iPhone shipments are expected to continue to grow in a "natural expansion." The iPhone maker also communicated to Huberty that, based on "daily or weekly data from partners," it remains confident in the smartphone's inventory levels.



Huberty also reported that the company "plans to expand current retail stores and build larger new stores (up to 50/yr)" and will free up space for product set-up services to reduce product returns and increase overall transaction size.



Apple Retail has seen phenomenal growth as of late. Earlier this week, one analyst predicted that revenues from brick-and-mortar stores would "continue on a roll" as visitors flocked to the stores to try out the iPad. The first Apple Stores celebrate their 10th anniversary on May 19th.



As of the close of market on Wednesday, shares of Apple stood at $349.57, up $1.37 from Tuesday's close. The company's stock price has risen 8 percent since the beginning of the year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    suddenly newtonsuddenly newton Posts: 13,725member
    Someday, perhaps there will be an Apple Store on every continent. Including Antarctica. Hey, lots of smart scientists like spending the summer at Amundsen-Scott Station.
  • Reply 2 of 32
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    Someday, perhaps there will be an Apple Store on every continent. Including Antarctica. Hey, lots of smart scientists like spending the summer at Amundsen-Scott Station.



    Start first in Hong Kong, India, South East Asia... You know, all these emerging markets where all of Apple's growth is going to come from. Official Apple Stores are essential to solidify the brand experience and ensure sustained, extraordinary growth.



    It's clear that dealing with the thuggery of Asian telcos and resellers is going to hold Apple back in the long run.



    It's blindingly obvious that by 2015 the middle and upper class of China, India, Greater China and South East Asia will thoroughly eclipse the potential of US sales. Like Apple says, it's trying to figure out the best way of approaching this starting from China. There are a lot of hoops to jump through because Asia is actually quite diverse very unlike obviously the US and the EU.
  • Reply 3 of 32
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    Someday, perhaps there will be an Apple Store on every continent. Including Antarctica. Hey, lots of smart scientists like spending the summer at Amundsen-Scott Station.



    Instead of an all-glass store, it will be all-ice! Wicked.



    "We developed a special grade of ice that is both remarkably strong, unbelievably thin, and can withstand temperatures of up to 30degF above freezing point, ensuring an unbelievable experience for our Antarctic customers." -Jonathan Ives
  • Reply 4 of 32
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    Instead of an all-glass store, it will be all-ice! Wicked.



    "We developed a special grade of ice that is both remarkably strong, unbelievably thin, and can withstand temperatures of up to 30degF above freezing point, ensuring an unbelievable experience for our Antarctic customers." -Jonathan Ives



    Don?t forget the ?? we started with a single block of ice and when were finished we ended up with a single block of ice."
  • Reply 5 of 32
    timgriff84timgriff84 Posts: 909member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    According to Huberty, Apple executives highlighted the fact that "the company generally views product cycles as software driven" during their meeting.



    Does that mean there's a possibility at some point there going to start charging for the updates.
  • Reply 6 of 32
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    Does that mean there's a possibility at some point there going to start charging for the updates.



    I would’t think so.
  • Reply 7 of 32
    smiles77smiles77 Posts: 668member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    Instead of an all-glass store, it will be all-ice! Wicked.



    "We developed a special grade of ice that is both remarkably strong, unbelievably thin, and can withstand temperatures of up to 30degF above freezing point, ensuring an unbelievable experience for our Antarctic customers." -Jonathan Ives



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Don?t forget the ?? we started with a single block of ice and when were finished we ended up with a single block of ice."



    And is remade every year: thinner, lighter, and with twice as much magic as before. It truly does "change everything...all over again."
  • Reply 8 of 32
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Don?t forget the ?? we started with a single block of ice and when were finished we ended up with a single block of ice."



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post


    And is remade every year: thinner, lighter, and with twice as much magic as before. It truly does "change everything...all over again."



    Apple is getting a tad predictable now, aren't they.
  • Reply 9 of 32
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    Apple is getting a tad predictable now, aren't they.



    As long as it's predictably successful, then I don't mind.
  • Reply 10 of 32
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,892member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post


    As long as it's predictably successful, then I don't mind.



    That's the 'magic'
  • Reply 11 of 32
    christopher126christopher126 Posts: 4,212member
    Makes sense...I think it's called economies of scale. The more units they make of a particular hardware style the more money they make per unit.



    If the iP4 has a two year life-cycle then they should make more money on the last 50 million units than on the first 50 million units.



    I had the original iPhone and was really impressed just how many SW updates I received. Finally though it was getting left behind on the hardware side and I bought the 3Gs then the iP4.



    Also, when I look at the form factors of the current iMac, iP4, MBP's, MBA's and, of course, the iPad2 they really are beautiful pieces of engineering. What a strong lineup Apple has now.



    PS. I remember something Stevo said about the absence of buttons on the iPhones and Apple could update the software more easily than RIM. RIM would have to add another physical button.
  • Reply 12 of 32
    xsuxsu Posts: 401member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    Apple is getting a tad predictable now, aren't they.



    They will stop with the thinner, lighter bit when iPad is a single sheet of paper.
  • Reply 13 of 32
    mytdavemytdave Posts: 434member
    People like shiny new objects. Software alone doesn't drive sales... Even with M$ - they got most of their sales from OEMs cranking out new hardware...



    Apple needs to be working on that iPhone5. Having a new model by June is not necessary, but I think they sure as heck need to have one ready for the holidays, say, around September.



    Apple also needs to broaden the iPhone models. Customers want choice, and the one-size-fits-all approach of the iPhone is getting really stale. Apple should know this. There are 4 different models of iPods...



    I believe Apple needs to make 3 different models of iPhone - small, medium, large (relatively). The feature set (iOS) should be the same on all three. The small unit could be powered by the A4 chip, while the med & large would have the A5 chip. Storage capacity would further differentiate the models. This would not be hard to do, and they don't have to be too different, just some basic choice for customers is all.
  • Reply 14 of 32
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by xsu View Post


    They will stop with the thinner, lighter bit when iPad is a single sheet of paper.



    Oh please. Everyone knows they'll make it thinner than invisible.
  • Reply 15 of 32
    garyemerygaryemery Posts: 10member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mytdave View Post


    I believe Apple needs to make 3 different models of iPhone - small, medium, large (relatively). The feature set (iOS) should be the same on all three. The small unit could be powered by the A4 chip, while the med & large would have the A5 chip. Storage capacity would further differentiate the models. This would not be hard to do, and they don't have to be too different, just some basic choice for customers is all.



    I don't agree with this. Apple continue to sell the previous version of the iPhone when the new one comes out for this very reason. It gives consumers choice at a lower price. You want an iPhone? You have 3 options, 8GB iPhone 3GS, 16GB iPhone 4 and 32GB iPhone 4, then obviously the Black / White preference, all at different price points. It is my firm belief that they won't ever have 3 separate current generation iPhones on sale at any one time. It will always be previous gen with small storage, current gen with medium storage and current gen with large storage.
  • Reply 16 of 32
    djintxdjintx Posts: 454member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    Does that mean there's a possibility at some point there going to start charging for the updates.



    I think what it means is that we shouldn't expect iPhone hardware until the new iPhone software is ready to go. Which is likely why the iPhone won't be out til September or later. I think Apple wants us to get used to new iPhones coming out with a more irregular pattern.
  • Reply 17 of 32
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mytdave View Post


    I believe Apple needs to make 3 different models of iPhone - small, medium, large (relatively).



    If you're talking about screen sizes, I would definitely disagree. Having 3 different screen sizes would greatly increase the amount of work a developer must do to bring an app to market, as well as lower the quality of some apps in cases where the developer didn't bother to test on all 3 versions of the phone.



    Besides, iPhone isn't getting stale. They just increase sales by over 100%.



    And sales will continue to increase as Apple makes the phone available on more carriers around the world.
  • Reply 18 of 32
    aiaddictaiaddict Posts: 487member
    If Apple thinks Joe consumer will skip an LTE phone with more memory, faster processors, bigger screens etc. for an old iPhone 4 just because it has a new OS version, they are nuts.



    I am sorry but hardware absolutely still matters and the iPhone 4 will soon be stale.



    As for screen sizes, 1) different size does not mean different resolution 2) resolution differences are not a huge obstacle for competent developers.



    I think a larger iPhone option at the same resolution as the iPhone 4 would be a great option that would sell well. I see no demand for a smaller phone, just cheaper.
  • Reply 19 of 32
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post


    If Apple thinks Joe consumer will skip an LTE phone with more memory, faster processors, bigger screens etc. for an old iPhone 4 just because it has a new OS version, they are nuts.



    I am sorry but hardware absolutely still matters and the iPhone 4 will soon be stale.



    1) Apple released the first iPhone without 3G and it was a huge success.



    2) I don?t recall a single LTE-capable smartphone at CES 2011 that was even close to the size of the iPhone. In fact I seem to recall vendors touting ?the thinnest smartphone? or ?smartphone with LTE? but never the two in the same package. I think the tech is just too new for that. Maybe Apple can get ahead of the curve in terms of size and power efficiency but I tend to look at Apple as investing in the right R&D not having any special magic so I?d say that Apple having a phone the size of the iPhone 4 with LTE without any loss in usage is pretty slim.



    Quote:

    I think a larger iPhone option at the same resolution as the iPhone 4 would be a great option that would sell well. I see no demand for a smaller phone, just cheaper.



    It would still require an update to the SDK to idealize the UI elements for the new size. the resolution staying the same is but one obstacle.
  • Reply 20 of 32
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post


    As for screen sizes, 1) different size does not mean different resolution 2) resolution differences are not a huge obstacle for competent developers.



    So lets say Apple makes a smaller iPhone with the same resolution as the current iPhone.



    All the text gets smaller. Can people still read it? All the controls get smaller. Can people still use them? All the graphics get smaller. Can people still see the details they need to see? For some apps, these types of things won't matter much, just zoom in. But for things like games it could easily make the game unplayable.



    Just saying "Giving people more variety is better" isn't really true. By that logic, 100 screen sizes would be better than 3. The question that needs to be answered is why a different screen size would be better.



    When the iPad came out it had a new screen size that iOS developers had to support. But no one complained, in fact developers drooled over it. The larger screen opened up lots of new possibilities for the device. So if clear reasons can be shown why iPhones with various screen sizes make sense, developers will support it.



    But doing it just to do it isn't good for developers or consumers.
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