Maybe the long lines at Apple Stores and the fabulous financials and high stock price are a last gasp before the company fades away as a resident of one of history’s many footnotes, but I suspect Apple is on to something not easily identified by critics.
How so? Last quarter, leading up to the iPhone X launch, Apple sold an enormous amount of old iPhone models, as well as more Macs and iPads than expected. Apple Stores are packed, the stock price is flirting with heavenly forces, and despite both tablet and traditional PC industries suffering from a nasty downward trend, Apple has figured out a way to sell more Macs and iPads.
Apple is on a roll to sell more than 40-million iPads a year and more than 20-million Macs. Despite nothing new and earth shattering in either category, customers love both lines.
Who is buying all those Macs and iPads?
After all, nearly every gadget manufacturer has similar models which are half the price or less. Unlike the Mac, the iPad line has a split personality. The iPad Pro infringes upon the Mac with capability at a higher price, but the basic iPad itself is no slouch and seemingly attractive at a $369 starting price tag. The iPad’s average selling price went up this quarter, now at $468, but this is also the back-to-school quarter so undoubtedly there is seasonal influence in there.
Apple sells more than four times the number of iPhones vs. iPads, and at a higher average selling price.
What about the Mac?
Apple sells about eight times the number of iPhones vs. Macs, but the Mac comes in with a higher average selling price of more than $1,330. Yet, despite competitors with similar hardware at half the price, the Mac’s sales were up 25-percent from last quarter, and more than 10-percent from a year ago.
Who’s buying all those Macs and iPads? School kids? Yes, back-to-school is a factor, but it was last year, too. It is every year. So, why are both Macs and iPads still cruising along with sales in rarified air while similar products from competitors sell southward?
What does Apple know about the tablet and notebook marketplace that competitors do not?
We Apple customers-cum-critics like to think we understand the market as well as the executives inhabiting One Infinite Loop (or, whatever the address is of that spaceship headquarters building down the street in Cupertino) but it should be apparent we do not.
The future isn’t about mobile devices. The present is about mobile devices and more than 80-percent of all Macs are notebooks, iPads are even more mobile, and iPhones and Watch models are the ultimate mobile devices. We critics groan and moan and complain about the lack of upgrades in iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac mini, but the numbers indicate not many customers are buying such models (iPad still sells twice as many as Macs each quarter).
The post-PC era is here. Less is more. Small is beautiful. And devices which require separate screens, keyboards, and mouse vs. touchscreens are just not being bought in numbers they were a decade ago.
We Mac users may want more choices, more frequent product refreshes, and improved hardware, but customer math says mobile devices are where the action is.