Apple will announce quarterly earnings on Jan. 25, followed by the likely debut of a tablet PC in a San Francisco presentation on Jan. 27. Analysts predict that Apple's quarterly earnings will rise yet again, buoyed by strong Mac sales, but questions remain about how an Apple tablet would affect the company's future revenue. A new survey suggests that potential buyers would shy away from a tablet if the price is above $700 or if the mobile device forces them to purchase a new data plan.
Apple has a big week ahead of it: Not only is the company's long-rumored
tablet PC expected to make its debut during a San
Francisco presentation on Jan. 27, but it will also
announce quarterly earnings on Jan. 25.
Despite the economic recession dragging down revenue for a number of tech
companies, Apple has managed to consistently outperform estimates for 2009. Reuters
quoted StarMine's SmartEstimate
as predicting that Apple will post revenue
of $12.16 billion for this past quarter.
Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer previously estimated that the company
would earn $11.3 billion
in the quarter. However, Apple has traditionally
been conservative in its estimates, despite continued strength in iPhone and
Mac sales. In the previous quarter it moved 3.05 million Macs, a 17 percent
year-over-year rise, and 7.4 million iPhones, a 7 percent increase from the
same quarter in 2008.
As worldwide PC shipments increased by 22.1 percent in the fourth quarter of
found its overall position in the United States slip one place to fifth,
Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Toshiba. That data comes from research company
Gartner, which also suggested that Apple saw its Mac sales rise 7.5 percent for
Apple's revenue in 2010 could be drastically affected by sales of a tablet
PC, which current rumors suggest will be offered for sale beginning at some
point between March and June. Although Apple has routinely refused to comment
on whether it has a tablet currently in development, months of rumors have
suggested that the multitouch device will serve as a portable media player,
delivering content ranging from e-books to television shows.
a look at the Apple tablet's competitors, click here.
Also anticipated are partnerships between Apple and various
publishers over content for the device. The Wall Street Journal reported on
Jan. 18 that HarperCollins Publishers has been negotiating with Apple to make
e-books available on the tablet, quoting unnamed sources supposedly close to
the negotiations. The newspaper also suggested that other publishers, including
Conde Nast Publications and News Corp., were engaged in some level of
discussion with Apple.
Analysts have been conjecturing freely for months about the possible
design of an Apple tablet.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster made a number
of pronouncements on that front in 2009, noting at various points that the
tablet could be based off the iPhone OS, with applications designed for a
larger screen, or else a modified version of Mac OS X. Oppenheimer & Co.
financial analyst Yair Reiner suggested in a Dec. 8 research note that an Apple
tablet would be released in late March or April and would have a 10.1-inch
touch screen. However, a source suggested to Boy Genius Report on Dec. 23 that
the tablet would have a 7-inch screen.
Despite all the hype, a tablet would carry some marketplace risks for Apple.
In a survey of 500 randomly selected users, online electronics marketplace
Retrevo found that 70 percent of respondents thought a tablet priced at $700
and above would be out of their price range. Another 44 percent said a monthly
data plan requirement would stop them from purchasing a tablet.
According to the rumor mill, Apple's tablet could be priced anywhere from
$600 to $1,000.
During a July 2009 earnings call, Peter Oppenheimer noted a sales decline in
traditional iPods, a phenomenon he attributed to a natural cannibalization of
that device's market by the iPod Touch and the iPhone line. It remains to be
seen whether an Apple tablet would cannibalize the market for other Apple