Will Apple announce the same iPad?

It’s the same location, as used for both the previous iPad announcements, and it’s in the same month as last years event so maybe it’ll just be a relaunch of iPad 2!

One of the key areas for speculation and conjecture will likely be how the Novellus Theater, at the Yerba Center for the Arts (YBCA) in San Francisco, will be decked out for the occasion. We wonder whether, compared to the previous two events, there might just be a hint of austerity this time! We will try & pre-release any images which we spot before, or early on, the 7th  of March.

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Those helpful people at Phonesreview  have come up with a time schedule for the event which covers 144 worldwide locations.

Apple do not attend events such as the Mobile World Congress currently underway in Barcelona but as ever simply the announcement of their “media event” gives them the requisite quantity of column inches and or zillions of pixels!

Click again!





Just in case you didn’t get your invitation here it is!








An interesting article in the WSJ on the companies who achieved a market capitalisation of $500 billion or more.

We calculate that if Apples share price closes at over $536.26  ie up 76 cents or more then it will make it.

Apple’s #1 in Bricks and Mortar retailing

Following our recent disappointment that Apple were deemed to be ineligible as a retail brand we are today delighted to discover them dominating the 2011 Retail Chain Stores Productivity Report pdf.

“ Though they entered the retail arena just 10 years ago, Apple dominates with sales per square foot nearly double that of its closest rival and manages to crack the top 10 in all 3 lists.”

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The RetailSails report covers 178 US based chains. Apples ranking/performance is:

  • Sales – per square foot pa / 1st               $5,647
  • Sales – per store / 9th                            $44.4 million
  • Growth – year on year / 5th                     70.5%

We think this is quite staggering when one considers the context and competition. Again quoting from the report “In this report, we analyze the store productivity of 178 U.S.-based retail chains. This cross-section of retailers spans 16 sectors and collectively these companies operate over 200,000 stores with more than 4.6 billion square feet of store space, and generated over $1.5 trillion in retail store sales over the past 4 quarters.”

The Luxury goods and fashion retailers trail Apple by significant distances. In per square foot comparisons, Tiffany are in 2nd position and achieve 55% then Coach and Lululemon Athletica  are at about 32%.

Looking closer to home, probably, the greatest UK global retail success in the last decade is Burberry.  Their comparative performance (sales per square foot) was stated to be $1,570 (£1,000) about six months ago which in ranking terms would place them in 5th place and be 28% of Apples figure. In absolute terms these figures are all the more remarkable when certain chains appear to be surviving with figures of less than $100 per square  foot and some others have annual store sales of less than $500k.

Apple’s retail success was achieved under Ron Johnson’s stewardship as Senior VP of Retail. He fairly recently moved to become CEO of J C Penney who languish (comparatively) at  $146 per square foot. It will be interesting to see if he can turn them round – he has ambitious plans. Replacing him at Apple is, our very own,   ex CEO of Dixon’s,  John Browett . We think he will have his work cut out simply to maintain Apple’s existing ranking and performance although their iScreen, iVision or iTV could help!

For an in-store experience we, previously, posted a walk round  their Grand Central terminal store on its opening which is a reminder of their retailing excellence.

Update 3.15pm GMT

And for some nostalgia, this is how it all started, here’s Steve Jobs introduction to the Apple store back in 2001.

Update 7.30pm GMT

Please join us for an invitation-only event at the Yerba Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco on March 7 at 10:00 a.m. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. Please arrive early.

Selected journalists received this earlier today from Apple with a picture of part of an iPad with the words “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

More to follow from us, before the event, as speculation is rife & the share price is currently up around $7  at $533 and rising!

Larger Apple Tablet Market Share Reported

DisplaySearch  released, on Thursday of last week, the preliminary results of their Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report covering  Q4 of 2011. They have included, this time, a separate table for the Worldwide Top Five Tablet PC Shipment Rankings by Brand. Using their data we have taken the liberty of estimating (which inevitably will create, at least, some rounding discrepancies!) Other and Total tablet shipments.

They clearly state that “Apple shipments include units for sell through and inventory”  which probably, largely explains the difference between their 18.6m and Apples reported 15.4m (15,434k) as per their SEC filing. No doubt their other supplier figures are calculated on a comparable basis. The difference of over 20% is likely partially due to the rapidly expanding sales figures and also the holiday season. It is repeated in % terms (in fact exceeded) on the shipments  of Mac portables of 4.6m as against Apples reported figure 3.7m (3,719k). This inventory upside/increase can of course reverse in future quarters with shipments being less than sales.

Comparing the overall statistics with those already published by Strategy Analytics  and IHS/iSuppli  Apples market share is stated to be between  59.1% (DisplaySearch) and 56.9% (IHS/iSuppli). It also looks as if Barnes & Noble / ASUS have swapped 4th & 5th places compared to IHS/iSuppli.

As an example of how certain statistics might be interpreted we noticed the results of a UK poll recently carried out by Broadgenie  concerning tablet purchase intentions. The question & results were:

Will you buy a tablet PC in 2012?

  • Definitely not 30%
  • Already own 27.5%
  • Yes, top end 17.5%
  • Maybe 16.5%
  • Budget 8.5%

It’s an online poll, hence we guess the comparatively high number of tablet owners.


So the almost opposing statements that could be made based on these result are:

  1. Less than 1 in 10 consumers interested in buying a budget tablet PC
  2. 7 out of 10 consumers either own or probably want a tablet.

etc etc The poll seems to have moved on a bit now but we have to admit having voted, at least once, as a Budget buyer ‘cos we want a Kindle Fire!

Whilst talking about polls we are thinking of compiling an equivalent to a “Poll of polls” on tablet shipment estimates as (a) it is a comparatively new and (b) exciting market,. Our preliminary criteria would, at present, likely exclude DisplaySearch from inclusion as they have not published discrete tablet unit shipment/sale estimates/actuals by supplier for at least 2 quarters.

One of the advantages, we think, of an “estimate of estimates” (working title) publication of tablet shipments would be a referable source for historic market information.


We will report back!

Top retailers and online sales 2012

Possibly the first 2012 “top/best” list has just appeared and is from Interbrand.  It’s their Best RETAIL Brands 2012

Other country/regional listings are (alphabetically):

  • Asia Pacific    1 Woolworths  2 Uniqlo                   3 Harvey Norman
  • France           1 Carrefour       2 Auchan                 3 Leroy Merlin
  • Germany        1 Aldi              2 Edeka                  3 Lidl
  • Spain             1 Zara              2 El Corte Ingles      3 Mango
  • USA               1 Walmart        2 Target                   3 The Home Depot

The full report can be downloaded as a pdf with all the other runners riders and form. There is also a very useful web section on the research (scroll down for the interactive elements).

We found it interesting that Spain was the exception (with a fashion retailer) up top as opposed to the predictable supermarket winners in all the other countries.

Interbrands criteria for inclusion is: “ a brand must generate at least 50% of its revenues from sales through its branded retail stores and websites. For example while Apple was considered it failed to meet this requirement. In addition we limit the list to those stores and e-commerce sites that sell goods. In order to focus on traditional retail, we have excluded, restaurants, auto dealerships, service providers and gas stations.”

We of course are disappointed at Apples exclusion but we suppose if you have definitions then ….. An interesting point they make is that Walmarts revenues represent 1.7% of US GDP. We have done a very quick calculation on Apples equivalent percentage from its 2011 US sales and reckon it’s between 0.25% and 0.3%!

The only sole “e-commerce” sites we noticed were amazon.com (9 in the USA) and eBay (10 in the USA) although we suspect that virtually all of them will have, at least an online presence, and many eg Tesco will have huge and growing revenues from this source. In fact the future could see some, if not many, of their stores becoming simply distribution centres for their online activities, particularly the out-of-town (ie lower cost) ones.

We are not over keen on the e-commerce  term which presumably includes the equally disliked m-commerce ! Our preference like ComScore  (the US research organisation) is  “online sales”.

As we keep mentioning  retail online sales trends warrant much greater attention and analysis. They are the future. They already, in the UK, represent over 10% of  all retail sales (which themselves are a huge constituent of overall GDP). They are also growing, we calculate, at over 25% pa compound.

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Further confirmation of online sales comparative explosive growth comes from BDO’s High Street Sales tracker. On inspection we initially thought that non-store, which are substantially online, sales (eg other constituents are small & mail order is contracting) were the highest growth rate element of sales in 19 out of  the last 24 months. Then we saw the right hand scale which not only moves the months up to 24 (ie 100%)  but has online growth rates of over 30% in 16 out of the 24 months. None of the other sectors achieved this in any month. The highest online sales growth rate was over 50%. Non online was just over 15% on a couple of occasions.

We are sure there are difficulties, for both Government (ie the ONS) and commercial research organisations, in tracking reporting and publicising the online sales explosion but it must & will happen.

Will Apple announce a dividend today?

Apple holds its Annual Shareholder Meeting today, (6pm GMT).

The 53 page notice details resolutions etc.

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It is pretty unlikely that a future intention to make a dividend paymernt will be announced today but we suppose there’s a 5% or less chance that it just might be! In the unlikely event that an intent is announced we, along with several million others, will let you know about it!

Certain commentators would like it to happen and there has been quite a bit of mumbling about the share price and parabolics!

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Also certain concerns about its huge market value clouding the overall market.

Add these to some other current Apple topics and we detect a certain  negativity in the  press coverage almost as an attempt to compensate for the the recent over positivity!

On the anticipated iPad 3 and/or 2x announcements sometime in the first half of the year we are confident it will revert to normality.




In other news:

Tim Cook gave a presentation at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on 14 February. There’s an audio webcast on Apple’s site.  and a (unofficial) Macrumours  treanscript. Worth a read and/or listen!

Update 3.30pm GMT No dividend news yet but here’s ABC News going behind the scenes of Apple Foxconn factories in Chengdu and Shenzen in China.

Update 7.30pm GMT

Not exactly a transcript from Apple’s Shareholder meeting but a useful (originally real time) summary from CNBC

Highlights we reckon are:

  • “We get profit from selling devices…” Apple doesn’t want to make a ton of money from content, Tim Cook said.
  • On cash “My message there is that the board and the management team are thinking about this very deeply … And we will do what we think is in the best interest of shareholders.”
  • Apple has more than 360 retail stores, more than 110 million visited last quarter, Cook says.
  • Cook mentions it is the first meeting since Steve Jobs passed, “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him.” Cook thanks shareholders for their condolences, says his sadness has turned to determination.

Other commentators highlight:

  • Apple adopts majority voting. Though Apple had recommended against it, they saw it was likely to win. Apple board members all will voluntarily resign if they do not receive a majority of votes.

The meeting finished at 11.07 am approx PST (7.07pm GMT)

Have Sky Go “… finally cracked it”?

We don’t really think so but they have possibly signposted the future.

Just so we don’t confuse ourselves here are a couple of definitions from Wikipedia

SmartTVs – ie it’s the set, together with some form of internet integration. We will use it to describe future ones as well (a la Smartphones).

Internet TV  Is really the content distributed via the internet.

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Sky Go provide a simple arrangement, even if you’re not an existing contract customer, to have one of their packages on a monthly basis for your smartphone tablet & laptop. (It’s limited to iPhones & iPads at the minute but they say “Later this year we’ll also be adding Android phone and tablet devices.”) We are predicting that this will be available in the future for your smartTV.

As far as THE future smartTV is concerned we will simply quote Steve Jobs as relayed to Walter Isaacson his biographer:

“‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’

There are plenty of views propounded about what an Apple smartTV might have and Smarthouse have an up to-date summary. Best Buys fairly famously leaked. an allegedly, Apple TV survey, which included mention of the “…convenience .. (of an)… iSight camera”  We loved the name!

Bottom lining it the likely facilities in Apple’s smartTV (plus their unique Xtra excellence) will include audio (2 way) camera and intelligence.

The concept Apple TV’s we’ve seen, and like, are by the idevice mockup artist Guilherme Schasiepen, and, worth waiting for is, his 360º iTV version. There’s also the iScreen as pictured.which is by Frederico Ciccarese.

Allegedly one of the few devices Steve Jobs could live with were Bang and Olufsen ones but they have already linked up with Intel on the smartTV front so it’s unlikely that there will be any  cooperation with Apple!

So what about the content? If one extends the iTunes concept to say iStream (we liked the name but as usual .com is in use!) iPicks then Apple would “cooperate” with broadcasters/networks/cable and offer monthly streaming/broadcasting arrangements by CHANNEL (not packages) for say a range of prices eg:

  •  Free or very little (eg for Public Service Broadcasters etc)
  • $/£ 2.99 (Basic channels eg ITV1,2,3,4  Sky News etc)
  • $/£ 4.99 (Premium channels eg Sky sports 1,2,  Sky Movies Premiere, Showcase etc)

We repeat that charging is per CHANNEL (a la iTunes you only select the one you want to watch/receive).

In addition there would be a simple pay per view facility that could also include elements from a channel eg a Grand Slam or X Factor final.

Apple would of course retain a little margin from the iStream (we must think up a better name!) iPicks revenues and all customer details etc etc!

So we think Sky Go are moving in the right direction!

Update 23 February Forget iStream, we rather like today’s concept of iPicks which we shall use until, ahem, it’s superseded!

Kindle Fire shipments 2011 – 2 to 6 million! – amazon confirm they “sold millions”

IHS iSuppli published their research on quarter 4 tablet shipments last week. They estimate Kindle Fires at 3.9 million which is lower than certain other estimates including one analyst who has them as high as 6 million.

Amazon themselves have only come out in press releases/holiday facts/results announcements with global statements such as:

  • November 28 2011 -  “Even before the busy holiday shopping weekend, we’d already sold millions of the new Kindle family and Kindle Fire was the bestselling product across all of Amazon.com. Black Friday was the best ever for the Kindle family – customers purchased 4X as many Kindle devices as they did last Black Friday – and last year was a great year”
  • December 15 2011 -  “Kindle Fire is the most successful product we’ve ever launched – it’s the bestselling product across all of Amazon for 11 straight weeks, we’ve already sold millions of units, and we’re building millions more to meet the high demand. In fact, demand is accelerating – Kindle Fire sales increased week over week for each of the past three weeks.”
  • December 29 2011 -   “Throughout December, customers purchased well over 1 million Kindle devices per week.  The new Kindle family held the top three spots on the Amazon.com best seller charts – #1: Kindle Fire, #2: Kindle Touch, #3: Kindle.”
  • January 31 2012 -  “During the nine-week holiday period ending December 31, 2011, Kindle unit sales, including both the Kindle Fire and e-reader devices, increased 177% over the same period last year.”

So that looks like a rather complex equation to us, and to date no solution has been found, but we may persevere! The minimum is “millions” ie 2. Our guess remains at 4.0 – 4.5 million.

In iSuppli’s press release they reckon Apple was competing with itself ie iPad2 v’s iPhone 4S. The same could be said of amazon’s Kindles with the Fire, and the Touch/ basic Kindle.

Whilst we’re sure some cannibalising takes place we think it’s likely pretty limited on the Apple front. Once we can get hold of a Kindle Fire we’ll let you know whether we’ve thrown away our other Kindle!

As for the future stories abound about Apple making a smaller screened iPad   and amazon making a larger screened Kindle Fire! We shall see!

Update 2.30pm Quarter 1 2012 shipments

Digitimes research reckon 15 million units may ship in the quarter with 11mn iPads, 1.5mn Kindle Fires, 0.3mn Nooks   and the rest 2.2mn.

Underlying our guess of 150mn for the year was 16mn in the quarter but with far less iPad’s & many more Kindle Fires and others.

It amuses us that it appears  that Foxconn  may be making all three of the leading tablet devices. At least Apple should have a good handle on their competition!

Update (2)  5.00pm GMT $199 NOOK tablet announced

Barnes & Noble  have just announced their $199 Nook tablet it has 8GB v’s 16GB on their previous offering which had a $249 price tag. This may hot up the tablet wars! Nooks like Kindle Fires are currently not available in the UK.

B & N also announced their results for the quarter to 28 January which missed analysts expectations. Their shares (BKS) are virtually unchanged at present but drifting lower. Amazon (AMZN) are down just under $1 (0.5% ish). In other news Apple (AAPL) shares are up 2.25% currently standing at $513.


Chinese iPad Proview

Apple are having a bit of a trademark spat in China!

The iPAD (“Internet Personal Access Device) is the one on the left! We knew it reminded us of something!

The blurb says “The iPAD of development constructs on the dream of technology founded human spirit. To make use of advance serial products, people can explore the infinite imagination of virtual reality. It is the strong leading trend and nobody can resist the charming of iPAD. The effect on iPAD is over-whelming in the human history. The real internet PC life just started and already indispensable exist in our life.”

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Proview have certainly got an i & even had a range of i Family products:

  • iPAD
  •  iSystem
  •  iTerminal
  •  iWeb,
  • iNote
  •  iPDA
  •  iDVD and
  •  iClient


They don’t though seem to have really comprehended the Think different axiom!


Record January Internet sales – up by 39%

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS)  have just published the monthly retail sales figures for January (pdf).

The overall figures surprised most commentators by their strength and were well ahead of estimates.  Health warnings concerning their monthly volatility abound. On balance it is good economic news!

January’s Internet figures are astounding and well ahead of our estimate of £555 million. They reached £640.4 million per week.

The ONS say:

  • “Internet sales -In January 2012 the non-seasonally adjusted average weekly sales value of Internet retail sales was estimated at £640.4 million (a week) which was approximately 11.9 per cent of all retail sales (excluding automotive fuel). In January 2011 non-seasonally adjusted average weekly sales value of Internet retail sales was £462.1 million which was approximately 8.9 per cent of retail sales (excluding automotive fuel).”

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That’s a 39% increase on January last year. The year on year figure for the 12 months ended January 2012 v’s 2011 is + 22%. The moving annual total, which we are now  reporting, moved up again (it has increased EVERY MONTH since January 2008) to an all time high of £27.72bn an increase in the month of 2.6% annualised 32% This is above the long term compound average growth rate of 28%.

Our forecast for February taking account of the possibly exceptional January figures is around £470 million a week with the 12 month moving average increasing to possibly £28,5bn.

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We have also added an experimental graph (e & o e!) showing the relative internet and non-internet, moving annual total, sales from 2008 by month. We are not retail experts/analysts but we sort of think this highlights (if reasonably accurate) an “elephant in the room” scenario or possibly “a dinosaur on the high street” one! Bricks and mortar sales are going nowhere whereas internet sales are growing at over 25% per annum. So the prerequisite for success on the high street is  exceptional retailing as practiced by eg Apple, Burberry, and no doubt some others, especially in these challenging times.

ONS words – “The experimental Internet Sales estimates include sales made over the internet by all retailers that is they include on-line sales from supermarkets, department stores, clothing stores and predominantly non-store retailers.”

Our words – the statistics understandably get revised each month and Decembers % Internet sales has been revised down to 10.2% from 10.9%. We revise our data in line with the ONS. Further details and explanations are either in the ONS release on the statistics or on their website. As previously mentioned a retail convention of a 4, 4, 5 week quarter is used by the ONS. To cater for the inconvenience of years not having 364 days every 6 years or so an extra week is included in the statistics. The ONS adds this in January and the last one was in 2008 which explains the exceptional figure of £1.2bn which would otherwise ave been £1bn!

Apple pips Samsung say Gartner

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Possibly the last major research organisation to publish sales/unit shipments for smartphones for 2011, we think, have probably got it right as between Apple and Samsung.

We have been banging on  about it being “too close to call” in quarter 4 on the basis of our (very rough) estimate of Apples October-December sales of 36,106 thousand units and Samsungs 36 – 36.5 million reported by IDC Canalys iSuppli et al.

Gartner in their press release quote  Roberta Cozza, one of their principal research analysts, saying “Samsung profited from strong smartphone sales of 34 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011.” They have a precise figure in table 3 for Apple sales units of 35,456 thousands.

So that is fairly decisive with Apple being over 1m units above Samsung.

We’ve included their mobile sales tables for completeness which show significantly higher units (some 14%) than IDC’s. This may partially be due to definitional reasons ie Vendor unit shipments (which are branded shipments and excluding OEM sales for all vendors) for IDC v’s Device sales to end users per Gartner