What Lies In Store For Apple, Inc. In The Near Future?

Over the past few decades, Apple, Inc. has developed from a fringe-worthy computer concern into a truly iconic American brand.

One with a rather diverse product line. And more than a few striking neighborhood retail stores.

In fact, you might say Apple, Inc. has become as American as…

You might even say that the Cupertino, California-based brand has reached far beyond the boundaries of America to blossom into an international and global titan. In fact, consulting company Interbrand crowned Apple as the world’s most valuable brand late last year (with nearby Google clocking in at No. 2).

This is obviously an incredible accomplishment for any company. It’s especially impressive for one that got its start in a modest Silicon Valley garage in 1976.

But in the roughly two-and-a-half years since the death of deeply driven and endlessly innovative Apple co-founder/CEO/chairman/love machine Steve Jobs, many observers and analysts have been licking their chops and sharpening their knives with an eye towards sticking a fork in Apple.

Yes, they say, Apple gave us game-changing and ever-present devices like the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

And maybe, before too long, iBeacon. Especially if Virgin Atlantic has anything to say about The Future.

But that was then. This is now.

They ask what Apple has really done for any of us lately, and once you pause to really ponder their question, it’s hard not to give it at least SOME merit and consideration.

Here at the official blog of Amplitude Digital, we’ve taken a previous look at this issue – and pointed out that despite the many naysayers and doomsday prophets just waiting to circle a hollowed- and dried-out Apple, a long look at Key Performance Indicators like sales and market shares suggest that Apple is doing just fine today, thank you very much.

Of course, that was then (right around half a year ago now, to be exact). And this…well, you get the point.

Recently, a post in “digitally native news outlet” Quartz rebooted the chorus calling for Apple’s impending decay, declaring that “Apple has stopped growing” and citing iPhone sales that “are expected to be flat” along with “soft demand” for iPads to justify this bold claim.

Quartz also opined that Apple is now essentially “a phone company,” cleverly stating it “might as well be the iPhone company,” since ridiculously robust iPhone sales figures now account for more than half of Apple’s overall revenue.

Of course, when you move the sheer volume of smartphones that Apple keeps selling thanks to its ubiquitous and rockin’ iPhone 5, being merely “a phone company” doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. At least not in the short run.

A recent CNNMoney reportApple 2.0 blog claims Apple sold an astounding number of new iPhones in the second quarter of 2014 – anywhere from 34.05 million to 42.5 million iPhones, depending on estimates and estimators. Of course, this is the same iPhone 5 that famously sold 9 million units worldwide in its first weekend on the market, so its success should come as no real surprise.

Apple itself claimed to have sold 43 iPhones during the quarter on an earnings call after the markets closed for business on Wednesday, April 23. No official word whether or not that call was made using an iPhone.

Those sales figures were certainly boosted by bustling China, where Apple recently closed a deal with massive China Mobile – the world’s largest mobile phone company with an estimated 760 million subscribers. The iPhone 5S and 5C officially hit the market in China on January 17, and Apple claimed in its second-quarter earnings call that it increased iPhone sales in China by 28 percent – gaining valuable market share and earning nearly $10 billion in China. China boasts the world’s largest population at more than 1.35 billion people, with more than 1 billion registering as mobile phone subscribers.

When it comes to iPad sales, however, there’s no doubt that last quarter’s sales fell well short of analysts’ expectations. And ended up far from Gigantic. Or even Big.

Apple sold 16.35 million iPads during the second quarter, a far cry from the 19 million or so units analysts had predicted. And it seems fairly obvious now that Apple’s iPad businesses has stagnated, if not “flatlined,” as some have claimed. In fact, growth was negative for last quarter

But not so fast, said current Apple CEO Tim Cook on the company’s earnings call. Don’t rule the iPad to be iDead just yet.

Cook called the iPad the fastest-growing product in Apple’s proud history, saying the company has sold 210 million of its tablet computers so far – or almost twice as many iPhones Apple sold over the same initial period of time.

Cook also cited the power and pull of the iPad in the enterprise marked, citing one study that claimed an astounding 91% of tablets active in enterprise markets are iPads. And according to Cook, the education market is even further enthralled and schooled by Apple, with its iPad holding a top-of-the-class 95% market share.

Cook remains confidently and optimistically bullish on the future of the iPad, insisting “the tablet market will surpass the PC market.”

Finally, there’s the curious case of Apple TV.

Retailing for just $99, the Apple TV box lets users play 1080p HD videos from iTunes, Netflix, Vimeo and Hulu Plus, experience music and photos from iCloud, and use AirPlay to stream from their iOS devices – all to their existing widescreen HD television setup. Apple’s iTunes marketplace currently offers thousands of current and classic TV shows and movies.

On that aforementioned quarterly earnings call, Cook claimed that Apple has now sold 20 million Apple TV boxes – with 10 million of those sales coming in the first few months of 2014. He also said that Apple TV brought the company a cool $1 billion in revenue in 2013, leading to more aggressive and confident goals and aspirations for Apple TV moving forward.

“I’m feeling good about this business and where it could go,” Cook said of Apple TV on the call. “We’ve got a pretty large installed base there.”

And while it’s not going to break the bank as far as a company of Apple’s size is concerned, winning money from a competitor never hurts. And Apple recently celebrated just such a victory – collecting $119.6 million from Samsung, who was ruled to have infringed on a pair of Apple patents.

What do YOU think about where Apple stands as we approach the midpoint of 2014? Is large-scale innovation largely a thing of the past for this historically inventive and engaging brand? Is it basically “just a phone company” today? Will more people tune into Apple TV when they’re not tuning up their iPhones?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Let us know in the comments section below.

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