AAPL » Topics » The market for personal computers and related peripherals and services, digital music devices and related services, and mobile phones, is highly competitive. If the Company is unable to effectively compete in these markets, its results of operations could

This excerpt taken from the AAPL 10-Q filed Feb 2, 2007.
The market for personal computers and related peripherals and services, digital music devices and related services, and mobile phones, is highly competitive. If the Company is unable to effectively compete in these markets, its results of operations could be adversely affected.

The personal computer industry is highly competitive and is characterized by aggressive pricing practices, downward pressure on gross margins, frequent introduction of new products, short product life cycles, evolving industry standards, continual improvement in product price/performance characteristics, rapid adoption of technological and product advancements by competitors, price sensitivity on the part of consumers, and a large number of competitors. Price competition in the market for personal computers and related peripherals has been particularly intense as competitors who sell Windows and Linux based personal computers have aggressively cut prices and lowered their product margins for personal computing products. The Company’s results of operations and financial condition have been, and in the future may continue to be, adversely affected by these and other industry-wide pricing pressures and downward pressures on gross margins.

The personal computer industry has also been characterized by rapid technological advances in software functionality, hardware performance, and features based on existing or emerging industry standards.  Further, as the personal computer industry and its customers place more reliance on the Internet, an increasing number of Internet devices that are smaller and simpler than traditional personal computers may compete for market share with the Company’s existing products.  Several competitors of the Company have targeted certain of the Company’s key market segments, including consumer, education, professional and consumer digital video editing, and design and publishing. Several of the Company’s competitors have introduced digital music products and/or online stores offering digital music distribution that mimic many of the unique design, technical features, and solutions of the Company’s products. The Company has a significant number of competitors, many of whom have broader product lines and larger installed customer bases than those of the Company. Additionally, there has been a trend towards consolidation in the personal computer industry that has resulted in larger and potentially stronger competitors in the Company’s markets.

The Company is currently the only maker of hardware using the Mac OS. The Mac OS has a minority market share in the personal computer market, which is dominated by makers of computers utilizing competing operating systems, including Windows and Linux. The Company’s future operating results and financial condition are substantially dependent on its ability to continue to develop improvements to the Macintosh platform to maintain perceived design and functional advantages over competing platforms.  Additionally, if unauthorized copies of the Mac OS are used on other companies’ hardware products and result in decreased demand for the Company’s hardware products, the Company’s results of operations may be adversely affected.

The Company is currently focused on market opportunities related to digital music distribution and related consumer electronic devices, including iPods. The Company faces significant competition from other companies promoting


their own digital music products including MP3 players, music enabled cell phones, free peer-to-peer music and video services, and free streaming of digital content via the Internet. These competitors include both new entrants with different market approaches, such as subscription services models, and also larger companies that may have significant technical, marketing, distribution, and other resources, as well as established hardware, software, and digital content supplier relationships. Failure to effectively compete could negatively affect the Company’s operating results and financial position.  The Company expects competition in this space to intensify as competitors attempt to imitate the Company’s approach to tightly integrating these components within their individual offerings or work more collaboratively with each other to offer solutions that are more integrated than those they offer currently. Some of these current and potential competitors have substantial resources and may be able to provide such products and services at little or no profit or even at a loss to compete with the Company’s offerings.  There can be no assurance the Company will be able to continue to provide products and services that effectively compete in these markets.  The Company may also have to respond to price competition by lowering prices and/or increasing features which could adversely affect the Company’s music product gross margins as well as overall Company gross margins.

With the public demonstration of the iPhone in January 2007, the Company has announced its plan to compete with mobile communication device companies.  This is a highly competitive market, and the Company may not be able to compete successfully.  This market has aggressive pricing practices, frequent product introductions, evolving technologies, rapid adoption of technological and product advancements by competitors, price sensitivity on the part of consumers, and a large number of competitors with substantial experience and technological and financial resources. The Company’s operating results and financial condition may be adversely affected should it be unable to effectively compete in this market.

The Company also faces significant competition in the U.S. education market. U.S. elementary and secondary schools, as well as college and university customers, remain a core market for the Company. In an effort to gain market share and remain competitive, the Company will continue to pursue one-to-one (“1:1”) learning solutions in education.  1:1 learning solutions typically consist of a portable computer for every student and teacher along with the installation of a wireless networkThese 1:1 learning solutions and other strategic sales are generally priced more aggressively and could result in significantly less profitability or financial losses, particularly for larger deals. Although the Company believes it has taken certain steps to strengthen its position in the education market, there can be no assurance that the Company will be able to increase or maintain its share of the education market or execute profitably on large strategic arrangements. Failure to do so may have an adverse impact on the Company’s operating results and financial condition.

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