Apple ended last year with a fury of new products — the iPhone 5, the iPad Mini, a new MacBook with a Retina screen, new iPods, an updated iPad, and redesigned iMacs.
As a result, it’s starting this year a complete and utter lack of news or new products.
In that void of Apple-controlled news, the press has turned sour on Apple. With the stock sagging, this isn’t terribly stunning, or even undeserved.
In retrospect, it looks like Apple should have held off on releasing new iMacs. If it had not released new iMacs last fall, it would have helped Apple in two different ways. Its earnings could have been better, and it could have held an event in February or March where it could brag about how awesome it’s doing.
When Apple reported earnings, it missed analyst revenue estimates by $80 million. It also missed Mac sales by 900,000 units.
Apple’s average selling price for a Mac was $1,359 last quarter. If Apple had met analyst expectations on the Mac business, it would have crushed revenue estimates. The Mac business would have added $1.23 billion in revenue.
Yes, everyone would still focus on the iPhone miss, but the revenue crush would have helped soften the blow. (Also, we assume EPS would have been stronger, as well.)
Mac sales were light in the quarter because Apple didn’t start selling the new iMacs until November 30. And even when it did start selling iMacs, it couldn’t meet demand because the new, super slim design was hard to make.
On Apple’s earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said, “iMacs were down by 700,000 units year-over-year,” based in part on the fact that Apple started selling the iMac late in the quarter. So, it may have still missed analyst expectations, but even at 700,000 units Apple would have beat revenue estimates.
But, then, as we said there is a second, equally compelling reason to have held off on announcing iMacs last year.
Apple hasn’t announced any products thus far this year. There aren’t even strong whispers of Apple planning anything until June at the earliest.
That means Apple could go eight months without a big public product spectacle.
If Apple announced the iMac in February, it could brag about the crazy earnings numbers it posted last quarter. Instead of the narrative about Apple centering on doom, it would have a giant megaphone to talk about how incredibly healthy Apple’s business really is.
It would also have had more time to manufacture iMacs, making it easier to meet demand when the computer finally went on sale.
Presumably, there is a method to Apple’s seeming madness. Perhaps it has an event lined up sooner than June. Or maybe it wanted to just clear out all its products at the end of 2012 so it could spend 2013 focused on building the next line of products.
But, right now, in short hindsight, it looks like pushing out new iMacs at the end of the year was a mistake.
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