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AAPL Up Amidst A Falling Market
Markets are extending losses amidst continued Libya unrest, with oil rising to two-year highs of $96/barrel. Shares of AAPL are going against the grain, up ~$2 versus a down tech tape. Upcoming catalysts for the stock include news regarding Steve Jobs‘ healthy return; the launch of the next generation iPad next week (see below); monthly NPD data to gauge Mac / iPod businesses (see below); iPhone sales updates on new carrier Verizon as well as the launch of the iPhone 5 anticipated this summer; new revenue streams such as video, books and social (Ping); moving iTunes into the cloud; and the continued evolution and adoption of Apple TV. Shares of Apple trade at 13x Enterprise Value / Trailing Twelve Months Free Cash Flow (incl. long-term marketable securities).
Apple’s Super Secret Meeting To Train Employees How To Sell Retail Service (MacStories)
Apple is rumoured to be holding a secret, all-hands meeting with Apple Store employees this weekend regarding a retail service called Joint Venture. The service is an extension of Apple’s current Genius Bar services that is aimed at small businesses. Currently, Apple’s Geniuses are not allowed to provide support remotely via the phone or in-person outside of Apple’s retail locations. The new service will let Geniuses provide support and basic troubleshooting over the phone. Matt Rosoff at Business Insider presumes it will be a fee-based program which is why store employees need to be trained on it.
Mac Sales On Track To At Least Meet March Quarter Expectations (Apple Insider)
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster notes that January NPD data shows Apple’s Mac U.S. sales were up 20% year-over-year in January, putting the company on track to at least meet analyst expectations of 3.6 million Mac sales during the March quarter. Currently, investors expect to see about 22% year-over-year growth this quarter and though U.S. sales were up less than that, Munster notes that Apple has seen faster international growth of the Mac platform.
iPad 2 Unveiled Next Wednesday According To Sources (All Things Digital)
Stifling rumours of product delays, Apple will hold a much-anticipated event on March 2, where the tech giant seems poised to unveil a new version of its hugely successful iPad, according to multiple sources. Analysts expect the iPad 2 to be thinner and feature an improved display, as well as front-facing camera and Facetime video chat support. Now let speculation begin surrounding whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs will appear at the event. Read more at Business Insider.
Europe Loves The iPhone (RegHardware)
Europe as a whole clearly favours iOS. Apple’s mobile operating system market share runs between 50% and 45% between January of this year and January of last year, well ahead of nearest rivals Symbian, BlackBerry and Android. It’s no surprise to see the decline in Symbian usage and the rise in Android mobile browsing, but BlackBerry usage certainly appears to have peaked, hitting 18% and then falling back. Check out more graphs at Business Insider.
Steve Jobs Clarifies That Subscriptions Are For Publishers, Not SaaS Apps (MacRumors)
Following yesterday’s concerns in regard to Apple’s new subscription and in-app purchase policy for third-party publishers and developers, Steve Jobs sent a clarification: “We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps,” confirming Apple is not planning to enforce the IAP rules against “software as a service” (SaaS) apps. Unfortunately that still leaves room for interpretation; the line can be blurry between publishers and SaaS providers according to Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at Business Insider.
Apple Looking Into Higher Quality Digital Music Files, But Why? (Various via iDygest)
Apple, alongside other digital music retailers, are trying to upgrade the sound quality of digital music files that will surpass the quality of CDs. Studio recordings are usually captured as 24-bit audio, but before the tracks are pressed to CD or made available to iTunes, they’re downgraded to 16 bits. Matt Rosoff at Business Insider dives deeper into the subject. The issue is compression. You can have small files that are easy to download and take up little space, or you can have high-quality files. You can’t have both.