Thursday, 15 January 2004

Apple's last quarter 2003

Here is a summary of Apple's results (its fiscal first quarter for 2004):

Net profit of $63 million was dramatically up from a net loss of $8 million same quarter a year ago. Revenue hit a 4-year high of $2.006 billion, up 36 percent from year-ago quarter. The gross margin of 26.7 percent, though, was down from 27.6 percent in the year-ago quarter. A small profit from cashing in investments isn't enough to explain the difference.

Sales numbers look good: 829,000 Macs, up 12 percent from year-ago quarter, 733,000 iPods, up 235 percent from year-ago quarter.

My analysis: the G5 has added considerably to the bottom line. The iPod, while big, is small money per unit. It has to be seen long-term a way of selling more Macs, but the home lineup has to be made more exciting by adding G5 options and dropping the entry-level price.

As always, Apple scores when (a) they have a good high-end model (G5) and (b) they have a uniquely better-integrated solution (iPod + iTunes + music store).

That doesn't mean all is rosey.

Check out the breakdown of units sold.

Over the last quarter, PowerMac units have taken a dip -- possibly reflecting the fact that the initial G5 demand has been satisfied. But it's worrying that the iMac sector (including eMac) has dropped 24% over the last year. That's entry-level customers who may in future buy a high-end system. The big success story is the notebook line, which has almost doubled in units sold over 12 months.

I look forward to the next G5 move. I hope it finds its way down the whole range as soon as possible. Heat and power may seem to be big issues, but a slower version would be quite competitive with the G4. The iMac needs to be revived, the notebook momentum needs to be maintained, and the high-end momentum reinvigorated.

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