The 12 things we'll be looking for in Apple's earnings report
Apple is often credited with helping to launch the BYOD movement. In a post-BlackBerry world, the iPhone has become the de-facto enterprise smartphone in many sectors and organizations because it suffers from little device and OS fragmentation compared to Android devices.
The company has also been on a wild ride in the eighteen months since Steve Jobs turned the leadership of the company over to Tim Cook just weeks before he passed away. During 2012, Apple exceeded most expectations for most of the year while its stock price soared to record-setting levels.
Heading into 2013, however, Apple faces a new range of competing products in virtually every market.
- Android phones and tablets have matured quite nicely and some include serious enterprise security and integration features.
- Large screen Android handsets and phablets continue to blur the line between smartphones and tablets. They are also proving to be something that many consumers and business users appreciate because of their flexibility.
- Microsoft has brought Windows 8 and its ARM-based sibling Windows RT to market while also entering the consumer and business PC hardware market for the first time with its Surface tablets. The company also released a significantly improved version of its Windows Phone mobile OS.
- Several PC manufacturers have delivered new devices that take advantage of Windows 8's touch-first design to create devices that can serve as both tablets and full-featured notebooks, an approach that competes against both the iPad and the Mac.
- Amazon has solidified the foothold that it gained in the tablet market with the introduction of a broader range of Kindle Fire devices and back-end services that are designed to compete with the iPad head-on in education and that have real potential in business as well.
All of these factors are looming alongside reports that Apple has been cutting its demand for iPad and iPhone components from its suppliers, most notably touch screens for the devices. The potential reasons that have put forth for the cuts include overestimating demand for the iPhone 5, preparing to launch a successor to the iPhone 5, plans to introduce a second low-end iPhone for developing markets, adjustments in component suppliers and the supply chain, the iPad mini is canabalizing sales of other iPads (and possibly iPhones), competition from a range of low-end Android handsets in China and other emerging markets, and the overall sense that Apple has ceased to provide major innovations in the recent release of iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 and is falling behind in the mobile market as a result.
The truth is that while there is enough information to speculate about Apple's overall health as a company, its immediate and long-term plans, and the place for its products in the workplace going forward, there simply isn't enough hard data to come to a solid conclusion. That said, we will get some hard data when the company holds its quarterly financials call tomorrow afternoon.
Here are some of the numbers that will be significant to judging Apple's overall place as a key player in the consumerized IT and enterprise mobile markets (both the growing BYOD market and the traditional company-owned space).
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