Apple iPhone A Wrong Number? No Way!
Apple Inc. unveils a complete redesign of the iPod Nano: the new iPod "Touch" with Wi-Fi, a long-awaited 160 gig iPod "Classic," what promises to be a lucrative partnership with Starbucks . But the headline that torpedoes Apple shares: the $200 iPhone price cut just two months after unveiling what became known as the "Jesus Phone."
Does that mean the company is scrambling to turn this goat of a product into a hero? That the iPhone somehow, in some way, is not the cyberworld 'Second Coming' we all thought it would be? That Apple's momentum has suddenly reversed course and that investors have begun some kind of wholesale retreat? That Steve Jobs has lost his magic? His touch? That the company is destined for a sticky swamp of red ink? You've got to be kidding.
From Bear Stearns: "We think investors should recall that the high price of the iPhone was an initial source of concern. Moreover, we believe pricing is going to spur volume."
UBS: "The iPhone price cut could be negative near-term, we believe unit demand will be stimulated and the jury is still out."
Deutsche Bank: "We expect the lower price point to drive incremental iPhone demand as it now addresses a larger portion of the handset market and benefits from demand elasticity."
Piper Jaffray: "We do not believe the price cut is an indication that iPhone adoption is slow; rather, a reflection on Apple's desire to be a legitimate player in the mobile handset market..."
RBC Capital: "It broadens iPhone's addressable market....Strengthens iPhone's competitive position....It may drive an upgrade cycle."
Morgan Stanley: "We view it as a positive move to stimulate holiday demand in a high volume, high margin segment of the business."
CSFB: "Ultimately, a more competitively priced iPhone will drive greater share gains and unit growth, but near-term implications for cash flows are disappointing."
Lehman: "The impact of the price cut is relatively small relative to overall Apple revenue streams."
And that beat goes on. When I sat down with Steve Jobs after the Apple event concluded, I asked him point blank whether the company was satisfied or disappointed with iPhone's early performance. The data, he told me, speaks for itself: The facts are that Apple is on track to sell its millionth iPhone by the end of this month; and iSuppli reported earlier this week that iPhone outsold all smart phones in the U.S. during July, accounting for nearly 2% of all mobile-handset unit sales to U.S. consumers during July.
And Jobs tells me that buyers are happier with the iPhone than any other Apple product the company has ever sold: "We're really happy. We're happy about two things: We sold them right on track to what we thought we would, and we were pretty optimistic. But secondly, and maybe even more so, the surveys, we do a lot of research and a lot of third parties have done some: The customers who bought iPhones are off-the-charts happy with them. I mean, it's over 90% are super-satisfied with them; 85% would recommend them to their friends and family. I mean, you don't see numbers like this on very many products."
Which is saying something since Apple enjoys what are probably the most loyal, fanatic customer base you can possibly imagine. So, is iPhone a failure? The shorts on Wall Street might try their damndest to get that point across. But no matter how loudly they shout, they simply cannot drown out the facts. And these financial facts, anecdotally and otherwise, tell a compelling story that should not be ignored. Look, Apple shares jumped 12% in the week between the company's announcement of an upcoming "special event" and the special event itself. You'd expect a pull back of some kind. "Sell on the news?"
But don't be fooled. If the pull-back is on iPhone pricing alone, it seems premature. Is iPhone a failure? My simple analysis: Nope.
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