Apple Earnings Disappoint on the Eve of Windows 8 Release
Is this the coincidence of the century or a sign of things to come?
Thursday evening, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced that it was no longer the indestructible stalwart that created the MacBook, iPod and iPhone. While the company is still enormously successful (and has a ton of cash on hand), Apple showed signs of weakness as it struggled to live up to expectations.
Apple's biggest mistake may have been its decision to update the iPad (not once, but twice) this year with only minor tweaks and improvements. While many praised the newly-added Retina Display, opening weekend sales were underwhelming and overall sales were disappointing. The company recently bragged that it sold more than 100 million iPads worldwide, but that did not prevent the firm from falling short of investor expectations.
Investors might have expected too much. Even Apple is willing to admit that the future is not as bright as some had believed. According to Tej Singh, the Managing Director of Technology Research at Global Equities Research, Apple lowered guidance by a significant margin. "FY1Q'2013 [is] at $52 billion and EPS at $11.75, which is significantly lower [than] consensus at $55.15 billion and $15.59, respectively," Singh wrote in a note.
This is disappointing (if not surprising) news for a company that just unveiled a long list of new products, including the long-awaited iPad Mini.
Not surprisingly, Apple took a hit in after-hours trading Thursday evening. At the same time, thousands of consumers were lined up to get their hands on Windows 8, an operating system that promises to deliver the next revolution in personal and professional computing. At midnight, these eager consumers finally got what they wanted.
It might be nothing more than a coincidence, but one cannot help but notice the irony of this situation. Not that long ago, Apple was thought to be the future of the tech industry. It was a company that could do no wrong -- a firm that would rise above the competition and deliver an unprecedented level of value to its investors. For many months, Apple did just that. Now that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) threatened to stop Apple from conquering the industry, the Mac maker is taking a hit.
Realistically, the Windows 8 launch could not possibly be responsible for Apple's declines. The company has been headed south for quite some time. After a record-breaking 2011, Apple could not excel any longer. The same thing has happened to Nintendo (OTC: NTDOY), Sony (NYSE: SNE) and numerous other tech companies. It was inevitable that the iPhone maker would suffer the same fate.
That said, Windows 8 has been in the works for a long time. Consumers have known of its impending release for several months. So it is not crazy to think that Microsoft may have persuaded consumers to hold off on buying a Mac until after Windows 8 was released. Once they see and touch the new OS themselves, they might be persuaded to buy a Windows 8 machine instead.
It could be a few days (or weeks) before Microsoft announces any sales figures for the newest version of Windows. Until then, Apple is likely to continue disappointing investors as it attempts to build the next big thing.
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