Just a little more than three years ago, I suggested the possibility that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), while still a viable consumer technology company, was no longer anything special. It was a notion that invited — shall we call them — colorful disagreements with AAPL stock investors?
And as it turns out, those fans and followers had the last laugh. Since then — perhaps only to prove yours truly is anything but infallible — AAPL stock has more than doubled in value.
Given the most recent wave of headlines, though, I can’t help but wonder if it was my timing, not my theory, that was off.
No Longer #1 … Anywhere
Laptop magazine last week posted its annual rankings of laptop brands based on design, value, support, innovation, warranty and owner reviews. It’s a contest Apple’s Mac brand has won every year since 2010, until this year, when it dropped back to fifth place … out of 10. The publication still likes MacBooks, but warned that “you’ll need a pile of money and a bagful of dongles.”
OK. One bad year isn’t the end of the world; perhaps the reviewers at Laptop magazine were in a bad mood.
Thing is, it’s not just the fall from grace at an industry publication that calls into question whether or not Apple still has its magic. Around the same time, JD Power posted its 2017 tablet owners satisfaction survey. The iPad wasn’t at the top of that list either. The Surface, from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), edged it out.
There are also some things suspiciously missing from the most recent iteration of Apple’s iPhone.
Though most virtual reality apps seem to work on the device, the iPhone doesn’t officially support VR, whereas the Pixel phone from Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) does. It’s not even certain the upcoming iPhone will have AR capabilities. And, the buzz is, the iPhone 8 won’t have a 3D sensing system either, yet other smartphones in the works will.
Apple can add or not add any features it wants to its phones. There was a time, however, when Apple was the standard-bearer that other players copied.
Fans and owners of AAPL stock will be quick to point out that the recently-unveiled iPhone 7, against the odds, was the most successful iPhone ever, with a record-breaking 78.3 million units sold in the December quarter. That was huge, but short-lived. Per TrendForce’s latest look, despite the exploding Galaxy 7 debacle, Samsung Electronic (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) sold more smartphones in the first quarter than Apple did… a lot more. Samsung claimed 26.1% of the market last quarter versus Apple’s 16.9%.
That’s not entirely surprising, given that many of Apple’s fans want the new iPhone as soon as it’s available. But that’s a rather wide swing in a short period of time.
But Apple at least won some new market share on the computer front last quarter, selling 4.22 million Macs compared to 4.03 million in the first quarter of 2016. Fair point.