An Android Advance, a Patent Punch and More Tablet Temblors
Apple tablet chatterers were given more to chew on with what might or might not have been an inadvertent spill courtesy of the executive editor of The New York Times. Meanwhile, the growth of the Android platform may mean more trouble for Nokia than for Apple. Incidentally, Nokia's also making trouble for Apple in the form of a large patent lawsuit.
Talk that Apple is inching ever closer to making its rumored tablet computer a reality is making the rounds. In fact, Cupertino could sell more than 2 million tablets in 2010, according to the expectations of analyst Brian Marshall.
Meanwhile, Apple should continue to gain strength in other areas with the new iMacs it introduced last week and the strength of its iTunes App Store, which now carries more than 100,000 apps.
Though it remains on a general upward trend since the summer, Apple's stock has cooled down a bit from the heights it hit last week following the company's strong Q4 fiscal report. It closed Tuesday at US$197.37, down about 2.5 percent.
Good Medicine From the Mystery Tablet
On Tuesday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Apple is trying to get Australian media companies to provide content for its supposed iTablet.
Earlier this month, Bill Keller, executive editor at The New York Times, appeared to hint at a staff meeting that the paper is developing content for an upcoming Apple tablet.
"We need to figure out the right journalistic product to deliver to mobile platforms and devices," he said. "I'm hoping we can get the newsroom more actively involved in the challenge of delivering our best journalism in the form of Times Reader, iPhone apps, WAP, or the impending Apple slate, or whatever comes after that." A video of his speech was posted in the Nieman Journalism Lab blog.
Apple, for its part, has publicly divulged zero details on what features such a tablet might offer, or even whether the company really is developing one. Even so, expectations for a tablet have been running high for months, and the gadget blog Gizmodo published a description of such a product in August based on an anonymous source who claimed to have inside info on the device. The Apple tablet looks like a large iPhone and will have a 10-inch screen, according to the article. It will come in two editions, one with a webcam and the other for educational use. The price would be between $700 and $900.
That pricing may be a bit steep for non-Mac fans. An online survey of 753 consumers on Apple tablet pricing commissioned by online consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo found that 64 percent of PC users and 32 percent of Mac users wanted to pay less than $600 for an Apple tablet.
The survey found 16 percent of PC users and 27 percent of Mac users would pay between $600 and $800 for an iTablet. More than twice as many Mac users as PC users -- 41 percent compared to 20 percent -- would pay more than $800.
Another Winner for Cupertino?
Apple will likely ship 2.2 million iTablets in 2010, according to an estimate by Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall, though he categorized that forecast as "conservative." Shipments should begin in or around March 2009, he expects.
The iTablet's sales will be between US$1 billion and $2 billion for 2010, he estimates. "I don't think it will be huge," he told MacNewsWorld. Total sales for calendar 2010 will exceed $53 billion, he said. That will be 12.8 percent higher than Marshall's estimate for calendar year 2009 sales, which he pegs at $47.2 billion.
For Cupertino, perhaps, sales of $1 billion to $2 billion don't mean much, but any other company would be happy to have a product that performs that well in the first nine months of its introduction.
Of iMacs and Apps
Last week, Apple introduced new iMacs with larger screens. Resellers reportedly expect demand for these computers to be strong.
"With compelling new products like the new Macs, I think Apple will continue its share gain in the PC market even though it's not currently playing in the fastest-growing segment, which is netbooks," Broadpoint AmTech's Marshall said. With Cupertino having about 5 percent of the global PC market, Marshall thinks it has plenty of room to grow.
Meanwhile, the iTune Apps Store, which is already the clear leader of its market, is running away from the competition. There are about 101,500 apps in the store, almost 93,000 of these are active, and there are more than 22,000 unique app publishers, all according to the tracking Web site 148apps.biz.
That puts the iPhone in a secure position, as a wide availability of apps enhance the mobile phone experience for many consumers. They are such an important factor in handset sales that wireless phone carriers, handset manufacturers and even Google and Microsoft are setting up their own app stores.
Android Phones Not a Direct Threat?
Handset manufacturers and carriers are unleashing a slew of Android phones into the market. About 50 Android phones will hit the market soon, according to the site Wiseandroid.
However, Android will mostly take market share away from Nokia's Symbian OS rather than the iPhone, according to a report from In-Stat.
"Phone makers want cheap and popular devices, so Android is a fit," Allen Nogee, a principal analyst at In-Stat, told MacNewsWorld. "They know that RIM, Microsoft and Apple will take market share if they don't unify behind one strong OS. Android works for those companies that aren't backing another OS, and there can be power in numbers."
Sales of the iPhone will remain strong, Nogee predicts. "Apple sold about 8 million iPhones in 2008 and will sell close to 32 million this year," he said. "This will more than double again in 2014 but, by then, Apple might have two or three models."
Nokia, Apple and the Courts
One new factor that could possibly impact the money Apple makes from iPhone sales is a lawsuit Nokia launched last week.
Nokia filed a complaint against Cupertino in the Federal District Court in Delaware alleging that the iPhone infringes 10 of its patents for various wireless standards. Nokia says the patents cover wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption, and it claims they are infringed by all iPhone models shipped since the device was introduced in 2007.
The lawsuit is an attempt by Nokia to slow down the iPhone's runaway market growth, contended Julien Blin, CEO and principal analyst at JBB Research. "Nokia's share of the smartphone market just took a big hit, falling from 41 percent to 35 percent," he told MacNewsWorld. "The timing might not be a coincidence at all, especially after Apple reported a great quarter."
As further proof of his suspicions, Blin pointed out reports that suggest Apple has been working with Nokia for at least 12 months to hammer out a patent agreement. "Nokia is better off dealing with its own issues rather than trying to slow down Apple, because it's unlikely to succeed," Blin added.
"The lawsuit will take years," agreed Broadpoint AmTech's Marshall. "Nokia is probably using some of Apple's patents as well, so expect a counter-suit soon."
Most importantly, the lawsuit won't impact the market. "It won't scare away investors," Marshall said. "I view it as a minor inconvenience."