Apple’s been in the news a lot lately – and there’s good reason. Let’s take a fast look at what’s been happening in Apple’s space – and towards the end of this post, I’ll bring it back to what us marketing types can learn from Apple – and clearly, there’s lots.
I am an avid stock watcher – and not afraid to admit that I own stock in this fantastic company, having bought them several months ago. Thanks to the stock’s meteoric rise, my capital had appreciated almost 40 percent prior to it dropping 13 percent over the past month, including a streak of ten losing sessions over the past twelve days. Still, I am up handsomely, and I’m far from complaining.
Pretty much every other consumer electronics’ company’s stock is in the crapper – so again, as an Apple shareholder, I’m all smiles.
Seemed as though investors had begun to question Tim Cook’s ability to live up to Steve Job’s legacy. I prefer to refer to Steve as Willy Wonka – and that’s because Steve was like Willy – a modern day, je ne sais quoi type of inventor --- and I like that.
Earlier this week, Apple released its quarterly numbers – and they were jaw-droopingly stellar. Their best ever!
"We're thrilled with sales of over 35 million iPhones and almost 12 million iPads in the March quarter," Cook said. "The new iPad is off to a great start, and across the year you're going to see a lot more of the kind of innovation that only Apple can deliver."
Well, Apple’s results of yesterday stunned all the naysayers. In a nutshell :
· $39.2 billion (U.S.) in revenue, up 59 percent from the year-ago quarter and well above average analyst expectations of $36.8 billion.
· $11.6 billion in net income - $12.30 per share — which almost doubled the $6 billion, $6.40 per share from Q2 2011.
· Gross margins surged from 41.4 percent last year to 47.4 percent thanks to lower operational and component costs. Expectations had been just below 43 percent.35.1 million iPhones sold, far ahead of the 30 million prediction on the street and 88 percent more than last year. Apple has sold 109 million of its iconic smartphones in the last year, and they now account for over 50 percent of its overall revenue.
· 11.8 million iPads sold in the quarter, a 151 percent year-over-year increase. Although this is slightly below the 12 to 13 million the street had expected, the device remains a solid contributor to the company's fortunes. Apple has now sold more than 67 million iPads since introducing the first generation device in 2010. In comparison, it took 24 years to sell the same number of Macintosh computers.
· $110 billion in cash reserves, up $12.6 billion over the previous quarter and double over last year. The company recently announced plans to begin paying dividends to shareholders.
So, what can us marketing types learn:
· To really excel, you have to look outside of your back yard – or said in business parlance “Go global”. It’s no coincidence that much of the credit for Apple’s record-breaking numbers comes from Asian-Pacific markets — and China, in particular, where Apple has been selling the latest version of the iPhone since January.
· Push the envelope as far as you can – and then push it even further. By this I mean, just when you think it is quitting time, or just when you think you’ve proofed your latest news release enough times – that’s the time to look one more time. I’m amazed at the typos I’ve found when I proofed it one more time – in other words, I pushed the envelope even further than I thought possible
· Iterate, iterate, iterate. Apple is continually iterating and tweaking and that’s why its products are the best in the world. I learned this a few years ago – and it’s very valuable in our business. The marketing novice takes a briefing and then produces a document (that sucks more often that it does not). The marketing pro takes several briefings, from different stakeholder, each with different perspectives and really engages with each before producing a document (that almost never sucks) – in other words, they’ve iterated and opposed to scribed
· Use PR well. And Apple is the master of it. They adhere to some of the tenets in which I strongly believe – and is borne out by the company’s awesome rep
o Remain quiet until you have something to say that’s meaningful
o When you say it – be enigmatic – an aura of mystery is always good and keeps the crowds coming back for me
o Spend the money to train your media spokespeople --- Apple’s execs are very polished – it shows – and that’s the way it should be. I’ve seen countless execs in front of the camera and in the spotlight that have no idea what they’re doing. The result? Lines are flubbed and fools are made
That said, know what I’m gonna do now. I’m going to the store, getting a half dozen apples, pour myself an apple-tini, sit back and ponder everything apple.
Oh, one more thing – if only Steve Jobs could see me now!