Apple, the latest entry, did not miss the 5G opportunity: Cook’s environmental abacus crackles

Wow, What an amazing Day! So fast, it’s time for Apple to introduce new products. Uncle Cook still smiled and came out to greet the fans. He has been in a pretty good mood recently. Although the epidemic has affected the pace of Apple’s research and development and hit Apple’s sales performance, it has not prevented Apple’s stock price from continuing to soar in the unlimited US stock market.

Apple, the latest entry, did not miss the 5G opportunity: Cook's environmental abacus crackles 1

It has been nine years since Jobs succeeded. Although Cook does not have the appeal and creativity of his predecessor, he has achieved greater commercial success.

In the past nine years, Cook has led Apple to become the first listed company with a market value of over 1 trillion and 2 trillion US dollars. His own personal wealth also exceeded 1 billion US dollars this year, creating a wealth creation legend for a professional manager (non-founder and early founding employee). Cook comes from Alabama in the southern United States. His parents are shipyard workers and pharmacy employees. His road of struggle is also quite inspirational.

The topic returns to Apple’s new products. It seems that Cook is quite satisfied with the effect of the online conference. Health and environmental protection, you can also add special effects, which can introduce new product features more prominently. Apple has its own top-level traffic, whether there are offline press conferences, the media is eager to report. At last month’s Apple Mobile Watch conference, the number of viewers on YouTube alone exceeded 1.5 million, which did not include the official website and viewers in the Chinese market. If there is no surprise, Apple will have another online press conference next month to introduce new Mac products of its own A series chips.

Today, Apple released four mobile phones of the iPhone 12 series: iPhone 12 Mini with 5.4-inch screen, iPhone 12 with 6.1-inch screen, iPhone 12 Pro with 6.1-inch screen, iPhone 12 Pro Max with 6.7-inch screen, with prices ranging from US$649 to It ranges from US$1,099 (domestic 5499 yuan to 9299 yuan). In addition, Apple also released the HomePod Mini, a mini smart speaker priced at 99 US dollars (749 yuan in China). The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro will be available for pre-sale this week and will be available next week; the Mini and Pro Max will be available for pre-sale in mid-November and will be available at the end of November. HomePod Mini will also be available in mid-November.

The entire iPhone 12 series use a 5-nanometer process A14 bionic chip, a more anti-drop super magnetic crystal panel, a matte stainless steel frame, a Magsafe magnetic back, and a Super Retina XDR OLED screen. The selling points of the two Pro models include: a better three-camera lens group, improved video performance, Dolby Vision, and lidar scanning. Pro Max also has a larger 1.7μm pixel sensor and a better mid-focus portrait lens. In addition, the two Pro models are finally sold at 128GB.

Apple, the latest entry, did not miss the 5G opportunity: Cook's environmental abacus crackles 2

The 2020 iPhone conference is unusual

This is the latest iPhone conference held by Apple. Except for the iPhone 4s in 2011, Apple has not released a mobile phone in October. It is usually released on the second Tuesday of September, and listed on the third Friday. The delayed release of the iPhone 12 series this year was naturally dragged down by the new crown epidemic, which not only affected the operations of Apple’s supply chain partners, but also disrupted the research and development progress of Apple’s China-US cooperation. The iPhone 12 Mini and Pro Max won’t even be available until the end of November.

This is the iPhone conference where Apple released the most models. Today, Apple released four iPhones at once: iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. From the initial release of only one iPhone per year, to the release of two models per year in 2013, to release three models at a time in 2017, and to release five models continuously this year (including iPhone SE 2 at the beginning of the year). The size is from small to large, and the price is from low to high. Apple covers every market segment from mid-range to ultra-high-end.

This is Apple’s first major design adjustment since the iPhone X in 2017, returning to the right-angle frame. In the past ten years, every time Apple adjusted its body design, it would usher in a sales blowout. The iPhone 4 in 2010, the iPhone 6 in 2014, and the iPhone X in 2017. In the 12 months after the release of the iPhone 6 (i.e. Apple’s fiscal year), Apple set a sales record of 231 million iPhones, and has never reached this scale since.

This is Apple’s first iPhone entering the 5G era, more than a year later than competitors such as Samsung and Huawei. Due to Intel’s delay in producing mature 5G baseband chips, Apple had to abandon its patent licensing litigation battle with Qualcomm in April last year, and was forced to sign a multi-year patent licensing agreement and 5G baseband chip supply contract with the latter. However, due to the problem of the R&D cycle, it was not until this year that the iPhone 12 series returned to Qualcomm’s baseband chip and entered the 5G era. As the iPhone’s poor signal slot is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, Qualcomm baseband has also become a major selling point of this year’s iPhone.

But what is slightly embarrassing is that Apple is rushing to release the 5G iPhone as soon as possible, but operators have not deployed 5G networks in time. At least the US market and China are not at the same level. The download speed of sub-6GHz 5G launched by AT&T and T-Mobile is not much faster than that of LTE, and the millimeter wave 5G base station of Verizon, the largest operator, is even rarer. To boost consumer confidence in 5G networks. Cook specially invited the CEO of Verizon, the largest US operator, to introduce their millimeter wave 5G network deployment plan. Currently in the entire Silicon Valley area, Verizon only has a few 5G base stations in the downtown area of ​​San Jose, while San Francisco will have to wait until the end of this year.

Every time Apple changes its design, its sales soar

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The availability of 5G will not affect the user’s enthusiasm for purchasing the machine, or to be precise, it will not affect the enthusiasm of old users to upgrade. Because with the global smartphone market becoming saturated, Apple’s user expansion growth rate has also stalled. In the past few years, iPhone sales mainly came from the regular upgrades of previous old users, not from new users. Statistics from Market Research Agency Above Avalon show that the number of new users who bought iPhone for the first time in the past few years has dropped sharply. In 2019, only 52 million people bought iPhone for the first time, a sharp drop of 63% from the 129 million people in 2016.

Perhaps this is also the main reason why iPhone sales in the past few years have not been able to exceed the 231 million sales record of the year after the release of iPhone 6/6 Plus. Due to the inability to increase sales, Apple’s iPhone sales growth comes entirely from increasing single product prices. Starting from the fourth quarter of 2018, iPhone sales have even fallen sharply, and Apple no longer announces official specific sales. IDC data shows that iPhone sales in 2019 fell by 8.5% to a six-year low of 191 million units.

But from another perspective, the weak iPhone sales in the past few years also means that old users’ upgrade needs are accumulating. Brokerage Wedbush analysts predict that more than one-third of the 950 million iPhones in the world have reached the time when they must be upgraded, which is equivalent to more than 300 million iPhones waiting to be replaced. And at least 40% of iPhone users have used their mobile phones for more than three and a half years.

From the past point of view, every time Apple makes major design adjustments, it will stimulate the purchase boom of previous old users and usher in a wave of sales growth. The big screen iPhone 6/6 Plus in 2014 and the iPhone X in 2017 are the same. This year’s iPhone 12 series has not only undergone design adjustments, the body is lighter and thinner, the black edges of the screen have become thinner, and the same OLED screen is used from the low-end to the high-end, which completely complements the previous iPhone XR and 11 largest slots. Not having a high screen refresh is not a key purchase factor.

Compared with previous years, this year’s four 5G iPhones have no obvious defects, and iPhone X and previous old users can safely upgrade. Morgan Stanley analysts predict that Apple’s iPhone sales in the 2021 fiscal year (starting on September 27) may reach 220 million units, an increase of 22% year-on-year. Bloomberg estimates that Apple has ordered at least 75 million iPhones this year. Considering that this year’s epidemic has brought about the global economic downturn, it will obviously drag the smartphone market into shrinking, and Morgan Stanley’s expectation of Apple’s sales growth is quite surprising.

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Cook’s money-making abacus is better than accounting

To promote Apple’s performance growth, the iPhone alone is not enough. In the past two years when iPhone sales fell into a trough, Apple began to pay more attention to the service business and other products. In the second quarter of this year, Apple’s “other products” revenue has reached 6.45 billion US dollars, accounting for 10% of total revenue, and it is close to the scale of the iPad and Mac business lines. Apple Watch and AirPods are clearly the best-selling products. Due to overpriced reasons, HomePod has not occupied a large enough market share in the two years since its launch. Apple had to reduce the price of HomePod from the original US$349 to US$249.

According to market research firm eMarketer, 58 million consumers in the United States currently use Amazon Echo smart speakers, and 26.5 million consumers use Google Nest smart speakers, while the total number of users of other brands of smart speakers such as Sonos, HomePod, and Bose is only 15 million. The $99 HomePod Mini is an important move for Apple to expand its smart speaker user base. In order to fully promote its own products, Apple also removed third-party headsets and speaker products from third-party brands such as Bose and Sonos from its sales channels.

Accessories are also Apple’s highly profitable product line. This year, in the name of environmental protection, Apple has cancelled the standard charging heads and earphones from watches to mobile phones. Even the flagship iPhone 12 Pro Max, priced at US$1,099 (9,299 yuan in China), does not have a charging head. Such an expensive phone does not even have a quick charging plug. This is where Apple’s confidence lies: after consumers complain, they still Will pay for it. Switching to such a reduction in flagship phones by other brands may be directly abandoned by consumers.

This year’s iPhone 12 series was changed to Type-C to Lightning adapter cable, which means that the “heirloom” Wufu Yi’an charging head in the hands of old iPhone users has been completely eliminated. Most of the new phone sales are from the old iPhone users upgrading, they do not have a Type-C interface charging head. Apple’s so-called “allowing users to use existing charging heads” is simply not valid, because only last year’s iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max were equipped with Type-C interface charging heads as standard.

Old users who want to use the 20W USB-C charging head officially recommended by Apple will have to spend an additional $19 (domestic 149 yuan) to purchase it. After coming and going, Apple saved the cost of the original standard charging head and earphones, and added a large amount of charging head sales. Based on a rough estimate of the annual sales of 200 million iPhones, Apple’s “environmental protection measures” can easily account for billions of dollars. If next year’s iPhone 13 series are unified into the iPad’s current Type-C interface, Apple can still sell another wave of accessories. Cook’s environmental abacus is smarter than accounting.

Perhaps Cook is not an industry innovator with a forward-looking vision like Jobs, but he can maximize the commercial value of Apple’s technology and products. Today, Apple releases five iPhones a year. The screen has been expanded from 4.7 inches to 6.7 inches, and the colors have gradually expanded from monochrome to colorful, and the price range has been from 399 US dollars to 1099 US dollars. As long as the smart phone is still people’s main network entrance, Cook can continue to walk along the iOS platform that Jobs has laid out.

Although Apple is the latest smartphone manufacturer to launch 5G mobile phones, considering the actual progress of 5G network deployment, the iPhone 12 series did not miss the opportunity to harvest the 5G mobile phone market. Moreover, support for 5G has given the old iPhone users who have been holding money on the sidelines to upgrade their new phones. The sales brought by this part of the upgrade alone are enough for Cook to usher in a year of bumper performance.

Sina Technology Zheng Jun from Silicon Valley, USA