Apple – The unstoppable force

People say I’m an Apple “hater”. I’m not. I’m really not. I prefer to use an Android device as my daily driver but I do have an iPad, even though my wife tends to use it more than me.

Even though I’d prefer to use another phone, I can’t hate them. You’ve got to admire them really.

Apple have cash reserves of $178bn. That’s BILLION. Convert that to “proper money” and we’re talking about a cash mountain of £118bn. Most of this surplus profit ($137bn / £92bn) is handily kept outside the USA and away from the American taxman.

Apple could pay off our £100bn deficit and still have a chunky £18bn remaining.

Apple   The unstoppable force

There’s no doubt that the iPhone in particular has become a hugely popular product. It is supported by pretty much every network everywhere. Every accessory maker and software developer will be insane not to produce something for it and it’s an incredibly well-known and well-liked product.

There are the haters though, and many will point to the price of the devices compared to how much it actually costs to make them. Just last night Charlie Brooker stated…

Having successfully enslaved the human race by selling us costly handheld rectangles that we find more fascinating than the outside world or our loved ones, California tech giant Apple announces the biggest quarterly profit of any company ever.

It’s not just Apple selling us “rectangles” or distracting us with a connected device which can give us unending information and entertainment, no Sir. Many other companies are doing it too. However, the Apple brand is immensely strong. It is an aspirational brand. To have a device with an Apple logo on is seen as an achievement, a status symbol, and despite the haters, there’s absolutely no sign of that changing or that the money train will be slowing down any time soon.

Apple   The unstoppable force

While the Android and Windows Phone users point at possible flaws, Apple continues to grab more and more new customers. These aren’t just Apple fans upgrading, but brand new owners and converts from other platforms.

Sure, I can show my LG G3 to everyone with an iPhone 6 Plus. They can see that their device is far larger, far more expensive and that mine has the same size screen in a more compact chassis. Will they change? Will they switch? No way.

Whilst in Barcelona I strolled past the Microsoft stand and it was a miniature representation of the many press rooms at the event (plus further afield no doubt). Just look at it. The Microsoft stand was one big fat advert for Apple because, of those using a laptop, they chose a MacBook..

Apple   The unstoppable force

Love them or hate them, Apple are an unstoppable force. They smash through every sales record, expectation and criticism. As an example, I can laugh at this (ever-so-slightly not-safe-for-work video) about the Apple design process on their new MacBook..

..but, no matter what’s said, it’ll sell. Likewise, the Apple Watch will sell well too. Again, due to the brand recognition and the perceived “status” you achieve by owning one of these devices, customers try to get the best model they can.

The iPhone 5C. Have you seen anyone using one? Most would rather pay even more cash for the iPhone 5S. It’ll be the same with the watch. If you’re a fan and you’ve got yourself an iPhone 5S, you’ll be wanting to change your cheap Casio watch very quickly indeed.

Now, although I doubt many could afford the £13,500 price-tag for the absolute top-end Apple Watch, customers will go for the absolute best one they can afford.

In recent months I’ve mentioned how pay-monthly plans seem to have increased in popularity. Devices like the Moto G have proved incredibly popular. My uncle has one. He loves the thing. Combine this with a contract-free pay-monthly plan and you can save money. Indeed, if you don’t want to subsidise an expensive phone by paying over two years, you can get a better value package if you buy the phone separately.

Then it hit me. Today Morrisons announced its worst results in eight years. A loss of £792m. The chairman of the supermarket called it a “controlled and planned reset” and admitted that they had been slow to offer services like home delivered shopping.

Apple   The unstoppable force

That, though, isn’t the full truth. A “reset”? That’s not the only reason. We, as people, have changed. Our shopping habits have changed. We no longer do a big weekly shop. We hop around stores, going to the discounters (Lidl or Aldi) for a bit of this, Tesco or Asda for a bit of that, then perhaps to Waitrose for a bit of a treat.

A lot of the bigger supermarkets need us to be spending more than £15 or £20 in one visit, but we’re popping in for little top-ups instead. It’s killing their whole business model and they’re like ducks on a frozen pond.

Meanwhile, the discounters and higher-end stores like Waitrose are performing better than ever. People want to be able to get most of their weekly shop for less, so they head to Aldi to get the essentials. It mostly tastes the same and works the same anyway, but they still want their trip to Waitrose to get a nice bit of gammon, some fresh vegetables or some posh wine.

This, I think, is what we’re seeing happen in the mobile arena too. At the top, the premium models and the premium brands are still selling well. The iPhone, the iPad, the MacBook – all performing brilliantly. Meanwhile, at the lower end, the entry-level Lumia handsets, the Moto G, Chromebooks – again attracting really good sales.

So, regardless of the criticisms about price and costly accessories, all Apple need to at the moment is to continue producing high-quality, expensive, premium handsets with that Apple logo on the back.