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Year 2011

How productive is an Apple store employee?

Apple publishes data about its “retail segment” which ifoAppleStore.com catalogs. Here are some statistics I was able to compute from the data:

  • The stores generate over $100k per employee per quarter. In 2010, revenue was $481,000 per employee. This year the average is around $320k excluding the fourth quarter. In 2009 the average revenue for the technology sector was $388k/yr. A retailer like JC Penney generates about $124k of revenue per year per employee.
  • The revenue per visit is around $45. There are well over 250 million visits per year (222 million for first three quarters of 2011).

The combination of these two metrics are shown in the following chart:

  • The number of employees has grown in proportion to

Sponsor: Hiring OmniFocus to get things done.

One of the theories that gets significant attention on this blog is “job-to-be-done” theory. It’s a powerful tool for product designers and managers that allows them to uncover unmet needs and build great products that more often than not have no competition. We’ll dive more deeply into this discussion with some future posts and podcasts.

But today I want to highlight how one developer took the commonly observed job of “to-do lists” and, by applying context, made a compelling solution to the job.

In other words, it goes from “what do I need to do” to “what, when, where can I get things done?” This is as important as going from “where do I call to reach someone” to “call someone no matter where they are.” This is what mobility did to communication and now Omnifocus does to task management

Furthermore, you can use OmniFocus to modularize projects. You can combine fragments of ideas or projects into steps to complete goals.

Rather than spending time planning, move the responsibility of remembering daily tasks from your brain to OmniFocus — gather everything into the Inbox for later review, and then organize those bits into folders, projects, actions, and contexts.

OmniFocus is as simple or advanced as you want it to be.

Available on Mac, iPad, and iPhone with free cloud sync. The job isn’t to manage your “to do list”. The job is to get things done.

Read more about OmniFocus here.

Will Windows Phone get to compete with non-consumption?

Before diving into the answer to the question in the title, there is some new data to digest.

The latest from comScore shows consistency with the previous months of smartphone growth in the US.

  • The growth rate was 607k/wk new-to-smartphone users. This is slightly down from 654k/wk for the previous month but up significantly from 450k/wk the year before.
  • The penetration of smartphones reached 38.5% (non-smartphones are at 62%)
  • The penetration should reach 50% before September 2012 with about 1.2% being converted every month.

The following chart shows the weekly add rate with a three-period moving average:

This chart is important in that it should first show signs of inflection in growth.

Android vs. iPhone

It has no price and hence there are no ways markets can signal demand or value creation. Furthermore, Android is not being offered to users like the iPhone. Android’s “customers” are phone vendors who package the software with additional value-added hardware and sell the combination to operators or distributors who then package it further with services and offer the total to end users.

So obviously, comparisons between Android and iPhone center on instances of Android used in real products and the “market performance” of Android therefore relies on these proxies for Android — the aggregate sum of products that have some form of Android in use.

I wrote this in response to a very short brief: “We’re looking for an editorial piece that comes down on either side of the debate of iPhone vs. Android”. The challenge I saw was on the approach to the question of “iPhone vs. Android”. I chose to measure value creation by the means available to shareholders.

Read more here: Horace Dediu Android Vs. iPhone on BusinessInsider.com

[I am posting this here in the hope that comments will accrue to this forum as well.]

5by5 | Mac Power Users #65: Workflows with Horace Dediu

(Note this is not the Critical Path, but a guest appearance on the sister show Mac Power Users.)

Episode #65 • December 5, 2011

Katie and David are joined by Asymco publisher Horace Dediu, who talks about how he researches and publishes his analysis of the mobile marketspace and his thoughts on the future of presentation tools.

via 5by5 | Mac Power Users #65: Workflows with Horace Dediu.

Does Growth Matter?

In last week’s discussion of Apple’s (historically low) valuation, comments arose that perhaps the company’s discount is not unique. Can we look at comparable companies and determine whether the relationship between growth, size and valuation are consistent?

The challenge is in finding “comparable” companies. Apple is characterized by being large in terms of market capitalization, highly profitable, in the technology sector and growing relatively quickly. One can find a cohort of companies with each of these characteristics but not all.

Here is an attempt at looking at the largest companies by Market Capitalization (the so-called Mega-caps) to spot patterns of valuation. Some of the companies in the top 20 mega-caps were technology companies so I thought I’d highlight them. I then also added a few of the top 20 technology companies by capitalization to create a larger sample.

The group I settled on is shown in the list below ranked by market cap.

Companies below $130 Billion in market cap (i.e. below Novartis) are in the top 20 technology list but not in the top 20 overall list.

I then plotted the P/E rate vs. 5 year Growth Rate for these companies, separating the tech sector by color (Red):

The pattern is not encouraging. It appears that there is no correlation. Perhaps the technology companies are, as a group, further up and to the right, but overall they are equally unobservant of growth.

For example, SAP has grown less than 5% in five years and yet enjoys a P/E of 20 whereas Microsoft has grown 18% and has a P/E of less than 10. The non-technology sector companies are similarly broken. Berkshire Hathaway, a conglomerate, is rewarded for slow growth and China Mobile is punished for relative high growth.

But you’ll notice that some companies are not on this chart. That’s because they are outliers. Their growth or P/E are so far out of this cluster that the would make it impossible to discern individual performance. The complete “top 20″ picture is shown in the following chart which will require either a large display or a lot of scrolling (1300×1364 pixels):

The big bang theory of computing

HP’s CEO Meg Whitman admitted that, when iPads are included, Apple will overtake HP as the world’s leader in computer shipments.

“We need to improve our game and our products to take over the leadership position. Apple could go past HP in 2012. We will try to become the champion in 2013.

When the quarterly shipment data is seen as a chart the doubt of this happening disappears:










Note that the combined iPad+Mac has already overtaken Dell. In fact,

The thermodynamics of Apple's share price

Andy Zaky at Bullish Cross wrote a great post on Apple’s valuation, showing the deep discount of Apple’s earnings vs. an average company. It essentially states that Apple’s money is not green.

Felix Salmon took it forward by enumerating a few explanations that might be used for the despondent valuation. None are successful arguments, but that should not be a surprise.

To understand the phenomenon a bit more precisely, I maintain and think about these charts:

This shows Apple’s share price (“P” in blue) and its earnings per share (“E” in green). In addition

Sponsor: The Glif and Glif+

I still have a professional camera, the legendary Canon 1D with a few L series lenses. I’ve also carried phones with cameras since about 2002. But they were never good enough. When it came to photos I am one of those “highly demanding” consumers at the top of the market who looks down on disruptive low-end products. An SLR with a two pound lens was the only way I could be satisfied.

However, like the theory suggests, even the most demanding customers succumb to the new disruptive technology. For me it happened with the iPhone 4. I’ve been very happy with almost all photos taken with it. I really appreciated the HDR function and the HD video which my old camera could not do.

There is however something that is missing. The ability to take crisp pictures in low light or to shoot video without camera motion requires a tripod. I’ve envied some of the rigs that allow tripod mounting of iPhones but they’ve all looked bulky and expensive, defeating the “always with you” value proposition of the phone camera. If I would take a rig with me, I might as well pack the D1.

That is until I came across the Glif. The Glif is an extremely small and simple accessory for mounting your iPhone 4 or 4S to any standard tripod. It doubles as a little kickstand to prop your iPhone up for watching movies, using FaceTime, etc. The packaging even doubles as its own little bipod.

The clever design means that you can take it with you all the time. They’ve even made it a lot easier with with Ligature, a keychain loop that means you take it with you whenever you take your keys. They’ve also added Serif, an additional attachment to keep your iPhone super secure in extreme situations (like on a bike mount). The package of Glif, Serif and Ligature is called Glif+.

They are also offering the +Pack, for those of you that already own a Glif and just want the add-ons. Both are available for preorder now, and will ship in 1-2 weeks just in time for the holidays.

Do check out the videos on the site. I have received recommendations for this product on Twitter so it seems to be well liked by users. To me it looks really amazing and even though they are a sponsor I bought two.

Available now at StudioNeat for a very reasonable price.

Interactive charts for Apple's product lines

Warning: This requires Flash.

This is a data set that shows Apple’s product-level performance according to Units sold, Average Selling Prices, Cost of Sales, Gross Margin, Unit Growth, Revenues, Revenue Growth and Gross Margin contribution. It, along with all the other data sets are available under the Products menu at the top of this page.

Default settings:

  • Line Chart
  • Y-Axis set to Revenues.
  • Color set to GM (Gross Margin percent).