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Why was Wall Street surprised by Apple's performance?

The Earth’s axis is tilted relative to the orbital plane it follows around the Sun. The angle is about 23.44 degrees. Because of this axial tilt, the intensity of sunlight incident on the northern and southern hemispheres varies alternatively throughout the orbit, which, by its duration, is called a “year”. This change in sunlight intensity causes weather changes. Colder when there is less light, warmer when there is more light. Life on Earth became used to this cycle and humans came to call these changes in weather “seasons”.

The warm seasons became the easier seasons for people, especially when agriculture was introduced, since that was when food grew.  Because of the geography of landmasses on Earth, humans became more concentrated in the northern hemisphere. As the northern hemisphere turned away from the Sun darkness and cold returned every year. When that darkness was at its worst people decided it was time to celebrate the return of warmth and sunshine, and thus plentiful food.

So it became very common in northern lands to celebrate the winter solstice or the darkest and coldest time of the year. The amazing thing was that all peoples did this regardless of culture or geographic location. In fact, it became common to mark the end of year at around the same time as the solstice. A new year was said to begin when the Sun began to move higher in the sky every day. The Europeans celebrated the solstice with a festival which eventually came to be called Christmas and the Chinese celebrated it as a Winter Festival which came to be called Chinese New Year.

As part of these celebrations, gift giving also became the default practice. And so, around what came to be called “December” and “January” most of the people in the Northern Hemisphere gave gifts to each other. Interestingly, as people migrated to the southern hemisphere they kept the same festival schedule so that gifting was done in what was the height of summer!

What Wall Street seems to have missed is that the gifting season is a global event spanning into January. In other words, buyers of iPhones aren’t concentrated in one part of the planet and they don’t all celebrate one single gifting festival.

The reason lies in the way the Earth is tilted and the way the continents are arranged upon it. So perhaps a better understanding of astronomy and geography would have helped investors make decisions during the past few weeks. I suggest remedial lessons for those who missed this.

  • Scott

    Maybe this underlines a more serious issue in that Wall Street and US Investors don’t seem to understand a global market and focused solely on the US carrier figures 

    • dmw

      Bingo.

      Maybe with 64% of apple’s sales being “international” they will start to pay more attention.

      • capnbob67

         And more specifically, at least 75% of iPhones being sold outside the US.

  • http://twitter.com/daviddiviny David Diviny

    Living in Vietnam (which also has a lunar new year), I think you may be on to something.  However, another plausible explanation for the increased worldwide sales in Q1 is that the iPhone 4S did not become officially available for much of the world until January 2012. Indeed, it wasn’t launched until 21 January 2012 in China.

  • vikram333

    Love this post

  • http://michaelkdawson.com/ TrendRida

    That’s about a good of a reason than any, but there are many agendas on Wall Street.  The intensity of the rumors over the 10 days before earnings were as high as I have ever seen. A ton of people bought in the 640s and many of those same people sold in the 560s. On the other hand a select few sold in the 640s and bought in the 560s…

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Whatever the rumors, a keen observer of the celestial progress of the Sun should easily dismiss them.

      • http://michaelkdawson.com/ TrendRida

        Good point. You should change the title of this post to the holy grail of trading.

      • Collins Rudzuna

         ”A ton of people bought in the 640s…  a select few sold in the 640″ Is this right? Since the buying and selling is two sides of one coin I assume there was as much selling as there was buying?

      • Walt French

        Getting all rational on us? This *IS* one of the few websites where you can get away with that. But still…

        Behavioral Finance shows that many speculators have a very different way of looking at the world: for example, a UC/Berkeley prof has shown that individual investors overwhelmingly hold on to losers (hoping they’ll rise again) and sell winners. (“Nobody ever lost money by booking gains.”)

        Professionals (in my experience) are far from immune to this framing of a decision, framing that borders on magical thinking.

        Still, professionals tend to look much more dispassionately at companies’ outlooks. They *ARE*, however, just as prone to get spooked when data trickles in that looks risky. That’s my hypothesis (to be explained below).

      • ftaok

        Not necessarily.  Yes, the number of shares bought and sold will be equal.  But the number of individual buyers vs. individual sellers does not need to be equal.

        Perhaps a lot of small investors were buying at 640, but the large instutions were selling at that price.  Vice versa with the buy/sell at 560.  Bottom line, the people with the right info made a lot of money this week.

        DAGONIT – I meant to reply to Collins, not Walt. Sorry.

  • Robert

    Think that of all Apple products iPhone sales are most independent from seasons, and holiday gifting seasons in particular. Still the carriers and the respective contracts people have with carriers are of significant influence on the schedule when new iPhones are purchased…

  • tedcranmore

    Great…I couldn’t have said this better. I couldn’t bring myself to comment on all the AT&T and Verizon articles with a one word comment, “seasonality” since it just too basic to bother. I hope you bring ‘precession’ into the your next article to explain how altered release product cycles need to be examined to keep track of shifting seasons.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffunity jeff fowler

    Wall Street’s mantra is that competition and thus relative equilibrium is inevitable. Unfortunately the technology experts are rooted in past methodologies and cannot understand that the momentum is with Apple – both now and for the foreseeable future. They don’t see that vertical integration of exclusive software married with desirable hardware and great branding can become a phenomenon. Not every market can or will be commoditised.

    • fivetonsflax

      Or even if it will, there may be great profit to be had between now and then.

  • Ed World

    Thanks for the reverse engineered rationale on seasonality, extremely helpful.

  • Tim F.

    Why is it that Wall Street undershoots actual quarterly performance but overshoots next quarter expectations?

  • asg749d

    Interesting rationale…

    • http://twitter.com/studuncan Stu Duncan

      Interesting?  No. Horace’s point is that it was obvious to everyone but WS analysts.  It goes like this.

      iPhone4S>China>Chinese New Year>Q1>500% increase>blow out quarter (again)

      i.e. Christmas is no longer the only holiday season.

      For further bumps in other quarters, it might be best to study up on which Chinese holidays are big gift giving ones.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_holidays

  • Accent_Sweden

    In other words, the West is no longer the determining force in the world but Wall Street hasn’t yet integrated the resulting implications into the way it analyzes companies. This should be a prime area for finding other unrecognized potential. One question is who, besides Apple, is really leveraging the rising economies to their benefit besides just manufacturing their products there. Apple is selling into China and other rising economies. Is there any other company that is doing so or is primed to do so and where Wall Street is missing the potential? Or is Apple alone in seeing massive profits from Asia and other non-western economies?

    • http://wmilliken.livejournal.com/ Walter Milliken

      Nokia and RIM were both doing a lot of their business outside the US. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be helping them….

      • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo Marcos_El_Malo

        DEPARTMENT OF DEVIL’s ADVOCACY

        I’ve seen this argument come up, and think it’s something that should be taken up.

        The main counter argument, or at least a strong one, is that Nokia and RIM were already in the shitter in the U.S and Europe when they began pursuing this strategy (Nokia already having a strong brand presence in developing countries). Apple’s sales in the Western developed world are doing OK, otoh.

        A subsidiary argument is that Nokia and RIM had to lower their ASP to pursue this strategy, sacrificing bottom line to achieve top line growth, while Apple isn’t compromising profits. Possible exception is Apple selling iPad 2 at lower price point to grow market share and court price sensitive customers.

        I’d appreciate hearing whether these are good counter arguments and if there are other counter arguments, possibly stronger ones.

      • Accent_Sweden

        True. Though Nokia and RIM (maybe not as much) were more focused on the low end, not the high end in developing economies. Apple has the same focus worldwide – high profit, high status.

    • ChKen

      I’m not sure there are many foreign companies making $2B in profit in a slow quarter in China, other than Apple. Does KFC or Audi make that kind of money in China yet?

  • Stefan Sidahmed

    Instead of asking “why” Wall Street behaves as they do, ask “What happens to a sell side analyst who doesn’t go with the herd and over estimates EPS all by himself?”
     
    This is not the case for Q4, the “big” miss, since everyone blew it.  Can’t fire everybody!  Protection of the herd.
     
    Anyway, nice article.  Enjoyable read.

  • Stefan Sidahmed

    Instead of asking “why” Wall Street behaves as they do, ask “What happens to a sell side analyst who doesn’t go with the herd and over estimates EPS all by himself?”
     
    This is not the case for Q4, the “big” miss, since everyone blew it.  Can’t fire everybody!  Protection of the herd.
     
    Anyway, nice article.  Enjoyable read.

    • ChKen

      If you’re Henry Blodget, you get banned by the SEC, and then you start up a trollish financial website. If you’re Gene Munster, you make your name, and then become rather tame and conservative as you sit on your laurels.

  • deemery

    Great post/observation (except for ‘gifting’ – a neologism I find really annoying…)  A friend and I had a debate 2 weeks ago on ‘technical analysis,’ which I argued was a self-reinforcing model of human behavior and he said “OK, but it works.”  It might be interesting to look at a lot of the technical stock models and see if they can correlate to external events like this that are also impacts/models of human behavior.

    • Walt French

      ps: my (free!) Merriam-Webster app shows “gifting” as a neologism, all right… in 1550.

      • deemery

        Gadzooks!  Wilst thou havest us talk like Shakespearean actors?

  • http://twitter.com/BrianCGillespie Brian Gillespie

    So, what is the likelihood that the Apple shifted the release date of the iPhone last year to take advantage of the seasonal bump to sell more iPhones?

    • Sacto_Joe

      Whether on purpose or accidental, it was a brilliant idea.

      • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo Marcos_El_Malo

        This is one reason why I think well see the next iPhone model in September rather than June. (I haven’t yet listened to the 5×5 podcast, so I haven’t heard Horace’s prediction and rationale.)

      • Brian Gillespie

        Had I listened to “The Critical Path” before reading this I wouldn’t have asked.

  • http://twitter.com/studuncan Stu Duncan

    You mean like how they released the iPhone 4S in China two days before Chinese New Year? Which lead to a huge Q1.

  • http://nmuppala.wordpress.com Nalini Kumar Muppala

    Is the primary job of an iPhone/iPad to be a gift? Does one buy an iPhone/iPad primarily when in the market for a gift?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Given purchasing behavior of many consumers, nearly all products are hired as gifts. Perhaps not the primary job but it’s a big one.

      • Walt French

        I once did some sales analysis for a major charcoal briquette company, and you couldn’t ask for stronger seasonality (heaviest shipments to have inventory in stores for the first warm days of the year, esp. Memorial Day barbecues; winding down by late summer to a small fraction of the peak).

        But I wouldn’t think that utilitarian products generally have strong seasonals unless they have a strong weather tie-in. Across the US economy, there’s something like a 5% typical drop between 4th and 1st quarters, if memory serves.

        iProducts obviously are great gifts, but as phones and tablets all become generically “good enough” and as the prices get down from where they signal luxury (or even being an “affordable treat”), that effect should ameliorate, too.

    • Collins Rudzuna

       When people are in the mood for spending during ‘giving season’ they also ‘give’ to themselves. I imagine a lot of people buy these gadgets for themselves during giving season

      • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo Marcos_El_Malo

        Guilty as charged! Good insight!

        Ive also purchased myself “gifts” ostensibly from other people. Example: last Xmas I bought myself a wallet I really wanted and gave it to my GF so she could gift wrap it and give it to me, since I was already giving her spending money for the coming holiday.

    • http://twitter.com/rcastano rcastano

      Gadgets like the iPhone and iPad are not always bought for personal use.  A father will buy them for his wife and maybe for his kids or close relatives.  This big ticket buying will most probably coincide with christmas.

    • http://twitter.com/Jon_Segal Jon Segal

      I think the primary job of the iPhone is to sell wireless services.

  • Henry

    As you identify, to smooth out firm production and performance, Q4 is US/Europe iPhone release and Q1 to be Asia iPhone release. Q2 is iPad. What do you think is Apple’s plan for Q3? “Only” iPods and Macs? Asia iPad release? The future home of Apple TV? Would love to hear your thoughts.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Don’t ask me. Management made it pretty clear more than once that iPad will be big this quarter.

    • ChKen

      In my opinion, Apple launches the iPad in mid-March to benefit sales in the March and June quarters, and then launches the iPhone in mid-September to benefit sales in the September and Xmas quarters. That smooths out all 4 quarters and mitigates osborning, as well as eases supply chain issues, as many of the suppliers are same for both products. Further smoothing takes place as Apple rolls out these products to other markets.
      So far, this has worked for the iPad with March releases. The iPhone is a different story, when launches have for the most part been in the June window, benefitting that quarter and the Fall one. But, as the iPod’s ability to goose sales has waned in the Xmas quarter, Apple must have decided to move the iPhone into that launch window, but I think last year, they missed, and launched later than they would have liked, in October and not September. That caused the “miss”, as the September quarter got osborned, as the analysts didn’t adjust their financial models sufficiently. I strongly suspect the next iPhone will launch in mid-September. 

      • Henry

        Thanks for responding. That makes sense. I wonder about Horace’s point, though, which is that Apple launches later in the year (e.g., mid-October) so that AP gets a relatively new iPhone model in January.

        You’re right that a September launch splits the difference. Perhaps iPad sales are waning by September (though maybe education sales spike then?) and iPhone can pick up the slack, and perhaps it’s acceptable that AP gets a four-month-old iPhone in January. Thanks again for your thoughts.

      • ChKen

        Launching the iPhone a few weeks earlier in order to goose both the Fall and Xmas quarters will still give AsiaPacific a relatively new iPhone model for Chinese New Year. As long as they have a white one, they’ll be good to go.

        And, yes, iPad sales are goosed by BTS, back-to-school, sales. 

        Thinking of China some more, it doesn’t hurt to have a little time lag, as Apple may need a little more time to get a TD-LTE chip in the pipeline. As you know China Mobile, uses the TD-SCDMA 3G standard. For the next iPhone to be completely China Mobile compatible so that it doesn’t have to use 2G, it’ll need a TD-LTE chip. Of course, that presumes that all the rumors of China Mobile coming on board when the next iPhone with the TD-LTE chip are true/

  • ronin48

    I agree Horace.  But I thought it was worse than analysts just being provincial and lacking intellectually curiosity.

    I took as given that most would think only of Western December gift giving and ignore the huge potential for Eastern gift giving in January.

    I think there’s also a fundamental ignorance of basic arithmetic, simple percentages, and statistics.  When the Verizon iPhone numbers came out and many began to immediately extrapolate the decrease to the entire global iPhone market it became clear how deficient the widely held bearish analysis had become.

    Maybe we could add basic arithmetic, probability and statistics, and logical reasoning 101 to your suggested remedial curriculum.

  • r.d

    Now if Apple could make a gold plated iphone for
    Indian market and release in Oct timeframe.
    Indian holiday is also Lunar cycle.

    Chinese is Lunar Spring Festival nothing to with Sun.

    • podperson

      It’s on the lunar cycle but it’s in late Winter which has everything to do with the sun.

  • kankerot
  • Markgoldmd

    Horace ,
    For clarity when you referred to “Wallstreet” you where referring to Traders and not the majority of Analysts who where increasing their estimates for Apple prior to the 24th. Traders are a fickle group that not only worry about the tilt of the earth, but also “how the wind blows” and “reading tea leaves”. They are a desperate group that are grasping for insight.

    The recent drop in Apple is share price in many ways was predictable. The share price had recently risen very quickly, there was limited data of decrease iPhone sales and the full story was ten days away. Traders react on limited data to try and beat the market. They took profits and the share price dropped. Once Apples earnings were released they immediately bought back in. Predictable.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      I did not refer to analysts. I meant whoever was selling. As you point out analysts have been increasing estimates.

      • Markgoldmd

        Hoarce the interesting thing is who is selling and why? In my mind it was the Traders who where manipulating the market for volatility, the institutional investors and mutual fund managers who did not want to be caught looking foolish. The poor retail investor who may have panic with the head line13% decline. Your analysis is spot on (like it always is) and I am grateful that you are willing to share it with those willing to listen

        Thank you!

    • Sacto_Joe

      “They took profits and the shares dropped.” I think that was the original impetus. But notice the way the media first drummed up the impression that Apple had gone up too high too fast, then as the inevitable profit taking matured, stories became more and more negative, literally feeding the frenzy. Finally, the bogus story about lower sales from Verizon, capped by lower sales from ATT in literally the last few days, all perfectly focused to submerge AAPL’s price and “load up the slingshot”, as Phil Dewitt puts it over on Apple 2.0.

      Doesn’t this remind you of something? You know, politics? Sensationalized stories released days or even hours before a big election that are designed to keep people home, turn people out, or change people’s minds – until the election is over and it’s too late for anything but buyer’s remorse?

      Personally, I wouldn’t give a fig, except that my wife and I were forced into retirement and now we need to sell stock just to make ends meet. So now the devaluing of APPL is personal.

      • Markgoldmd

        I agree with you that the Stock Macket can be manipulated by unscrupulous individuals. Investors like you and me are at there wim. The only thing we can do is to try and keep a level head in the face of irrational behavior and listen staged advice from our sensei Hoarce.

  • Glimmerman

    There’s a certain satisfaction when Apple’s quarterly results exceed their guidance (a given) and Wall Street analysts’ projections. If both forecasts were more realistic (i.e. truthful) we wouldn’t have “blowout” quarters – just performance that meets expectation. I wonder what the effect of that would be on the stock price. It would certainly be negative in the near term; perhaps the market would be able to react appropriately in the longer term but I’m not so sure.

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  • Morgan

    HA!!! thanks for the laugh

    I do have a question for you though….what percent of iPhones sold are purchased as gifts? I would be an interesting study to segment the smartphone market by personal purchase and gifts. My gut is that the iPhone will vastly dominate this gift segment

  • http://twitter.com/alex4d Alex Gollner

    Isn’t part of the investor relations of multinational corporations to make sure investors aren’t surprised when results are announcements? The best test of IR should be no significant change in share price when financial results are posted. Shares should have the results ‘priced in’ 365 days a year.

    Seems that Apple need to educate the commentators more effectively. They seem to need a lot of help.

    • http://twitter.com/bennomatic bennomatic

      I’d agree with you but for one thing: Apple has posted very good guidance quarter after quarter for quite some time, and analysts simply choose to disabuse themselves of such information.  There comes a point when one realizes that one can lead a horse to water, but you can not force them to drink.

  • capnbob67

    Funny. And more than that, from the podcasts, I can imagine it delivered in Horace’s perfect deadpan without a hint of irony or sarcasm.

    Unfortunately, in my head, Horace speaks at 2x speed which is how I listen to podcasts so it is a little Alvin & the Chipmunks but that just makes it funnier.

  • Clint Graden

    Horace,

    It seems to me that Apple stock always takes a dive right before the earnings report — like it’s being manipulated to get the “slingshot” effect when the earnings are good. Am I just being cynical?

    • JamesKatt

      Apple is THE most manipulated stock.  I love it since it gives me a second chance to buy more stock at a low price.

    • Walt French

      Whatever, I don’t think you’re looking at the history in any consistent fashion.

      People who do this stuff for a living are very happy to “arbitrage” away any such foolishness. If enough people — uhh, make that enough dollars — were to pick up on a real obvious pattern like that, there would’ve been massive buying as the price slipped, looking for a fast 10% profit. (You don’t get that in many YEARS!)

      Apple is probably exactly the LAST stock that the SEC would suspect of having its price manipulated, because there are so many investors who are highly incented to separate out the BS from the fundamentals.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      It usually falls after earnings.

  • eyeopener

    Scott I fully agree with your statement. I’m doing a lot business with US people, however most of them only see the US market and then some strange foreigners exist. I’m traveling a lot in Europe and Asia and recently I did a world round trip starting in US and going to Asia and back to Europe. There is such a difference with smartphones and status symbols. I expected what’s happened now, for me was only the question when this will happen.

  • Sacto_Joe

    You’re missing the whole point, Horace. This isn’t about the illogic of a few investors; it’s about herd mentality, and how it’s manipulated for gain.

  • Guest

    I was just thinking about the impact of the 14-week Q1 vs the normal 13-week Q2. Just dividing the Q2 EPS figure by 13, and then multiplying by 14 yields an EPS figure of $13.25 (compared with the Q1 figure of $13.87). 

    When you add in that the new iPad was only on sale for the last two weeks of Q2, it’s entirely possible that if the first week of April had been counted in Q2, the result might have been even closer to the Q1 result.

    This doesn’t matter long-term, of course, but it makes for a fairer comparison with Q1.

    • ChKen

      Add in a reasonable addition to channel inventory for the new iPad as well, and you’d get even closer.

  • Jocca

    Based on my observations of these AAPL analysts’ predictions over the years, I give them a big F and any serious investors should avoid them seriously. 

  • ADVILL

    Astronomy ( and many other disciplines) are vanishing to mass media preachers that´s why the late Carl Sagan was so worried ( the book “Keeping the light”) about the dangers of having ignorant and unscrupulous people  in the media.

    In this pitiful case it´s affecting small unsophisticated investors that see instead of read, and hear instead of think……  how many billions small investors lost into the hands of institutional investors?…20 Billions?

  • Walt French

    Horace, I think you’re quite right to belabor the obvious as you’ve done here. People who do this stuff for a living ought to think thru all the issues, such as the huge increase in outlets in China (that weren’t there a year ago) and so on. Obviously, the sellers didn’t.

    So my guess is that the (BTIG?) research note about declining subsidies, plus some US (-only; sigh) channel checks confirmed a false meme, leading to the sharp pullback.

    Suppose you’d been drinking from the Conventional Android Wisdom ® Kool-Aid pitcher for the past couple of years: Android is gaining share on Apple due to price, selection, removable batteries… oh, and didja hear, you can now download ICS 4.0.06 for the LG Whizzer? It’s gone from all 0/100% Android/iPhone, to 52/28% Android/iPhone, and that trend is continuing to favor Android. Put that together with some channel checks showing Q1 sales down from Q4 (which Apple “anomalously” topped in the US), and noise about how carriers are going to put new headwinds on Apple, and you are pretty close to having a run on the banks.

    I’d have thought the Android momentum story was pretty dead, after looking at your profit/volume charts. Heck, Apple almost has more profit than Samsung has revenues, for example. And somebody needs to do some forensic analysis on the US sales: from the perception that Android was outselling Apple 3:1, the last two quarters look like about 3:2 Apple; has Android saturated its young US male demographic already, and not broadened out?

    Well, enough dissection of the corpse. The interesting story for me is what happens the rest of the year. With the US now at 50% saturation of the market, new buyers will increasingly be technophobes, looking for an easy-to-use, reliable brand at a somewhat lower cost, maybe especially Siri & videocalling. Gifting can still be a major source of sales to new users. Replacement buyers will be looking for speed or other features, a better app ecosystem, services such as cloud/media, not buying until they see an upgrade worth it. Carriers aren’t ready to encourage users to switch, so will continue to use early upgrades as a retention device, but maybe we’ll see the first cracks in the pricing bundles this year via MVOs?

    Google is in a pickle with its handset manufacturers (the Moto purchase may go down as a catastrophe on the order of TimeWarner/AOL, or bigger); Samsung especially seems to be opting for a 3-OS strategy (Android, Bada and WP), establishing its own TouchWiz branding atop whichever. While Google keeps spinning out new iterations of OSs, I don’t see that their year-old promises to rein in the wild west fragmentation and inconsistencies, has resulted in ANY significant cleanup; writing apps for Android hasn’t gotten significantly more profitable or easier to support.

    I think those features explain why the sudden turnaround in Android’s US share, and point to a “new normal” for this market. Apple *will* continue to ramp its productive capacity to meet new-model surges. If it can also continue making it easier for both n00bs and power-users; if it can continue to plug more functionality into Siri; if it can smooth out the wrinkles in iCloud; if it can find ways to enhance the voice/videocall experience; it can continue to sell an ever-larger share of those sets in the US.

    • http://wmilliken.livejournal.com/ Walter Milliken

      The other interesting data point as the US market heads past mid-saturation is the platform loyalty numbers. The “Will Buy x-brand-phone Again” number is very high for iPhone, so Apple’s customers seem likely to stay in Apple’s camp; the numbers for Android phones aren’t terrible, but are substantially lower. I don’t know if they relate to the specific brand or to the Android platform as a whole (I’m guessing it’s probably brand, at least for the direct data measured), but it suggests Android brands at the least will be hemorrhaging customers at the next upgrade cycle, and at least some of those seem likely to wind up iPhone customers who are unlikely to switch back.

      Without substantial traffic heading the other way, I can’t see any way for Android *not* to lose market share, albeit slowly. That assumes there’s not a dramatic change in value proposition between iPhones and Android phones in some way, of course. But I don’t expect that to happen unless Google starts subsidizing Android phone carrier plans….
      I suppose the carriers could offer cheaper plans to Android customers and not to iPhone customers, to try to break Apple’s hold on them, but I don’t think they’re going to be willing to shoot themselves in the gut just for that.

      • Secular_Investor

        Good analysis Walter.

        “so Apple’s customers seem likely to stay in Apple’s camp; the numbers for Android phones aren’t terrible, but are substantially lower.”

        Acually there is evidence that Android’s retention rate is very bad. For example in a small survey last August by Piper Jaffray found that Among existing Android users, 47% expected to buy another Android smartphone (42% expected to switch to iPhone).

        This compared with 94% of iPhone users expected to buy another iPhone (6% expected to switch to Android)

  • LRLee

    I recommend watching the NOVA episode “Mind Over Money” on PBS. The tag line is “Can markets be rational when humans aren’t?” Although not specifically about the apparent incompetence of professional analysts, I think it lends some insight about herd mentality and how people behave given a rational choice and an irrational one. I think it is good for showing the weakness of the quants and their algorithms in the face of unpredictable irrationality.

    http://video.pbs.org/video/1479100777

  • http://twitter.com/AsaInTheMiddle Åsa Stenström

    I think this blogpost was brilliant, but it was a big surprise to find it here at asymco.com, because I expect more dry numbers and analysis here. I also find it entertaining that some of the comments are written as dry numeric and analytic responses. I think the point is that we should never forget that all people that buys Apple products or shares are humans and therefor live after human “rules”. Like the tradition of giving gifts at certain times of the year.

    What made Apple a successful company is the interest in human behavior and how to create products that humans want to have. That might be the number 1 rule of success. It’s not enough to understand business, technology or design if you forget about the humans.

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