As part of a continuing series on the iTunes economy I described how iTunes fits within Apple’s overall revenue and cost structure. The operation is a modest contributor accounting for single-digits percent of revenue and operating margins.
One additional question is how does iTunes compare with other non-Apple retail businesses. The obvious comparable businesses are Google Play and Amazon’s digital content businesses. Unfortunately we can’t compare iTunes with Google Play because Google does not reveal any details about Play revenues (or units sold/downloaded or payments to developers or any other data.)
Also unfortunately, we can’t compare iTunes with Amazon digital sales because Amazon does not provide that detail either.
What we do have is Amazon’s overall revenues (and operating margin.) So that’s what I have compared:
Since we have Amazon’s overall retail revenues it seemed fitting to also add Apple’s physical store retail data on top of iTunes for additional perspective.
Here are some observations:
This interview took place on the eve of the launch of the Galaxy S4. Anouch Seydtaghia is Deputy Head of the Economic & Finance Section chez Le Temps Geneva, Switzerland.
Q: How can you explain that Samsung organizes such a huge event in NY for the S4?
A: The S4 is a very important product as it’s probably the second most profitable mobile phone in the world. Samsung is trying to position it as a premium product and is using every means available to do so.
What are your thoughts about the huge marketing budget of Samsung?
Samsung’s marketing budget has been a constant percent of their sales (approximately). As sales have risen, the budget has risen. This is not considered a normal situation if sales grow very rapidly but Samsung seems to consider x% of sales to be appropriate spending level. Note that Apple’s marketing has fallen as a percent of sales while its sales have grown dramatically.
If we read the media, we see a lot of speculation about the features of the future S4. Can we now compare that to the expectations before a new iPhone?
There are speculations about all phones, from Nokia to HTC and BlackBerry. I don’t see the speculation to be different between all the major companies.
Can Apple regain the lead in the smartphone market? If yes, how?
LG Electronics has acquired HP’s WebOS for an undisclosed amount. When last it changed hands WebOS was part of Palm which was purchased for $1.2 billion in 2010.
Palm has thus been effectively divided into several smaller pieces distributed as follows:
HP will own:
- Support of existing Palm users
- Palm back-end assets including source code, infrastructure and talent
- webOS patents
LG will own:
- Stewardship of the Open WebOS and Enyo open-source projects where the source code resides
- Associated talent
- WebOS websites
- License for IP related to webOS
LG announced that it plans to offer an “intuitive user experience an Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices.” In an interview, the CTO of LG said that given the current situation with Android, LG does not plan on making smartphones running webOS but will use it in televisions and other devices such as cars, signage and appliances where there are no embedded OS’s. “We’d like to secure a software platform across all devices.”
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) reported that global digital revenues were $5.6 billion in 2012. This represented about 9% growth from 2011 and accounted for 34% of total industry revenues.
Apple regularly reports iTunes as a separate revenue item and occasionally it also reports payments data for developers and app download rates. By interpolating the data published and combining it with some assumptions it’s possible to estimate the mix of revenues (and costs) associated with iTunes.
My yearly estimates are summarized below.
Note that I also included historic digital music industry revenues (as a line). I also included the following summary items:
In 2012 Apple opened 41 stores. The total is the second highest yearly opening rate since the stores first began operating. The highest total was in 2008 when 47 stores opened.
Although it is a healthy total, the surprising story about retail is that stores are not being opened as quickly as Apple’s sales and reach are growing. The following graph shows the yearly opening rate.
The line in the graph above shows the change net sales since 2006 (right scale).
The store opening rate has been around 40/yr. during the last five years, up from 30/yr. during first seven but a 33% growth rate it’s still a frustratingly slow rate of growth. Consider that during 2007 when Apple opened 34 stores, Apple’s net sales were growing at the rate of $7 billion/yr and that in 2012 when it opened 41 stores sales grew about $37 billion or more than 5 times faster.
Although performance for the stores has improved (i.e. the sales per store went up), sales outside of their own retail channel are now a far higher portion of total. 2007 retail revenues were $4.7 billion or 17% while 2012 were $19.1 billion or 12%. You can see the mix by region in the following graph: