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Category Industry

What's a BlackBerry user worth?

Last week BlackBerry announced that it had 72 million subscriber accounts. The current market capitalization is $5.4 billion and enterprise value (i.e. excluding net cash) is about $2.8 billion.

That implies a net present value of about $40 for each account. This is quite a drop from early 2010 when the value was $866.

The graph of BlackBerry subscriber accounts and EV/account is shown below:

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I’ve also added a graph showing a derived value of US consumer BlackBerry users (derived from comScore’s survey data).

There are several patterns which intrigue me:

What's an Apple user worth?

This week Apple announced that iTunes has 575 million accounts. This is the 8th update (that I know of) over the last four years. The history of this data is shown in the following graph.

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The number of accounts has increased by almost a factor of six since late 2009. It amounts to an account growth rate of about 500,000/day or 44% compounded annually. Not bad, but along with this increase what happened to revenues per user?

Forecasting Windows market share

Last week Frank X. Shaw, VP of corporate communications at Microsoft stated:

 … most of the people around me were using their iPads exactly as they would a laptop – physical keyboard attached, typing away, connected to a network of some kind, creating a document or tweet or blog or article. In that context, it’s hard to distinguish between a tablet and a notebook or laptop. The form factors are different, but let’s be clear, each is a PC.

Actually this “admission” that iPads are PCs is not something new. Steve Ballmer made the same assertion in 2010 pre-iPad (though calling them slates). Arguably, the notion that tablets are PCs has been dogma at Microsoft for over a decade and Windows running on all form factors has been a strategic guiding principle.

Which is why I’ve always added the tablet data to the PC data to create a picture of the “personal computing” market. And this is what that picture looks like today:

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Note how the share of various platforms has evolved over this brief time span:

In the weeds

Although discussions related to how Apple will “use its cash” center on acquisitions of companies, Apple’s has been busy acquiring, just not companies. It has been buying capital equipment. Capital meaning (in the original sense of the word[1]) the means of production.

Since the launch of the iPhone Apple has spent $21.1 billion on the acquisition of property, plant and equipment. The company has already stated that they will spend another $10 billion or so for the current fiscal year. This has been mostly machinery and equipment used in manufacturing.

The result in asset value is shown below:

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[The Net value, shown as a blue line, is after accumulated depreciation. The red line represents spending as reported on the cash flow statement.)

The change in spending year/year (fiscal) is shown in the following graph:

Tim Cook's answer to my first question

Tim Cook was asked the first question (on the iPhone portfolio). His answer is paraphrased here:

We haven’t so far. That doesn’t shut off the future. Why? It takes a lot of really hard work to do a phone right when you manage the hardware and software and services in it. We’ve chosen to put our energy on doing that right. We haven’t been focused on working multiple lines.

Think about the evolution of the iPod over time. The shuffle didn’t have the same functionality as other products. It was a really good product, but it played a different role — it was great for some customers it was strikingly different than other iPods. The mini played a different role than the classic did. If you remember when we brought out the mini people said we’d never sell any. It was too expensive and had too little storage. The mini proved that people want something lighter, thinner, smaller. My only point is that these products all served a different person, a different type, a different need. For the phone that is the question. Are we now at a point that we need to do that?

At a macro level, a large screen today comes with a lot of tradeoffs. When you look at the size, but they also look at things like do the photos show the proper color? The white balance, the reflectivity, battery life. The longevity of the display. There are a bunch of things that are very important. What our customers want is for us to weigh those and come out with a decision. At this point we think the Retina display is the best. In a hypothetical world where those tradeoffs didn’t exist, you could see a bigger screen as a differentiator.

Full interview here, answer begins around minute 37.

Here is how I interpret the answer:

Apple retail revenues per visitor reach new record

In the US, on a sales per square foot basis, Apple retail continues to perform twice as well as Tiffany & Co., the second best retailer, and three times as well as lululemon athletica, the third best retailer.

The latest quarter showed a 7% growth in visitors and a new record revenue of $57.6 per visitor.

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As a result, the average revenue per Apple store per quarter reached $13 million, the highest level for a non-holiday quarter.

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Here are some additional metrics:

The allure of iTunes

My estimate of last quarter’s iTunes gross revenues suggested a spending rate of $40 per iTunes account. It would make sense to consider how that figure changed over time. The following graph shows the pattern:

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You can read each bar in the graph as the total “ARPU” or average revenue per iTunes user[1].

I overlaid a graph showing the total number of accounts as reported by Apple to the (retroactively) estimated revenue structure. Account totals are measured with the right axis and ARPU with the left.  Note that I also broke down each component of iTunes as currently defined (Music, Video, Apps, Books, Software and Services.)[2]

The time frame covered is from Q2 2007, or the quarter prior to the iPhone launch. A few patterns emerge:

iTunes users spending at the rate of $40/yr.

In the latest quarter the iTunes top line grew by 32%. Additional newly reported items:

  • Quarterly revenues topped $4 billion (a new high) and the company suggests that this rate is maintainable by stating it has a “$16 billion annual run rate”. The pattern of revenues is shown below.

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  • The content portion of iTunes revenues was $2.4 billion, up from $2.1 billion sequentially. Growth into Q1 is not unusual as many holiday iTunes gift cards are redeemed during January.
  • Revenue growth has been surprisingly steady, averaging 29%/quarter for more than six years.

Measuring Platform Churn

The latest comScore data shows consistent growth in US smartphone penetration. The rate is now 58.4% of adult consumers who own phones. This is up from 20% only three years ago. The rate of growth remains a remarkable 1.2% per month. That’s 700,000 new-to-smartphone users every week. The historic average over 3 years has been 1.07%/month This after having crossed over 50% on schedule in August 2012. There appears to be no slowing.

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The next milestone I have pencilled in is the 80% mark which I extrapolate to be achieved by October 2014. 80% could be considered “saturation” which would signify a rapid slowing of new user addition. However, that might still not happen until 100%, depending on the availability (or lack thereof) of non-smartphones to buy.

Surface Tension: The effect of Surface on Windows revenues

According to Strategy Analytics 3 million Windows-based tablets shipped in Q1. That is not inconsequential. It would add 4% to the total Windows-based computers and reduce the decline in Windows PC growth to -8% (from -11%). You can see the effect of those units on share in the following graphs.

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