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On Capital Allocation

One of the paradoxes of the “post-industrial” era is the aversion to application of capital to growth opportunities. Generally speaking, capital has become trapped in bank accounts as opposed to equipment which could be used to produce value. This aversion is rooted in many dysfunctions, chief among them being the misunderstanding of the purpose of the firm.

But there are exceptions. Illustrated below are the patterns of spending in property plant and equipment (capital expenditures) by companies that still recognize that there are opportunities to be obtained by investment in the means of production.

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Best guess for how many iOS devices will ship in 2014

In October 2013, at the end of its last fiscal quarter, Apple stated:

The Company’s capital expenditures were $7.0 billion during 2013, consisting of $499 million for retail store facilities and $6.5 billion for other capital expenditures, including product tooling and manufacturing process equipment, and other corporate facilities and infrastructure. The Company’s actual cash payments for capital expenditures during 2013 were $8.2 billion.

The Company anticipates utilizing approximately $11.0 billion for capital expenditures during 2014, including approximately $550 million for retail store facilities and approximately $10.5 billion for other capital expenditures, including product tooling and manufacturing process equipment, and corporate facilities and infrastructure, including information systems hardware, software and enhancements.

These 10K (fiscal year annual) forecast figures for capital expenditures are shown in the following graph. Note that they also include the fiscal years from 2006 to 2012. Note also that the graph includes the actual expenditures (in green).

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From 2006 through 2013 the sum of the forecasts was $23.445 billion while the sum of the expenditures were $24.662 billion. With the exception of a carry-forward in 2012, the forecasts are broadly in-line with expenditures, with about 5% more spent than forecast.

This pattern of accuracy in spending makes a $10.5 billion expenditure during the current fiscal year believable. In other words, taking the forecast at face value, and given that three quarters of the fiscal year have already passed, what does it imply for the current and last quarter? The following graph shows what Q3 spending should be relative to previous quarters (and 2011, 2012 and 2013).

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Open always wins

ABI Research estimates that AOSP (or forked Android) is the fastest growing mobile operating system with a total share of units shipped of about 20%. This is not surprising considering that most Chinese vendors don’t include standard Android into their products. Indeed the current leader in China, Xiaomi has its own take on Android and includes a unique UI and set of services. This is also not a new pattern, Amazon’s fork of Android has been in development for many years and powers the second most used tablet in the US.

If one looks at the volumes of smartphones shipped by vendor, the most rapidly growing (Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi, ZTE, Coolpad and “others”) are likely to be using forked versions of Android.

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The reasons for this are many: a reluctance to deal with Google’s obligations,  Microsoft’s IP licensing costs[1] , potential litigation, politics (including bans on Google services in certain markets), etc. But the most likely reason is flexibility. Vendors competing on price and localization are looking to move quickly against each other and can’t wait for blessings from above. Belonging to some “Alliance” and all that it entails is just too much to ask for companies that are, so to say, delicate.

Notes:
  1. which even Samsung seems to be eschewing []

How big is Apple’s Ecosystem?

iTunes/Software/Services revenues grew at 12%. This was the second fastest segment growth last quarter, with the Mac growing at a slightly faster 13% rate. Apple mentioned in the quarterly earnings conference call the for the first nine months of its fiscal year (i.e. since September) the line item iTunes/Software/Services has been the fastest growing part of the business. The following graph shows the growth scorecard for Apple’s line items and it shows how the iTunes store is the only line that has been consistently green (growing above 10% for at least seven years.

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In addition to its revenues, iTunes can also be measured in terms of billings (or gross revenues). The billings growth rate is even higher at more than 25%. This is mostly to the more rapid growth of apps relative to a decline in music. As Apple only records the 30% it keeps as “revenue” for apps the overall growth in apps is less visible in its accounts.

The relative performance of billings vs. reported revenues is shown in the following graphs:

A Dollar a Day

There are 80 million Mac users. The last 12 months saw sales of 18 million Macs.

As of the end of June there were 886,580,000 iOS devices sold. As of today the total is well over 900 million. One billion sold will happen well before this year is out. Estimates of current iOS users vary but they are probably at least 500 million and could be 600 million.

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Apple claims 800 million iTunes accounts.

Therefore, in terms of revenues:

  • Mac User = $289/yr
  • iOS User = $262/yr
  • iTunes User = $25/yr[1]

Adding iTunes usage to either Mac or iOS yields

Notes:
  1. Measured from billings []

Is the PC back?

Gartner’s own press release has an interesting spin:

“After Two Years of Decline, Worldwide PC Shipments Experienced Flat Growth in Second Quarter of 2014, According to Gartner”

Gartner’s actual figure is 0.1% growth. Gartner and IDC measure slightly different quantities as “PC” but they don’t disagree much. IDC still shows declining PC sales at about -1.7%. However both also include the Mac in their accounting of PC. If we were to remove the Mac and measure “Windows PC”[1] Gartner’s figures would show -0.8% drop in PC ex-Mac shipments.

The difference in growth between the Mac and non-Mac PCs is shown in the following graph.

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As Apple puts it, the Mac grew faster (and hence gained share) for 31 out of the last 32 quarters.  It missed on this perfect record during the fourth quarter of 2012 when the then fresh new iMac was impossible to buy due to production issues.

So as far as the Mac is concerned the slowing of the decline in PC unit shipments isn’t at its expense.

Notes:
  1. In quotes because this total includes Linux and Chromebook []

IBM and Apple: Catharsis

IBM did not invent personal computing but their “PC” became synonymous with the category. Having entered the market in 1981, the IBM PC quickly became the top selling brand. From 1984 to 1993 IBM sold more PCs than any other vendor, conceding the spot to Compaq which remained on top only until 2000. No PC vendor remained at the top of the sales leagues longer than IBM. HP had the second longest run but that run was broken last year as Lenovo (who acquired IBM’s PC business) surged.

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As the graph above shows, the period of time when IBM was dominant was characterized by far lower volumes. In 2004, the year IBM exited, they sold about 10 million units. ((as the graph shows, if we consider Lenovo as taking over from there, they did a very good job extending the legacy.)) It was a decent performance but one that did not keep up with the Dell and HP/Compaq race to the bottom in pricing and subsequent rise in volumes.

However, throughout its position of strength, IBM was a reluctant PC maker.

Airshow is coming to Tokyo

I will be conducting our 10th Airshow event in Tokyo on Thursday, 17 July 2014.

Airshow

The purpose of Airshow is to:

  • Understand how data can be used to persuade through an appeal to logic as well as through empathy.
  • Understand the basics of “data cinematicism” including the techniques analogous to cinematography and direction.
  • Understand story development techniques including how to facilitate the audience’s entry into the story.
  • Learn how to build a cinematic presentation.

The method we devised borrows heavily from the techniques of cinematography and screenwriting to impart meaning to the audience beyond the literal words spoken or images shown on screen. These techniques are demonstrated with “feature presentations” and then deconstructed in interactive lectures. Throughout we also weave Aristotelian rhetorical tips and present from the Asymco repertoire of stories.

See Airshow Tokyo event page for more information. Registrations are available. Students may register for academic discounts.

Innovation and the Future of Mobile, with Horace Dediu

Will Sherlin writes:

Horace Dediu joins us for the 22nd episode of “The Innovation Engine” podcast to discuss innovation and the future of mobile – what the post-mobile world will look like; how Apple, Google, and others are shaping the mobile experience of the future; and the next frontiers of mobile after health and fitness.

In this episode of the podcast, Horace talks about why mobile and smartphones will no longer be thought of as synonymous in the very near future. He discusses how soon-to-be released products like Apple’s HealthKit and Google Fit, combined with the revolution in wearables, will continue to drive change in industries like health care and will put more power than ever in consumers’ hands.

Horace also shares his thoughts on “The Disruption Machine,” Jill Lepore’s New Yorker article that criticizes Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation. While he believes there is some merit to the notion that disruption is overused, Horace says the article overlooks years of research and writing since that has helped refine Chrinstensen’s theories. He wrote a post for the Asymco site titled The Disruption FAQ in response to the article if you are interested in reading more of his thoughts on the matter.

Other highlights from the conversation include:

  • What we learned about the Apple New Product Process, or ANPP, from Leander Kahney’s book Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
  • Some of the reasons why health care technology lags behind consumer technology, and why that means we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what will be possible in personal health care
  • Other “white spaces” in the marketplace that Horace sees as ripe for disruptive innovation, including education and transportation
  • Why Horace says software, not technology, is the thing with the power to truly transform industries

via Innovation and the Future of Mobile, with Horace Dediu.