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ATPM 11.02
February 2005


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by Robert Paul Leitao,

Welcome to the February issue of About This Particular Macintosh! As Apple closes in on new stock market trading highs, we open our latest issue with a brief look at the state of the Macintosh and its maker.

All-Time Highs

Did we mention this already? Good. It’s important to mention it again. After years of being known as the “beleaguered” computer company, Apple Computer set a new stock market closing high in January. Apple finished trading on January 31st at $76.80, eclipsing its previous all-time closing high set in March 2000. On the last day of January, Apple also reached an all-time trading high of $77.89 in intra-day activity.

It’s been a long way back for the Mac maker, after suffering through many years of a depressed stock price following a missed sales and earning target in September 2000. The earnings warning cut the stock’s trading price by more than half in two days of frantic selling.

Apple’s trading price at this time values the company at about $30 billion, a five-fold increase in shareholder value from just two years ago. Today’s value also means the company has surpassed the performance attained by the three major stock market indexes in terms of share price performance since the day Apple Computer’s shares first became available for sale to the public.

All-Time Highs, But Why the Rise?

We’re glad you asked that question. What has moved Apple’s share price into record territory? Simple. The success of the iPod, the release of the iPod shuffle, and analyst expectations of strong Mac mini sales have propelled Apple’s stock price to new highs.

Stock market analysts build models for performance based on product sales projections. When Apple missed its lofty projections in September 2000, analysts quickly slashed their expectations leading to a sharp falloff in the share price. Conversely, the hot-selling iPod and analyst projections for sales of the iPod, the iPod shuffle, and the low-price Mac mini have led to an increase in analyst projections for Apple’s revenue and earnings, leading to new all-time highs for the company’s share price.

Still the iPod?

Yep. Still the iPod. Here’s an overview of Apple’s most recent quarterly results. For the three-month period ending December 25, 2004, Apple reported the following:

Net sales of $3.49 billion and net income of $295 million, resulting in earnings of $.70 per fully diluted shares. This compares to earnings per share of $.17 in the prior year period. The company ended the quarter with roughly $6.45 billion in cash and equivalents.

During the quarter, Apple sold 1.046 million Macintosh computers and an astounding 4.58 million iPod digital music players. In the year-ago period, Apple sold 733 thousand iPods, representing a 525% increase in unit sales year-over year. Yep. It’s still the iPod that’s driving Apple’s stock price higher (with a little help from the little Mac mini). Analysts expect Apple’s fashionable entry into the low-cost PC market to win new customers for Apple and increase the number of Macintosh users.

Mini Mac, Mini Price

At a starting price of $499, the Mac mini offers customers the least expensive Macintosh computer ever produced. At just 6.25 inches square, it’s also the smallest Macintosh ever released. Designed to appeal to iPod owners who want a lower cost barrier to entry to the Macintosh platform, analysts are expecting big sales from the small PC.

Shuffle It All Along

In addition to introducing a smaller, lower-cost Macintosh, Apple has also announced a lower-priced iPod product. Called the iPod shuffle, it provides up to a gigabyte of song storage on a flash memory drive. Priced at $99 and $149, the iPod shuffle should move millions more iPod units while enticing consumers to buy a lot more songs.

The release of the iPod shuffle is timed in part for the new Pepsi song give-away campaign. Last year’s Pepsi song give-away might be classified as a qualified failure. A year later, with several million more iPods in the hands of consumers, the 2005 Pepsi campaign should be much more successful. It’s difficult for many consumers to get excited about a free song when the price of entry for the portable digital music player to use with the free music starts at $249 and $299. At $99 for an iPod shuffle, watch for millions more of the bottle caps to be redeemed free songs this year compared to the results of last year’s campaign.

Will iWork Help You Work?

While Apple has recently released new versions of iLife and a new version of Final Cut Express called Final Cut Express HD, the most talked about new software product from Apple is called iWork ’05. The software offering includes a word processing product called Pages and Keynote 2, an updated version of Apple’s popular presentation software. iWork ’05 integrates seamlessly with the components of Apple’s iLife ’05 suite.

Marketed effectively, iWork ’05 may lessen the perceived need for Mac buyers to purchase Microsoft’s Office product for productivity tasks.

Now We Get to Work

Our February issue provides many exciting articles and columns as we continue of mission to chronicle the personal computing experience. Our February issue includes:

The Candy Apple: Healthy Skepticism Has Its Place

Ellyn Ritterskamp explores urban myths and legends.

Bloggable: A Life In Miniature

“When the rumors came true and Steve Jobs announced the Mac mini…there was a tidal wave of positive response, and a bunch of ‘gotchas,’ too.”

The Desktop Muse: Convergence

“Two developments [from Apple] together will allow musicians and music lovers of every budget to join in on the jam.”

Pod People

Christopher Turner kicks off a new column for ATPM, focusing on everyone’s favorite digital music player, the iPod, and how individuals use it in their day-to-day lives.

About This Particular Outliner: Task Management and Outlining, Part 2

This month’s column continues Ted Goranson’s look at Task Management and Outlining.

Customizing The Mac OS X User Interface: Icons

Apple’s Mac OS user interface is legendary and unrivaled by any other operating system for ease of use and good looks, but there comes a time when the default icons get a little long in the tooth.

How To: What to Do With Older Macs, Part 2

“Last month, I talked about some ways to get rid of an older Mac…but [what if] you have decided to keep yours a bit longer?”

Cartoon: Cortland

NeoCort returns and we learn some shocking news.

Cartoon: iTrolls

The iTrolls encounter Green-eyed McDell and the iPod shuffle.

Desktop Pictures: Nature

Reader Mark Montgomery offers this month’s desktop photos, which speak volumes about the unPhotoshopped quality of the Canon 10D.

Frisky Freeware

Frisky the Freeware Guinea Pig checks out Adium.

Review: Desktop Poet 1.0

“Desktop Poet is a truly awe-inspiring way to procrastinate.”

Review: FriendlyNET FR1104-G Wireless Firewall Router

The perfect wireless router for mixed OS 9/OS X networks.

Review: radioSHARK

This would-be TiVo for broadcast radio comes up short in the software department, but gains an addict anyway.


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