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What Will Apple's Figures Tell Us About Tomorrow, Today?

Apple's quarterly financial call is due today and I believe the numbers will tell us much about how Apple is reshaping its business for the future. Analysts have been giving grim warnings about Apple's numbers for the quarter but aside from the actual numbers themselves there are some indicators that are much more important.

The iPhone is Apple's biggest profit maker. This time last year Apple shipped 25 million of them, along with 17 million iPads. Profits were $9bn against $35bn revenue.

I suspect that Apple will deliver equal or better volumes than 2012 but similar, or possibly even lower profit.

Why?

Firstly the iPad Mini, which is likely to generate less profit than the previous entry-level iPad 2. And secondly because a larger proportion of iPhones shipped were entry-level 4 or 4S models.

I think we can be pretty sure that Apple will restructure the iPhone line with a cheaper (to make anyway) entry-level model. Potentially the current 5 would become the mid-range model and an updated version would become the new top-end. That would only be happening if Apple felt its sales mix (and therefore profits) were weakening.

I also think that Apple will refrain from giving the iPad Mini a Retina display. Or if it does it will restrict it to the higher end of the range. The iPad Mini sells as well as it does because it is cheap (for an iPad anyway) as much as because of its size. Apple won't want to rock that boat by increasing the shelf price of the new entry level model.

For both product lines though, the thing that screams out is that they have reached maturity. Other than increasing screen resolution Apple hasn't been able to improve the iPad significantly since launch. marginal improvements in battery life, performance on thickness do not a compelling upgrade make.

Which means that Apple needs to land one of its two new lines this year, if its to continue the kind of phenomenal growth that its expected to deliver these days.

That means either iWatch or Apple TV have to step up and boost revenue by tens of billions of dollars. Or failing that Apple needs to deliver a low-end product that can compete in the emerging markets of the world.

Interesting times ahead.

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