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Apple Reports Record First Quarter Results (apple.com)
262 points by antr on Jan 27, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 358 comments

Sometimes just to wrap my head around really large numbers like this, I like to put things in units of aircraft carriers. The US Navy's last finished carrier cost $6.2 billion[1], meaning that $74.6 billion[2] is enough to buy Apple 12 nuclear carriers, a.k.a. a nuclear carrier fleet larger than that of the US Navy.

Of course this is an inaccurate and very silly comparison[3], but at least for me it does give some sense of scale. That is a preposterous number of iPhones.


[2] Yes, I know that number is revenue and not profit. As long as I'm making a silly mental comparison though, why not have more fun by using the bigger number?

[3] Maintaining/staffing carriers is astronomically expensive, $74.6 billion is actually only enough for 12 empty carrier-shaped hunks of steel.

"Sometimes just to wrap my head around really large numbers like this..."

Personally I like to divide profits and revenues by the number of employees. They have 98 000 employees so they generated revenues of $761 000 and net profits of $184 000 per employee in Q4 2014.

Think about this: if you work for Apple, on average you helped the company generate $0.76 million dollars in sales in the last 3 months.

Edit: @smackfu: I do not think it is weird to consider these metrics. They show what Apple, as a business entity taking its own decisions, manage to extract from their suppliers (expenses) and customers (revenues).

More than half of those employees are retail workers, the profit per knowledge worker must be immense.

I disagree. Foxconn employees are employees of Foxconn in name only. They are effectively employees of Apple. No Apple hardware would be produced at the price point, in the quantity needed if Foxconn did not exist. So imo, the revenue per employee of Apple as we are talking about is skewed badly.

I disagree because at some point in the supply chain you have to draw the line. What about the company that made the processors? What about the memory? what about the one that mined the materials?

Right, I think a good way to draw that line is to not include employees who work for more than just the one company. Foxconn manufactures products for more companies than just Apple.

Major Customers of Foxconn http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn#Major_customers

How about picking a car company for example?

Don't most car companies directly hire employees that assemble the final product (car)?

But, most parts that go into a car are manufactured by suppliers, not the car company. Also, many employees are not direct hires, but employed by an intermediary agency.

Long story short, while they do the final assembly more directly, 90% of the work is still done in China, figuratively speaking.

I understand no large company can literally directly hire employees for all their material, parts, tools, and assembly. BUT most large car companies still directly hire own employees to put together the final product.

And my point is Apple has hardly any employee that actually assembles the end product (in this case iphone, ipad, macbook etc), other than a few in US that build custome Mac Pro in US.

So before one gets giddy about how profit per Apple employee is so high, he/she should remember there are literally hundreds of thousands of people assembling the final product but they are not counted as employees of Apple.

You can call this practice any one of these: 1. It's smart business and that's what capitalism is all about. 2. It's immoral and unpatriotic.

From what I know, no other non-China and non-US phone companies outsource 99% of assembling. Maybe I'm wrong.

Yeah, but you can't stuff a hundred thousand cars in a single shipping container.

Hundreds of thousands of cars are shipped between continents every year...

Foxconn could also just fully automate iPhone assembly without Apple caring.

http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/185960-foxconn-is-att... "Chinese site IT Home is reporting that Apple — the company most associated with Foxconn — will be the first company to use these new robots."

As to being Foxconn workers in name only the Chinese government makes it much simpler to higher Chinese workers though a Chinese owned company than directly employing them.

But it would be unskewed again if you calculate the expenses Apple made for production costs as profit for Foxconn and added that to the figures.

Even if Foxconn charged Apple really fat margin for assembling the final products in China, it's still WAY cheaper than hiring American workers in US. No doubt about that.

If Foxconn is essentially the "low margin" half of Apple, then it wouldn't really unskew it totally.

It's a weird metric, because 1 guy at Apple can hire a firm of 100,000 employees at FoxConn in China to do the actual work for Apple. If those employees instead worked for Apple directly, the end result would be the same but the amount per employee would be far less.

If you include FoxConn employees do you also include FoxConn revenue from Apple?

And FoxConn can of course hire millions of other people to do the actual work for them (mine the materials needed for the products, prepare them, ship them and so on).

Isn't that similar to the way the productivity (the economic metric) is measured though ?

That's surprisingly reasonable. The rule of thumb I've heard is only half of employee expenses is salary, so that gives you an average "effective" salary of $90,000 for Apple employees.

The $184K is net profit, so each employee's salary is already counted. Another way of thinking about it: every Apple employee can get a $180K salary increase and they'd still make money.

A salary increase of $180K quarterly (== $720K annually)!

This is by far their biggest quarter though. If you add all four quarters, you get $440k annually. It's still insane.

Wow... Is that correct?

The numbers are correct.

A better interpretation would be: if the employees owned the company, they'd (effectively) get that much more per year. Instead, shareholders own the company so that money is (effectively) given in equity to the shareholders each year.

Apple shareholders are an enormous cost-center. Perhaps the largest.

Why are shareholders considered a cost? Apple does not have to pay out dividends.

And yet, it does. I wonder why?

At the least, the shareholders hold the cash hostage. They are among the first to be paid out in event of a liquidation.

Perhaps a better question is, how are shareholders not a cost?

Shareholders are the last to be paid in the event of a liquidation (equity is by definition assets minus liabilities) and dividends are not a cost (unlike interest payments).

They are far ahead of the employees though. Employees have no claims on assets (except for unpaid, contractual provisions such as earned wages) in event of a liquidation.

Dividends are a cost to the organization. They are resources that will never be recovered. However, from the point of view of the shareholder it is personal income. If dividends are not a cost to the organization, what are they?

Shareholders are not "far ahead" of employees, because there is no one behind shareholders. Employees get what they are owed before shareholders see a cent. Why should they get more than that? Maybe you think customers should get a piece of the pie, too? Or competitors?

Dividends are the distribution of a part of the profit (or maybe retained earnings, if the current earnings are not enough) to shareholders. Profit is what is left from revenue after costs. Unless you want to redefine the basic accounting terms, dividends cannot be a cost.

Yeah, I think this is really showing how much Apple the organization is extracting from the individual Apple employees.

Would gas travel faster if it didn't have to drag the car along?

Not sure if replacing the car with a black hole is beneficial to the gas - or in this case, the workers - though.

Gas probably doesn't give a shit, used to be mixed with a bunch of stuff in the earth before someone distilled it out and it eventually ended up in a tank, ready to be exploded.

Was just an example of a positive "yes" answer to your question.

I'd argue that Apple isn't extracting value from employees, but rather creating value using employees.

It's not a zero-sum game. Apple creates value, it doesn't just move it from one place to another.

Apple employees create value. Apple itself hoards cash and leaks it out to shareholders.

Surely, the Apple employees use Apple's property when creating value. The employees -- presumably -- don't own the desk they sit at, the computer they use at work, the building in which they work. And they don't pay the bill from TSMC when wafers need to be produced -- Apple pays for all these things. It is able to do this, in part, because it has hoarded cash.

I'm sure you wouldn't claim that it's possible for the employees to create the value without the assets owned by Apple. Does the Apple employees have the savings to pay the $100M bill from TSMC, when a new generation of SOCs need to be produced? They would certainly all have to work from home, because they wouldn't have a building they could all sit in, without using the property of Apple.

Seems to me like Apple and its employees are in a symbiotic relationship, that benefits both parties.

Does not mean it is optimal, only (potentially) marginally useful.

No thing is ever optimal. We can always improve things. But I don't see why we should let perfection be the enemy of good.

But what about the customers? If a customer buys a $1k laptop and gets $2k out of value from it, the customers are effectively exploiting the workers more than Apple the organization could ever dream of. Where would you draw the line?

If you create $2k of value with a laptop, it's you who created that value. You just exploited yourself, using the laptop as your tool. Did I misunderstand your question?

What does it mean to get $2k out of value from a laptop? I'm sure Apple could devise a licensing scheme to get a kickback on whatever you collect.

"$184 000 per employee in Q4"

I think you took quarterly numbers and conflated them with annual numbers. Unless a 90k effective quarterly salary seems reasonable?

I work for a government, I just contribute to waste. Now I'm even more depressed.

Run these numbers on Yahoo :)

When it comes to realizing what a billion dollars is like, i always fall back on a streamer who recently used notepad to demonstrate a billion dollars. Some not safe for work language but it really explains the sheer immenseness of this value.

Let alone the fact there are streamers who have received tens of thousands of dollars. In this case there really is a very rich person in the middle east who has given tens of thousands to streamers.


That's an exceptional visualisation!

More than 1% of the population of Earth bought an iPhone last quarter.

7.125 billion people 74.5 million iphones

74,500,000 / 7,125,000,000 = 1.05%

TIL I am the 1%, :(.

If you made more than about $40k last year, you're salary is higher than 99% of the world's population.

I prefer multiples of the Apollo program when discussing Apple's finances. In 1973, NASA reported to Congress that the entire Apollo program cost $25.4 billion ($131.4 billion in 2013). It's useful when quantifying Apple's cash on hand, which is currently > 1x Apollo.

With the quarterly revenue, they could probably reenact Apollo 11, since each launch was ~$350 million pre-inflation. If you're only doing one, a lot cheaper.

It's really hard to quantify NASA & military spending though, a lot of that money was already spent by the military on ICBM research, which coincided nicely with trying to send people to space.

To get an accurate number you'd have to take the amount that the US was spending on ICBMs, and ever more accurately how much the Third Reich was spending on research for the V2s etc. After all the US military & NASA benefited immensely from Wernher von Braun and other German scientists that delivered Nazi rocket research to them after WWII.

The argument gets a little shaky once you count effort that far back; after all, almost all of our efficiency today is due to advancements that earlier humans have done. Computers, engineering, technology, economics, science, printing, writing, fire, language.

And a lot of that research Apple will not have to do in this hypothetical situation - how much of that cost was manufacturing and how much was r&d that only needs to be done once?

Picture it this way: Net income of $18 billion over 12 weeks. That's $1.5 billion in net profit per week. $214 million per day. Absolutely mind blowing.

13 weeks

Even their profit is enough for 3 Nimitz class super carriers.

Then they can REALLY sink their competitions ;)

Their competition is Samsung. Something tells me the whole large ships argument is lost on Korean chaebols.

> the whole large ships argument is lost on Korean chaebols

Especially when Samsung just built the world's largest: http://www.industrytap.com/worlds-largest-ship-ever-built-fi... :-)

Heh, funny that Apple would be forced to hire Samsung to build their carrier given where they are forced to source their processors.

wait - are they actually building aircraft carriers??

You heard it first on HN. Anyway the premise is wrong. An Apple carrier would be much more expensive than anyone else's carrier. And as you'll only be able to get it in white, silver or gold, you might have some camouflage problems.

You mean like Steve Jobs' yacht that was only finished shortly after he died? Cheaper than an aircraft carrier too at only 100 million (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_(yacht))

It also probably wouldn't be waterproof, unless they fix it with a software update :P

Buying aircraft carriers is the easy part. Maintaining and staffing them is the hard part but it's a nice unit to use right next to libraries of congress and stationwagons full of tapes.

Ah, but you forget. An apple super carrier would be extremely user friendly. It could probably be crewed with 10 hipsters and a few Apple geniuses.

I'd say that getting away with building a huge navy would be the hard part.

Korea will be happy to supply the steel bits, the rest is going to be a lot harder. Brings the snowcrash world a little closer though. Apple vs Microsoft round #3 would be interesting.

Perhaps even Samsung Heavy Industries, until Apple gets around to vertically integrating that part of its supply chain.

It is very impressive when compared to the $9 billion budget of the LHC [1]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider#Cost

And consider The Monster: http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=WMT+Key+Statistics

Just shy of half a trillion dollars in yearly revenue, which generated 15.4 billion in profit.

That's $1.3B revenue per day, or $55M revenue per hour, $920K/minute.

A million dollars of revenue, every minute.

Compared to nominal GDP, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is larger than Taiwan, Austria and Thailand.

Granted, that's revenue, which is 'easy' compared to profits!

How can we not start looking at some of these organizations less as companies, and more as countries?

> How can we not start looking at some of these organizations less as companies, and more as countries?

Because they are not. Similarities start and end right there.

You are, of course, correct, I was obviously getting a bit carried away with hyperbole.

My deeper point is one of size. At some point, these companies start doing country-like things, at country-like scales.

In this particular example, I'm talking about activities that start to look like something you might called "Intelligence", and "counter-Intelligence", just as an example.

The Walmart sporting goods department is probably better armed than some countries..

> How can we not start looking at some of these organizations less as companies, and more as countries?

How about the reverse? Countries as companies? And why don't we look at how large, complex companies can do so much better financially than governments?

Companies can do so much better than governments because governments pay for all the things that companies use - like transport networks, education, healthcare, military cover, and so on.

Taxes are so small, relatively, companies get these benefits as a free, or at least as a heavily subsidised, handout.

Governments get the same benefits that companies do from these things -- it's just that the government does the reinvesting in those cases while other companies might reinvest elsewhere (or in the not-to-distant past some of those very areas). It's the same principle behind companies backing open source. The companies themselves benefit from it, and so do others. And sometimes the initial contributions allow further contributions, like Walmart utilizing the transport networks to greatly improve the lives of the citizens and the tax base for the government.

The governments needing to pay for those basic things (while having a captive income stream) can't be the sole reason governments do so terribly at their duties. How do you explain the F-35 from the basis that governments gotta build roads? Why not look at process and management and incentives, which go a long way towards explaining why different companies do better than others?

>is enough to buy Apple 12 nuclear carriers, a.k.a. a nuclear carrier fleet larger than that of the US Navy.

this is why i'm sure that even in the case of military conflict between China and US, the container ships will continue bringing iPhones from Foxconn factories in China into US stores :)

Yes, 74.6 billion is their revenue for the quarter but it's also about their profit (extrapolated) for a year! :)

Just think of it as 9.4 iPhones per second.

Or to flip it around, an iPhone every 106 milliSeconds.

Ok this did it for me. That's incredible. It's almost into the audible spectrum. That means they're churning them out at something like that rate too. And then realize that not too long ago any one of those iphones would have been the most powerful computer on earth. Seems like a waste of effort? Why are we making smartphones with all of those resources? We could be doing something... less repetitious.

Because the resource cost of this incredibly powerful computer is lower than ever. That little sliver of silicon has more MFLOPS than 10 entire Cray-1 supercomputers.

I think that might be a very misleading way to think about it. Sure, maybe Apple could buy 12 nuclear carriers (Although I think inflation may have changed that number a bit. [Also, your $6.2 billion figure is apparently sourced from Fox News[1][2][3], which (of course) doesn't cite a direct source for that claim, only an author credit to Associated Press[4]]), but assuming they did, all they have is 12 huge hunks of metal that they need to store somewhere.

Oh, were you thinking of a fleet of operational carriers that can deploy world-wide dozens of the most highly armed and agile vehicles within 14 days?

Maybe you were just thinking of putting those carriers out on display in the southern bay? I don't know, maybe.

But, if you were thinking about the (apparent) price paid for what the US actually bought (what your numbers are supposedly based on), you need to include the ongoing costs for operating and maintaining such a fleet. According to your sources (Wikipedia), the US Navy had a $171.x billion budget in 2010[5][6][7][8] (according to the same source, this is now $147.69 billion for 2015). I zoomed around the infographic more and found that Operations & Maintenance run $40.xxx billion this year. Sure, you can drop it down some to get rid of the non-carrier vessel maintenance, but this is the limit of the graphics breakdown of the budget. There's another $3x.xxx billion in there (pan north a bit) for "personnel" costs. We'll be generous and say that[$7x.xxx billion]'s an upper limit on the annual cost to run the carriers as you are likely imaging. If Apple keeps it up, they will be able to pay for the first year's costs before next quarter's earnings.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_George_H.W._Bush_(CVN-77)#c... [2] http://www.webcitation.org/6DBeItQye [3] http://www.foxnews.com/story/2009/01/10/aircraft-carrier-nam... [4] http://www.ap.org

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Armed_Forces#cite... [6] http://www.wallstats.com/deathandtaxes/ [7] http://www.timeplots.com/ [8] http://www.timeplots.com/collections/catalog/products/death-...

To get recursive, don't forget to subtract the profit of sales of iPhone chargers now increasingly installed on modern military vessels.

What military vessels are iPhone chargers installed on?

> Meaning that $74.6 billion[2] is enough to buy Apple 12 nuclear carriers

You can't buy a single operational carrier for that price.

Of course you can't actually get an operational navy, you'll just have 12 empty carrier shaped hunks of steel. Hence why I noted that it's a silly comparison.

You went from a nuclear carrier to carrier shaped hulks of steel really fast.

Do you mean that they're not for sale, which is obvious, or are you saying the true price is different? How different?

That number does not include things like airplanes and people and supplies that you need to actually make a carrier useful.

Staffing and supplies for the staff are cheap enough when you have billions. Let's say you forgo airplanes, how much is it going to cost to get that carrier ready to sail?

Airplanes ain't exactly cheap though

...which is why the two sentence comment you replied to said to forgo airplanes...

He means that money alone won't get you an operational carrier.

Are you sure that's what he means?

I'm pretty amused at the contrast between your comment and ykl's, who has elaborated on korzun in terms of money alone.

Truly phenomenal.

But then when no one else is making decent laptops this is what happens. If anything the gap has grown thanks to Windows 8. I'm not a fan of Yosemite by any stretch, but it is very much the least bad of the available options.

And on mobile, iOS is very clearly in for the long haul now. There was a time a couple of years ago when Android looked like it might gain enough momentum to sweep them away, but it now looks like the iOS market share in developed markets is going to remain fairly solid.

I can't be the only one that has noticed the rise of the Mac-based business but all running on Office 365. It seems to be the new default.

More than Windows sucking, the OEM laptop industry has largely fumbled hardware. For a while it looked like Dell and/or Samsung might actually give Apple a run for its money in terms of design and quality, but that fell flat on its face.

I'm a pretty biased sample, but honestly I know more people running non-OSX on Apple laptops than I know people running non-OSX on non-Apple laptops. Apple's laptops beat the rest of the industry even without the OS.

It's a big branding issue as well.

I know Apple makes two laptops: MBAs and MBPs.

I don't know what all laptops Dell or Lenovo make. I don't know if they have ultrabooks, and if they do, what are their names.

When I buy a new Windows laptop, I sort by specs, not brand. I avoid a few brands (HP, Acer), but as long as I get good enough specs at a good enough price, I'll buy anything.

I don't care about specific models/brands in Dell, Samsung or Lenovo because I don't even know if they exist, and if they do, why I should give a crap about them.

Very true. Consider that this is the main Laptops* page on samsung.com: http://www.samsung.com/ca/consumer/office/mobile-computing

It's as if they want their laptops to be as generic as possible.

* They don't even have a Laptops page. They have an ATIV page which bundles everything from mice to all-in-ones under the brand.

Dear God, that's a terrible brand name. If I wasn't computer savvy, I'd think 'ATIV' is some new data transfer protocol.

Compare that with this: http://www.apple.com/macbook-air/ and you can see why Apple is pulling ahead of everyone

A perfect demonstration of this problem is when you search Amazon for "Asus zenbook".

It gives me a hundred results with various SKUs and model years and I have NO idea as a consumer which one is the best fit for me.

Search Amazon for "macbook". And you will see a similar pattern.

Serious question, what makes Apple laptops beat the rest of the industry?

No docking station, can't change batteries, no touch screens, no spill resistant keyboards, no matte screen option,etc.

You also need those dongles for ethernet and video and can't upgrade RAM or hard drives on the retina models.

Sure, the OS (if you need/like OSX, there is little choice), and the trackpad (if you like that those) are good, the rest? meh.

I rather have a Thinkpad that can take a lot of abuse.

I'd rather have a ThinkPad, too, and I'm using one to write this. But I think you have to recognize that the PC market is massively fragmented and if you walk into a retail outlet you're going to see a lot of laptops, and none of them are going to be ThinkPads. Lenovo undermines their own products through the same fragmentation. If I just search on Google for "laptop" there are 8 top-ranked shopping items, one of which is a link to Best Buy to buy a 15.6" AMD-based Lenovo G50, which is a complete piece of shit no matter how you look at it. There are no piece of shit in Apple's catalog.

Now let's suppose it was just ThinkPads going head-to-head with MacBooks. I'd take the ThinkPad every time, except if it was a ThinkPad made in the last two years. They took a break from making good computers and instead decided to make expensive, fragile ThinkPads with useless keyboards and no mouse buttons. Apple can ship a laptop with no mouse buttons because Apple's software works. Lenovo doesn't have that luxury; they run Windows.

And let's not forget how many years Lenovo spent pissing on their loyal customers. For YEARS they insisted that it was not possible to 1) economically source IPS displays, and 2) source 4:3 displays. Then Apple comes out with the iPad, it has a 4:3 IPS display. Turns out Lenovo just didn't care if you had a good screen; they know you need a laptop and they are just trying to squeeze more profits out of you. Apple actually wants you to have a better product.

Now as I said I'm typing this on a ThinkPad. Why? Only two reasons: trackpoint, which is God's own pointing device, and a huge Esc key, for using vim. There are other minor reasons, like the fact that if you drop a MacBook it's guaranteed to get bent or dented, whereas if you drop a ThinkPad some little plastic giblet will break off, which is a better outcome in my experience. But if you forced me to think about it I'd have to admit that it's a reasonably durable case and a decent keyboard and mouse wrapped around a really mediocre computer. And the display is ghastly.

Another Thinkpad (X230) owner here. Mine has an SSD and works really well, and I get a replaceable battery which I wouldn't with an Air. However -- my wife wouldn't consider buying one because of the quality of the display.

I suspect Macbook Airs sell well because they're designed with a wide swathe of people in mind.

Recent Thinkpads are a horror show. The t440p has a touchpad so atrocious it renders the trackpoint unusable (because the L/R buttons are part of the touchpad). Palm rejection is nonexistent. And yes, the screen is awful, with a tiny vertical viewing sweet spot.

The coming lineup has restored the trackpoint buttons. I have a t440s and the clickpad is horrible! I'm selling it as soon as the T450s is available.

It looks like the X1 Carbon (3rd Gen) might be adequate, but the more compact X240 still has the virtual mouse buttons.

The vast majority of customers don't care about any of those. They're willing to pay a little more for something that is reliable, not too heavy, looks nice, well designed, and sturdy. These are things that bring people utility but won't show up on a specs sheet.

I understand your point, i really do. And I can understand why people would choose Macbooks, I understand the appeal, I just want to point out that they are not the only laptops in the market with those characteristics.

Maybe most consumers don't care about other features (minimalism can be good and a feature by itself) and a Mac is ideal for them, that is fine, I just disagree that only MBP have those qualities

Probably something to do with forgoing all the things you mentioned so that they could nail the true purpose of a laptop, while also making it aesthetically pleasing. This is a tenet of who Apple is as a company. Whether you agree with the aesthetic position is a personal preference. The figures speak for themselves though... a large proportion of consumers which includes IT professionals want what Apple sells more than they want the things in your Thinkpad.

*Edit for spelling.

I'm on a 2013 Macbook Pro right now. I've had zero problems with it. It's fast, reliable, quality hardware with a battery that lasts me around 10 hours a day (if I use Safari, if I use Chrome it cuts the battery down to 7-8 hours...it's really a hog now).

BUT, I'm in the market for a new Laptop. I'm one of the few people that liked the announcements from Microsoft about Windows 10 and honestly, I'm bored with Mac right now. So I'm looking at good laptops that will exceed or at least meet the quality and battery longevity of the Macbook Pro. So I'm seriously looking at the new (not out yet, but announced) Thinkpad T250s. Great keyboard and unique Track-point mouse (always intrigued me), battery life near 20 hours (with the extra 6-cell battery option), durable build (like a tank), and the ability to dock it. Not to mention I could also throw Linux on it without any problems (Linux on this Macbook Pro is spotty at best, as some things work, some are wonky...same with Bootcamp and Windows).

But bottom line is, which platform you choose doesn't really matter much anymore. I could switch over to Windows from being 100% Apple for the past 8 years and not have much of a problem.

I too noticed that Chromium is a real CPU hog, which is unfortunate on a laptop! The ability to see which processes are power intensive is very useful, and I try and use Safari instead. Pity really as Chrome is quite good!

Glad it wasn't just me who noticed this.

Apple laptop market share is <15% IIRC. Phone sales are the eye-popper for a single company, but even there, Android market share is crazy high.

Apple may sell more than any other single company in some markets, but their overall market dominance is mostly an illusion trumpeted by advocates.

You are mixing market share dominance with market dominance. Two very different concepts.

That's exactly the contrast I was drawing, yet to only talk about only one creates a cognitive distortion. One strong enough to confuse people into thinking that Apple dominates the laptop market when I think, but can't find the specific confirmation numbers, that Lenovo sells more laptops. That's one brand vs. Apple. Consider the wider market, and "market dominance" is a much a misnomer in the small as "market share domination" is in the large.

The parent here was asking why the laptops are so great, but they are actually a minor, albeit interesting, part of the market and market share. By market metrics, they aren't that that amazing. They are outsold by another single brand and fall into the "Other" category when looking at market share.

All that is true, but it is also the biggest company in the world.

No, it's not. It's not even in the top ten.

On what metric? Market cap says they're top dog:


Oh, fair enough. But I think that's a poor metric, since it's much more "virtual" than metrics that actually affect the economy, like turnover. I prefer Forbes average of four metrics: http://www.forbes.com/sites/liyanchen/2014/05/07/the-worlds-...

That Forbes article was also written when Apple's market cap was "only" $483B. As of today it is $680B.

> No docking station

Don't need one. Wifi, bluetooth keyboard/mouse, external display, and other external peripherals haven't been relevant in the past five years.

> can't change batteries

Fair point I guess, but the battery life is pretty long already (also compared to competitors), and for me personally, I have a static workspace so I don't miss it.

> no touch screens

I think OSX was slowly heading towards that a while ago (with gestures, Launchpad, etc), before someone cut that off saying "OSX is not a touch screen operating system". I don't miss it.

> no spill resistant keyboards

They could use this actually, I've heard too many stories of people having huge repair bills because they spilled onto their shiny laptops.

> no matte screen option

...anymore, :/. No 17 inch anymore either. I guess those were two things that just didn't sell well enough - iirc, the 17 inch MBP only took up 1-2% of total Mac sales.

A static workspace where you prefer to look downwards on a relatively small monitor on level with the keyboard, to a properly placed desktop monitor and accessories placed where they are physically convenient to use? What does your work consist of, exactly – not using the computer?

MacBooks come with built in HDMI and/or displayport - what about that precludes an external monitor?

As for the keyboard/mouse combo, bluetooth has worked well there for ages...

I thought they still did a 15" model with built in DVD drive but alas no! They only do a 13" offering.

I have a 2012 MBP NON-retina that has all the ports you'd need (Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, FireWire, USB3 x 2), DVD writer, line in, line out, battery life indicator (push a button and see green LEDs), SD card reader but it really was the last of the "good ones" in my opinion. I can change the battery in it and can also upgrade the RAM (it isn't soldered to the board like the new ones). Unfortunately the screen isn't super-high resolution but that's not a problem for me.

I find the build quality to be good, and it feels sturdy. Perhaps I am looking at the wrong end of PC laptops but they now always feel flexible and plasticky. They typically only use metal on the part by the keyboard but the rest of them are still bendy plastic. A few Samsungs and Sony have felt better but they don't feel robust and quality to me.

I see someone at work using a MacBook Air and they have to use a Thunderbolt adapter for ethernet and a USB adapter for connecting an external screen, and suddenly it isn't as convenient with all those dongles hanging off it. Great for wandering around and travelling though, which is likely the market for it.

But as you say, a Thinkpad is likely a PC alternative, I wouldn't consider anything else. (I wouldn't give it abuse though - why the need to throw your expensive device around???)

The short answer is that Apple is willing to not try to check all the boxes in favor of building something which works for most people.

No docking station - Don't really need one. Thunderbolt can handle most everything, and then you just have power. In my experience most people I see use a laptop only use power and maybe a wireless mouse receiver and a monitor. I don't see many people plugging 12 things in.

Batteries - Macs get phenomenal battery life, it's not an issue for most people. Much like iPhones there is an argument for swappable batteries but it doesn't seen to have a large effect on sales. People seem happier with the thinness and weight savings, or at least don't mind the tradeoff much.

Spill resistant keyboards - Are most PC laptops outside of the toughbook market? I wouldn't have even thought about this.

Matte screen - That was an issue. I am typing from the last matte screen MBP Apple made, I didn't like the gloss. I've seen the newer machines in person and while they do reflect more light they're much better than they were years ago. The better contrast and color saturation would be worth it to me when I replace my laptop.

Then again, I imagine the average person always liked the glossy screens because they looked better at first (much like the poorly adjusted TVs at BestBuy).

Some Macs still have Ethernet, but WiFi is pretty ubiquitous. When I'm at my desk I'd just plug an adapter into my monitor and it would work (thanks to Thunderbolt). RAM and HD are another design decision Apple has made that people seem to accept.

I do love OS X. You seem almost dismissive of the trackpad, but I LOVE the thing. I'm guessing you're a TrackPoint person, and I get that. But the laptop world seems to have standardized on touchpads and Apple's are phenomenal. For years they were MUCH bigger than PCs and the gestures works great. For years PC laptops (especially budget ones) seemed to have odd 'scroll strips' and I read complaints about them in reviews.

I'll also mention MagSafe. It's saved my laptop numerous times and is extremely easy and fast to connect (or disconnect).

In general Apple's laptops are just well built and feel solid. Some PCs are like that, many aren't due to cost. If I'm going to use a machine every day for 4 years I want to know it's well built and holds up well. That's never been a problem with my Macs, anecdotally I've heard things all over the place for PC brands. Things where Lenovo makes great laptops except for line 'X' which is built poorly, or the 2013 version of thing 'Y'.

There is a lot to be said for a well built laptop with very consistent quality, thin, low weight, and excellent parts. It's easy to try Apple stuff in person thanks to stores and it's easy to narrow down what you want because they don't sell 40 individual models (before customization). There is a very large 'no hassle' factor when it comes to buying, I don't have to worry that I spent 5 hours picking the right machine only to have it show up on my doorstep as something I don't like and have to send back.

> (if you need/like OSX, there is little choice)

Now THIS is a potential problem to me. I don't blame Apple for not selling OS X, but I know that I'm at Apple's behest. If they decide to make computers I don't like for a few years I know I either have to wait it out or switch platforms. With a Windows laptop you decide to leave Lenovo and go to Dell or HP without having to change your whole day-to-day environment.

(I'm ignoring Hackintoshes. I don't want to spend the time to deal with the possible problems.)

>> In general Apple's laptops are just well built and feel solid. Some PCs are like that, many aren't due to cost. If I'm going to use a machine every day for 4 years I want to know it's well built and holds up well.

Be glad you're not like me and are stuck with a lemon like the 2011 Macbook Pro. It's a well built (chassis-wise, at least) and solid brick with a well known design defect that Apple refuses to acknowledge exists.

I have since left Apple, mainly the unibody Macbook Pros that I love so much have been discontinued in favor of models with soldered on RAM, expensive to replace SSDs. I'm not a fan of how Apple is "closing up" the expandability of their hardware.

With the current Macbooks, I wouldn't have been able to upgrade from 4GB to 8GB to 16GB of RAM as the prices came down (and without paying Apple's exorbitant prices for RAM), or upgrade their hard drive to a hybrid drive, and to growing sizes of SSDs as the prices came down. Damn, I miss those unibodies.

I've had that kind of problem before, and I can also tell you the old PowerBooks in the G4 era could be pretty bad. You were thrilled to upgrade because it made a big difference. I've owned some of the older laptops where bits would start wearing out.

My current laptop is a 2010 MBP and I've upgraded both the RAM and the HD, neither one is an option now. The upfront costs are higher than they used to be, and I'm not a fan of that.

But that's part of the price of liking Apple hardware. It's the tradeoff they've decided to make and it's not enough to offset the other benefits and drive me away.

I've seen enough Apple hardware at work and from friends to generally think it's good quality and not worry too much about buying my next machine from them.

Well, let me tell you, I have never retired a PC laptop for any other reason that it got slow with age. That includes the cheap ones.

My Macbook Pro was almost four years old but still quite fast. I replaced the logic board once under AppleCare, but it died out of warranty just before Christmas. I am not interested in paying 500+ for a new logic board with the same defect that my two previous logic boards had. There are plenty of other people in the same boat as me.

Any good will that I had for Apple is now long gone. I'm just hoping I can get something out of the class action that has been filed.

I don't blame you. I'm not sure what I'd do in that situation. "Wait it out" is a good strategy if there is a design element in the new machines you don't like (I did that with the early glossy screens) but if your current machine is defective and basically can't be fixed I wouldn't blame you for jumping ship at all.

It's too bad situations like this end up in court where even if you get made whole it takes years and years and in the mean time you're just stuck with extra costs.

The worst part - Apple has a great reputation for customer service, and as today's numbers prove, they could easily afford making me and my fellow owners of problematic 2011 MBPs whole, but they've kept their head in the sand about it.

It's unfortunate, because I used to be a promoter of Apple products to people I know. These days, not so much. In fact, I typically don't have much good to say about them at all. This might not have been the case had they been proactive about fixing this problem.

I know they pull the "you've been through enough' here is a new machine" thing to help customers. But how many more mobos do you have to go through to get to that point. How much time would you waste?

> the old PowerBooks in the G4 era could be pretty bad. You were thrilled to upgrade because it made a big difference

While I understand and respect your position, it made me smile that since someone was selling you pretty bad things, where bits would start wearing out, you were thrilled to give them more money for other things.

Apple can really have the pie and eat it!

It wasn't that so much as the G4s were so underpowered that you'd jump at an excuse to get a faster one. I never had any real problem with them other than minor cosmetic things from heavy use.

I have a 2012 MBP and it's the last of the good ones I feel. A real pity because I don't know what to move to when the time comes!

(I too fear the insane RAM prices).

The good thing is that the 15" models have CPUs that are pretty fast, even today. The 2012's CPUs produce much less heat than the 2011s, so I tend to think that you're good beyond 2017 if you don't do anything that requires you to constantly get CPU speed bumps.

That's the message I want to hear. Thanks!

I do compile C++ in parallel frequently under Xcode, but I don't stress it for gaming other than for a few hours once a night. Stays cool most of the time (other than gaming, it goes mental then).

  > Matte screen - That was an issue. I am typing from the last matte screen 
  > MBP Apple made, I didn't like the gloss. I've seen the newer machines in 
  > person and while they do reflect more light they're much better than they
  > were years ago. The better contrast and color saturation would be worth it
  > to me when I replace my laptop.
I am still rockin' my 2009 matte screen 15"! The ipad air 2 screen (in stores) seems like the new reduced reflectivity coating helps quite a bit. I am hoping they bring that to the next rev of the laptop screens.

> Spill resistant keyboards - Are most PC laptops outside of the toughbook market? I wouldn't have even thought about this.

Who cares if the keyboard is spill-resistant if they'll sell you accidental damage protection for a reasonable price? In that case, spill-resistance is more their problem than yours and it is often designed in. Lenovo, HP, Dell and others sell ADP as a warranty add-on. AFAIK, Apple doesn't - you'd have to go to a third party like Best Buy or SquareTrade (with the hassle of the extra company / moving parts that introduces).

> Some Macs still have Ethernet, but WiFi is pretty ubiquitous.

WiFi is fine for when you are on the move, but for serious use, I wouldn't trade an ethernet connection.

I'm in a office right now with over 500 people, all with laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and the WiFi is pretty crappy. I wouldn't want to depend on WiFi as my main network connection in any kind of office environment.

I definitely got a way better deal by a local merchant than any with any Apple laptop[1].

1: http://www.linux-onlineshop.de/Linux-Hardware/Linux-Notebook...

I am one of a handful of MBPro users in a sea of corporate Dell laptops. My 18 month old Pro still looks great. Dell laptops look very used after just a few months. This is true even of the newer Dell ultrabooks that look like plastic imitations of a MacBook Air.

And I get many comments from people wishing they could use a Mac instead of a Dell Windows machine.

If you've ever used one you'd immediately notice the build quality, responsiveness, usability and a zillion other factors which are hard to quantify.

Comparing spec sheets doesn't do justice to the actual experience of using one. If you're serious, borrow one from a friend for a few days.

I have owned dozens of Macs (personal and work), from the clamshell iBook, TiBook, White iBooks, to the latest MacBooks and a few iMacs too. I'm very familiar with the platform ;-)

Most of the time they are above the average PC/Laptop, I do give you that, but recent models have reduced functionality (non replaceable batteries, memory, HDD, dongles for ethernet, etc) all in the name of Form over Function.

Isn't the SSD replaceable on all of them? Sure, there are trade offs, but do you think built in Ethernet is important enough to warrant making a laptop thicker, given the WiFi speeds we have today?

People want the *nix underpinnings of OS X. So many people would be lost if they had to transition to Windows. You don't see many non Visual Studio programmers programing in Windows. Certainly not your Ruby on Rails Macbook sitting in Hackerdojo/Red Rock types.

I think this is accurate about the nix underpinnings of OSX. I spent years and years and years on Linux faffing around every distro upgrade, fighting with drivers, spending so much time getting stuff working, and then they pulled the stunt of new desktop paradigms, chucking 30+ years of desktop interaction in the bin, so I bought a MacBook after using OSX at work for some years and having a Mac Mini at home for some time. It is a joy to be able to continue doing nix things whilst having an accelerated window manager (Quartz), although it still needs some things to make it more usable (like installing ShiftIt for window movement with the keyboard).

Using Windows is more and more of a pain to me, particularly as Visual Studio 2010 is dog-slow for me compared to Xcode. I know I need to buy a new version of VC++ but it is now always a clunky-screen-refreshing-whirly-cursor-many-folders-shown-in-Explorer-inconsistent-navigation-and-buttons-shortcuts-hyperlinks experience in Windows. Sigh.

You can get VS 2013 Community Edition for free (it is basically the Pro edition with a different name), for your personal use or for companies with less than 5 people.

Thanks for the heads up. I will definitely have to get that downloaded and sorted under a VM some time soon.

Is it really just the Pro version? Is distribution of software created with it limited?

Yes it is the Pro version with a different name, no time limitation ... You can read more on Microsoft VS page: http://www.visualstudio.com/products/visual-studio-community...

Small excerpt:

Visual Studio Community 2013 includes all the great functionality of Visual Studio Professional 2013, designed and optimized for individual developers, students, open source contributors, and small teams.

Thanks very much, the individual developer tis I! Thanks!

Better keyboard, (infinitely) better touchpad, better chassis (to the touch).

The places where my hands interact with the machine are much more efficient and pleasing on a mac than any other machine (which is sad, because I LOVED my Thinkpads in the early 2000s).

> The places where my hands interact with the machine are much more efficient and pleasing on a mac

In general I'll agree with you but there is ONE thing that I don't like on Macs and still exists to this day (I believe). The notch in the aluminum below the trackpad to make it easy to open the machine has sharp left and right right angles, and that pokes me from time to time.

I figure that's one of those 'this looks better' things, but it wasn't a problem on the older machines that had physical latches and a button to open the lid.

Every Macbook I buy I use some sandpaper (medium coarse and then fine) to round the sharp corners between the sides and the surface containing the keyboard & trackpad. I especially round the sharp points on the corners of finger-cutout to open the lid.

I also slightly round the edges where the sides meet the top and bottom surface of the case.

The result is that those sharp unpleasant feeling corners are now silky smooth, around a 1 mm radii. I'm surprised Apple didn't design it this way in the first place.

Note: It's important to be cautious not get any aluminum dust in any of the ports or electronics.

I do the same and can confirm it works like a charm.

I think this is a big part of it. I would rather run Windows on an Macbook Pro than any of the other hardware (although the new Lenovo machines are getting closer). That said it is still the phone/tablet/media streams that dominate their income.

>> I would rather run Windows on an Macbook Pro than any of the other hardware

I honestly don't get why people often say that Macbooks are the best Windows laptops.

I have always found the Windows on Mac experience to be sub-par with respect to the key placement, driver behavior, and oversensitive scrolling with Apple mice.

I far prefer running Windows on a similarly equipped PC laptop. On the two Macbooks that I have run BootCamp on, I have always found it somewhat painful dealing with the subtle but noticeable differences related to the keyboard and pointing devices.

I too find the trackpad (which is a joy to use under OSX) to be a clunky ill-performing appliance under Windows. It suddenly becomes a real nuisance to use (ie, no I want to move a window not drag and select). I resort to using an external mouse when I reboot to Windows on my MacBook.

That hasn't been my experience. I find the mouse experience equivalent to my Lenovo. The Lenovo maxes out with an HD screen (1920 x 1080) and has about 2/3rds the battery life. I will concede the keyboard point. I pretty much hate all laptop keyboards equally though.

I probably should have specified that my issue is with the Magic Mouse with Windows in particular. It just scrolls when I don't want it to, and when it does, it's stupid fast. I don't have that issue with any non-Apple mouse that I have.

Google's lack of oversight in the Play store (which is actually a core philosophy) is really holding back Android.

There are countless really, really crappy apps and clones crowding the app store. Plus, since most people pirate, developers can't make money (Monument Valley saw around 95% piracy rate and just $250k in revenue from Android, vs. $5.5M from iOS).

This sunk Windows Mobile, which I still believe has the best UI of the bunch (sadly, it also had a shit app store and tons of bugs).

The problem with the Monument Valley numbers is that they expected a hit game on iOS would magically translate in to a hit game on Android and that's really not the case.

The two stores are completely separate, your popularity on either will not help you on the latter unless you're bringing a big marketing budget with you or have something truly unique and viral.

There are plenty of popular Android games that have virtually no player base on iOS.

> expected a hit game on iOS would magically translate in to a hit game on Android and that's really not the case.

Why not? Shouldn't a good game sell well on any platform?

> The two stores are completely separate, your popularity on either will not help you on the latter unless you're bringing a big marketing budget with you or have something truly unique and viral.

Perhaps it won't sell as well on Android in relative numbers (attach rate to total devices), but it is a truly unique game that many people talked about.

> There are plenty of popular Android games that have virtually no player base on iOS.

Honestly I would LOVE a list of a few (emulators/clones don't count). With the exception of that AR game that Google made I have never heard of a mobile game (from friends, game sites, etc.) that wasn't available on iOS.

I genuinely don't know of any, but I've wondered about this quite a bit.

> that AR game that Google made

You mean ingress? They ported that to iOS a couple months ago

Yes that's the one. I remember hearing it discussed when it first came out and then heard about it again this summer because of the port.

“Shouldn't a good game sell well on any platform?”

It should see well on a platform where people pay for quality content, yes.

Well, if the paying 5% are worth $250k, then the they could have made $50m from Google Play! Then again, people grounded in reality realize that every pirated copy is not equitable to a sale without any piracy, and there are many, many things that could account for the difference in profit per market, such as quality of port, rating in market, exposure in ecosystem, inclusion in the top apps list, etc.

The numbers you gave are interesting, but there's very little to show how well they correlate.

Edit: Assuming you are going off the data from techcrunch[1], I'm thinking that 95% piracy rate is not quire right. First, it's mentioned as something they "revealed previously" which means we can make very few assumptions about it, and second, they state it was installed on over 10m total unique devices (including multiple installs from a purchase, family share and unlicensed copies). Considering they list over 2.5m licensed copies sold, with almost 800k of them being for android (and half of that being free amazon giveaways), I'm thinking that 95% number doesn't make much sense. Also, 400k plus free copies given away by Amazon? That may affect sales...

1: http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/15/monument-valley-team-reveal...

You'll have to back up your "shit app store" claim in regards to Windows Phone... I decided try out all-MS with the purchase of a Nokia Icon last year and the integration has been phenomenal. I've also noticed only one bug (in IE of course), and the phone rarely restarts itself like my Droid Maxx often does. Rudy Huyn also creates solid clones of every single popular Andy/iOS app.

The UI is cleaner, Nokia Maps > Google Maps especially for Navigation (full GPS offline nav has saved me more than once), complete MS Office app integration, Outlook email client is slick, camera is better than Android/iOS, OneDrive integration works perfectly. I've been very surprised at how well executed it is, and 8.1 promises to be even better with Cortana, etc.

To date I've had one app that didn't have an equivalent from WinPhone devs, that was the Amazon Seller App. Then again, I don't spend time playing phone games so I'm not the target market. I keep a Droid Maxx around in case there's a niche app I absolutely must use.

Are you serious? Maybe things have changed, but when I had a Windows Phone and did a (hopeful) search for any mildly popular app, I was greeted search results full of blatant rip offs. Same name, same icon, except published by some random dude in China.

Maybe he's running the rip-offs and believing that they're the "real" ones?

iOS App Store search is not much better.

I think the real major difference is the psychological factor: Google as a brand stands for "free": Gmail, search, YouTub.. You name the top major Google products or brands, and they are considered free in most consumers minds.

You then look at Apple, and what do their users think of the brand? Expensive maybe, but valuable or luxury. This brand identity carries over into the App Store / play store comparisons quite heavily. It would really curious to compare metrics between the two sites with regard to the ratio of free vs non-free browsing of apps between the two marketplaces.. I suspect Play has a higher ratio of free-loaders vs Apple App Store.

I think you are spot on with the "free" perception of Google products, and by extension, Android.

I am one of the freeloaders on Android. I have bought a few apps but I mainly go for the free ones, even if they had advertising. It's a real pity really because I know the effort needed to write an app (I have done a few for Android).

Under iOS, I know I am going to have to BUY most apps, as there aren't that many free ones! Also, I had to sell a kidney to buy the device in the first place so I am expecting to have to fork out money - I know it was an "investment".

The same sort of goes for Mac hardware - I always thought it overpriced rubbish and expensive until I actually had the money to buy one and then suddenly it wasn't quite so bad.

> There are countless really, really crappy apps and clones crowding the [play] store.

TBF, the app store's main problem is app discoverability - I think only 1% of the apps actually sells well enough, the others are only found if you actively look for them. And the formula behind the Apple app store hasn't changed in forever - actually the only thing they changed was allowing (short) videos and a change in how they present in-app purchase-funded apps, which dominate the 'free' listings (of course).

Do you know where we might read more about those Monument Valley numbers? That's an interesting statistic.

I believe I heard those numbers in one of those videos:


But I can't remember exactly when I heard it.

> There was a time a couple of years ago when Android looked like it might gain enough momentum to sweep them away, but it now looks like the iOS market share in developed markets is going to remain fairly solid.

What are you talking about? iOS market share is at an all time low.

It went from 14.4% (2012) to 11.7% (2014).

As of the end of Q3 2014, Android was the most popular operating system, with a 84.4% market share, followed by iOS with 11.7%, Windows Phone with 2.9%, BlackBerry with 0.5% and Others with 0.6%.[90] Source: http://www.idc.com/prodserv/smartphone-os-market-share.jsp

Agreed. Apple shares are tanking worldwide. You have to really specifically cherry pick to make their mobile share look good. This is why they don't do pie charts during their product launches anymore.

Those are worldwide statistics (which are great), but in the US, its close to 50/50, UK - 60/40, with the rest of the world slipping down into the numbers you stated.

Amongst the english speaking world, iOS is still a MAJOR contender.

According to this article (2014), iOS still has a 32.5% market share in the US. I do admit i'm surprised it's still that high in the US. It's not 50/50, but yes, still a contender in the US.

"Android now holds 61.9% of the U.S. market share to Apple’s 32.5%, the lowest percentage iOS has captured since the iPhone 4s launched in 2011."

source: http://bgr.com/2014/07/01/android-market-share-2014/

Apple's laptop division and the appeal of OSX have very little to do with these revenue numbers. At 6.9B Mac sales are only a few multiples of Microsoft's fledgling Surface business, let alone the laptop market in general.

IPhones on the other hand...

I have the opposite impression. Regardless of the bug aspect, I find that Windows 8 looks much more advanced, polished and sophisticated than Mac OS, which has been stagnating for several years now and is still riddled with mindboggling inconsistencies (e.g. why can I rename a file in the Finder but not in an open file dialog, which looks exactly like a Finder?).

Pretty sure the open file dialog being read only is a feature and not a bug - you also can't move things around, delete things, etc. I actually like this b/c when I want to find a file, I don't want to move something accidentally. It also lets them implement things like dragging a file from Finder to open dialog to select it (that feature doesn't make sense if your file pickers can also modify the files).

The point wasn't that having a read-only open file dialog is wrong. It's that that having a read-only file dialog and a full-featured file browser look identical is confusing/misleading.

Rather, it's that you got used to renaming files in an open file dialog from when you used other OS's and you now expect it to work like that.

Logically, an open file dialog should be read only since the task you're trying to achieve is just to open a file, not rename one. This means no accidents etc. And if you've ever seen my Mum open a file, you'll know accidents happen all the time ;)

I've seen enough novice users inadvertently move or rename files in the Windows save and open file dialogs that I'd call that a feature.

The open file dialog is exactly that to "open" a file. I find the fact that you can do that on Windows stupid and inconsistent.

You find it normal that two windows that look exactly the same don't behave the same way depending on how they were invoked?

This violates a concept at the core of basic GUI design called "The principle of least surprise".

I regularly want to do file operations when I open file dialogs, like noticing some garbage file I forgot to delete or wanting to rename things. Having to launch a separate Finder just to do that on Mac OS is a constant reminder how it's an operating system stuck in the early 2000s.

I can see your point, but Finder looks nothing like an Open dialog. Sure, the Open dialog has a list of files in it but it doesn't feature tabs or a corresponding menu at the top of the screen to allow you to connect to servers (eg screen sharing). They're clearly two different things. I have never seen anyone confused by it. I have seen people more confused by the fact that "renaming" under Finder is done using ENTER! I would expect Enter to open the file but apparently Cmd-Down is the obvious choice...

I would say the cluttering up of Windows Explorer is far worse though: it now features a giant useless blue bar (which you can't hide) at the bottom in addition to the statusbar (which is hidden by default), a list of directories on the left in addition to favourites and libraries (all to confuse users so they have no idea where anything is, you should see my mum trying to use it), left and right panes that no longer correspond for navigation (you can navigate with the keyboard in the left tree but the right pane doesn't follow it), a menubar BENEATH the toolbar, an additional toolbar for operations (why aren't these inside the other toolbar?). The list goes on! I know this is under Windows 7 and has likely changed in 8+ but post XP it has really gone downhill.

W-a-a-a-y back in the mists of time, during the MacOS days, it was recognized that Macintosh power users wanted even fewer context switches than the Macintosh was already delivering. There were hooks that allowed savvy software companies to create extensions to the MacOS file dialog, which allowed just exactly what you call "stupid and inconsistent". For users who wanted to work as much as possible through the GUI via the keyboard, these file dialog extensions allowed a lot of customization to workflows. These customizations were apparently popular with the graphics artist set; when I spoke with some of these folks out of curiosity (since I agree with you that cramming these features is wildly inconsistent with the Mac design principles, but an awful lot of them were buying these packages from me at the time), it turns out that it was a very practical way to wrangle lots of projects and lots of files in each project going on at the same time.

It was a variation of the highly customized key bindings you see lots of vi/emacs/terminal users create, often by those who deal with workflows that have a repetitive aspect, but not repetitive enough to automate. It just so happened these key bindings were all in the file dialog. Since these were primarily graphics artists who I found were the most vocal about these customizations, it totally made sense to me then why they wouldn't be living in emacs and customizing that instead. Mostly actions like "jump to this folder", "copy this filename", "search in this folder", "recursively search from this folder", "serialize these filenames", etc. Very edge case activities compared to mainstream GUI users, but it turned out immensely useful to this subset of users; literally saved them up to an hour per day, which added up really fast.

I sometimes wonder if they weren't onto an aspect of GUI development that seems to have languished in recent years. There used to be a sense in GUI design development of an incremental, iterative progressive disclosure of GUI features to accommodate neophyte to expert users alike, and slow down no one in that entire spectrum of operational expertise and/or desire to manage complexity. The Windows and Mac GUIs these days seem to be far more monolithic in how they treat the user spectrum (Windows a little less so, in that there is more room customization, but I don't really see a lot of users adopting the available customization software), and seem less layered and nuanced. I'm sure this reflects really well upon vendor support costs, but some days I wonder how we can bring to the mainstream GUI-oriented users the deep customization benefits that we programmers take for granted on our text-oriented tool suites.

At the same time, the KDE and Gnome environments allow this kind of customization (and then some), and they haven't really taken the mainstream GUI world by storm either, so I concede that this might easily just be a worse is better situation, and the kind of advanced GUIs we programmers think are cool are simply not practical for everyday users.

Windows 8 is not the problem; it's the terrible PC hardware. Even when the hardware is good, manufacturers still screw up when it comes to drivers like this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8546702

Most laptops are so low-end. Finding one that's decent is tough.

I think many would agree with me when I say, Windows 8 was at least part, if not the biggest part of the problem.

Nobody wants to relearn a UI just because MS wants to create a bridge into windows phone. The fact is the UI changes did not serve the average MS user, but served Mircrosoft's business ambitions.

Any feature that I care about in Windows 8(faster boot, better monitor support, and ah I don't even know of anything else I would care about) could have easily been put into Windows 7 without UI changes and everybody would have been happy. But instead they packaged up the good stuff with a big FU to the power users, who happened to have disproportionate influence on PC acquisition choices and it's not like it was just the power users that were completely flummoxed by the UI changes.

Windows PC hardware is fine, drivers are more difficult because there is so much more Win PC hardware out there, but in general I have very little difficulty supporting a multitude of windows hardware/drivers. I actually have a much more difficult time getting driver support in Linux, but for different reasons. Basically, drivers are not what is holding PC sales down, it is Windows 8. It's not just that many saw Windows 8 as a step or two backwards, but the big loss is that it also failed to bring Windows forward.

> Windows 8 was at least part, if not the biggest part of the problem.

Yes I agree. But ultimately the OEM's produced a bunch of touch-screen laptops and needed an OS to make use of them. Windows 8 fit the bill.

My father-in-law actually resorted to running programs from the Program Files folder because he couldn't figure out the start menu!

> Windows PC hardware is fine, drivers are more difficult because there is so much more Win PC hardware out there, but in general I have very little difficulty supporting a multitude of windows hardware/drivers.

PC laptops are 95% crap. They have low-res screens, poor batteries, low memory, etc. It actually took me a long time to just find a laptop with decent specs at a good price in store and it was an Asus Zenbook Prime.

That HN topic about the trackpad driver was actually started because of a post I made here -- that exact issue was what I had with my laptop! I also had serious issues with the Intel wireless drivers causing blue screens (seems to be fixed now). The problem is the platform owner, Microsoft, isn't responsible for quality control. And even when they are, like with the Surface tablets, driver issues and problems still crop up.

So you have mostly cheap hardware, mostly cheap driver software, and Windows 8. No wonder the PC market isn't doing so well.

I would concur that Windows 8 was a massive part of the problem. It was like they didn't listen to the resounding feedback from the RTM release.

I think it is odd that OEMs released these touchscreen laptops in the first place! There wasn't any need driving them at all, nor even any "wants" for them. When's the last time they heard anyone say "This laptop's alright, but I REALLY need to reach out over the keyboard and put smudgy marks on my screen and get arm ache swiping left and right. I wish my laptop had a touchscreen!"

It is like they produced a solution to fit a non-existent problem.

I think they've learnt from their mistakes and are improving things dramatically in Windows 10. 8.1 was leaps and bounds ahead of 8 (which was a disaster).

10 finally is a sensible direction that allows them to do what they want with mobile and give the desktop users are familiar experience out of the box.

98% of the time when using Windows 8.1 (or 8 for that matter) on the desktop you're in familiar territory anyway. They screwed up, yes, but they will recover, and the way Apple is going with software I'm interested to see how much of the tables will turn in the next few years.

I don't know about that. I ran 10 technical preview for about a month as a last ditch effort and it drove me to actually buy my first apple device ever when offered an upgrade from work. It was really just more of the same with a vista-esque start menu.

Oh no, the MS downvote crew is out in force.

> There was a time a couple of years ago when Android looked like it might gain enough momentum to sweep them away,

Could you expound on when that was? I remember their market share dipping as Android grew much faster, but I don't remember it every really looking like they'd disappear.

You obviously don't read Business Insider.

I don't think one can by any stretch attribute Apple laptops for the sales of iPhones. Apple is 90% a phone company.

As to Macs, while their share has bumped up in recent years, its really just at the top of the historical range going back to the late 80s. (this of course depends what metric you look at and from whom but 7 to 13% seems to be the range). Can't count how many times I heard in the 2008 time frame that OSX/Apple would dominate all in the pc world in short order. Still waiting.

>Can't count how many times I heard in the 2008 time frame that OSX/Apple would dominate all in the pc world in short order. Still waiting.

I've been following the IT world since like 1995, and I've never heard that being said or written once.

Can you point to some articles from 2008 that say that Apple will "dominate all in the pc world (with regard to Mac sales) in short order"?

What I did read multiple times was that "Apple is doomed" like 10 times a year ever since 1997 (the meme seems to have slowed sometime around last year).

That said, note how Apple DOES dominate "all in the pc world" in total revenue/profits when phones are taken into account (after all Microsoft and Google also produce phones).

And how Mac profit (not unit sales) DOES dominate "all in the pc world", or at least amounts to the profits of the top-5 rest desktop/laptop seller combined.

I think the people who had been saying that OSX would dominate were deluding themselves - I never heard it said! I would have pointed out the minuscule market share of Apple PCs/laptops as evidence.

That has never been their plan and I have never heard that said.

Would love citation on the OS X new overlords claim.

When I decided to to buy a new laptop this year, I decide to go beyond 1366x768. And to my dismay, neither Windows nor Linux can handle even 1920x1080 correctly. All kinds of software, even many system ones, just have small fonts or blurry GUI. Eventually I settled on MacBook. I was not and am not an apple fanboy, but for now, other options are just horrible.

>it now looks like the iOS market share in developed markets is going to remain fairly solid.

It's called vendor lock-in.

This is pretty insane, I think $18 billion in quarterly profit is the largest ever for any corporations. Also the revenue from iPhone business alone now exceeds Microsoft and Google combined.

This list is weird. How did Fannie Mae hit the top list annually in 2013 with $84bn but not have a single quarter with at least $21bn (=84/4) that year?

Well we know they're not so good with numbers...

Always amazed by the lists one can find on Wikipedia. The largest losses also tell an interesting tale.

It's interesting how the largest losses are far larger than the largest gains. Shows how it's easier to destroy than create.

Introducing a larger device was exactly the right move it seems …

I wonder how that interacts with their iPad business (which isn’t even just stagnant, it’s shrinking). Maybe it’s one of the reasons why the iPad really didn’t do this well this quarter? Not that it really matters all that much, though, if the iPhone 6 Plus is eating (part) of the iPad pie. Better that than a competitor.

I believe Tim Cook said that the iPad wasn't turning over as fast as the iPhone (people are keeping them more than 2 years) and that the 6+ is eating some of their tablet sales.

> Not that it really matters all that much, though, if the iPhone 6 Plus is eating (part) of the iPad pie

Certainly. Plus the iPhone 6+ is a $750+ device and it's competing with the $350+ iPad Mini. Add in the fact that iPhone users are incentivized (in the US at least) to replace their device every two years and that's probably much better than selling someone a $500 iPhone and losing the tablet sale to someone else.

Bigger phone sales are definitely eating iPad sales. And people upgrade tablet devices less often anyway, I'm still on an iPad 2 for example. Should be interesting with the rumored iPad pro, which will be much larger (12" retina possibly w/ stylus).

Not sure that's true just yet, but it is close. Apple's December quarter tends to be particularly blowout, sales will fall by 30% to 40% by the June quarter.

Microsoft and Google will combine for $160x billion in sales this nearest fiscal year. The iPhone for the same fiscal year will generate approximately $150 to $170 billion depending on how the year goes.

Edit: What's with the stream of downvotes? What I said is accurate.

You are making a prediction. How can that be accurate?

Saudi Aramco is probably the largest but since they aren't publicly traded, we don't really know. Estimates put their annual profit at ~$180 billion, so their quarterly revenue would be ~2.5x Apple's.

Some interesting tidbits in the earnings call (http://www.macrumors.com/2015/01/27/apple-earnings-1q15/)

* Apple Watch is coming in April

* 39.9% gross margins

* 1 billion iOS devices sold since 2007

* 97% csat for iPhone as measured by Changewave

* Mac revenue was $6.9 billion

>>1 billion iOS devices sold since 2007

That's an insane stat. Assuming average cost of an iphone as 500$, and 70% profit margin for an iphone, Apple has made 350 billion in profits on selling iPhones since 2007!!

Any idea what would the equivalent figure in Android profits for Samsung be? Android crossed 1 billion devices sold in 2013, but my guess is the number is going to be much smaller.

To be precise, that 1 billion tally includes iPads, iPod touches, and Apple TVs. Still obscene profit.

Although it runs a variant of iOS AppleTV is not counted by Apple as an iOS device.

> * 39.9% gross margins

In this day and age that's really unbelievable.

Remember, Apple needs to target the low end to succeed in China. They need to put out the crappiest, cheapest phone they possibly can otherwise Samsung and Xiaomi will eat their lunch.

Edit: Obvious sarcasm is apparently not obvious enough.

Does Apple care about beating crappy Samsungs in market share? Probably not. There will always be a market for low end/ cheap/ burner phones. There's little room for margins, and those customers don't buy into the ecosystem as much. Comparing ecosystem revenue per user, Apple's doing fine. They sell a top-end phone to people that will pay a premium, and continue to buy apps and media. It's kind of like telling BMW that they need to compete with Kia.

Sure, more market share would be nice, but it's not necessary. If iPhone's are seen as a luxury item/ status symbol, then there's little advertising needed. Plus, Apple could still sell iPhone 4s and 5s to compete with lower end. (I think)

I know you said sarcasm, but Apple is selling the last gen iphones at a competitive price against Samsung mid range in India.

For example: the iPhone 4S, 5c and 5s are 17,500 and 23,000 37500 Indian Rupees respectively. Compare that to the Galaxy S4 at ~26000 grand 2 at 17000, galaxy note 3 at 34000.

Atleast in India, the last gen Apple phones seem to be priced competitively with the last gen Samsung phones. This is just comparing the lowest models, and not getting into the specs, ofcourse.

Are you sure you didn't mix up the model numbers? These sites [0][1] are saying it's the iPhone 5c that's 37500 Indian Rupees, which is 609 USD. In comparison, Walmart is offering the 5c, contract-free, at $549.[2]

[0] http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/iphone-5c-8gb-variant-l...

[1] http://tech.firstpost.com/news-analysis/priced-at-rs-37500-w...

[2] http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2428171,00.asp

They don't seem to be doing too badly in China. (Armchair opinion but: I think devaluing their brand in China would be the worst thing they could do.)

"74.5 million iPhones, 46% growth over last year. Unit sales up 44% in US, up 97% in BRIC countries. Sales doubled yoy in China, Brazil and Singapore."


"Performance of Greater China was particularly impressive with revenue up 70%."

Apple doesn't need to target the low end. They seem to be doing just fine, making the largest quarterly profit in history by not indulging in a race to bottom in search of market share.

Do you see these numbers? Why would Apple care about low-end, low margin sales in China?

They also need to open source iOS (also sarcasm)

And a netbook.

This made me laugh because I remember netbooks being a fad where everyone had one and tried working on an underpowered Atom CPU with a tiny battery, a tiny low-res screen running IE under XP with a billion browser toolbars installed, reducing their visible browser space to about 20px at the bottom. Oh the sad memories.

Strangely, the MacBook Air is essentially a Netbook, just better made and not in the "race to the bottom" of both price and quality.

Just replying to myself as I have been downvoted with no replies (how annoying that is), but I wanted to stress that I think the MacBook Air is a GREAT machine and only compared it to Netbooks because of its small convenient form factor, which the netbook was trying to accomplish, albeit with limited success. I had an Acer Aspire One and enjoyed using it (I even made it a Hackintosh and it ran OSX 10.6 but kinda slowly, although with accelerated graphics thanks to the Intel inside it) but I am not under any illusion that netbooks were a fad. I was surprised they did so well and how effectively Intel stole the market overnight that Via should have had with their EPIA boards!

This is about revenue, but every time I see Apple's financial statements, I remember that Apple (as of June 2014) has 160 billion dollars in cash. 2 years of _revenue_ (not operating expenses, mind you, but quite a bit more). I think Bill Gates was all about having enough cash to run the company without a single sale for a year, but apparently they have a 20% profit margin, so we're looking at almost 30 months where they could continue to spend everything, not get a single dime, and be "fine".

If that's not an example of the absolute failure of trickle-down economics, I don't know what is.

If you want to argue general economic principles, then do so [1]. Just don't cherry pick examples to prop up your perspective. I don't think anyone, even Reagan or Thatcher, would have stood behind the assertion that a luxury phone and computer maker with a hoard of cash would benefit the poor. You're attacking a strawman here.

[1] Just keep in mind that "trickle-down economics" is a political philosophy, not an economic one: http://www.tsowell.com/images/Hoover%20Proof.pdf (footnote on page 2)

>that a luxury phone and computer maker with a hoard of cash would benefit the poor.

If they were forced to re-patriate and pay taxes on that cash, how could that not "help the poor"?

>If they were forced to re-patriate and pay taxes on that cash, how could that not "help the poor"?

That would mostly benefit politicians and their beneficiaries, not exactly 'the poor'. Very little of the $$ spent by the government helps 'the poor', unless you're counting our severely underpaid military.

>Very little of the $$ spent by the government helps 'the poor

Do you have any idea what the aggregate size of transfer payments are in the US? Yes, you can point to inefficiencies all over the place, but it doesn't change the fact that there is a massive social net for the poor in the US.

Repatriate what? Income that was earned overseas?

I'm not sure what you mean by referencing trickle-down economics. I mean, what's the alternative, that Apple distibute that money to shareholders? I don't think stock buy-backs and dividends are what people mean when they say trickle-down economics.

Anyway, Apple does not have a giant vault filled with $160 billion just sitting there. That "cash" hoard is actually invested somewhere (probably numerous places) where it is doing some kind of work to provide a return, at a minimum to keep up with inflation.

If you'd like to wade into political waters, let's talk about the U.S. corporate tax system, which currently provides incentives for companies to keep international profits offshore. I would bet a significant portion of that $160 billion is outside the U.S.

One alternative is they spend that money on more employees (or raise the salaries of the employees)

The $160 billion is in easily liquidated assets (which is basically the same as cash for companies of this size), it's still being more or less useless economically.

This might come off as being a bit "waaah companies aren't allowed to be successful", but on a social responsibility level I don't get how you justify holding on to over $80 billion.

Obviously the US tax system also has things about it that contribute to this state of affairs. But even if the money could be brought back into the US tax-free , do you think Apple would be spending it? I don't know. Again, waaah Apple isn't allowed to be successful.

Does the "tax rate of 26.3 percent" mentioned refer to how much tax Apple actually paid, or its notional tax rate?

For example, here in Australia, Apple had $6 billion revenue and paid $80 million tax. Assuming the margins are at least as good as the US, the profit would be $2.4 billion, so Apple's actual tax rate in Australia is 3.4%. Compare that with the theoretical Australian corporate tax rate of 30%, which would put Apple's tax bill closer to $700 million.


Apple wouldn't be able to book all the profit in Australia; R&D is done in the states obviously so that value add could be booked over there taxed at US rates. So say an iPhone costs $300 to produce and sells for $600, it might be exported to Australia at $400 or $500, with tax on the difference going to the US.

It would be actually paid tax. They can externalise a lot of the tax from Australia but have to be paying it somewhere. For instance if they are selling itunes/ app store content via Ireland or another lower tax nation they will still have to pay tax there.


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