Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How can AAPL defy analyst expectations in this economy?

The effects of the current crisis can be felt in every sector - no scrip has been spared, everyone's portfolio has suffered. In the technology sector, AAPL's stock nose-dive has been talked about as much as the stock's dramatic ascent over the last year. Analyst are in agreement that AAPL can't meet market expectations because its products are for the discretionary customer that is in the market for luxury items. The abysmal state of finances has translated into a huge shift in consumer spending patterns - luxury goods retailers are reporting historically low sales figures whereas the wholesale chains' profits are soaring (Costco today reported increased sales and profits). Is there a way for AAPL to defy the analysts' predictions?

In recent months, Apple's reputation has taken a hit too. It's "I'm a Mac" campaign has begun to grate on people's nerves because of the elitist nature of the commercials. Contrary to what anyone would have conceived, the PC guy in the commercials has emerged as the underdog, thereby winning the hearts of consumers and critics alike. Steve Jobs' health has become a major issue, and though there are more iPhone sightings today than any other phone, the iPod's popularity is now waning. Unless Apple has a new trick up its sleeve, the next year is going to be doubly difficult for the iconic company.

I don't have a product concept that Apple should bring to market to fill the void left by the iPod. I do believe that Apple can re-establish its position as the darling of consumers and resurrect its reputation of having its ears to the ground if it does one simple thing - slash the prices of its products. And by slash them, I don't mean the sticker price. I am talking about doing something like GM's employee pricing gimmick; the difference would be Apple's spin on the plan. If Apple's marketing whiz-kids can figure out a way to project to the consumers that Apple is willing to bleed with the rest of the country, to take a financial hit so that people's basic needs for computing are served, it's money well spent (profit well unearned). Yes, the reduced earnings report has the potential to send the stock down further, but given the current market situation and analyst downgrades, who is to say that the stock will rebound? By offering the discount, Apple will have, in essence, conveyed to the consumer that it sympathizes with their financial hardship, and is willing to share the burden. Though subliminal, that's a powerful message that is sure to win the hearts of consumers everywhere. And with Christmas around the corner, a tug at the heart's strings is sure to loosen the purse's strings...

1 comment:

  1. I dont believe slashing the cost of the product would be a compelling solution for apple. It would be a sign of weakness rather than sympathy towards their customers. I think the key right now for all companies similar to apple is to be focused and cut on any other costs and be very smart with what new technologies they bring out in the market. On one hand, yes it would be a great hit on innovation but thats why i say it needs to be smart. I dont know enough about all their businesses but having been in one of these big companies I know that there are always some holes in the barrels that need to be patched