Category Archives: Apple

Apple is again Fortune’s most admired company

James Martin/CNET)

Apple is the world’s most admired company, at least in the eyes of executives polled by Fortune magazine.

For the sixth year in a row, Apple took home top honors for the title, this year scoring 8.24 on Fortune’s ranking system, ahead of Google with a score of 8.01 and Amazon with 7.28.

Apple was deemed the most admired despite recent concerns over the company’s performance.

Its stock has tanked 35 percent since September as investors and analysts fret that Apple’s best days may be behind it. But the company still rates as a financial and technological powerhouse, according to Fortune’s description:

Apple has had a rough time lately with its stock price in a free fall and the widely publicized failure of its Maps feature. However, it remains a financial juggernaut, posting $13 billion in net income last quarter, making it the most profitable company in the world during that period. The company has its fanatical customer base, and it still refuses to compete on price, making the iconic iPhone and iPad products that are still widely seen as prestige devices. Competition may be stiff, but so far it remains behind: In Q4 2012, the iPhone 5 was the world’s best selling smartphone, followed in second place by the iPhone 4S.

In a related Fortune story on the company titled “It’s lonely at the top for Apple,” senior editor-at-large Adam Lashinsky did acknowledge worries over the stock price and post-Steve Jobs management. But Apple has gotten to the point where people expect miracles from the company, he wrote.

And it seems that when Apple doesn’t deliver those miracles, investors and analysts give the company the thumbs down.

Apple’s corporate peers obviously see the current struggles as a short-term blip and continue to believe in the company’s long-term potential. But one question raised by Fortune is whether the “most admired” title is a true sign of Apple’s value.

“Perhaps the admiration of one’s peers is a lagging indicator, akin more to a hall-of-fame vote than to a most-valuable-player award,” Lashinsky wrote. “The company whose late founder aimed for it to be ‘insanely great’ remains plenty damn good. The years to come will determine if, for Apple, that’s good enough.”

Beyond Google and Amazon, other tech players among the top 50 included IBM, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel, eBay, Facebook, and Cisco Systems.

Fortune’s list of the world’s most admired companies is based on surveys from executives across 30 different countries.

The companies are ranked on nine separate criteria, including the quality of management, innovativeness, the quality of products or services, the ability to attract and retain talented people, social responsibility, and long-term investment value.

Judge Nixes Samsung’s Request to Ban Apple Devices in Japan

Apple won a victory over Samsung in a Japanese district court Thursday that will allow it to continue to sell iPads and iPhones in that country.

Samsung tried to block the sale of the Apple devices in Japan because it said they stepped on some data transfer patents that the company owned. Tokyo District Court Judge Ichiro Otaka, however, refused to approve the injunction because Samsung failed to “sincerely” negotiate with Apple to iron out the dispute between the companies.

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

“We are disappointed by today’s court decision,” Samsung spokesperson Melissa Zabell told MacNewsWorld. “Following a thorough review of the ruling, we will take the measures necessary to protect our intellectual property rights.”

No Damages

Blocking the sale of a product while a patent case is in progress is difficult to do, said Ken Horton, an IP attorney with
Kirton McConkie. “It’s hard to get a court to agree to that because you have to prove infringement,” he told MacNewsWorld.

“Even if you can’t get an injunction, you can still get damages if you prove infringement in a trial,” he added.

The Tokyo court, though, also ruled that Samsung did not have the right to seek damages from Apple.

Samsung spokesperson Zabell would not comment on whether or not the company will try to appeal the decision. Such an appeal might be weighed in Apple’s favor, noted Horton.

“It’s always better to win at the lower court,” he said. “Most upper courts will give some degree of deference to lower court rulings, because those judges are in the trenches and closer to the case.”

Android Onslaught

Apple’s victory in the Tokyo court is an important one for the company, as Japan is its second most important market in Asia, and one with room for growth.

“Up to now, this lawsuit hasn’t had that much effect on Apple sales,”
Yankee Group Research Director Carl Howe told MacNewsWorld. “The iPhone was the top selling smartphone in Japan last quarter, which surprised a lot of people.”

The iPhone has 30 percent of the smartphone market in Japan, but it’s only carried by the second and third-place carriers in the country, according to Michael Morgan, a mobile devices analyst with
ABI Research.

“Should NTT Docomo [Japan’s largest carrier] pick it up, Apple could take its market share even further,” he told MacNewsWorld.

Android is also doing well in Japan, with 68 percent of the market.

“Android is holding its own against even the newest iPhone models,” he said. “That technology gap isn’t there any more. The ability of the iPhone to steal high-end customers from Android is decreasing every day.”

Hiring Judges

Last year, Apple tried to block Samsung’s smartphones and tablets from being sold in Japan because they allegedly violated an Apple invention for synchronizing music and video data with servers. The district court ruled against Apple in that case.

Apple was seeking US$100 million in damages from Samsung in that lawsuit.

Apple and Samsung have been battling each other all over the world over intellectual property issues. Apple has been able to top Samsung in most of the cases that have been decided.

A country where Apple stumbled was the UK, where a judge ordered the company to post an apology on its website after losing an IP case against Samsung.

That decision may now seem tainted to some, however, since it was discovered that the judge, Sir Robin Jacob, has been hired by Samsung as an expert in a dispute with Ericsson.

Stock split rumor surfaces ahead of Apple investor meeting

At last year’s annual shareholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook knocked the idea of splitting Apple’s then-soaring stock.

“A stock split isn’t so clear to be honest,” Cook told investors last February. Apple had charted out how stock splits worked for “many” other companies, Cook explained, and hadn’t come up with a clear answer on what to do. “There might be a short-term pop, but for a lot it does nothing,” Cook said.

A lot can change in a year though.

The day before Apple shareholders descend on the company’s Cupertino, Calif., campus, a simple tweet today from hedge fund manager Doug Kass suggested that Apple may have changed its tune.

“High above the Alps my Gnome is hearing a rumor that Apple will announce a stock split at tomorrow’s shareholder meeting,” Kass tweeted, playfully referring to someone who may be a source at the company.

Shares of Apple have dropped more than 36 percent since reaching an all-time high in September. Right around the time of Kass’ tweet, Apple’s stock popped some, by about $8, and is now trading at $449.80, up 1.58 percent in midday trading.

In a follow-up tweet, Kass noted that the rumblings of a stock split have “been out for days, maybe weeks” and intensified with the oncoming shareholders meeting. He also put some cold water on the rumor, saying anything beyond a two-to-one split would require a shareholder vote, something that likely would have been on tomorrow’s agenda if it were to happen.

Stock splits, especially on expensive shares, can make the stock more attractive to skittish investors. Companies can also do reverse stock splits that consolidate multiple shares into one. Neither move affects a company’s market capitalization, which is the total value of issued shares — an area where Apple remains the most valuable in the world.

Apple has, of course, split its stock before. The company did it in 1987, again in 2000, and one more time in 2005 when the stock was trading at $352. That’s far fewer times than some other major tech companies, including Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, and Dell.