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Next for Apple: Soldiers and Surgeons, Gamers and Geeks

Next for Apple: Soldiers and Surgeons, Gamers and Geeks

With the holiday season in full swing, the lights on Apple's horizon shine well beyond end-of-year retail. The U.S. Army is considering equipping soldiers with iDevices, medical professionals are showing interest in the iPad, analysts foresee an even bigger future in iOS gaming, and Novell announced enhancements to the Cloud Manager that include an iPhone client.

By and large, the business gods have been kind to Apple this past week.

There are reports that companies in the medical sector are buying up iPads as fast as they can get them.

Meanwhile, Novell has unveiled a remote management application on the cloud for the iPhone and Apple's iOS is growing as a gaming platform.

The defense establishment is also playing a role in offering good news -- it's thinking of equipping all soldiers with a mobile device.

Android served up a smidgen of bad news as well as of good news over the week. About 300,000 Android smartphones are being sold and activated daily, according to Google. Meanwhile, Android's surge in the mobile ad space appears to have ground to a halt.

Let's Play Doctor With the iPad

Companies in the medical sector, such as Abbott Laboratories, Medtronic and Boston Scientific, are handing out thousands of iPads to their sales representatives, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The tablet form factor got its start in the medical market, but typically tablets for this market are ruggedized, Rhoda Alexander, a research director at IHS iSuppli, told MacNewsWorld. There's been "strong adoption" of the iPad and iPhone by surgeons and physicians, Alexander said.

However, hospitals may have second thoughts about equipping their doctors with iPads.

"Healthcare is considered the holy grail, but it's so fraught with difficulties, especially when it comes to security, that things may slow down there," Will Stofega, a program director at IDC, told MacNewsWorld. "That's why you still see doctors with pagers in hospitals."

Other Apple Share Price Picker-Uppers

Earlier this month, Novell announced enhancements to the Novell Cloud Manager that include an iPhone client.

This may help push the iPhone into the IT department, an area where it has little traction.

Meanwhile, a report from analyst firm Interpret claims that mobile phones, in particular the iPhone, are displacing dedicated gaming devices such as Nintendo's DS and Sony's PSP.

Look to yet another burgeoning source of revenue for Apple.

Army of One -- and a Smartphone

In another bit of news that might further boost Apple, the U.S. Army is looking at equipping every soldier with an Android or iPhone at their choice, the Army Times reports.

It's also looking at iPads, Kindles, Nooks and other mobile devices.

The Army sees the mobile devices as enablers. Investors in Apple see them as yet another means of bringing in the moolah. Go Army!

Apple did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Hanging Fire With Android

First, the good news from the Android space -- its rapid growth as a platform for mobile ads appears to have ground to a halt, and it's now neck and neck with iOS in that area, according to Millennial Media.

However, that company provides a mobile ad network, which places it in a rather crowded field. There are at least 10 mobile ad networks in the United States alone, according to Mobi.

Until we get results from all the major ad networks, then, this bit of news will have to remain a fringe decoration to our overall view of Apple.

On the other hand, Google has announced that it's selling and activating 300,000 Android phones a day. By any measure, that's scary; it makes for 9 million Android phones a month.

Research Reports

Finally, a look at some research reports.

Barclays said in its latest note to investors that Mac sales grew 19 percent year over year (YoY) in November, while the PC market declined 6 percent for the same period. Sales of iPods grew 3 percent YoY in November, where they fell 6 percent YoY in October. Barclays believes there's plenty of upside for Macs, iPhones and iPads.

One potential problem was highlighted in a research report from ABI Research, which says demand for entry-level handsets priced at US$25 to $40 will surge in emerging markets.

The markets include China, India, Africa, Latin America and some Asian countries. Bear in mind that China is considered a major target market for Apple, which may be reason for concern.

Handset suppliers here will include Nokia, Motorola, and some Chinese manufacturers, including Huawei, Kevin Burden, a vice president of research at ABI, told MacNewsWorld.

Granted, Apple doesn't often compete on price, but a total of more than 600 million low-end handsets will be sold by 2015. Somewhere, somehow, Apple should get a slice of that pie. Greed, as my old friend G. Gekko famously said, is good.

AAPL closed at $320.29 Tuesday, down 0.43 percent.


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