Apple - Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat
Apple's value has reached new heights, prompting some on Wall Street to ask whether Apple, one of the world's most valuable companies, should be made part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. That wouldn't be a great idea, according to Bespoke Investment Group, which says it would skew the Dow's average. Meanwhile, Apple's momentum is tempered by Microsoft and the tech industry's mess patent wars.
09/21/11 5:00 AM PT
New announcements surrounding the hotly anticipated iCloud service and speculation on the success of iPhone 5 sales helped Apple soar to the top of the market again this week, but looming patent lawsuits and a critically praised Windows 8 OS preview are keeping the company on its toes moving forward.
Apple once again topped big oil in market valuation Monday, closing at an all-time high of US$411.63. With its net worth of $382 billion, the tech giant regained its edge over Exxon.
A report from investment group Bespoke Investment Group indicated the value was so high that adding it to the Dow Jones Industrial Average would skew the benchmark gauge disproportionally.
The stellar performance of the tech stock in an otherwise dreary market is partly thanks to investor anticipation of huge sales with the release of the next-generation iPhone, which is expected to make its debut in October. It's solid market standing makes it a highly sought-after stock, making it even more established in its first-place spot.
"I think that Apple has become the one tech stock that every investor should own, which is perhaps one reason the company has such a high valuation," Peter Crocker, founder and principal analyst at Smith's Point Analytics, told MacNewsWorld.
The company had an extra boost to investor confidence this week when it announced it will be resetting iCloud backup data on Sept. 22. The service has been available to certain developers for testing, and the move seemed to be an indication that the general release of iCloud and iOS 5 will soon follow. The cloud service, which will allow users to sync data between all wireless devices, promises to strengthen the company's core ecosystem.
"I think that iCloud will be a very popular service and will help Apple keep a tighter grip on its existing customer base. With control of users personal content, iCloud helps Apple to more aggressively revolutionize other consumer electronic experience, particularly TV," said Crocker.
Apple didn't respond to MacNewsWorlds' requests for further comment.
Apple vs. World
Where the company's cloud service might see a problem, though, is with its ability to efficiently sync across multiple platforms. The service is supposedly designed to be open to third-party apps and usable across all wireless devices, although it's still unknown how well it will perform across other party lines.
"iCloud will undoubtedly create a great experience for loyal Apple customers, but users who are looking for more choice in hardware vendors will probably opt for more open services that are just as good, if not better," said Crocker. He pointed to SugarSync as one example of the said services.
Users looking for other options might turn toward Microsoft, too, if reports about the upcoming Windows 8 OS are to be believed. Members of the tech community were given a first glance at the BUILD conference this past week, and the reception was largely very positive.
Microsoft is getting a pat on the back for its back-to-basics approach. According to reviews, the operating system incorporates cutting-edge featurs but reminds users they can have a fully functioning operating system for business and home needs on a device the size of a tablet.
Still, the crowd that needs a fully-functioning PC to perform complex business tasks might not be big enough to overtake the slick iPad's hold on the tablet market share.
"I am not sure Apple has too much to worry about regarding Windows 8 on the tablet. My feeling is that the tablet is not the best device for getting work done on, but more of a device for consuming content," said Crocker.
One area where Apple -- and, it seems, every other tech company -- is continually threatened is the patent sphere. Samsung is planning on taking legal action, possibly including an injunction, as soon as the iPhone 5 comes out, according to a report from Reuters. The two companies have been engaging in intellectual property battles in nine countries over design and build of consumer devices.
Samsung declined to comment to MacNewsWorld on the report.
With the patent reform bill that President Obama recently signed into law, Congress hoped to cut down on unnecessary patent litigation and reduce insignificant, resource-sucking patent skirmishes.
However, most of the changes won't take place for another 12 to 18 months, and the technology industry is already so ridden with messy intellectual property disputes that it's unclear whether the legal reform will make much of a difference.
"Companies will still assert patents when they believe their rights are being infringed. As a result, the overall level of patent activity is unlikely to change significantly in the high-tech space where innovations are highly patented," Patrick Waller, intellectual property attorney at Wolf Greenfield, told MacNewsWorld.