Technology

What's Up With Apple: Upcoming Earnings, New Hardware Chief, Blood Sugar Monitor

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) closed out its first quarter for fiscal 2021 at the end of December. By at least one analyst account (JPMorgan), the company will report its first-ever $100 billion quarter. Revenue reached nearly $92 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2020, a year-over-year improvement of 8.9%, so an increase of around 8.7% for the recent quarter is not a big stretch.

JPMorgan analyst Samik Chatterjee reckons that the 5G iPhones and the pandemic-driven trend toward remote work and education have paid off big for Apple. He expects the company to report iPhone sales of around 80 million units and revenue for the segment of around $66 billion.

Apple’s share price hit a new 52-week high on Monday of $145.09, before closing at $142.92, a gain of about 2.8% on a wild trading day that saw equity prices open with solid gains before plunging in the late morning, only to close not far from the opening price.

Also on Monday, Apple announced the appointment of John Ternus as its senior vice-president of hardware engineering. Tetanus is replacing Dan Riccio, who is taking on a new role as vice-president of engineering. Riccio came to Apple in 1998 and Ternus joined the company in 2001.

Because Riccio’s new position appears to be a demotion, there is plenty of speculation about what exactly he’ll be doing. According to the announcement, Riccio is “focusing on a new project” and CEO Tim Cook said, “Every innovation Dan has helped Apple bring to life has made us a better and more innovative company, and we’re thrilled that he’ll continue to be part of the team.” In other words, Riccio is going to putter around in one of the company’s labs and retire after a decent period. That’s one way to look at it.

The other side of the speculative coin is that Riccio’s “new project” will be focused on the rumored Apple Car, or pushing harder on the company’s commitment to augmented reality (AR).

Whichever side of the coin turns up, Riccio’s contribution to Apple products has been significant and Ternus, his replacement, has an equally stellar record with the company. Apple is unlikely to suffer much from the switch.

A report from South Korea’s ETNews claims that Apple plans to include a blood glucose monitor in the Apple Watch 7 due out later this year. The blood glucose (or blood sugar) monitor is expected to use a noninvasive optical sensor to help a wearer keep track of blood sugar levels, a vital metric for people with, for example, diabetes without having to stick a needle into their fingertips once or several times a day.

ETNews primarily discusses a similar capability for Samsung’s next Galaxy Watch, also due out later this year. According to a report in MacRumors, Apple is believed to have received patents for its blood glucose monitoring system and is now focused on product reliability and stability before commercializing it.

A deeper push into medical technology could be a very big deal for Apple. The U.S. market for medical devices was just under $450 billion in 2019, and it is expected to reach around $670 billion by 2027. The market for smartwatches reached about $21 billion in 2019, and it is forecast to hit about $96 billion by 2027. Using smartwatch sensors to monitor certain health conditions could be an explosive development for Apple.

Apple is scheduled to report results for its December quarter after markets close on Wednesday. We’ll have a full preview later today of what analysts expect to hear.