What's Up With Apple: Apple Card, Launch Parties and More

In its 2021 report released last week on customer satisfaction with national credit card issuers, research firm J.D. Power said that overall satisfaction with credit cards declined last year, likely due to the industry failure to support “customers’ changing needs when many were facing significant financial challenges.” Tightening credit limits was a poor choice at a time when people needed help getting through unique challenges.

Given that, there were some bright spots. Among midsize card issuers, Goldman Sachs, the bank behind the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) Apple Card, was the top scorer with 864 out of a possible 1,000 points. That was 47 points higher than its nearest midsize competitor and 27 points higher than American Express, the top scorer among big credit card companies.

J.D. Power noted: “Goldman Sachs performed highest in the segment’s factors of benefits & services; communication; credit card terms; interaction; key moments; and rewards.” The research firm also commented on trends in fintech innovation:

One-third (33%) of cardholders in 2021 are using mobile payment services with their card. Satisfaction among these cardholders is up to 39 points higher for mobile interaction than among customers who use the issuer’s mobile services alone. Recent J.D. Power research highlights the rise of low/no interest BNPL (buy now pay later) installment loan services, in which 46% of retail shoppers using BNPL say they would have used a credit card as a second choice but instead chose to avoid high interest rates and revolving debt.

In his weekly newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman notes that Apple has expanded its relationship with Enjoy Technology, soon to be a publicly traded company following a SPAC merger. Enjoy’s founder, Ron Johnson, was Apple’s first head of retail and led the development of the company’s Apple Stores. He took on the top job at J.C. Penney in 2011. He was replaced two years later after his plan to transform the long-lived retailer succeeded only in making its problems worse.

According to AppleInsider, Apple may be planning “multiple keynote events” for next month because it has too many new product announcements to fit into just one. It also is possible that Apple may backtrack on its announced child abuse image and email scanning feature following a storm of protest from privacy groups and some governments. A separate announcement for iOS 15 could avoid casting shade over new iPads and Apple Watches.

Finally, let’s compare Apple to apples. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the 2021-2022 apple crop will exceed 11.1 billion pounds, a year-over-year increase of 2.7%, but 1.3% below the five-year average. Washington state, home to Amazon and Microsoft, is expected to produce nearly two-thirds of the nation’s crop and just over 70% of the crop’s value.

For its fiscal year 2022, ending in September 2022, analysts are currently forecasting Apple revenue of $378.27 billion, a year-over-year increase of 3.4%. The farm-gate value of the U.S. apple crop for the 2021-2022 year is $3.2 billion, according to the U.S. Apple Association.

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