What's Up With Apple: National Security, Google Pays Up, and More

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook, along with an all-star line-up of CEOs from other sectors, met with President Biden on Wednesday to discuss strengthening cybersecurity measures. Biden called the meeting following recent cyberattacks, including the ones on security software firm SolarWinds and the Colonial pipeline system, which delivers petroleum products from the Gulf Coast to the mid-Atlantic states.

In remarks before the meeting started, the president said there are some 500,000 cybersecurity jobs that are currently unfilled. Among the commitments from CEOs attending were new cybersecurity standards and providing the training people will need to fill those 500,000 jobs.

According to CNBC, Apple will “create a program devoted to making security improvements across their technology supply chains, which will include working with suppliers to adopt multifactor authentication and security training.”

For its part, Google said it plans to invest $10 billion over five years to strengthen cybersecurity and committed to training 100,000 Americans through its Career Certificate program. Microsoft said it would spend $20 billion over five years to deliver more advanced security tools, and IBM committed to training 150,000 people over the next three years.

According to long-time Apple watcher Philip Elmer-DeWitt, analyst Toni Sacconaghi at Bernstein estimates that Google will pay Apple up to $15 billion this year for the right to be Apple’s default search engine. Elmer-DeWitt said he received Sacconaghi’s note to clients on Wednesday, a portion of which he posted on his website.

Sacconaghi estimates that Google paid Apple $10 billion in 2020 for the right to be Apple’s default search engine. He also notes that his estimated 2021 payment would account for about 8.5% of expected revenue growth in Apple’s Services business and 9% of Apple’s profits for the year.

Why does Google pay so much? According to Sacconaghi, Google is paying to “ensure [that] Microsoft doesn’t outbid it.” But how much is too much? We may find out next year when Apple could demand as much as $20 billion.

For the record, Sacconaghi has a Market Perform rating on Apple and a price target of $132. Apple stock closed at $148.36 on Wednesday.

In a report released Wednesday, researchers at Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) noted that iPhone owners who also own other electronic devices tend to own other Apple products like iPads, AirPods and Apple Watches.

Macs and HomePods, not so much, according to CIRP:

Apple’s efforts to sell devices for home use [have] not gone nearly as well. While almost all iPhone buyers own a personal computer, relatively fewer own Apple Mac computers. iPhone owners own fewer Apple TV streaming devices than competitors’ products and many fewer HomePod smart speakers than Amazon Echos and Google Nest/Home.

For example, while virtually all iPhone owners also own a PC or laptop, just 41% of those devices are sold by Apple. The good news for Apple: 84% of iPhone owners who have a tablet own an iPad.