What's Up With Apple: Growing a $2 Trillion Company, Watch Woes, and More

When you are already the world’s most valuable company, what do you do next to continue growing and becoming even more valuable? That’s an issue only Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) faces, but it’s not a trivial one.

More than half the smartphones sold in the United States in the June quarter this year were iPhones. According to data from Counterpoint, Apple’s U.S. market share for the fourth quarter of last year was 65% (the 5G-compatible iPhone 12), dipping to 55% in the March quarter of this year, and 53% in the June quarter. Globally, Apple claimed a 15% share of smartphone sales in the second quarter, trailing both Samsung (18%) and Xiaomi (16%).

Smartphone sales are expected to reach 1.35 billion units this year, rising to 1.53 billion by 2025. 5G-compatible phones are forecast to account for 40% of sales this year, rising to 69% in 2025. Apple will get a nice share of these sales, and rising prices will keep driving revenue higher. Where else can the company see growth?

Lucas Matney at TechCrunch noticed one approach: “As Apple’s diversifying business shifts from simply getting consumers to buy new iPhones towards getting them to buy Apple devices while locking them into subscription software services on said devices, they’re starting to get a little pushier than they used to be.” Apple has begun pushing its subscription business inside the iPhone’s Settings app. A slippery slope or a good deal for consumers?

Apple on Friday began taking preorders for the new Apple Watch Series 7 models. It didn’t take long for the delivery dates on those orders to reach into November. For some high-end models, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman noted that delivery wouldn’t happen until December, and some models were even “currently unavailable.” The new watches are scheduled to be available in stores on October 15.

Apple could generate almost $120 billion in revenue during the December quarter, a 7% year-over-year increase, Gorman noted, citing analyst estimates. But that can happen only if the products are available to ship to paying customers.

Last Friday, we noted Apple’s push to get automakers to use the company’s CarPlay for more than just infotainment. Apple would like to integrate the software more fully with a vehicle’s main functions, managing, for example, a vehicle’s climate control system.

Automakers, expecting that Apple may want to build its own cars, are unlikely to want to allow a Trojan horse into their business. Still, the extended CarPlay (which Apple has code-named IronHeart) could become popular enough that carmakers may have no choice but to offer it as an option. There should be little doubt that Apple can build a better software application than any carmaker.