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Apple's Tim Cook: iPod nano Demand is 'Staggering'

First on TMO - Apple's Tim Cook: iPod nano Demand is 'Staggering'

by , 7:10 PM EDT, October 11th, 2005

Unsurprisingly, the new iPod nano was an oft-raised topic of discussion during Apple's Q&A session with financial analysts on Tuesday. Tim Cook, Apple's Executive Vice-President of Worldwide Sales and Operations, characterized demand for the new MP3 player as "staggering" and noted that the company shipped more than one million nanos in the 17 days from its launch to the end of the quarter.

"We ended the quarter with enormous backlog, and at this point, I can't project when supply would meet demand," he said. He added that available supply of the popular device was factored into Apple's US$4.7 billion revenue guidance for the current quarter, which starts the company's 2006 fiscal year.

Answering another analyst's question, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer declined to compare the launch of the iPod nano to the iPod mini's debut, except to note that the former was immediately available worldwide while the latter first shipped in the U.S. He added: "In every major geo[graphical area], the demand is staggering for the nano."

With the iPod nano leading the charge, Mr. Cook later commented that "iPod sales met our expectations, and we sold more iPods in the September quarter than the June quarter despite winding down the shipments of the most popular iPod, the iPod mini." He added that one million units of the iPod nano sold "fell far, far short of our demand."

Mr. Cook would not be too specific regarding the cause of the iPod nano shortage, but he did confirm that it involved constraints in component acquisition, not manufacturing. He would not say which component was difficult to obtain, however.

Apple did not provide a breakdown of the sales of the other iPod models, which is typical for the company. Some analysts tried to figure out how the iPod mini in particular factored into the sales mix, since the nano was released late in the quarter and replaced it, but Mr. Cook and Mr. Oppenheimer repeatedly deflected such queries.

Scratched Screens and Market Share

When an analyst raised the issue of scratched iPod nanos, Mr. Cook reiterated what Apple Executive Vice-President Phil Schiller said last month: "We have had very, very few calls from customers regarding this. We do not believe it is a widespread issue -- the iPod Nano is made from the same high quality polycarbonate plastic as the fourth-generation iPod."

He added: "If customers have a concern, they may use the many iPod Nano cases on the market ... This certain topic is something very, very minor."

Addressing market share, Mr. Cook later told Keith Bachman, a Bank of America Securities analyst: "The latest data that we have from NPD would say we continue to have around 75% share of the business in the United States."

When Mr. Bachman asked about total MP3 player market growth from September to December, Mr. Cook noted that he hadn't seen any third party market data, although he said that Gardner and IDC both expect the overall MP3 player market to reach more than 100 million units next year.

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