Apple is selling iPads faster than ever before, and it’s throwing money back at investors. AT&T back tracked in court, HP investors want the PC maker to be like Apple, and iPads are sending some people to the doctor. Sort of. Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray jumps into the middle of this week’s news and stirs it all up for you.
iPads for Everyone
Three million iPads. Three million iPads in three days. That’s the official word from Apple.
Monday morning Apple held a conference call to announce that it is initiating a dividend and share buyback plan to which we’ll get in a bit. Apple had said in announcing the call that it would only be talking cash. That’s all, nothing else.
They had a short question and answer session after the prepared remarks though, so how is somebody not gonna ask?
Into the breech: Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog says Uncle Gene bit the bullet and asked the question he knew would not be answered with hard numbers: How did the iPad launch go, and would Apple be saying anything officially anytime soon?
To this Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “We had a record weekend and we’re thrilled.” And that’s all he had to say about that. At least in the morning.
So people spent the day guessing. The Verge heard from a secret someone at New York City’s Fifth Avenue Glass Tabernacle that Apple sold over 13,000 iPads in the first 12-hours of availability there, or an average of about 18 iPads per minute. That doesn’t get us to three million, though, since that’s just one of 300-something Apple Stores that probably didn’t have quite that kind of foot traffic, not to mention all the third-party Apple partners selling the thing both here and abroad.
While it, too, was unwilling to give numbers, AT&T was fine saying it had a fine weekend of new iPad sales, as well. AppleInsider had the carrier announcing fairly early on Monday that the new iPad’s launch set a new single-day record for sales and activations of new iPads.
Taking a page from both Amazon and Apple’s CEO, though: no concrete figures.
Finally, as the day was winding down on the east coast, Apple issued a press release announcing that it had sold three million new iPads since its launch on Friday, March 16.
Quoted in the press release, Apple Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller who said, “The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold.” He also deemed this past weekend’s launch “the strongest iPad launch yet.”
Then he talked about the fact that people liked it.
Apple: It’s Dividend Time
If you’re not a fan of business and high finance, the fun’s over for the day.
On Monday Apple started the day by talking over plans for its ridiculously large pile of cash. Analysts and investors apparently wished hard enough with the company issuing a press release saying it plans to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program starting later this year.
Assuming the board approves, Apple will initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share sometime in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012, meaning sometime between the first of July and the end of September.
Meanwhile, the board has already approved a $10-billion-dollar share repurchase program that’ll start in fiscal year 2013, meaning sometime after September 30th, 2012. Apple expects to take about three years to execute its buyback plan.
Quoted in the press release, Apple CEO Tim Cook says,
We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You’ll see more of all of these in the future … Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program.
The whole of the announcement was not handled by press release. During the accompanying conference call, Wired had CEO Cook saying the company looked at a stock split, though in considering it, they found “very little support that it helps the stock.”
Cook and Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer also stressed that while they were dipping into the cash pile that it’s a big pile, and there’s likely a lot more on the way. Probably from new things as well as strength of existing things.
A piece from The Unofficial Apple Weblog has Cook saying on the call, “I am extremely confident in our future. The pipeline is full of stuff. I think customers are going to be incredibly pleased with what they see coming out.”
15-inch MacBook AirPros? iPhone 4GLTE56s? Full on Apple Televisions? Is it future yet?
What does is sound like when Wall Street types wet themselves with excitement? Well, it’s preceded by Apple announcing a dividend program and stock buybacks.
Between Fortune and Forbes we find Jefferies and Company analyst Peter Misek, Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi (who has to have felt a bit of vindication yesterday), Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, Merrill Lynch’s Scott Craig, J.P. Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz, Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty, Barclay’s Capital’s Ben Reitzes, and Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore sounding mostly positive notes, though some — including Bernstein’s —Sacconaghi thought the dividend was a bit on the skimpy side.
A number said the plans should increase Apple’s shareholder base, as they’ve been saying all along.
The Spaccarelli Backstep
It looks like AT&T thinks bad press is worse than no press at all. After losing a data throttling case in small claims court to Matt Spaccarelli, then trying to settle with him if he’d keep his mouth shut, then pledging to appeal the small claims verdict, BusinessInsider says AT&T has decided to pay Spaccarelli the $850 ordered by the court, plus $85 in court costs.
Next stop for Spaccarelli: An off, off Broadway show called “The Agony and the Ecstasy of AT&T.” And that, as far as I know, is not true.
HP, be Like Apple
I wonder if Meg Whitman really wants to be CEO of HP after yesterday’s shareholders’ meeting. Electronista says many questions were asked of the newish CEO, though a lot of those could be boiled down to one: Why isn’t HP more like Apple?
“When asked if she had a vision like the late Steve Jobs,” says the piece, “CEO Meg Whitman argued that the company had to place more bets on ‘disruptive’ innovation like Apple, creating categories or fundamentally changing them instead of the mostly ‘evolutionary’ approach HP used.”
Whitman also said HP should “focus on doing a few things really well instead of giving everything just a little bit.”
One shareholder said HP should open a chain of its own stores just like Apple, though this was apparently not so he could buy more HP stuff, but so he could get the HP stuff he owns fixed more quickly.
One shareholder wanted to hear about truly exciting technology coming from HP, pointing out that Steve Jobs said he succeeded by making things that were “just better” and “years ahead of the competition.” He also said he could find products comparable to HP’s just about anywhere.
With this Whitman sort of disagreed, saying HP was first or second in nearly everything it was in, though it needed to improve by tailoring products more directly to exact needs.
Still, Whitman was respectful of Jobs, saying, “We all have to applaud Apple for its success … Steve Jobs is the business leader of our generation.”
iPad Elbow. Or Shoulder.
And finally this week, PacMan Fever. FaceTime Facelift. Add another malady to our tech ridden times.
Macworld UK has Dr. Tony Kochhar bringing us news of “iPad Shoulder.”
According to the piece, Kochhar, known as the “UK’s leading shoulder doctor,” says the iPad and other tablets are leading to a rise in shoulder injuries.
The good doctor says, “Holding the tablet lower down means users have to gaze downwards more sharply. This is increasing the pressure on their joints.”
Kochhar says he’s been treating as many as 20 patients a week for “iPad Shoulder,” though he says using smartphones in similar ways can lead to similar problems.
The piece has the doctor suggesting that users of such devices try not to hunch over the devices. He says the ideal screen position is level with your face.
Well that won’t look stupid at all.
Kochhar also recommends people take regular brakes from using the devices, and that they do gentle neck and shoulder stretches during the breaks.
Then you can get back to playing Angry Birds.