JOHN DALY: Apple’s core product key to realisation of $1tn dream

This year is set to be a major one for Apple due to a variety of reasons, most notably being the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.

Renowned for its heavily hyped launches, the company’s latest version of its most iconic product has already generated an avalanche of rumour and conjecture. Apple has, as always, remained tight-lipped on what the product will unveil, a stance that has generated even more speculation than usual.

Most observers agree the new iPhone will probably be launched in September, in keeping with its standard annual autumn introduction of major new products. Suggestions that it will break with tradition and add a letter designation rather than the chronological 8 persist, with many observers plumping for the iPhone X — a nod to both the tenth anniversary as well as being the Roman numeral for 10.

However, the Japanese news site Mac Otakara believes the new model will be called the iPhone Edition — a designation the company used previously for a luxury 18-karat gold version of the Apple Watch which cost $10,000.

Some industry observers suggest that facial recognition technology will replace fingerprint or password to open the device, supported by a laser infrared sensor. Recharging will dispense with the socket cord in favour of wireless technology, and the phone will reportedly have two cameras: a 12-megapixel wide-angle and a telephoto lens.

While the anniversary will doubtless generate much speculation in the weeks to come, the opening of the company’s new Apple Park headquarters in California will likely trump it in the short-term. The new 175-acre site, dubbed the ‘Spaceship Campus’ due to its circular shape, will see employees moving in within the next few weeks.

Built to house 12,000, the process will take over six months, with the ongoing construction of buildings and parklands scheduled to continue through the summer. Envisioned by Steve Jobs as a centre for creativity and collaboration, the estimated $5bn campus has transformed miles of asphalt sprawl into a haven of green space in the heart of the Santa Clara Valley. Its ring-shaped, 2.8m-square-foot main building is clad entirely in the world’s largest panels of curved glass. To honour his memory and enduring influence on Apple, the 1,000-seat theatre at Apple Park will be named the Steve Jobs Theatre.

“Steve’s vision for Apple stretched far beyond his time with us — he intended Apple Park to be the home of innovation for generations to come,” said chief executive Tim Cook.

Planted with 9,000 drought-resistant trees, and powered by 100% renewable energy through 17 megawatts of rooftop solar, Apple Park will run one of the largest on-site solar energy installations in the world. It is also the site of the world’s largest naturally ventilated building, projected to require no heating or air conditioning for nine months of the year.

In a race to become the world’s first trillion-dollar company, Apple looks set to compete for this future financial milestone with Google and Amazon. With a price-to-earnings ratio below 18, Apple’s pursuit of the $1trn threshold has attracted the attention of legendary long-term investor Warren Buffett.

In recent regulatory filings, Mr Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway revealed it had quadrupled its ownership in Apple to 57m shares, worth $6.6bn at the end of 2016, a gain of over $1bn resulting from a 17% increase in the share price.

“As we look toward the second decade of the iPhone, the expectation isn’t one of another ‘big bang’ but a process of continuous improvement,” said Horace Dediu of market intelligence firm Asymco.

He suggests total revenues from iOS products — including iPhones, iPod devices, iPads and Apple TV systems — will hit $980bn this year.

“The Apple Watch, the AirPods, Pencil, and possible new wearables point toward a future where the iPhone is a hub to a mesh of personal devices,” said Mr Dediu.


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