Apple keeps an eye on Macs and iPads

Apple chief executive Tim Cook at an event last month at Howard Gilman Opera House in New York City, where the new MacBook Air, Mac mini and iPad Pro were announced.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook at an event last month at Howard Gilman Opera House in New York City, where the new MacBook Air, Mac mini and iPad Pro were announced.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

The iPhone is a big revenue earner, but the tech giant's continued focus on other segments is a good business move

Last week in New York City, Apple unveiled new iPad Pros, a re-designed MacBook Air laptop and a refreshed Mac mini entry-level desktop computer.

It shows that the Cupertino tech giant is continuing to put a big emphasis on its tablet and computer business, though it might be forgiven if that were not the case.

After all, the iPhone represents a huge pie of Apple's revenue - about 63 per cent in the company's fiscal 2018 that ended in end-September, based on market research firm Statista's figures.

In contrast, Mac sales accounted for around 10 per cent of Apple's revenue, while iPad took up only 7 per cent, according to Statista.

But analysts say Apple's continued focus on its Mac and iPad products is a good business move.

"There is pressure for Apple to be less dependent on the iPhone. Critically, laptops can help drive Apple's services business," says Mr Loo Wee Teck, head of consumer electronics research at Euromonitor International.

Ms Lillian Tay, senior principal analyst at market research firm Gartner, says Apple still requires a range of devices that fits in different usage scenarios.


Analysts feel that Apple's new launches, while not impressive compared with what other PC vendors offer, are targeted and timely.

Ms Tay feels the updates of both the iPad Pros and Macs are long overdue and represent an alignment of what was already available in other Apple products, like the iPhone XS' Face ID in the new iPad Pro.

The latest launch focuses on computers that appeal to niche but hardcore Mac users, says Mr Loo.

"These hardcore Mac users will be glad to see that they are not being ignored and, more importantly, the MacBook Air is not being phased out," he says.

IDC Asia Pacific's associate research director, Mr Kenneth Liew, feels that Apple's new products will do well in the market, given the timing of the launch.

"Many existing MacBook Air users are eager for a refresh and the new MacBook Air will attract them with its improved features, especially the thinner bezels and more efficient processor," he says.

Plus, the importance of the MacBook Air as an entry ticket into the Mac world cannot be understated, says Mr Loo.

"The wow factor when the proud owner opens the new MacBook Air at a Starbucks cafe will be worth the price," he adds.

At the same time, Apple continues to lead the tablet market in the third quarter of this year, with the iPad achieving "nearly double the shipments of its nearest competitor", based on data by IDC.

This is despite the global tablet market declining 8.6 per cent compared with the same period last year.

And the new iPad Pros will add extra impetus to its growth.

"The new iPad Pro will also attract many early-generation iPad users to re-look at upgrading their tablets," says Mr Liew.

In addition, the inclusion of USB-C in the new iPad Pros for connectivity to more peripherals and the upgraded computing performance to run software like Photoshop are significant, says Ms Tay.

"It allows creative professionals to have enough computing performance to be away from their desks and to use the Apple Pencil as a natural input device," she says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2018, with the headline 'Apple keeps an eye on Macs and iPads'. Print Edition | Subscribe