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U.S. Mac Sales Surge in January as iMac Orders Pick up Steam

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster today issued a new research report sharing data from research firm NPD covering Apple's U.S. Mac sales for the month of January. According to NPD's data, Mac sales were up a strong 31% year-over-year for the month.

Munster attributes the strong performance to Apple finally being able to roll out orders of the new iMac, even as the company remains significantly constrained with multi-week waits for new orders through its online stores. Apple announced the new iMac in late October of last year, but did not begin taking orders until the end of the November with the larger 27-inch models not arriving until several weeks later.
We have analyzed domestic NPD retail data for the month of January which suggests Mac sales were up 31% y/y through the first month of the March quarter. We believe the reason for the significant improvement in the sales data is primarily due to Apple catching up with iMac supply, which the company noted to be constrained in the December quarter. CEO Tim Cook noted that iMac sales were down 700k units y/y in December (we note iMac sales are likely far less impacted by iPad, thus the vast majority of the y/ y unit decline is likely supply).
It remains to be seen if the strong sales will hold up for the remainder of the quarter, and thus Piper Jaffray is maintaining its estimate of a 5% year-over-year decline for the full quarter when global sales are considered.

NPD's data also reveals a bit of a surprise for the iPod, showing U.S. unit sales up 3% year-over-year and revenue up 2%. Piper Jaffray has been modeling for a 17% decline in total iPod sales for the quarter as the device continues to lose favor with consumers shifting music consumption to smartphones. But even a strong showing for the iPod is unlikely to have a significant impact on Apple's bottom line, as the line represented just 4% of Apple's sales in the holiday quarter, typically the strongest one for iPod sales.

Staples Begins Selling Apple Accessories in U.S. Online Store

In line with last week's confirmation from Staples executives, the office supply giant has now begun offering Apple accessories in its U.S. online store. While the chain has long sold Apple products internationally, this marks the first time it has been able to reach an agreement with Apple for U.S. distribution.

Products available through the online store are currently limited to accessories, but do appear to include nearly the full lineup of accessories such as Smart Covers, power adapters, cables, headphones, mice and keyboards. Several more expensive hardware accessories are also available, including the Apple TV, Time Capsules, and AirPort Extreme/Express base stations.

MacRumors heard last month that Staples retail stores in the United States would carry not only accessories but Apple's full lineup of Macs, iPads, and the iPhone 5. We've since heard that Apple's full lineup may be limited to select high-volume Staples retail stores, with rollout tentatively scheduled for late March to accommodate staff training and store setup. We've yet to hear whether Apple accessories have already begun appearing at retail stores alongside today's online store launch.

(Thanks, Magdalena!)

iOS 6.1.2 Adoption Hits 35% in Less Than a Week

iOS 6.1.2 is already used on more iOS devices in the U.S. and Canada than any other version of the operating system, with adoption rates hitting 35% in just six days, according to data from ad network Chitika.

Chitika logged the iOS version used across tens of millions of browser sessions, revealing the dramatic uptake rate.
As this latest update fixed a battery life issue ― a major phone feature ― it's understandable that the rate of adoption for iOS 6.1.2 would reach these levels so quickly. For comparison, 48 hours following its release, iOS 6.1.2 adoption nearly equaled what we observed for the much more highly anticipated iOS 6 within the same time period ― a significant achievement considering this update was centered on an OS bug fix.
iOS 6.1.2 represents the second emergency bug fix rushed out by Apple since the release of iOS 6.1, with iOS 6.1.2's Exchange calendar bug fix following an iOS 6.1.1 release specifically for the iPhone 4S to address an issue with 3G performance.

iOS Dominates Enterprise Mobility Market With 77% of Device Activations [iOS Blog]

iOS devices represented 77% of all mobile device activations in the enterprise market in the final quarter of 2012, with the top five slots all occupied by Apple devices, reports Good Technology's Device Activation Report.

enterprise1The company monitors smartphone and tablet devices activated among its enterprise clients, which include half of the Fortune 100. Apple devices occupied eight of the top ten slots, including all of the top five. iOS activations grew 8.5% year-on-year.
This quarter's report showed a clear preference for iOS devices, which accounted for 77 percent of all activations and captured eight of the top ten spots on the most popular device list this quarter. While Android activations dropped 6.3 percent as compared to Q4 2011, they still accounted for 22.7 percent of all activations for the quarter, which were primarily driven by Android tablets. Windows Phone devices came in a distant third for the quarter, capturing just 0.5 percent of overall activations.
Apple completely dominated the tablet market with 93.2% of activations, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab taking a distant second place.

The financial services industry led enterprise device activations during the quarter, followed by business and professional services. Together, these two industries made up more than half of the activations reported in Q4.

Apple regularly emphasizes enterprise adoption of iOS in its earnings conference calls, repeatedly noting that nearly all of the Fortune 500 companies are piloting or deploying the iPhone and iPad for their users. Apple also maintains dedicated sections of its website promoting the iPhone and iPad for use in business.

Apple Stock Jumps on Rumors of Stock Split at Tomorrow's Shareholder Meeting

Hedge fund manager Doug Kass tweeted (via 9to5Mac) a short time ago that he is hearing rumors of an announcement regarding a stock split coming at Apple's shareholder meeting scheduled for tomorrow at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California. The stock has reversed course since Kass's Tweet, moving from down $5 to up $5.

Many observers, such as Fortune's Philip Elmer-Dewitt, are calling into question Kass's statements, noting the sequence of events that saw him announce a large position in Apple, float the rumor of a stock split, and then announce that he was selling off shares after the stock spiked. Kass has, however, defended his Tweet, saying that the rumors were "all over the Street".

While a stock split would not add any intrinsic value to Apple's market value, some have viewed a potential split as a positive for Apple under the perception that a company is more likely to split when it is confident that the stock price will rise in the future. Observers have also argued that high stock prices for companies like Apple and Google have kept them from being added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average given the outsized impact they would have on the price-weighted index.

Apple's last stock split came in February 2005, a 2-for-1 move that brought the price of a single share down to just under $45. Apple has refrained from splitting its stock since that time, with investors seeing the share price rise to over $700 before pulling back to the current level around $450.

Apple Making Moves to Sell More iPhones in India

The Wall Street Journal reports on recent moves Apple has made to increase sales in India, one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Recently the company has launched the iTunes Store and the Apple TV there, and it was rumored that Apple Retail Stores were coming to the subcontinent as well.
Apple is sidestepping wireless carriers to seize greater control over marketing in India and offering no-interest loans to lure lower-income consumers. The company has also boosted staff in India by 30% to 170 employees in the past six months. And it is ramping up the introduction of other products, with the Apple TV video-streaming gadget expected to reach stores in coming weeks, people familiar with the matter say.

The result is that Apple shipped more than 252,000 iPhones to India in the quarter through December, more than triple the number in the previous three months, according to research firm Canalys.
India has frequently been mentioned when talking about Apple's possible development of a lower-cost iPhone, because most smartphone users in India use postpaid plans and pay for their phones up front, instead of the subsidization model that is used in the West.

The Journal quotes a number of experts saying that Apple will have to come out with a more inexpensive phone to compete with other manufacturers -- Samsung sells Android phones that start at $100, while the cheapest iPhones sell for $500 and a new iPhone 5 is close to $850.

Facebook releases SDK 3.2 for iOS with better analytics, API improvements and more


Facebook announced on its Developers blog today that it is releasing version 3.2 of its SDK for iOS. The updated SDK makes it even easier for iOS app developers implementing Facebook features, with improvements to APIs and better tools for tracking usage and optimizing ads. Version 3.2 includes improved analytics and new metrics such as the ability to track "iOS 6 native share sheet and built-in native UI controls usage." Facebook also noted that it is including a beta for select partners showing off upcoming support for "logging in-app purchase events."

  • Better mobile analytics – We've added support for measuring additional usage metrics and optimizing ads to help improve an app's quality and monetization potential
  • Enhanced error handling – SDK support and documentation now enabled for all classes of error responses
  • API improvements – A new FBAccessTokenData type makes it easier to open a session from token data explicitly, and to better handle app and deep linking

Facebook also said the updated SDK included enhanced error handling, improved web dialog support, and a several API improvements and bug fixes. Improvements to Facebook's SDK are important, as the company's noted over 45 percent of the top 400 grossing iOS apps are now integrated with the social network.

Version 3.2 of the Facebook SDK for iOS is available here.

US Defense Department confirms plans to roll out 100K iOS and Android devices by next year

DOD-iPad-USWe heard reports in October that the U.S. Department of Defense was preparing to approve a large number of iOS and Android devices for use on government networks. Those reports were followed earlier this month with news that CACI International Inc. was modifying thousands of iPads for use in U.S. government agencies. The Pentagon confirmed in a statement today that it plans to open its networks to 100,000 new devices from Apple and Google by February of next year:

The Pentagon said it wants employees to have the flexibility to use commercial products on classified and unclassified networks. It plans to create a military mobile applications store and hire a contractor to build a system that may eventually handle as many as 8 million devices.

The move comes as iPad and other iOS devices continue to be adopted by government agencies over BlackBerry. Documents from October revealed the U.S. Department of Defense planned to deploy up to 8 millions devices partially made up of iOS devices, while a number of other U.S. agencies also switched from BlackBerry to iPhones over the last year. As for the App Store and system for managing the up to 8 million devices, the DOD will select one or more companies by summer to develop the necessary software:

The Defense Information Systems Agency plans to select a company or group of firms by early summer to develop the architecture to manage mobile devices and distribute software applications, according to John Hickey, mobility program manager at the agency.

BlackBerry currently has the lion's share of the 600,000 devices used by the Pentagon. The Pentagon said the networks now have about 470,000 BlackBerrys, 41,000 Apple products, and 8,700 Android devices.