Apple's Earnings Call: 5 Things I Learned

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So what did I learn from Apple's earnings call on Monday? Well, I found out sales for the iPhone and Mac computers are surging, while iPod sales are dwindling.

But that's not all I learned. Here are five interesting tidbits I picked up:

It Sure Sounds Like There's an Apple Tablet

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer and Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer threw out some very veiled, yet tantalizing hints about Cupertino's product plans for the Holiday Season, according to 9to5Mac. Basically, the conversation can be boiled down to this:

Oppenheimer [during statement]: We're spending more money than usual on airfreight this Holiday Season.

Analyst [during Q & A]: Oh, but you do that every year as you try to move inventory around the planet to deal with holiday demand.

Cook: No, this is extra, extra special, and it's not for the iPhone.

Analyst: So what's it for?

Cook: I can't tell you that. It's a secret.

So Apple has to move more product around the world than usual to meet holiday demand this year, and it's not for the iPhone. What could it be? 9to5Mac suggests this could mean Apple has figured out how to put a camera on the iPod Touch. But you can forget about it being the Apple Tablet, that's just silly. really is for the Apple Tablet, wink, wink.

The iPhone is Awesome

Another question lobbed at Cook surrounded the iPhone, and whether Apple was concerned with the increasing competition from the coming crop of Android handsets and other competitors. Cook says these companies are still playing catch up with the first iPhone, and that Apple has moved beyond that product, according to Venture Beat.

Cook must have been talking about market sales and momentum, because he couldn't possibly be talking about the actual iPhone technology. Unless Cook hasn't noticed that Android phones can shoot video and have cut-and-paste. Things that didn't appear on the iPhone until iPhone OS 3.0 and the launch of the iPhone 3GS. True, Android is only getting true universal search with Android 2.0, according to Gizmodo, and you can't get a $50 Wolfram Alpha app for Android, but give it time it'll happen.

The iPhone Price Could Change

Cook came out with another iPhone tidbit when he was asked about the end of iPhone exclusivity deals in some countries, and what that meant for the price tag on store shelves. Cook said that Apple would not raise the wholesale price of the iPhone for non-exclusive carriers, but the amount that carriers charge their customers is up to them.

What does this mean for U.S customers? If Apple ended its exclusivity with AT&T, we could see a price war between multiple carriers, which could lead to a lower price. Or, the price of the iPhone could go up.

Apples Are (Getting) Cheap

Both Cook and Oppenheimer talked about Apple's lower prices. Oppenheimer said he expects Apple to deliver "greater value to consumers" with their new and upcoming product lineups. Cook also remarked that Apple planned on "closing the umbrella" to beat back competitors with lesser products and cheaper price tags, according to Business Week.

The basic gist is some Apple products are getting cheaper. Maybe not dramatically cheaper, but Apple prices look like they're on a downward turn.

What's up with the iPod Nano?

While iPhone and Mac sales are surging, iPod sales are still declining. We've seen this before, and it is usually attributed to the iPhone siphoning off would-be iPod customers. That may be true, but Apple hasn't said much about the actual sales of iPods.

Oppenheimer said people love the "iPod Nano," because of its new functionality, but didn't provide any specific numbers to back that up. This led Betanews to wonder if the iPod Nano, with its new video camera, is a flop. Looking at previous years, Betanews noted that typically this was the quarter where iPod sales increase. But that didn't happen this year.

Also, Betanews says the original Nano sold more than a million units in its first 17 days back in 2005. Why hasn't the new Nano with exciting new features done the same? Maybe it has, but if the Nano is big on sales why isn't Apple boasting about it? Is it possible the world is not that hot for a small iPod with a passable video camera? Steve Jobs, say it ain't so.

So that's what I learned from Apple's earnings call. Macworld's live blog coverage is up if you want to see how the call went down, and you can also read a free transcript of the call on Seeking Alpha.

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