The “ghostly white iBook” is one of the main reasons that Apple is a profitable computer company in this tough economy times, columnist Charles Haddad writes in his Byte of the Apple column for BusinessWeek Online .
“If you really want to scare people this Halloween, figure out a costume that somehow represents the state of the PC market,” he writes. “Is it possible to dress up as an empty showroom at CompUSA? This is the worst slump I’ve seen in 20 years of plunking around on a computer. Depending on who’s counting, PC sales are off from 19 percent to 21 percent.”
Haddad points out that Apple and Dell are the only two major personal computer manufacturers still making money right now. He credits Dell’s success to “shaving costs and then waging bloody price wars to grab market share,” but says, “its computers will never win any awards for style or innovation.” Apple, on the other hand, has also become a master of cost control, but also produces innovative products, Haddad says. One of the most innovative is the iBook.
“Why is the iBook so successful? I believe it’s the best portable computer on any platform on the market, maybe ever,” Haddad writes. “It’s lightweight, easily carried, and compact. Yet its screen is brilliantly sharp and the keyboard comfortable. Plus, it can do everything from surfing the Net wirelessly and playing full-length movies to running Apple’s fancy new operating system, OS X.”
The iBook’s success, coupled with good inventory control and cost cutting, gave Apple a 30.1 percent gross margin in the fourth quarter. No other computer company — not even Dell — can boast such margins, the columnist says.
Of course, he admits that, as with all tech firms, Apple’s immediate future will be a challenge. Despite profits, sales are down. Especially iMac sales — and the iMac “anchors the company’s consumer strategy and has become an icon representing Apple,” Haddad says.
“Clearly, the company needs to either revamp the iMac or replace it with a new model,” he adds. “I don’t have any inside information, but I’m certain that Apple is hard at work designing the iMac’s successor. When it comes to innovation, Apple will never rest — at least under Jobs.”