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Apple Inc  (AAPL)
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    Sector  Technology    Industry Computer Hardware


Apple Inc

Business Description

The Company designs, manufactures and markets personal computers and related software, peripherals and personal computing and communicating solutions. The Company's products include the Macintosh® line of desktop and notebook computers, the Mac OS® X operating system, the iPod™ digital music player, and a portfolio of software and peripheral products for education, creative, consumer and business customers. The Company sells its products through its online stores, direct sales force, third-party wholesalers and resellers, and its own retail stores.

Business Organization

The Company manages its business primarily on a geographic basis. The Company's reportable operating segments are the Americas, Europe, Japan, and Retail. The Americas segment includes both North and South America, except for the activities of the Company's Retail segment. The Europe segment includes European countries as well as the Middle East and Africa. The Japan segment includes only Japan, except for the activities of the Company's Retail segment. The Retail segment currently operates Apple-owned retail stores in the United States and in the first quarter of fiscal 2004, opened its first international store in Tokyo, Japan. Other operating segments include Asia-Pacific, which includes Australia and Asia except for Japan, and the Company's subsidiary, FileMaker, Inc. Each reportable operating segment provides similar hardware and software products and similar services.

Markets and Distribution

The Company's customers are primarily in the education, creative, consumer, and business markets. Certain customers are attracted to Macintosh computers for a variety of reasons, including the reduced amount of training resulting from the Macintosh computer's intuitive ease of use, advanced graphics capabilities, industrial design features of the Company's hardware products, and ability of Macintosh computers to network and communicate with other computer systems and environments. Apple personal computers were first introduced to education customers in the late 1970s.


The Company is confronted by aggressive competition in all areas of its business. The market for the design, manufacture, and sale of personal computers and related software and peripheral products is highly competitive. This market continues to be characterized by rapid technological advances in both hardware and software development, which have substantially increased the capabilities and applications of these products, and have resulted in the frequent introduction of new products and significant price, feature, and performance competition. Over the past several years, price competition in the market for personal computers has been particularly intense. The Company's competitors who sell personal computers based on other operating systems have aggressively cut prices and lowered their product margins to gain or maintain market share. The Company's results of operations and financial condition have been, and in the future may continue to be, adversely affected by these and other industry-wide downward pressures on gross margins.

The principal competitive factors in the market for personal computers include relative price/performance, product quality and reliability, design innovation, availability of software, product features, marketing and distribution capability, service and support, availability of hardware peripherals, and corporate reputation. Further, as the personal computer industry and its customers place more reliance on the Internet, an increasing number of Internet devices that are smaller, simpler, and less expensive than traditional personal computers may compete for market share with the Company's existing products.

The Company is currently taking and will continue to take steps to respond to the competitive pressures being placed on its personal computer sales as a result of innovations in competing platforms. The Company's future operating results and financial condition are substantially dependent on its ability to continue to develop improvements to the Macintosh platform in order to maintain perceived functional and design advantages over competing platforms.

The Company's initial success with the development of an end-to-end music offering, which includes the iTunes digital music management software, iTunes Music Store and iPod digital music player, has already encouraged significant competition in this area from other companies, many of whom have greater financial, marketing, and manufacturing resources than those of the Company. The Company believes it maintains a competitive advantage by more effectively integrating the entire end-to-end music solution, including the hardware (iPod), software (iTunes) and music content (iTunes Music Store).


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