updated 04:40 pm EDT, Wed October 22, 2008
Apple plans through slump
Many people are wondering if Apple is planning acquisitions, or working on a new product concept, after CEO Steve Jobs hinted that his company might have big plans to take advantage of the economic slump, according to Digital Daily. Jobs took part in yesterday's Q4 financial conference call, and reminded everyone that Apple has $25 billion in the bank and no debt. Exactly what the future plans might entail is unknown, but this amount of cash could be used to expand production facilities, develop new products, or consume companies weakened by the global credit meltdown.
In reference to the cash and lack of debt, Jobs said that this "provides us [Apple] tremendous stability and the ability to invest our way through this downturn. This is what we did during the last downturn -- we increased R&D investments and created some of our best new products and businesses." He continued with the allusion that has spurred the speculation: "this downturn may also present some extraordinary opportunities for companies that have the cash to take advantage of them, like Apple does."
The wording may suggest that the "extraordinary opportunities" are in addition to the potential benefits of R&D or starting new branches. Apple responded to the tech recession after the dot com bubble by opening retail stores, and now argues that it has positioned itself better than competitors for the current poor market conditions. If the company is considering acquisitions, a downturn could present bargains.
A recent ChangeWave survey showed that 40 percent of people expected to spend less on consumer electronics over the next three months, while only 14 percent anticipated spending more. If consumers do tighten their wallets during the holidays, many tech companies could fall short of sales goals. The battered businesses could represent opportunities that Apple is waiting to take advantage of.
Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst from Sanford Bernstein, asked directly about the possibility of acquisitions during yesterday's Q4 announcement, to which Jobs responded "I just meant exactly what I said, which is I think there's going to be some significant opportunities." He also reiterated his previous statements from the MacBook event, which indicated that Apple will not jump into the emerging mini-notebook market until it proves to be viable, although it does have ideas if the segment grows.