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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Timing is everything

A reader writes:

They're releasing the iPhone Friday night at 6. After the markets close on the last day of the quarter. I don't know much about taxes and finance, but I know that's significant. Why, though?
Interesting point. Maybe they expect a huge spike in sales, and they want it all in the same quarter to show how dramatic it is? I believe that Apple's fiscal year ends at or near the end of September, and if so this coming quarter would be their last quarter for the current fiscal year.

Has any of our financially savvy readers got an answer?

Comments (17)

Maybe they are trying to make iPhone totally in Q3 (yes, it is that far in the year already) sales. I like Apple, but I think the iPhone at the price, size of the thing (heavy) and AT&T 2.5G service is a lacking combo, though.

I agree about the service, but the iPhone is anything but heavy. Compared with my blackberry 8830 (the newest, lightest Verizon model), the iPhone is lightweight. Rest assured I won't be standing in line to buy an iPhone. The ATT service is a deal-killer for me. The lack of a "real" keyboard is also a deal killer.

The early reviews are in and they're universally good. It took Mossberg a week to get used to the keyboard, but he says it works and works well. That said, he's not pitching his 700p. And the monthly pricing is about 40% less than my current equivalent plan with Verizon. Spaced over a year, the phone pays for itself. It's gonna be a major hit. I'll be calling Verizon in a week or so (once they've figured out their strategy) to get a deal on my plan. Otherwise, I'm gone. $175 early termination be damned.

The 6pm Friday night thing though...why?

I'll be calling Verizon in a week or so (once they've figured out their strategy) to get a deal on my plan. Otherwise, I'm gone. $175 early termination be damned.

Let us know how that goes. I've got Verizon as well, and it's okay, but I'm really lusting after that I-Phone.

I dunno...I already have a phone and a 30gb mp3 player (not an iPod). I think $500 for the 4gb model is a bit steep, and $600 for the 8gb is even worse. And I have a feeling most people will think the same way. Let the early-adopters blow their money on it. And Apple has already mandated that AT&T/Cingular cannot give rebate incentives or anything like that with the there arent going to be any sweetheart deals to be had.

Chris Snethen writes: "The early reviews are in and they're universally good. It took Mossberg a week to get used to the keyboard, but he says it works and works well. That said, he's not pitching his 700p. And the monthly pricing is about 40% less than my current equivalent plan with Verizon. Spaced over a year, the phone pays for itself. It's gonna be a major hit. I'll be calling Verizon in a week or so (once they've figured out their strategy) to get a deal on my plan. Otherwise, I'm gone. $175 early termination be damned."

Beware of the fee comparisons. Note the limited number of text messages permitted. Most people use SMS text messages far more than email on these phones, even those of us with Blackberries. If you use the wireless network for data transfer, you're gonna be shocked by the slowness compared to Verizon's data network, which is at least 3x as fast. Believe me, I've got a whole house full of Mac products including 7 ipods, and 5 intel Macs of varying kinds. I also have two apple TV units, but the iPhone just doesn't do it for me. Too slow, no keyboard, at the crappy ATT network to boot. I just can't get excited about the iPhone. You can have my place in line.

Beware of the fee comparisons.

Duly noted. Everyone's mileage will vary. I just know for what I'm doing, the iPhone plan is about 40% cheaper. Verizon had better have an answer.

They're trying to up death and disability due to 'inappropriate attention to driving' sooner, rather than later. To make it look like it's spread out more through the calendar year.

"Duly noted. Everyone's mileage will vary. I just know for what I'm doing, the iPhone plan is about 40% cheaper. Verizon had better have an answer."

I'm betting their answer will be to bill you $175 for early termination. As long as corporate IT doesn't and won't buy into the iPhone, Verizon has nothing to worry about.

Apple's fiscal year is 52 or 53 weeks, ending on the last Saturday of September. Its fourth fiscal quarter this year would thus be July 1 through September 28. Absent some peculiarity in its accounting policies for recognizing revenue, its sales through June 30 (including its iPhone unit sales to ATT if in fact ATT is reselling for its own account) would fall in the quarter ending June 30. I think it is more likely that marketing considerations, rather than financial reporting, are responsible for the timing.

Allan, you may be right, but I have some points for you:

1. Saturday would be Sep. 29, not 28.

2. Are sales made after the close of the office on a Friday booked on that Friday, or on the following Monday (which in this case would be July 2)?

3. Why would marketing want a 6 p.m. slot -- on a Friday night, no less?

Jack asks:

"3. Why would marketing want a 6 p.m. slot -- on a Friday night, no less?"

1. Stock markets are closed; traders on holiday until July 5 for the most part. Apple stock probably won't be affected significantly (positively or negatively) until July 6, clearly in the new quarter.

2. By sequestering off a block of time during which only iPhones will be sold, Apple and ATT can isolate the market effects of the new hardware to a specific point in time.

3. As to which quarter the sales get "booked" in, I don't have a clue in this case. I "think" that they would have to book the sales in the current quarter, especially since their retail units are open on Saturday June 30th as well. I can't imagine them not reporting sales for the last two business days of the month just because their offices are closed.

sales for the last two business days of the month just because their offices are closed.

It would be 30 hours total. And since when is Saturday a "business day"?

1. I was wrong about the Sept. date (bad glasses, small calendar).
2. My guess (it's only that) is that they have to book the sales when they're made, not when the lights are on in Cupertino, so store sales Friday and Saturday would go into the current quarter, not the next one. (That's why in many companies folks will work on a Saturday to get stuff shipped out, so that it can be booked and accrued.) If there's a sales spike from the iPhone introduction (and I suppose there could be one), then they'd likely prefer to have it at the end of the third quarter rather than the beginning of the fourth, where it's kind of lost in the larger pool of annual numbers. What's more, I would think they would have had to accrue any unit sales to ATT in the current quarter, since the shipments have already been made. I can't reach my green eyeshade, so I haven't looked up Apple's public statements about accounting policies to see if my guesses are right.
3. Friday 6pm will pull crowds of people to the stores --even people with day jobs -- with will help with the press and the general festivity of the introduction. It's also a time (unlike, say, the lunch hour) when people standing on line (as you Jerseyites like to say) won't feel impatient.

One more thing: Apple promised some time ago that availability would be in June. It's entirely possible that they needed all the time they could get within that commitment to get ready to go. I have to hand it to them: they really seem to be organized about this.

We have now reasoned our way to a satisfactory explanation of what once appeared to be a mystery. The beauty of the internet.

It would be 30 hours total. And since when is Saturday a "business day"?

It's a business day if you're in a retail business. It just isn't a business day for the purposes of legal transactions, bank transactions, and the stock market. I doubt if any other retail establishments don't book sales that occur on the weekends just because they aren't on "business" days.


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