Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple's scary Form 10-K

November 5, 2008: 1:44 PM ET

Apple's 2008 10-KApple on Wednesday filed its Form 10-K for fiscal year 2008, as required by the SEC.

And as is customary, the report includes a long section on "Risk Factors," in which it rattles off everything that could possibly go wrong with the company.

These things always make for unsettling reading, but this year's list of risks is longer than last years's and, given the economic climate, seems even scarier. Among the topics:

  • The effects of a global financial meltdown
  • New lawsuits stemming from the Apple stock option investigation
  • Price cutting, piracy and Mac OS clones
  • Badly managed product transitions in a particularly volatile environment
  • Rapid product obsolescence and unexpected inventory write-downs
  • Shortages of NAND flash memory, DRAM and LCDs, and associated price increases
  • Disruptions in foreign contracts for manufacturing and logistics
  • Deal-breaking demands by digital film and music suppliers
  • Getting caught infringing on other people's patents
  • Third-party software developers deciding to abandon ship
  • The discovery of serious bugs and manufacturing defects in Apple products
  • Late-in-the-quarter events that disrupt the usual seasonal fluctuations in sales and revenue
  • Failure of overseas mobile phone carriers to properly support the iPhone
  • Changing laws and regulations in overseas mobile phone markets
  • System failures, network disruptions, breaches in data security
  • Extreme fluctuations in the company's stock price
  • Political events, war, terrorism, natural disasters and public health emergencies
  • Difficulty attracting and retaining key personnel given the new option regulations
  • Ongoing lawsuits decided against Apple
  • Fluctuating foreign currency rates and changes in international tax laws, labor conditions etc.
  • Declining sales in stores that have long leases and are particularly expensive to maintain
  • Acquisitions and business strategies that go sour
  • Distributors, resellers, wholesalers and┬ácatalog companies getting squeezed or going bankrupt
  • Material losses in the company's $24.5 billion investment portfolio
  • The effect of worsening economic conditions on unsecured non-trade receivables
  • New laws and regulations related to health, safety and environmental protection
  • Changes in the company's tax rates
  • Insurance problems. "For certain risks, the Company does not maintain insurance coverage because of cost and/or availability"

Not listed: The risks associated with the company's dependence on the health and well being of Steve Jobs.

You can read the full text of Apple's (AAPL) 2008 10-K here.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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