FORTUNE -- For the second year in a row, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is scheduled to be the opening night speaker at the annual D: All Things Digital conference, an invitation-only event that prides itself in assembling the people that really matter in the world of high tech.
Asymco's Horace Dediu was not invited.
More's the pity, because the questions for Tim Cook that Dediu posted on his website Friday might take the moderators -- and their audience -- deeper into Apple's business than they usually get to go.
Here's what Dediu is hoping they'll ask:
1. Why is the iPhone not sold as a portfolio product? Meaning, why, after six years, is there no iPhone product range being updated on a regular basis. Having a portfolio strategy is not only followed by every phone vendor but also by Apple for all its other product lines, including the iPad, which came after the iPhone. In other words, please explain why the iPhone is anomalous from a product portfolio point of view.
2. There are more than 800 operators world-wide so why are there only about 250 of them carrying your phone? Competitors large and small (from BlackBerry to Nokia to Samsung) have cited relationships with more than 500 operators so Apple is being uniquely selective. My question does not stem from a lack of patience: this total number of iPhone distributors has not increased markedly for over a year. Are you limiting distribution through conditions placed on operators (like the availability of sufficient quality data services) or are operators finding the distribution agreement too onerous (e.g. too high a minimum order quota)?
3. In 2012 Apple's capital spending has reached the extraordinary level of $10 billion/yr, higher than all but the most capital-intensive semiconductor manufacturers. This is unusual for Apple as it was less than $1 billion in the year before the iPhone launched. It's also unusual for Apple's competitors in phones, PCs or tablets. It's on a level matched only by semiconductor heavyweights. What is the purpose of this spending and what should we read into it leveling off at $10 billion for 2013?
4. Depending on one supplier is an operational faux pas, and yet Apple has found itself in that situation with Samsung for mobile microprocessors. It may be excusable in PCs with Intel having an architectural monopoly but it's not excusable for a chip that you designed yourself and purchase in massive quantities. Why did you give Samsung such a concession, especially knowing their potential as a competitor vis-à-vis alternative suppliers who had no such potential? Does the answer have something to do with the previous question?
The conference is scheduled for May 28-30 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Video highlights are usually posted on AllThingsD.com shortly after the day's events.
First Bloomberg, now Reuters, have boiled Apple down to a two-word editorial formula.
FORTUNE -- How do you describe a company that grew like gangbusters but has entered a patch of slower growth?
Some desk editors at the business news services have hit on what they seem to think is the perfect phrase: Apple (AAPL) is "losing steam."
Last week it was Bloomberg News with this headline:
Harvard Liquidates Apple Stake After IPhone Sales MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 14, 2013 11:13 AM ET
In the U.S., it's everybody's but Apple's according to comScore.
FORTUNE -- It's often been said that Android's share of the U.S. smartphone market has come chiefly out of the hides of Research in Motion's (BBRY) BlackBerry and Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone, but nothing shows this quite as clearly as Horace Dediu's charts at Asymco.com.
Not that Apple (AAPL) hasn't been hurt by the success of Google's (GOOG) mobile platform. Some of MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 5, 2013 6:56 PM ET
It may not be the price of the iPhone as much as the economics of mobile broadband.
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) made headlines last month on reports that its iPhone shipments to India tripled in the space of six months. Since then it's instituted some aggressive marketing techniques, including an advertising blitz and a buyback scheme, that could propel the company's sales in the country, according to one estimate, to $1 billion MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 3, 2013 11:38 AM ET
In one day, Apple's profit margin went from the high end of its range to the low end.
FORTUNE -- After Apple's (AAPL) quarterly report last week nearly every analyst we heard from pointed out that the company's 37.5% gross margin -- the measure of how efficiently a company turns sales into profits -- was at very bottom of its 37.5%-to-38.5% forecast range.
The analysts offered a variety explanations, but most attributed the reduced margins to MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 2, 2013 12:03 PM ET
Ten years later, it's the sprawling digital mall known as the Apple iTunes Store.
FORTUNE -- Asymco's Horace Dediu contributed to the bouquet of articles celebrating the iTunes Store's 10th anniversary with a story for Billboard magazine and the bar chart above, posted with a score of eye-popping data points in Happy Birthday iTunes Store.
What struck me, looking at Apple's most recent SEC Form 10-Q, is that revenue from the iTunes Store MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 29, 2013 9:02 AM ET
In the last quarter of 2012, Apple had 5% of the global PC market and 45% of the profit.
FORTUNE -- Everybody who follows the computer industry knows that Apple's (AAPL) Mac trails far behind its Microsoft (MSFT) Windows-based competitors -- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell (DELL), Lenovo and the like -- in terms of worldwide PC shipments.
But who knew what the market looked like in terms of economic value?
Leave it to Asymco MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 16, 2013 2:53 PM ET
The arc of grey bars tells the story of Android in the second largest smartphone market
FORTUNE -- According to the chart above, drawn from comScore data and posted Friday by Asymco's Horace Dediu, sales of Google (GOOG) Android smartphones in the U.S. peaked in December 2011.
Sales of Apple (AAPL) iPhones, by contrast, continue to grow in the U.S. Dediu attributes that to broader distribution (three of the four major U.S. MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 6, 2013 6:28 AM ET
A $45 million lawsuit suggests that Samsung also spends a fortune on refrigerator ads.
FORTUNE -- We've learned a couple of things since November when Asymco's Horace Dediu surprised us with his estimate that Samsung spends more on marketing than Apple (AAPL), HP (HPQ), Dell (DELL) Microsoft (MSFT) and Coca Cola (KO) combined.
1. We learned that Dediu's estimate was a few billion dollars short. According to the update he posted Tuesday MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 4, 2013 8:32 AM ET
Asymco's Horace Dediu has a new way to illustrate Apple's profit-making machinery.
FORTUNE -- The chart above, created on an iPad, may be Horace Dediu's the best graphical representation yet of Apple's (AAPL) business model circa 2012. According to his footnotes, the height of the light blue rectangle representing payments to developers (Dev Payments, lower right) equals $1 billion. When zoomed in on a retina iPad, each pixel equals $50 million.
The chart MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 27, 2013 8:29 AM ET
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