37 years of computer history in three graphs, two blogs and a podcast
First, it's on a log, not a linear scale, so every unit on the Y-axis represents an exponential increase in the number of units shipped. Second, it's counting all units shipped -- PCs, smartphones, tablets. Third, although Apple (AAPL) is the thread that runs throughout the 37 years of PC history represented here, there were many years when it was not among the top 5 PC vendors, as implied by the chart's title.
But we'll grant Dediu a little artistic license, because nobody has ever before displayed this information so clearly. Not only do his graphs (here and here) show the natural cycle of the PC industry -- in which companies rise and fall in fairly predictable patterns -- but it puts the lie to Wall Street's consensus view about Apple's future growth.
According to Thomson Reuters, analysts expect Apple's 61%-per-annum increases over the past five years to slow to 12% in 2012 -- which on a log chart is the equivalent of flatlining.
Bascially, they are projecting a future in which the company's breakneck growth reverts to some kind of industry norm. But if you look at the patterns over nearly four decades of PC history, you can see these analysts are living in a fantasy world. In computing, according to Dediu ...
"There's no such thing as a steady state, where the company settles down to enjoy a long and comfortable life. Either it grows phenomenally quickly or it collapses phenomenally quickly. There is no in between."
So when the Street projects 12% growth for Apple in 2012, it's basically pulling its punches, according to Dediu, saying "let's be conservative."
"I just look at this chart," he concludes, "and say, you know, to say ridiculous things like [iPhone sales] are going to double again next year doesn't sound so ridiculous anymore."
If you haven't seen Dediu's rise and fall graphs, check them out here and here and catch the podcast here. He's also produced a YouTube video that puts the data into motion. We've copied a version below the fold.
Mark your calendars for what's expected to be a monster quarter
Apple (AAPL) investor relations has scheduled a conference call with analysts on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT) to discuss its first fiscal quarter results.
Given last summer's pent-up demand for the new iPhone that was finally released in October, this should be a big one.
The Street's consensus, as reported Tuesday by Thomson Reuters, is for earnings MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 4, 2012 8:01 AM ET
If you ask about sales in the quarter that just ended, you get two very different answers
How did Apple (AAPL) do in the quarter that ended Saturday?
That depends whom you ask.
The consensus among nearly four dozen professional analysts, according to Thomson Reuters, is that Apple will report record earnings of $9.83 on record sales of $38.17 billion, up 52.8% and 42.7%, respectively, from the same quarter last year.
No way, say MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 2, 2012 8:18 AM ET
Horace Dediu tells the story. The narrative is fictional, but the numbers, sadly, are real.
In masterpiece of analytical satire, Asymco's Horace Dediu on Thursday recreated the thought processes that led Wall Street's top analysts to grossly underestimate Apple's (AAPL) earnings every year since 2005.
Their performance would be laughable if it didn't materially affect Apple's share price. But the numbers these analysts come up with form the "consensus" that determines the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 16, 2011 8:16 AM ET
What investors want to know is whether its stock will ever pop
The investors who follow the ups and downs of Apple's (AAPL) share price on The Mac Observer's Apple Finance Board often look with a mixture of envy and dismay at the price-to-earnings ratios of Amazon (81) and Netflix (76). Apple, by comparison, seems downright cheap with a trailing P/E of 15.57.
Yet Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) are trading very MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jun 13, 2011 10:44 AM ET
Because that's what the market will bear -- at least for now
If you buy the digital editions of Popular Science or TIME Magazine on the iPad, they cost $4.99 each -- same as on the newsstand.
However, one-year subscriptions to Popular Science (the paper magazine) are currently selling for $12 -- or $1 an issue. And TIME subscriptions can be had for $20 -- around 35¢ an issue.
That disconnect was one MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 30, 2010 6:43 AM ET
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