新产品对于苹果是唯一真正重要的东西。利润率也在下降，因为新产品侵占了老产品的市场和消费者。iPad Mini的成功对于苹果的财务是一项灾难：iPad Mini的利润率低于比它大一号的iPad。但这只是一方面。苹果称，相当一部分的iPad Mini买家是首次购入iPad产品，这很重要，因为它为苹果带来了新客户，所有现有客户都会是下一款杰出产品的目标客户——不管新产品是啥样。记得吗，苹果早就这么干过，当初iPod Shuffle用户就比iPod用户的花费要低。但iPhone出现后，他们都得要一台。
在某种程度上，苹果说起自己的时候有些妄自尊大。问起他对智能手机屏幕越来越大这个趋势怎么看时（这个问题他显然已经被问到过很多次了），蒂姆•库克表示，他认为苹果iPhone 5的显示屏是现有产品中最好的，大屏幕并不适合所有人。估计在苹果能够提供一款大屏手机之前，他会一直这么说。我们会关注随着消费者对三星（Samsung）新款Galaxy S4手机的反应变化，他的言辞有何变化。围绕Galaxy S4手机的诸多报道才刚刚见诸媒体。
Here's what Apple told investors about its business Tuesday: Margins, revenues, and profits in the next quarter all will be worse than investors had expected. Here's what Apple didn't address Wednesday: Specific plans for any new product categories or personnel moves, either among its long-serving management team or to fill at least one long-vacant hole. The stock rallied in after-hours trading.
Oh yeah, one more thing: Apple (AAPL) said it will dramatically increase its dividend, its share buybacks, and, for the first time, that it will borrow significant amounts of money to fuel this return of capital to shareholders. Apple actually bragged on its earnings call with investors that it will be one of the biggest payers of dividends in the world. Think: Insanely great … dividends?
There's more. Tim Cook, the man with the most unenviable task in the history of business, that of following Steve Jobs, said Apple planned to release "great" new products in the "fall and throughout 2014," and, eventually, new categories. The fall? If true, meaning that if Apple's big meeting with developers in June is a ho-hum event from a new-product perspective, then Apple will have gone a year without new product introductions.
New products at Apple is the only thing that matters. Margins are eroding because new products cannibalize older products. The success of the iPad Mini is a financial penalty for Apple: It's a less profitable product than its bigger cousin. But that is beside the point. Apple said a significant number of iPad Mini buyers are first-time iPad buyers, and this is what is important, adding new Apple customers to its lists of people to market the next great products -- whatever their configuration. Remember, Apple has done this before. iPod Shuffle customers spent less than they did on iPods. They also had to have an iPhone when it came out.
In some ways, Apple sounds delusional when it talks about itself. Asked, as he has been many times before, for his take on the trend to pack bigger screens into smartphones, Tim Cook said he thinks Apple's iPhone 5 has the best screen in existence and that big screens aren't for everyone. He'll keep saying that until Apple offers a phone with a bigger screen. And we'll see how that sounds when we witness customer reactions to the new Samsung Galaxy S4, a product whose media blitz has just begun.
In other ways, Apple shows that it is very much in tune with reality. Cook knows keeping $145 billion lying around is too much. So he'll give more back to shareholders. He knows that with interest rates as low as they are it makes no sense for a company with Apple's balance sheet not to borrow money and share the benefits with shareholders. So he's taking on debt -- Steve Jobs's aversion to the stuff be damned.
The world stops and listens when Apple talks. The problem is that Apple doesn't always have something to say, and Tuesday was one of those days. It would be foolish to assume Apple isn't ever going to have anything to say again. But the pressure certainly is building.