The Company participates in several highly competitive markets, including mobile communications and media devices with its iPhone, iPad and iPod product families; personal computers with its Mac computers; and distribution of third-party digital content and applications through the iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store. While the Company is widely recognized as a leading innovator in the markets where it competes, these markets are highly competitive and subject to aggressive pricing. To remain competitive, the Company believes that increased investment in research and development and marketing and advertising is necessary to maintain or expand its position in the markets where it competes. The Company’s research and development spending is focused on investing in new hardware and software products, and in further developing its existing products, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, and iPod hardware; iOS and Mac OS X operating systems; and a variety of application software. The Company also believes increased investment in marketing and advertising programs is critical to increasing product and brand awareness.
The Company utilizes a variety of direct and indirect distribution channels, including its retail stores, online stores, and direct sales force, and third-party cellular network carriers, wholesalers, retailers, and value-added resellers. The Company believes that sales of its innovative and differentiated products are enhanced by knowledgeable salespersons who can convey the value of the hardware, software, and peripheral integration, demonstrate the unique digital lifestyle solutions that are available on its products, and demonstrate the compatibility of the Mac with the Windows platform and networks. The Company further believes providing direct contact with its targeted customers is an effective way to demonstrate the advantages of its products over those of its competitors and providing a high-quality sales and after-sales support experience is critical to attracting new and retaining existing customers. To ensure a high-quality buying experience for its products in which service and education are emphasized, the Company continues to expand and improve its distribution capabilities by expanding the number of its own retail stores worldwide. Additionally, the Company has invested in programs to enhance reseller sales by placing high quality Apple fixtures, merchandising materials and other resources within selected third-party reseller locations. Through the Apple Premium Reseller Program, certain third-party resellers focus on the Apple platform by providing a high level of integration and support services, and product expertise.
The Company offers a range of mobile communication and media devices, personal computing products, and portable digital music players, as well as a variety of related software, services, peripherals, networking solutions and various third-party hardware and software products. In addition, the Company offers its own software products, including iOS, the Company’s proprietary mobile operating system; Mac OS X, the Company’s proprietary operating system software for its Mac computers; server software; and application software for consumer, education, and business customers. A detailed discussion of the Company’s other products may be found in Part I, Item 1, “Business,” of the Company’s 2010 Form 10-K.
Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
On March 11, 2011, the northeast coast of Japan experienced a severe earthquake followed by a tsunami, with continuing aftershocks. These geological events have caused significant damage in the region, including severe damage to nuclear power plants, and have impacted Japan’s power and other infrastructure as well as its economy. Certain of the Company’s suppliers are located in Japan, and certain of its other Asian suppliers integrate components or use materials manufactured in Japan in the production of its products. To the extent that component production has been affected, the Company has generally obtained alternative sources of supply or implemented other measures. The Company does not currently believe these events will have a material impact on its operations in the third quarter of 2011 unless conditions worsen, including, but not limited to, power outages and expansion of evacuation zones around the nuclear power plants.
Beyond the third quarter of 2011, uncertainty exists with respect to the availability of electrical power, the damage to nuclear power plants and the impact to other infrastructure. Thus, there is a risk that the Company could in the future experience delays or other constraints in obtaining key components and products and/or price increases related to such components and products that could materially adversely affect the Company’s financial condition and operating results.