With respect to its Mac products, the Company believes the availability of third-party software applications and services depends in part on the developers’ perception and analysis of the relative benefits of developing, maintaining, and upgrading such software for the Company’s products compared to Windows-based products. This analysis may be based on factors such as the perceived strength of the Company and its products, the anticipated revenue that may be generated, continued acceptance by customers of Mac OS X, and the costs of developing such applications and services. If the Company’s minority share of the global personal computer market causes developers to question the Company’s prospects, developers could be less inclined to develop or upgrade software for the Company’s products and more inclined to devote their resources to developing and upgrading software for the larger Windows market. The Company’s development of its own software applications and services may also negatively affect the decisions of third- party developers, such as Microsoft, Adobe and Google, to develop, maintain, and upgrade similar or competitive software and services for the Company’s products.
With respect to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, the Company relies on the continued availability and development of compelling and innovative software applications. Unlike third-party software applications for Mac products, the software applications for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch platforms are distributed through a single distribution channel, the App Store. The absence of multiple distribution channels, which are available for competing platforms, may limit the availability and acceptance of third-party applications by the Company’s customers, thereby causing developers to curtail significantly, or stop, development for the Company’s platforms. In addition, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are subject to rapid technological change, and, if third-party developers are unable to keep up with this pace of change, third-party applications might not successfully operate and may result in dissatisfied customers. Further, if the Company develops its own software applications and services, such development may negatively affect the decisions of third-party developers to develop, maintain, and upgrade similar or competitive applications for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch platforms. As with applications for the Company’s Mac products, the availability and development of these applications also depend on developers’ perceptions and analysis of the relative benefits of developing software for the Company’s products rather than its competitors’ products, including devices that use competing platforms. If developers focus their efforts on these competing platforms, the availability and quality of applications for the Company’s devices may suffer.
The Company’s future operating performance depends on the performance of distributors, carriers and other resellers.
The Company distributes its products through wholesalers, resellers, national and regional retailers, value-added resellers, and cataloguers, many of whom distribute products from competing manufacturers. The Company also sells many of its products and resells third-party products in most of its major markets directly to customers, certain education customers, cellular network carriers’ distribution channels and certain resellers through its online and retail stores.
Many resellers operate on narrow operating margins and have been negatively affected in the past by weak economic conditions. Some resellers have perceived the expansion of the Company’s direct sales as conflicting with their business interests as distributors and resellers of the Company’s products. Such a perception could discourage resellers from investing resources in the distribution and sale of the Company’s products or lead them to limit or cease distribution of those products. The Company’s financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected if the financial condition of these resellers weakens, if resellers stopped distributing the Company’s products, or if uncertainty regarding demand for the Company’s products caused resellers to reduce their ordering and marketing of the Company’s products. The Company has invested and will continue to invest in programs to enhance reseller sales, including staffing selected resellers’ stores with Company employees and contractors and improving product placement displays. These programs could require a substantial investment while providing no assurance of return or incremental revenue.
The Company’s Retail business has required and will continue to require a substantial investment and commitment of resources and is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties.
The Company’s retail stores have required substantial fixed investment in equipment and leasehold improvements, information systems, inventory and personnel. The Company also has entered into substantial operating lease commitments for retail space, with terms ranging from five to 20 years, the majority of which are for 10 years. Certain stores have been designed and built to serve as high-profile venues to promote brand awareness and serve as vehicles for corporate sales and marketing activities. Because of their unique design elements, locations and size, these stores require substantially more investment than the Company’s more typical retail stores. Due to the high fixed cost structure associated with the Retail segment, a decline in sales or the closure or poor performance of individual or multiple stores could result in significant lease termination costs, write-offs of equipment and leasehold improvements, and severance costs that could materially adversely affect the Company’s financial condition and operating results.