10 July, 2008

Excitement begins to spread around the globe for Apple's 3G iPhone.

With customers in New Zealand, Australia and Japan being the first in the world to officially get their hands on Apple's (AAPL) anticipated 3G iPhone, the euphoria across the Internet is reaching another fever pitch. Customers waiting in the US and Europe for Friday morning launches of the device are patiently prying into Apple's worldwide websites to get a glimpse of the updated software for the device and to get a sneak peek of the heralded application store.

Even though the updated version of Apple's trendy and hot-selling iPhone contains faster mobile network browsing and GPS, the biggest business opportunity here will indeed be the development of applications for the iPhone platform. The "AppStore" as Apple calls it is the one stop shop for iPhone and iPod Touch users to download, or pay for, additional applications for their updated devices.

While time zone differences allowed Oceania to get their iPhone 3G's first, the US and Europe will have the biggest say in terms of the devices success. So far, it's looking very good! Telefonica, one of Apple's carrier partners in Europe announced that it has taken over 300,000 pre-orders in the U.K. and Spain. It could certainly be said that this represents a much better turn-out than the initial Edge-only iPhone was able to muster when it went on sale in Europe late last year. The updated device hits the shores of 22 Countries either today or tomorrow and if the North American launch follows the initial European interest it promises to be yet another iPhone-mania weekend for the not-so-little-anymore company out of Cupertino.

Apple still has a goal of selling 10Million units by the end of the year, and considering the company is officially still well short, the 3G iPhone will need to make up those numbers in a hurry. Apple's confident in reaching their targets, analysts are confident Apple will obliterate them with new subsidized pricing, and as such shareholders should be confident that even in turbulent markets the profit factory that Apple has of late become will continue to churn, and churn loudly!

While it sells unit after unit of this new generation iPhone, the company decision to open up the platform to developers was a terrific one. The subsequent SDK and new AppStore will provide Apple with close to as much recurring revenue on each unit as they were getting in the carrier subsidies for the first generation device. Add to this Apple's MobileMe platform for iPhone users which will wirelessly sync e-mail, calendars and contacts for personal users, an "Exchange for the rest of us" as they've called it, and you've got the makings of a potentially huge wirelessly connected user-base. While MobileMe is separate from the AppStore, it does play a role in the extended services new and existing Apple customers will buy.

Applications for sale and download from the store range from Free all the way to $69.99, however a vast majority fall within the $9.99 and lower price point, including several popular games. The previously showed off Super Monkey Ball game for the iPhone is $9.99 and it already has been downloaded almost 4,000 times. And the AppStore isn't even official yet in 90% of the world.

Some quick math. 4000 downloads x $10 = $40,000
Which gives $28,000 back to the developer (a 70% cut) and $12,000 to Apple (a 30% cut).

A brief glance through the AppStore reveals over 550 Applications with surely more on the way every day/week/month. At this rate, developers should soon be enjoying the same digital distribution successes that the music and movie businesses are seeing sooner rather than much later. iTunes has truly become the one place for all things digital, and at the backbone of the entire ecosystem is Apple.

The company virtually sold ZERO iPhones in the month/2 months prior to this launch, but it appears from initial indications that they will handily make it up now through 3G device volume. With an earnings report on the horizon, the Computer and iPod business will be center stage but in the remaining 5 months of the year iPhone and the AppStore will once again be squarely on the minds of analysts, management, and in turn shareholders. Expect another stellar quarter from Apple for June (as an analyst has pegged Mac sales at 2.5Million units), and as the worldwide iPhone roll-out continues to 70 Countries and beyond in the remainder of the year, the sales figures for the device will continue to climb.

And if they ever get that deal with China Mobile worked out and unleash the iPhone to 600Million more subscribers, watch out!

Disclosure: Author owns AAPL

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