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Apple Inc. Message Board

  • ericshinisbig ericshinisbig Mar 9, 2013 8:18 AM Flag

    Positive article on AAPL ad revenue in Barrons this week

    SPEAKING OF APPLE, and what ails it, Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett spent three hours on CNBC last Monday morning dispensing his customary wit and wisdom on a variety of topics, including Apple.

    Asked about the stock's 41% drop in the last five months, Buffett reminded viewers that Berkshire has tanked by 50% four different times in its history and always came roaring back. Each time, someone advised Buffett to pay a dividend to boost the shares, and each time Buffett demurred.

    Asked about hedge-fund activist David Einhorn's call for Apple to issue preferred shares, Buffett's counsel was simple. "I would ignore him," he said. "I would run the business to create the most value over the next five or 10 years. You can't run a business to try to run the stock up everyday."

    CNBC's commentators quickly ignored that patient view and resumed their hand-wringing about Apple after the segment.

    It was probably of little consequence to them that Apple, like Berkshire, has seen its stock stumble dramatically in the past, such as when it fell as much as 41% between Dec. 28, 2007, and March 3, 2008, just after the iPhone was first introduced.

    But if the Oracle's words hold no weight, consider some more specific data.

    Last week I met with Mahi de Silva, who is head of the digital advertising efforts of a little company called Opera Software, listed on the Oslo exchange (OPERA.Norway). Opera is best known for a Web browser that can be run on desktops, smartphones, and tablet computers. That in itself might be of little interest to readers.

    But because Opera bought de Silva's start-up, AdMarvel, in 2010, the company now also runs the advertising infrastructure for 20 of the top 25 publishers on mobile devices, including The Wall Street Journal and Barron's. The Barron's iPad app was created using Opera's technology, and every time you see an ad amidst our priceless content, that's Opera at work.

    To get back to Apple, de Silva says that out of the roughly $1 billion in gross advertising dollars the company facilitated for us and other publishers last year, 40% of the volume of ad impressions came from Apple's devices versus just 30% for devices running Google's (GOOG) Android operating system.

    How can it be that Apple's devices generate so much more ad activity, when Apple has just 22% of smartphone sales and the vast majority is controlled by Android?

    "Android users are a bit geeky," says de Silva. By which he means the average user of an Android smartphone or tablet is less likely to download and use the apps provided by Dow Jones and other premiere publishers that create the ad inventory that advertisers crave.

    When I asked de Silva if that might change if Apple were to drop to, say, 15% of smartphone sales, he was inclined to think not. That audience on Apple's iOS is highly valuable, even if the overall smartphone numbers shift. The cost-per-thousand, or CPM, in fact, for ads on iOS is about 25% higher than on Android, he said.

    In other words, Apple's gadgets are a platform on which the high-value consumers gather, and where the high-value publishers and advertisers focus their efforts. All three constituents tend to build the value of Apple's software in the way that they meet up.

    And so, the next time someone says that the iPhone doesn't have the largest screen, or that other tablet computers are cheaper, remember that when it comes to making business sense on these devices, Apple still seems to be at the front of the pack.

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