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iPhone 果實豐碩,App Store 應用軟體居功甚偉

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文章來源: Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2009 by Martin Peers

如果你相信蘋果公司(Apple Inc.)的廣告﹐iPhone上面幾乎所有的東西都有一個“應用軟體”﹐不過你肯定想不到所有這些應用軟體為蘋果創造的價值。

其價值很難確定﹐但很可能為數甚巨。首先是應用軟體帶來的直接收入。投資機構 Sanford C. Bernstein 分析師薩克納吉(Toni Sacconaghi)預計﹐蘋果針對收費應用軟體收取的30%提成每年可創造1.5億美元收入﹐而且這個數字還會迅速增長。

與蘋果的硬件銷售收入相比﹐上述數字並不突出。蘋果截至3月份的6個月硬件銷售收入為28億美元。更為重要的價值是無形的。應用軟體大大拓展了 iPhone 的用途﹐令 iPhone 對其所有者而言更具價值。曾任對沖基金 Alson Capital 分析師的布萊斯勒 (Michael Bressler) 說﹐此外﹐創造應用軟體的成本由外面的開發商而非蘋果承擔。蘋果只需承擔運營 App Store 的成本。

針對蘋果 iPhone 的應用軟體逾5萬種﹐而 Research In Motion 公司的黑莓機 (BlackBerry) 的應用軟體僅為2,000種﹐憑借如此大幅度的領先﹐蘋果軟體商店幫助 iPhone 出類拔萃。當然﹐這一點在科技行業也不是什麼稀罕事。同樣也有一大堆開發商依附於微軟 (Microsoft) 的技術。但蘋果的情況有所不同﹐一方面在於蘋果會從軟體收入中分成﹐另一方面在於﹐蘋果控制著哪些應用軟體能夠在 iPhone 上使用。

蘋果以經濟高效的研發聞名﹐其2008財年收入的3.4%投入研發﹐而 Research In Motion 最新財年這一比例為6.2%﹐微軟、谷歌(Google)、摩托羅拉(Motorola)和 Palm 為12%-15%。這主要可能是由於蘋果的重點突出﹐以及技術在所有設備中得以廣泛應用。但在應用軟體開發方面節省資金也不無幫助。

The iPhone's App Side for Apple

If you believe Apple's advertising, there is an 'app' for almost everything on the iPhone, except figuring out the value of all those applications to Apple.

It is hard to quantify but likely significant. First, there is the direct revenue from apps. Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi estimates Apple's 30% commission on apps that cost money may be generating $150 million a year, a number he expects will increase quickly.

That is tiny compared with the iPhone's hardware revenue, $2.8 billion in the six months to March. The more important value is intangible. By widening the variety of uses for the device, the apps make the iPhone more valuable to its owners. Moreover, the cost of creating apps is borne by outside developers, not Apple, notes former Alson Capital analyst Michael Bressler. Apple has some costs in operating the App Store.

And because Apple has such a lead, more than 50,000 apps versus 2,000 for Research In Motion's BlackBerry, the app store helps the iPhone stand out from the crowd. That isn't unusual in the tech industry, of course. Microsoft has armies of developers building on its technology. But it is a little different for Apple, both in its revenue share and its control of which apps get onto the device.

Apple is famously efficient in research and development, spending 3.4% of its fiscal 2008 revenue on R&D, compared with 6.2% spent by RIM and 12%-15% by Microsoft, Google, Motorola and Palm in their latest fiscal years. That is presumably mostly because of Apple's narrow focus and the integration of its technology across its devices. But saving money on app development also helps.

Martin Peers