Some tidbits from Apple’s proxy…

April 25, 2011

Filings by Apple (AAPL) can get picked over pretty thoroughly by everyone from investors to tech bloggers, so sometimes we let the dust settle a bit before checking whether our reading of a given filing brought anything new to light.

With the most recent 10-Q, filed last week, we found a few interesting details. None is likely to cause a hiccup in Apple’s incredible stock run, but they shed a little light on the company that everyone seems to love or hate (or loves to hate).

First, Apple (like a number of other companies) has worked a new item into the boilerplate litany of natural and man-made disasters it publishes under the heading of Risk Factors: “nuclear power plant accidents.” The company was already listing natural disasters as a potential pitfall, and said the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan isn’t expected to have a material impact on operations “unless conditions worsen…”

Then there’s the jet. Steve Jobs is either flying less, or he’s billing Apple less. Either way, the company is picking up less of a tab for Jobs’ jet-setting ways: In the quarter ended March 26, 2011, Apple paid him nothing for the use of his plane; that compares to $15,000 in the prior quarter and $127,000 in the same quarter last year.

Of course, chances are pretty good that this is the same Gulfstream V that Apple simply gave Steve Jobs (he of the famous $1 annual salary) in 2000, as a princely thank-you to the man who rescued the company — a $90-million value at the time. Given that, it’s a little less impressive that the company hasn’t been paying him to use it for business.

Finally, lower-than-expected iPad sales in the most recent quarter (despite strong financial results for the company overall) have led some to wonder if Apple’s big bet on the device, and by extension Apple’s unique take on mobile computing, is misplaced. But if there’s any question whether Apple Inc. — the company formerly known as Apple Computer — now sees its future in the iPad more than the iMac, this 10-Q should lay it to rest.

In paragraph after paragraph, section after section, Apple has promoted the new, mobile product line ahead of its once-dominant computer segment. Here’s an example of what we mean: In the 10-Q filed January 19, 2011, here’s how Apple describes its products (emphasis ours):

“The Company offers a range of personal computing products, mobile communication and media devices, 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 Mac OS X, the Company’s proprietary operating system software for the Mac; iOS, the Company’s proprietary mobile operating system; its Mac computers; server software; and application software for consumer, education, and business customers.”

Now compare that with this quarter’s language — paying particular attention to the bold-faced sections:

“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.”

Nor is this an isolated example. Throughout the filing, the company puts iPhones & iPads ahead of iMacs, “mobile communications and media devices” ahead of “personal computers,” iOS in front of OS X. If it were just a few isolated incidents, we’d think we were making a little much of it, but it’s so consistent that clearly someone in Cupertino put a lot of thought into it.

Curiously, the company also seems to have mostly eliminated references to the “creative markets” its has historically dominated — perhaps most notably, Hollywood — dropping it from a list that includes “consumers, small and mid-sized businesses, education, enterprise and government customers.”

Not that it seems to be hurting the company, mind you.


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