Apple, Inc. - Monetization Is Easier Said Than Done

Sanford Bernstein analysts offer three reasons that the monetization investors want from Apple Inc. AAPL may be harder than they realize

Apple Inc. ( AAPL) may have a plethora of opportunities present in its massive database of credit card information, but can the company really monetize that database? And are there other ways Apple might be able to monetize its users. Analysts have made so many suggestions at this point that investors have begun to expect further monetization from Apple Inc. ( AAPL), but Sanford Bernstein analysts say it probably isn’t as easy as most believe it is.

Monetization possibilities for Apple

In a report dated Aug. 18, 2014, analysts Toni Sacconaghi, Jonathan Cofsky and Eric C. Garfunkel gave a list of the monetization possibilities that have been suggested for Apple Inc. ( AAPL). After all, the company has about 500 million iOS users, about 600 million App Store accounts, around 800 million iTunes accounts, most of which have credit card information attached to them, and “very high customer engagement metrics,” according to the Sanford Bernstein team. A benchmark from International Business Machines Corp ( IBM) said earlier this year that Apple Inc. ( AAPL) devices made up more than double the amount of online traffic and more than five times online sales when compared to Android devices on Black Friday and Christmas Day.

In addition to those opportunities, Sacconaghi and his team say there are also plenty of other opportunities as well, like advertising, search and ecommerce. All of these areas tend to have higher margins and higher recurring revenue and profitability levels. Cook himself has been talking about monetization possibilities for nearly two years.

Apple’s efforts “notably unimpressive”

The Sanford Bernstein team reported that historically, Apple Inc. ( AAPL)’s efforts in monetizing its installed base and developing services haven’t been that impressive. For example, the company launched iAd four years ago, but the service hasn’t had much of an impact. In September, the company revealed Apple Radio, but it appears like management wasn’t even convinced of success. They ended up buying Beats Electronics, which already had an established streaming radio business.

And then there are the continuing iCloud problems, the much-hated Apple Maps app, and the lack of monetization for Siri. Sanford analysts note that management hasn’t offered any comments on any of these offerings in the past three earnings calls.

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