Seeking Alpha is full of articles about numbers, which is natural since this is a financial forum. When the article is about Apple you also see a lot of technical features, which of course is because Apple sell technical devices. The assumption is often that "the more technical features, the more devices people will buy". Then some Android fan-person will use the argument "Apple lacks in innovation" and the ones that like Apple will for sure remind everyone of how amazing Apple is, how many new innovations that have been announced and how many more there is to come. The last kind of comment will usually be about Apple's eco-system.
We seldom talk about the process of buying: why do people end up buying Apple devices? How do they learn about Apple? What makes them curious? What is the final push that makes them buy their first Apple device?
When we look at customer loyalty, Apple's customers are truly loyal and almost everyone wants to buy an Apple device the next time. This is mostly thought of as a way to get the number of persons that will buy another device from Apple. As far as I can see we seldom talk about the importance of every loyal customer when it comes to how they actually sell Apple every time they say something good about their Apple devices and when they use their devices among others.
Every person that is satisfied with a device, in fact so happy about it that they know that they will continue to buy from that brand, is probably also proud over the decision to buy from that brand and - here is the best part - will volunteer to work as an ambassador for the brand and sometimes even a sales person. Who can be better at selling Apple devices than a happy Apple user?
So, customer loyalty is not just about the current customers continuing to buy more of a certain brand, it's also about inspiring and talking to others who in many cases, end up buying the same brand. Loyal customers will bring in more customers.
Another important factor is: who are using Apple devices? For young people it's a lot about the hotness factor - if their peers use it, then they want it too. Also, if the right celebrities use it, then they want to use it too. Adults might be affected in the same way, but add the fact that a lot of highly valued people, people that is considered to make smart decisions, use Apple: teachers, scientists, pilots, doctors - and in fact, every time a patient sees a doctor using an iPad, the doctor will also be like an ambassador and sales person.
Now we know that high valued brands of cars have decided to add CarPlay to their cars, which gives people another reason to buy Apple iPads and it also means that now we don't only have to consider the fact that Mac computers, iPhones, iPads and iPods synchronize information with the help of iCloud - now we also have to add cars in that group of things that works well together. Oh, and then all the new tech systems for your home that can be supervised by an iPhone and all the health devices that talks to your iPhone and iPad…
Apple has built up an incredible infrastructure for technical devices that talk to each other and of course, it's not only Apple that is involved in this development, you can get a lot of it from Windows and Android, but the more important role that tech plays in our life, the bigger is the need to trust your devices. The risk of buying the wrong devices gets higher for every day. Long before the iPhone entered the arena, computer security was an issue and many bought Apple partly because they didn't want viruses and malware. When your iPhone knows everything about your bank accounts, your investments, your travels, your house and your health - then security becomes more important. We trust our lives to those small, shiny devices and that's why the feeling of using a secure device gets more important for every day and also the feeling of understanding the device.
Apple devices are made to be easy to use and all the devices works smoothly together. Apple is the guarantee that your devices will work together. When you buy smartphones, tablets and computers from other brands, there's no such guarantee. You have to keep your fingers crossed and make a wish that things will work together and if they don't, you can only blame yourself - because there's no one else that will take responsibility.
Oh yes, sometimes not even Apple devices work as smoothly as we expect, but then we trust Apple to fix it. Actually, we expect so much from Apple. I have seen persons who bought their first iPhone that actually expects "magic" to happen, because "this is an Apple device, then I should be able to do this".
My point is: humans buy Apple devices, not numbers. Considering that technology makes up such an important part of ours lives today, the decision of what device to buy is not just only a matter of this and that technical feature, it's a matter of fitting into the big system of things. I think that Apple is the leading actor in this new tech infrastructure and it will take a whole lot more than a couple of tech features to rock the boat and make people ditch their Apple devices for something else and as long as they keep on buying Apple, they will continue to be "ambassadors and sales persons" that keep on inspiring and motivating others to buy their first Apple device.
As long as I see this happen, I will remain long AAPL. I expect that something will rock Apple's boat in the future, but it will take a lot to challenge such a dominating actor as Apple. You can't really compete with just a "new fantastic device" to challenge the tech infrastructure that Apple has created.
And yes, this blogpost doesn't contain a single number, because sometimes we might have to think in other ways when we talk about the stock market.
Disclosure: The author is long AAPL.
Additional disclosure: I am a market communicator and cares a lot about human behavior. That's why I became interested in Apple in the first place, back in 1989, and as far as I can tell, both Apple users and shareholders are humans too. So I try to put in a more human perspective in this world of numbers.