If you were waiting for a good time to invest in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), now may be your chance. It's down 4.5% in the last two days on Steve Jobs health rumors. We've been down this road before: the stock pulls back briefly and then goes back up with a vengeance. We may not see Apple under $350 again.
Apple is expanding domestically and internationally and has lots of further growth potential. A P/E of under 20 doesn't give this growth stock justice. For these reasons, I am comfortable having Apple as my largest long holding. But a big factor that allows me to sleep comfortably at night holding such a big position is because Apple's products have a near monopoly over the technology buying senior citizen demographic.
There are 65 million people over the age of 55 living in the U.S., about 21% of the population. Most are retired, have lots more money than they'll ever spend, and are living a more relaxed life. Most don't furiously keep up with technology like young professionals do, but they still like and are intrigued by it. Many seniors also fear technology. It's largely new and unknown to them, they fear not being able to understand it or that it will require a lot of work and frustration to learn how to use it. Many seniors feel it's easier to just avoid new technology altogether; they've done fine for decades without smart phones and tablets, why do they need one now?
There are many reasons why seniors buy Apple products. Although many are shy about getting their feet wet with technology, many like the idea of technology and realize the practical usefulness of it. The iPhone is the perfect opportunity for the baby boomer generation to stay hip and current. Apple has closed the gap and allowed seniors to be comfortable with their easy to use technology and reap the benefits of it. The iPhone is the established, solid, trusted, state-of-the-art smart phone. If someone tried to sell a senior an Android, he would have a tough time, because the senior can be confused by all the different Androids, how they work, what they look like and if it is a good fit for them. The iPhone is the "one size fits all" smartphone that seniors can be confident getting for themselves. It's amusing to me how some seniors go from an old, outdated cell phone from a decade ago straight to the iPhone. The iPhone is also genuinely the best smart phone for seniors to use for simplicity and usefulness, as is described in this article by baby boomer writer and technology enthusiast Sandy Berger.
Another reason seniors buy Apple products is they want to be hip! Many want to believe they are savvy enough to keep up with technology, and the iPhone is the perfect medium for this. By using and showing his friends his new iPhone, a senior accomplishes this, but doesn't go overboard with technology. Everyone knows and is familiar with the iPhone; you see it everywhere on advertisements It's a piece of technology people know well and are comforted by, even if they have never held one.
If one's parents are senior citizens, it's common to buy or recommend them the iPhone and help them get acquainted with it. The iPhone and iPad have apps that appeal to anyone with a wide range of interests, and they can open doors of enjoyment for a senior. They can be a nice bonding tool for a family of any age.
The iPhone is so mainstream it doesn't even require that someone know how to use its many features and apps in order to own one. Many seniors I know use the iPhone's extra features minimally; they are content using the basic features, which still gives it an advantage over a regular phone, and are happy to be part of something new and know that they aren't being left behind by the world's rapidly changing innovation. If you see a senior with an Android, on the other hand, you know that she is a geek. Android also markets itself more to young adults, while the iPhone markets itself as the ideal choice for every age and lifestyle.
My Mom has an iPhone. She has it around so much that my Dad teases her and calls it "My Precious." She enjoys using a few different apps like the "Mobile Dictionary" and "Words with Friends." She also loves the high-quality camera. She works at an antique store, and many of her senior coworkers also have iPhones to help price antiques or to look something up on eBay. My uncle, who's retired in Palm Springs, has an iPhone - as well as his partner and all their friends. If a senior citizen is thinking about getting a new cell phone, and his friend has an iPhone, it's much more likely he'll also buy one because then he can share advice with his friend about the apps and help learn the different features.
Apple products that appeal to seniors go beyond the iPhone. Often when I'm in Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) to buy a new gadget, I see a senior lady trying to get a rep to help her play with the Macbooks on display. I often see older women buy an iPad. The iPad is to tablets what an iPhone is to smart phones in that it's the established standard. Even if a senior hardly ever uses the iPad, many seniors are retired with lots of money they'll never spend - $600 for an iPad is nothing to them, and it's a cool toy for them to buy and have around the house. The only other tablet a tech-noob senior might buy is a Kindle (NASDAQ:AMZN), also an established standard for reading tablets. But someone who is largely ignorant of technology isn't going to go out and buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab, for example. Tablets are just too new and mysterious for them to take a risk and not buy the established, industry standard. Then there's also the reason to purchase an iPad because their senior friend also has one and it's enjoyable for them to experiment with and use together.
If you have any doubts about whether Apple's amazing growth will continue or not, think about the baby boomers. When it comes to technology consumption, they're just getting started in the United States - and beyond.
Disclosure: I am long AAPL.