One of the more startling numbers to come out of last night's earnings call with Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer was the data point that there are now 125 million iCloud customers.
Let's put that in perspective. When iCloud was launched a few months ago, there was a lot of bellyaching that it didn't work initially. Some said that it was a black mark against Apple, which is known for flawless product launches. Occasionally, I still see people complain about iCloud. I rarely see anyone write a blog post saying that the product is amazing and makes his or her lives much simpler.
Yet, 125 million people seem to like it.
These customers are probably the die-hard Apple fans - the ones who own three (or more) Apple products and upgrade every time there's a new release of iPhone or iPad.
So, in a way, the number of iCloud customers is an indicator of dyed-in-the-wool Apple lovers. What are the chances that if you use iCloud and have several iOS devices, you're going to jump ship to the next ice cream version of Android or Windows Phone? Almost zero.
So, with 125 million iCloud subscribers, Apple (and investors) can probably count on 125 million (or last least half of that) as active buyers for each new release of iPhone, iPad and -- very shortly -- "iTV."
In this fiscal year, Apple looks on track to sell at least 150 million iPhones. There's a bit of a correlation there in size. It will be interesting to watch how the iCloud subscribers increase quarterly after the initial launch. Over time, Apple is growing and growing its dedicated user base. This becomes incredibly powerful one, two and three years from now.
It will also be interesting to watch how the iCloud subscribers correlate with iTunes revenue over time. Last night, they announced iTunes did $1.9 billion in the quarter. To put that in perspective, that's after a holiday quarter, when many people download apps Christmas day. It was up 35% year over year.
As people get more devices and start sharing music and apps, they begin to see it's easy and convenient to buy more apps and rent movies. This doesn't mean as much as it will when Apple "iTV" is released. If that product is picked up as quickly as iPad has been, it could be curtains for Netflix (NFLX) and other potential streamers like Amazon (AMZN).
The faster it can grow iCloud, the better for Apple and its shareholders.
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