Kids demand an Apple iOS Christmas

By Jonny Evans

We seem set for an Apple [AAPL] Christmas once again, as kids demand iPads, iPhones and the iPod touch this season -- even as internationally-renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz, recommends an iPhone 4S camera as the kit to carry everywhere.

Pester power

As you can see in the chart below, economic gloom and a groundswell of international public opinion demanding positive change hasn't damaged the popularity of Apple products. The kids like them, adults use them and Leibowitz recommends them.

Nielsen surveyed 3,000 kids aged 6- to 12-years old to get its data, which says this Christmas the cool kids won't be showing-off some cranky iDevice wannabe, despite the stupid "Ice Cream" OS branding. Ice cream melts in heat, and phones heat up when you use them. Do you want to lick your phone? See? It's a stupid name.

Interesting too to note that the Nintendo DS doesn't seem to be the games device of choice any more: It sits in fourth place, while the PlayStation Portable was named by just 10 percent of kids, who already know that when it comes to gaming, Apple's got you covered.


Nielsen also asked kids aged 13 or more what they wanted: 24 percent of them want an iPad, 18 percent want a computer, 18 percent want an eBook reader, 17 percent want a TV set.

Satisfaction guaranteed?

Apple scored a record 87 points in a September poll conducted by American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), up one point from 2010, and the company's eighth year at the top of the satisfaction stack.

Consumers may still read Consumer Reports, which also recommends the iPhone 4S, which is selling like crazy, analysts claim.

Sure, I've read the absolutely false reports that sales are soft, but let's ignore them for the competitor-generated FUD that they are. AT&T don't agree: "We are having some supply issues in the sense that demand's huge," AT&T president of emerging devices Glenn Lurie recently said. "We have had just record-breaking sales on it."

Ultimately, "Apple's consumers see [it] as a company that cares, that has a face and a relationship with its customers," said Forrest Morgeson, the director of research at ACSI. "Others can't say that."

American icon

With this kind of background, that Leibovitz (arguably one of the world's greatest living photographers) took a moment to praise the iPhone on US TV has got to be the kind of voluntary celebrity endorsement to drive even more joy to Apple's Christmas stocking.

"I'm still learning how to use mine," Liebovitz said. "It's great. It's a pencil, it's a pen, it's a notebook. I can't tell you how many times I see people show me their children. It's the wallet with the family pictures in it. It is so accessible and easy."

So now we have a device which is both a great camera and a great gaming machine. With the Music and iTunes apps it's a tempting music player, app support makes it whatever a user wants it to be. And that's part of why Apple seems set for another breakout quarter.

The bigger picture

So what about the rest of the industry? In the current environment, I think most electronics vendors are struggling. Indeed, recent quarterly reports from across the industry betray severe weakness.

Consumers only seem willing to spend their hard-earned cash on what they perceive as the very best items: Here they see that Apple is no longer the most expensive toy in the stack -- but remains the best-designed, with high satisfaction ratings in most surveys and a profile that puts its solutions square center in the public eye.

That's part of the drive which means Apple's worldwide share of the PC market has exceeded 5 percent for the first time in 15-years, according to Needham & Co. "More impressively, the growth in Mac shipments in the past year represented 20% of the growth in worldwide PC shipments," said analyst Charlie Wolf.

As we speed into the last five weeks before Christmas, Apple seems in prime position to top the "must-have" lists. If only company co-founder, Steve Jobs, had been able to see the results of the resurgence he orchestrated for the firm he loved.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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