AWT News Update: March 14, 2016

Taxes, Android, Microsoft and Apple's geographic business units gain our attention today on a slightly longer than usual edition of the AWT News Update:

  • Apple and three other multinationals get skewered at a European Parliament hearing on Wednesday
  • iOS 9 is now installed on 79% of all iOS devices, so we take a look at how various flavors of Android are faring in terms of adoption
  • Microsoft today added features to Outlook for iOS that make the Apple Mail and Calendar apps look even more weak and low
  • Stats show that the Americas add the most to Apple's bottom line

The text version is below.

Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for March 14, 2016.

Ireland and other European Union countries provided tax deals to multinational companies like Apple, Google, IKEA and McDonalds in the past, with the companies usually building plants or research facilities in the countries in exchange for the lower tax rates. Well, no good deed goes unpunished, and on Wednesday the four companies mentioned here will face a European Parliament hearing. Apparently, the Parliament’s tax committee doesn’t have the authority to make any changes in laws at the hearing, and all of the companies are on record as saying that they have followed European tax laws. Apple CFO Luca Maestri recently stated that he considered a fair outcome of the investigation to mean that the company owes nothing in back taxes. Apple has been waiting for a ruling from the European Commission for some time now, and in January, Apple CEO Tim Cook met with the head of the Commission’s competition branch — Margrethe Vestager — to discuss the situation. Whether a decision will be forthcoming in the near future is unknown.

iOS 9 is now installed on 79% of all iOS devices as of the most recent numbers, which is quite impressive given that there are hundreds of millions of iOS devices and it has only been available for five months. We always like to point out how this indicates that most Apple device users are able to upgrade easily to the latest features in the most recent version of iOS, while Android users are often stuck and can’t update their devices. For example, only 2.3% of all Android devices are currently running Version 6.0 Marshmallow, which was released about two weeks after iOS 9. A full 19.2% of Android users are running Version 5.1 Lollipop, released in February of 2015, while another 16.9 percent are stuck on 5.0 Lollipop, released 16 months ago. A lot of sad Android users — about 34.3 percent — are still running 4.4 KitKat, released on Halloween of 2013. Remember these statistics if you ever get an urge to pick up a Samsung Galaxy phone, OK?

Now we’re going to pick on Apple a little bit. Today, Microsoft enabled support for Touch ID in its email and calendar app Outlook. Outlook has a ton of features that are getting more and more impressive every day, including integration with Skype, support for multiple email accounts and cloud storage services, and more. Other improvements in Outlook 2.2.2 include showing the pictures of event attendees just below events in the agenda view and the ability to touch and hold a time slot to create a new event. Outlook is free and works with iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch.

L. Adam Rothman over at Investopedia did some digging around in Apple’s financials and found out some interesting statistics based on the company’s geographic business areas. Unsurprisingly, the Americas — North and South — are the biggest contributors to Apple’s bottom line with sales of $93.9 billion in 2015 and operating profit of $31.2 billion dollars. Next up was Greater China, which includes China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In 2015, this business segment had sales of $58.8 billion, with an operating profit of $23 billion. One tidbit here — that segment had the highest operating margin of any of the business units at 39.2%. Europe seems to be trailing Greater China and the Americas in growth rate. The unit includes the European countries, India, the Middle East and Africa, and only contributed $16.5 billion in profits on sales of $50.3 billion. This segment had the lowest operating margin for Apple at just 32.8%. At the bottom end were Japan and the rest of Asia Pacific, which includes Australia.

We’ll be back tomorrow with another edition of the AWT News Update.