With the iPhone 5 launch unofficially looming just around the corner (expect an announcement in September), Apple's
stock price soared to new heights
earlier this week, giving the company a market capitalization of more than $624 billion, besting a record previously held by Microsoft
over 12 years ago (not accounting for inflation). Apparently the mere rumor of an upcoming Apple product release is enough to get investors frothing at the mouth, but is Apple really worth that much?
Perhaps so. Apple's premium priced products are always in high demand at a time when everyone is tightening their belts, and while Best Buy and other electronic chain stores struggle to compete in today's online landscape, patrons continue to visit Apple's 375 retail locations around the world.
Image Source: Apple
Apple recently revealed to The Loop
that it's seen nearly 300 million visitors at its stores so far in fiscal 2012 (which dates back to October 2011). What's more, Apple revealed that 50,000 people are serviced at its Genius Bars every single day. That works out to 18.25 million per year, assuming the same pace.
There's a lesson to be learned somewhere in all of this, and despite what cynical folks will say, the numbers are far too large across the board to peg that kind of success on brain-dead "sheeple," as the anti-Apple crowd likes to refer to Apple product owners. Apple didn't say (and has no way of knowing) how many unique visitors drop by its retail stores, but 300 million is big number and only 11.59 million shy of the entire U.S. population, in case the figure is in need of perspective.
Image Source: Flickr (daysofthundr46)
Apple's recipe for success in the retail sector is something other chains are having trouble cooking up. Best Buy
, one of the last remaining mega chains, would kill for those kinds of numbers. But rather than open new stores like Apple is doing, Best Buy, after seeing same store sales declines in seven of its last eight quarters and posting a $1.2 billion loss during its last fiscal quarter, is closing down dozens of big box brick-and-mortar locations just to survive.
An interesting side story to all this is that if Best Buy should fall -- and we're not saying it will, but its presence is certainly declining -- it would put even more urgency on Microsoft to grow its retail store business. After all, it's not like you're going to find an Ultrabook or Surface tablet being sold at any of Apple's 375 retail stores. Every company that peddles non-Apple products has a vested interest in Best Buy when you look at it that way.