applecashchart
Apple had just over $65 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of the last fiscal quarter, according to the company's quarterly filing (PDF). Apple has so much cash, it was pointed out last month, that its cash on hand exceeds the market capitalization of Nokia, RIM, HTC and Motorola Mobility combined. If Apple had no revenue, its cash-on-hand would sustain operations through the middle of 2018, more than seven years.

What's Apple doing with all that cash? An anonymous writer on the Q&A site Quora opines that the company uses the money to small-scale strategic advantage, purchasing entire factories for suppliers and using that leverage to guarantee supply of components for Apple -- and no one else:

Apple has access to new component technology months or years before its rivals. This allows it to release groundbreaking products that are actually impossible to duplicate. Remember how for up to a year or so after the introduction of the iPhone, none of the would-be iPhone clones could even get a capacitive touchscreen to work as well as the iPhone's? It wasn't just the software - Apple simply has access to new components earlier, before anyone else in the world can gain access to it in mass quantities to make a consumer device. One extraordinary example of this is the aluminum machining technology used to make Apple's laptops - this remains a trade secret that Apple continues to have exclusive access to and allows them to make laptops with (for now) unsurpassed strength and lightness.

This past January, Apple COO Tim Cook said something similar on the Q1 earnings call:

On the operational side of the house, as you probably remember, we've historically entered into certain agreements with different people to secure supply and other benefits. And the largest one in the recent past has been we signed a deal with several Flash suppliers back at the end of 2005 that totaled over $1 billion because we anticipated that Flash would become increasingly important across our entire product line and increasingly important to the industry. And so we wanted to secure supply for the company, and we think that, that was an absolutely fantastic use of Apple's cash. And we constantly look for more of these.

It is thought that Apple made another one of these deals earlier this year, agreeing to spend $3.9 billion on LCD panels. It was rumored that RIM's iPad competitor, the PlayBook, was delayed because RIM couldn't acquire enough LCD panels for production. Apple feels these payments are "very strategic" and a good use of their capital.

However, not everyone is impressed with this line of reasoning. One fund manager, Christopher Bonavico at Delaware investments, said Apple is "destroying value" by sitting on so much cash, and complained that the cash is "earning near zero". Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi said the cash pile has "been beyond the point of being rational for a while now."

Apple, for its part, seems perfectly happy to sit on the cash, which allows it to quickly make large purchases when strategically necessary.

Hat tip to Gizmodo, Chart from Asymco

Top Rated Comments

Mak47 Avatar
151 months ago
Sounds like a good business plan to me. It's got to be frustrating for Apple's competitors, but there's never been anyone telling them they can't do the same thing. RIM was the market leader for quite some time but they never thought to use their money wisely like this.

The author mentioned an analyst that states Apple's cash is earning near zero and therefore must be dumped. That guy is an idiot. Apple's cash is what allows the company to buy in massive quantities and lock up segments of the market before anyone else can touch them. It may not be earning returns in conventional ways, but to say the cash isn't working for them is just plain stupid.

Besides all that, a company with no debt is a company with few worries. Very smart business.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itsthenewdc Avatar
151 months ago
A company saving its money.. how devastating..
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
*LTD* Avatar
151 months ago
Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi said the cash pile has "been beyond the point of being rational for a while now."

Apple's success is also beyond the point of general conception. Way beyond.

You're forgiven, Tony. Seriously.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Swift Avatar
151 months ago
Non-monopolistic business models

This is not monopolism. It's dependent on one thing: Apple's products being market-creating. That depends on the engineers. Of course, anybody can play the same game, but its competitors insist on playing the other one: let's make something that's really close to what Apple has shown there's a big market for. Copy, copy, copy. (I don't know or care about the legal issues, but it's the business issues -- who do you want to work for, the company that made up the iPod, the iPhone and iPad, or one of the many, many imitators?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tinman0 Avatar
151 months ago
From an investor point of view it could be frustrating. You are investing money in a company, and that company is just holding onto that money as cash. Most companies want to have some % of their expenses in cash for various uses. Having too much money can make investors upset.

But, Apple is not a standard company, so they can play by different rules in the stock market.

Technically, no one is investing money in Apple. They maybe buying existing shares in Apple, but they are not actually investing a dime in Apple's business, they are merely buying a share of the business.

And when you buy a share in Apple, you are simply buying the share off of another Apple shareholder, you are not buying the share from Apple. So technically your cash is not being held onto by Apple.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lordreye Avatar
151 months ago
Terrible Article Title

"... uses its cash to keep latest technology to itself"? What a sensationalist, misleading choice of words. How about "wisely leverages large cash reserves to develop new technology and give itself a competitive edge"?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
ipad air purple

Deals: M1 iPad Air Hits Record-Low Prices at TigerDirect, Starting at $313.99 (48% Off)

Saturday February 4, 2023 10:05 am PST by
Online retailer TigerDirect has slashed pricing on the M1 iPad Air in several colors, offering the base 64GB configuration for just $313.99 in Purple and Pink. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with TigerDirect. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. That's a savings of 48% compared to Apple's normal $599.00...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

Gurman: Apple Considering New High-End iPhone Alongside Pro and Pro Max

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:07 am PST by
Apple has discussed selling a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside the Pro and Pro Max models in 2024 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Based on this timeframe, the device would be part of the iPhone 16 lineup or later. In a September 2022 edition of his weekly "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said there was "potential" for an iPhone 15 Ultra to replace the iPhone 15 Pro...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

Thursday February 2, 2023 7:57 am PST by
Apple's VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men's Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker. Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men's ...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.3.1 Update for iPhone as Wait for iOS 16.4 Beta Continues

Thursday February 2, 2023 6:41 am PST by
Apple appears to be preparing an iOS 16.3.1 update for the iPhone, based on evidence of the software in our website's analytics logs this week. It's unclear when the update will be released, but it will likely be available at some point in February. The same logs have accurately foreshadowed the release of several previous updates, including iOS 16.0.3 and iOS 16.1.1 most recently, so they...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple's Second-Generation HomePod

Friday February 3, 2023 1:28 pm PST by
Today is the official launch day for the second-generation HomePod that was introduced in January, and we picked one up to compare it to the original HomePod that Apple discontinued in 2021. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, the second-generation HomePod looks a lot like the first-generation model, featuring the same rounded design and acoustic mesh...