Tablet PC to Extend Apple's Business into New Fields

Apple has long been regarded as one of the world's most innovative companies, and now it is expanding its business spectrum even further. After posting record sales and profit in the last quarter on the back of surging sales of its iPhone smartphone, the U.S. company is poised to surprise the world again on Wednesday by unveiling an all-new tablet PC.

It is also setting its sights on the mobile advertising market, and by extension, Google, the leader in online advertising. Having dominated the global digital music market with its online music store iTunes, Apple plans to expand into other forms of content such as news, books, magazines and TV. Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has been in poor heath after pancreatic surgery and a liver transplant last year, is eager to see the release of the tablet, which will be, in his words, "the most important thing I've ever done."

Apple on Monday reported surprising earnings for the fourth quarter of 2009, with sales up 32 percent on-year to US$15.68 billion and net profit 50 percent to $3.38 billion. Sales volume of the iPhone skyrocketed by 100 percent compared to a year ago to 8.7 million units.

The company is tremendously profitable, raking in nearly W4 trillion in profit from iPhone sales in the last quarter (US$1=W1,164). In comparison, quarterly profits of cellphone makers such as Nokia and Samsung Electronics hover around W1 trillion, despite sales of over 50 million cellphones per quarter.

Apple is also increasing its dominance of the wireless Internet market. Some 51 percent of all global mobile advertising was viewed on iPhones last year, according to U.S. mobile advertising network AdMob, which tracked the devices that exposed its text and banner ads to consumers.

There has been a flood of speculation in recent days about how the new tablet will look and function. Foreign media and Apple fans reckon it will resemble an expanded version of the iPod Touch media player with a 25.4-cm touchscreen which will feature a virtual keypad. Many believe it will allow users to view paid content such as newspapers, magazines, movies and TV shows.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 27, 2010 08:46 KST

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