Apple: Lower Margins Ahead

Apple filed its 2010 annual report today. MacRumors found some interesting tidbits including this one:

The Company expects its gross margin percentage to decrease in future periods compared to levels achieved during 2010 and anticipates gross margin levels of about 36% in the first quarter of 2011. This expected decline is largely due to a higher mix of new and innovative products that have higher cost structures and deliver greater value to customers, and expected and potential future component cost and other cost increases.

The new MacBook Airs have a unibody display chassis. That probably has a higher cost structure than previous ones. The rest of the MacBook line will probably get full unibody construction in the next updates, in addition to IPS LCDs, I’m hoping. The next iPad will definitely have a higher cost structure than version 1.0: my guess is a 9.7-inch 2048×1536 IPS LCD. And all of this at current prices or less. Example: no one is close to US$499 for a 9.7-inch equivalent tablet. Dell and HP should be worried.