Gruber has been arguing for a while that it’s not that the issue isn’t that Apple’s prices are higher (Apple’s margins have been around the same 38% rate for the last 5 years, and they were at 44% in 2012!), but that overall Apple (as indicated by its margins) has chosen to build products that are more expensive to produce. (If they were deriving higher profits from higher prices, they’d show up as higher margins, duh.) So it seems the numbers are on his side here.
It appears that Services are responsible for ‘margin enhancement’ compared to hardware, too. Jefferies & Co analysts predict the gross margin on Apple services will be 60-66% over 5 years, compared with the consensus analyst estimate of 56%. (Apple’s App Store sales have a gross margin of about 90%, according to estimates from Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter. Overall, he estimates the rest of Apple’s services have a gross margin of 65%.)
As part of its changes to financial disclosures announced in November, Apple will disclose gross margins for its services in its next earnings report, so we’ll know for sure then.
But right now it all suggests that hardware margins are therefore somewhat lower than that 38% average… again indicating that Apple is simply making more expensive products, not gouging customers for higher margins.