Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is an enormously successful company. Last year, it generated nearly $230 billion in revenue and minted nearly $50 billion in net income.
One challenge a company as successful as Apple faces is that growth from such a large base of revenue and profit becomes more difficult, particularly as many of the markets it serves are showing signs of saturation.
With that said, growth for such companies is hardly impossible. In that spirit, I'd like to go over three significant growth opportunities Apple can take advantage of in the years ahead.
1. Apple Watch
The Apple Watch product category has been a standout success for Apple. In 2017, Apple reportedly shipped 18 million Apple Watches -- a figure that represented 54% year-over-year unit shipment growth. Given the kind of growth rate Apple Watch saw in 2017, it's quite likely the growth story here is far from over.
The Apple Watch business stands to benefit as Apple continues to enhance the features and functionality of the device, which could help entice more iPhone users to buy one. Moreover, only a small portion of the overall iPhone installed base currently owns an Apple Watch, so Apple has ample room to increase Apple Watch penetration within the iPhone installed base.
2. Audio products
Apple seems to be doubling down on its push into audio accessories. The company bought headphone maker Beats Electronics back in 2014 and has continued to develop the Beats product lines.
More importantly, though, Apple has begun to roll out its own Apple-branded audio products. In late 2016, Apple announced a pair of wireless earbuds, known as AirPods, which appear to have become wildly successful.
Bloomberg also recently reported that Apple is cooking up a pair of high-end over-the-ear headphones that'll serve as a higher-end option to the AirPods.
In fact, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the over-the-ear headphones are expected to "be as convenient as AirPods with better sound quality."
Beyond portable audio, Apple recently released its first shot at a smart speaker, known as the HomePod. Initial HomePod sales are reportedly underwhelming, which is undoubtedly due to the device's relatively high price tag and Siri's lackluster capabilities as a voice assistant.
That said, if Apple can significantly improve the HomePod in future versions and potentially offer a lower-cost version, the company could be well positioned to capitalize on the growth in the smart-speaker market.
Apple seems to have plenty of opportunity ahead of it in the world of audio products.
Apple's second largest business segment by revenue during fiscal 2017 wasn't iPad, Mac, or other products -- it was services. According to Apple's most recent 10-K filing, services "includes revenue from Digital Content and Services, AppleCare, Apple Pay, licensing, and other services."
Not only was services Apple's second largest business segment during fiscal 2017, but it was also the company's fastest growing, with revenue surging 23% year over year. Even more impressively, that 23% growth in fiscal 2017 followed 22% growth during fiscal 2016.
Apple attributes the rapid growth that its services business enjoyed during fiscal 2017 to "increases in App Store and licensing sales."
Apple seems to be making investments in strengthening its offerings in services. The company redesigned the app store in iOS 11, for example, and Apple Music continues to see an acceleration in subscribers. That, coupled with Apple's strong growth track record in this segment over the past several years, makes it safe to expect significant growth in the years ahead.