Asymco provide excellent coverage of Apple, and among all the great material they have created some bubble motion charts – their Vendor Bubbles. These let you see the revenues of different companies and their operating margins over time (indeed, they could be adapted to any metrics that you need to see over time).
The operating margins and revenues start at a specific point in time (~2007), and by using a sliding bar underneath the chart, the user can see growth and decline of each metric over time. The marks left behind are like an elongated smudge of color, showing a ‘trail’ over time. This tool takes a line graph to the next level and allows for interactive point-and-click information within the chart itself.
Additionally, the interactive chart allows the user to select colors, the size of each piece of information (such as profit, price, and operating margin), and to select which competitors to analyze. The data can be viewed as a line graph or a bar chart – although the bubble charts perhaps carry the most impact.
Asymco is using a powerful tool for competitive analysis that we would recommend for wider adoption among competitive intelligence analysts. It can be appropriated to a variety of contexts, industries, and services, and make competitor analysis all the more appealing. The technology itself, while not widely in use, is not proprietary to Asymco (motion charts of this type were popularized recently by Hans Rosling, and have been implemented by Google among others) but they are a rare example of its use among analysts.