Stifling Lies vs Debate
Should Apple (AAPL) get more involved in vetting the real from the fake in their news? That’s a tough question. Defining fake news is kind of like trying to describe exactly what is pornography. Easier said than done.
Time for Apple to Try Something New
Above Avalon's Neil Cybart had written a piece this week discussing his rationale for why he didn’t think that Netflix made sense for Apple (AAPL). If you look at Netflix (NFLX) as simply augmenting Apple’s service side of the business, then I would agree with Neil. However, if you model a scenario where Netflix is able to boost Apple’s smartphone market share, a Netflix purchase makes perfect sense.
One of These Is Already Changing the World
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Mims backs up my contention that it is companies like Apple (AAPL) or Google which are the more important force behind changing the world compared to companies that move pounds like Tesla or Amazon:
Almost every day when they get home from school, Gracie, age 16, and Sarah, age 14, open the app Houseparty, where they can video chat with to up to seven of their friends at once. The sisters, who live in Danville, Calif., use it to socialize and collaborate on homework, for 15 minutes to an hour. When they first open it they may be chatting with just one friend, but everyone they’re connected to on Houseparty gets a push alert that they’re “in the house,” and, soon enough, the room fills up.
It may not necessarily be a change for the better, but it is true social upheaval. No car necessary.
Physically moving objects is still all about eliminating friction. The potential for changing where we go or what kind of products we use is limited.
Moving data is changing the way people live. Our habits are changing, our friends are changing, and the kind of products we use is changing. The Android app Houseparty is just one small example of many.
No Universal Living Wage Required
I heard Elon Musk theorizing about how in the future so much of manufacturing will be automated that governments will need to consider moving society onto some kind of guaranteed universal income. The problem with Elon’s statement is that he’s forgetting about the law of unintended consequences. And there will be some very real consequences to automating manufacturing.
APPL at All Time Highs
Michelle Jones writing for Valuewalk is reporting that Apple’s (AAPL)sudden stock movement is putting the hurt on short sellers who had bet against Apple prior to the latest quarterly earning release. I even read about one investor last week who had put every dime he owned betting that Apple stock was going down. That was a bad bet.
Apple Doubles Down on iPad as a Laptop Replacement
Apple (AAPL) just came out with an iPad Pro ad campaign that doubles down on their view that for a large segment of the market, the iPad Pro can replace the laptop. The campaign seems aimed specifically at Windows PC users, which makes a lot of sense. Windows switchers have been coming to Apple via the MacBook Pro and ending up with an iPad in the end. Why not short circuit that route and just send them directly to the iPad? This would yield a lot more switchers going for the iPad Pro, which starts at $599. Judging from the ad campaign, Apple obviously sees the iPad as more than a leisure-time device for reading magazines.
Noah Smith at Bloomberg is writing about how monopolies may be worse than we thought, and Apple (AAPL) is used as an object lesson.
A recent paper by David Autor, David Dorn, Lawrence Katz, Christina Patterson and John van Reenen speculates that tech might have enabled the rise of a few “superstar” companies in each industry. The fact that leaders in more concentrated industries also tend to have higher productivity supports this hypothesis. Technology might have simply changed the nature of markets so that the winners take most of the profits.
This could happen because network effects have increased. For example, iPhones are popular in part because of Apple’s large app store, and the app store is large because developers want to write apps for popular phones. Or in finance, having a larger network of counterparties could be more important to banks in the internet age.
Auto Makers Seem to Think So
I find it increasingly perplexing that ten years after the birth of the modern smartphone movement, with Apple’s (AAPL) launch of the iPhone, automakers continue to refuse to accommodate the masses with mounts built into the dash. Sure, they’ll provide you with all manner of ways to charge your iPhone, lay it flat in an out of way cubby hole, or even connect to it so you can access media. But will they allow you to mount it so you can see the screen? No.
An Apple Display Could Change Everything
I have first-hand experience with how horrific the display business is. If all you have to offer is a dumb display, then good luck with that. But even I will acknowledge that there are strategic situations where it makes sense to be in the business of displays. The iMac is a good example. At the time, there was no good way to get a 4K monitor paired with a desktop computer unless you did what Apple did and bypass cables.
When an organization has a string of amazing success over a long period of time, the chatter usually shifts away from the individual players and onto the management. Who setup the system that drives the success and how does it work?
Unlike macOS, iOS is already well entrenched in the enterprise world. The iPhone is the defacto mobile standard in business. So it makes sense that when Apple contemplates a full-scale assault on enterprise that they start with their Trojan horse. Windows will probably continue to own the enterprise space for the foreseeable future, but if Apple could get to 20% penetration, this would be many times larger than their current entire Mac business.
Here Lies the Future
It’s funny that Apple’s (AAPL) future lies with the products that cause the press the most concern amongst both Wall Street Analysts and the tech press.
Who Is Buying All Those Plus-Sized iPhones?
In Apple’s Q1 earnings release this week there were some disappointing sales figures for the iPad. Compared to the same quarter last year sales were down 19% to 13 million units. That’s a drop of 3 million units compared to last year.
The logical question posed in light of these sales figures is whether or not there will ever be a shift from laptops to tablets.
Take Trump Seriously, but Not Literally
On Saturday I was disappointed to see that John Gruber of The Daring Fireball had a crass post that tried to paint Peter Thiel as a moron. It was both in poor taste and incorrect. John took exception with Peter’s assertion during the election that you shouldn’t take Donald Trump literally. I have no problem calling out Peter Thiel when he’s wrong, but on Donald Trump he was right on the money.
Samsung Could Learn a Lesson Here
Writing for Mashable, Lance Ulanoff makes the excellent point that Apple (AAPL) took the high road in regards to Samsung’s exploding Galaxy Note 7.
The company has surely benefited from Samsung’s astounding Note7 flameout, but thankfully not by using that company’s hardships to drive people to Apple’s alternatives. Tim Cook never mentioned what happened to Samsung, perhaps smartly recognizing that the high road would allow Note7 refugees to come willingly to Apple’s shores. --Lance Ulanoff
I’ve always considered it a huge blunder by Samsung to poke fun at iPhone customers the way they did in some of their commercials. It’s one thing to go after a company but to poke fun at potential customers is counter-productive. These ads may have worked with the Android faithful who enjoyed seeing the jabs on TV but with iPhone owners? Not so much. As they say, you catch more flies with honey and the last thing Samsung needed to do is insult a huge potential market. Especially now that the great smartphone land rush has come to a close.
If Apple and Samsung’s roles had been reversed, I don’t doubt for a minute that Samsung would have created humorous ads where iPhones were catching on fire.
Manufacturing and distribution analysis since 1993.