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.
Case Study: NASA's Overcorrection
I had written Tuesday about one possible reason that Apple’s (AAPL) Mac Pro is in the state that it’s in. Like everyone else, Ben Thompson was sharing his own Mac Pro theory on The Talk Show with John Gruber this week. He theorizes that there must have been some kind of design flaw inherent to the Mac Pro that made it impossible from a financial standpoint to put any more money into that iteration. This would have resulted in a loss so large that even Apple couldn’t swallow it.
I have no problem with Ben’s theory since it fits the circumstances. But if this is what happened, it started me thinking about how organizations react to disasters. I mean big disasters. Like the space shuttle blowing up, aspirin killing people, or phones setting people’s houses on fire. Because how you bounce back from a disaster is ultimately what makes or breaks an organization.
Why Apple Must Continue the Relentless March
According to Patently Apple, more and more evidence is coming out that Apple is looking at the next major step in the iPhone evolution. Foldable screens. I’ve written recently about how this might impact the iPad.
But I continue to be amazed at all the Apple writers in the echo chamber who continue to spout the party line that the iPhone doesn’t need to get any thinner. Yes it does. Otherwise you can’t have a foldable phone that is comfortable in your pocket.
Media Content vs Machine Learning
Apple has some of the brightest minds in the tech world pontificating on what people really want from their iPhones. Do they want intelligent assistance via Siri? Do they want to play games? Do they want to watch and share videos? Do they want to social connection via social media and texting apps?
Apple needs to do some hard thinking on this topic, because people can’t ask for something that doesn’t exist yet. But not only do they need to make a list of what people will want in their iPhones they also need to rank those items. Which brings me to my point. How high on the list does intelligent assistance rank?
Regardless of who is sitting in the Oval Office, computer companies always maintain at least some manufacturing presence in the United States. That’s because there are two very large and very important customers who make it worth their while. Those would be the American Military and the Government of Israel.
Which Can Impact the Master Logistics Equation?
This guy may be on to something. Writing for TechCrunch, Adam Singolda puts forth the proposition that driverless drones may actually be the real leap forward that changes the status quo.
In Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs he recounts the famous story about how Steve Jobs described the mission of Apple(AAPL). They were creating a “bicycle for the mind”. Tools that expedited the creation of work and sharing of knowledge. And now with the invention of the iPhone we have minds being joined and connected in ways we could have never imagined only ten years ago. Apple may be a world class manufacturer of devices but Apple has always been in the information business.
Moving Information vs Pounds
Chris Lattner’s jump from Apple(AAPL) to Tesla is surprising. That’s like leaving NASA to go work for a company that makes horse saddles. As I had written yesterday, the whole self-driving car thing is wildly overblown. Autonomous vehicles and electric powertrains are lipstick on a very mature pig. Regardless of what Peter Thiel thinks, the real exciting things in tech in the future will be outgrowths of the smartphone market, because moving information, not pounds, is where the value is.
Don't Believe the Hype
Self-driving vehicles are going to be a welcome advancement in decreasing the cost of moving people and things, but they aren’t going to be the radical revolution that many may think. I’m looking forward to them, but my expectations are modest. That’s in stark contrast to almost everyone who thinks that autonomous vehicles will usher in an age of unbelievable change in how we live our lives or how our cities are structured.
It’s been reported that Apple’s main iPhone manufacturing contractor is planning to fully automate their assembly plants. This is great news for the iPhone on the cost front because Apple/Foxconn would never invest in this new machinery if there wasn’t a clear cut financial benefit to the bottom line. But on the other hand, it’s investments like this that further push companies like Apple to spend more and more focus on their high-volume products to the detriment of their smaller ones.
For Note-Takers the Laptop Makes No Sense
For years a trusty Moleskine notebook has been my constant companion as I roamed the halls of business. Even if I was lugging along a corporate issued laptop, I always preferred to hand write notes during meetings. I've always found writing them out much more effective than typing them. I can type faster than I can write, but writing notes isn't about speed. It's about organizing ideas on paper. That might mean quick bullet points, circling various words, large letters, or even small pictures and diagrams.
Is Another Platform Necessary?
I had talked yesterday about how the Amazon Echo is like those GPS units that people used to buy for their car. Emphasis on “used to buy”. People decided that they didn’t want to worry about another device that didn’t integrate into their car or phone. The same argument applies to Alexa.
The Beginning of the End for Alexa
In this hilarious shoot out between Amazon’s Echo and Google Home it looks like Alexa suffers a TKO almost as quick as Ronda Rousey last week. It’s not even close. Kudos to Glenn Beck and crew for this on-air comparison. I couldn’t believe all the time he spent on it.
Let's Not Fight the Power
When it comes to next year’s iPhone, headliner features like an AMOLED screen, wireless charging, or a bezelless glass form get all the attention. But none of those are at the top of my list.
No Laptop Necessary
A lot of people forget that many of the attributes of the Apple Store actually originated with Gateway and their Country Stores. The whole idea of having a proprietary showroom where you could demo your computers and have classes to teach your customers how to use them was a Gateway thing.
Michael Sheen does a great job with his portrayal of an android bartender aboard an interstellar ship in the currently playing blockbuster, Passengers. In fact, he was my favorite character in the movie and gets overlooked in the reviews.
Jack Dorsey’s Most Important User
I wasn’t a big Donald Trump fan before the election, and I wouldn’t have shed any tears if Hillary had beat him in the election. But I gotta say, he’s thoroughly impressed me since November 8th with his cabinet picks and how he’s handled world affairs. This is a guy who knows how to deal with people and get things done. It’s a welcome change from the ineffectual mess that was Barack Obama. I’m liking Donald Trump more and more as time goes on.
But I’m not the only person who’s probably warming to Donald Trump. Jack Dorsey should be Trump’s biggest fan about now regardless of what the CEO says.
BB-8 and Hello Barbie® Foreshadow the Future
It’s being reported that Mattel’s new interactive Barbie® is an intelligent data-gathering device.
This is exactly what I was talking about in reference to the Echo. When I was working with Cabela’s, I would have paid for data gathering capabilities like this. And imagine how much more effective Amazon’s cloud server farm could be than Mattel’s Barbie® Doll.
Everyone Can Celebrate Christmas
All of human history pivots upon the coming of Christ. In fact, we measure it in two parts: that which occurred before Christ and that which follows, which is the current Age of Enlightenment based on his teachings.
Even if you’re an atheist, you have reason to appreciate and celebrate his life. It was upon his followers’ desire to carry out Christ’s mission that we have so many hospitals, universities, and humanitarian organizations and even the basis of our American legal system. Jesus truly changed the world.
But for those who embrace Jesus wholeheartedly, there is so much more. You could condense everything Jesus taught about to a single sentence. HIS KINGDOM IS COMING. All of the pain and suffering in this present age will pass away. Every day of life becomes like Christmas as we discover more and more of this entity known as “God”.
I use to envy the wide-eyed wonderment of children as they continuously discover new things. Christmas is best experienced through the reflection on your children’s faces. But as you grow older, fewer and fewer things are new or bring you amazement. God is the one thing in the universe that is so large and complex that we jaded adults can once again experience the child-like wonder of beholding something new and truly awesome.
So rejoice! For the kingdom of God is at hand.
Manufacturing and distribution analysis since 1993.