Apple’s top brass is busy putting their finishing touches on the company’s 2015 worldwide developers conference (WWDC) keynote presentation, but beyond the known items that will be discussed are those unknown announcements, shrouded in secrecy until they are unveiled on stage. Ten years ago, during 2005’s WWDC, Apple CEO Steve Jobs shocked the world by announcing a switch to Intel. Last year the company revealed Health Kit, bringing health monitoring and medical research to the mobile age. What will Tim Cook and company have in store this year?
For the last several months I’ve been squirreling away some money here and some there — not for any particular purpose, but I knew at some point when I had “enough” I’ll want to buy something of value. Since the launch of Apple Watch I have toyed with the idea of picking one up. The only problem with that idea is that it is more difficult in reality than it should be. With Apple Watch supply still being outstripped by demand, ordering an Apple Watch is simple, but getting one, not so much.
My T-GAAP colleague picked up a new MacBook recently. It is very nice, and very tempting. My current MacBook Air is the mid-2013 model. But with 8MB of RAM, the core i7 processor and 512GB SSD, I have yet to find a good reason to dump it for something new. Speed and storage are not issues, and it runs the latest version of OS X plus all the apps I need just fine.
With the launch of Apple Watch, a subtle move was made by Apple that may usher in massive change for the company and its next generation iPhone. Apple Watch contains an OLED display, the first time Apple has used such type of display technology on any of their devices. Until Apple Watch, Apple had loyally stuck to LED backlit LCD panels for iPods, iPads and iPhones, but Apple Watch ushered in an OLED display for a variety of reasons. OLED displays are thinner than LCDs, can draw less power, have flexible options, and are more visible in direct sunlight due to their inherent high contrast ratio (the blacks simply do not wash out).
Financially, Apple is “The iPhone Company”. During Apple’s 2Q15, iPhone accounted for over 80% of the company’s profits. iPhone is the vital to the continued success of Apple, and changing any technology within the world’s most popular smartphone is a risk that could bolster its appeal — or completely derail the device. Changing from LED to OLED could represent such a risk, so should iPhone 7 make the jump to OLED?
Apple has been rumored to be making the TV network rounds once again, in order to build an affordable and disruptive streaming service. Sounds great, but there is one mammoth hitch. If pricing is not aggressive enough it will not be well received.
Consumers dislike their communications companies as much as they disliked their mobile phones before iPhone. Comcast, Time Warner and DirecTV bundle packages are overpriced and deliver far too many programming options people do not care about. If Apple can bring to market a set of desired network options at affordable rates, Apple TV and its service would force cable entities to offer more choices, or lose subscribers.
Stupid is as stupid does. Or in this case, Ford is continuing it's vain attempt in adding value to their vehicles by pushing their own technology interface, called SYNC. Ford, and the auto industry as a whole, has clearly shown their core competencies fall well within the realm of dual-clutch transmissions and combustion engines, but attempting to be Silicon Valley is not within their wheelhouse. Like a politician that acts like an expert on every subject, the auto industry's facade is that it understands high-tech. Overall, their attempts have been laughable. The original iPhone launched in 2007. It's now 2015, and Detroit sill can't get bluetooth to work right.
The core of the ill-fated SYNC technology was developed by Microsoft, which has finally been left behind by Ford after receiving ding after ding in car reviews for using the technology. I own a Ford SYNC equipped vehicle and I can validate, it is a horrible experience.
Apple Watch is likely to be a huge success. By any measure, it is also the most successful smartwatch in history, and it has only just started shipping. The tech industry is ablaze with pushing wearable technologies, whether we seemingly want them or not. Whether you are an Apple lover or Android devotee, wearables are going to be everywhere, but perhaps the question should be, why?
From a strategic standpoint, Google and Apple are racing to protect their smartphone sales, by adding devices that build an ecosystem around their phones. Apple Watch and Android Wear quickly strengthen a nearly inescapable ecosystem built around the smartphone. Both companies wearable devices are heavily dependent on their own supported smartphones. Once a watch is purchased, the odds of people switching to another operating system of smartphone becomes very, very low. For Apple and Google, making their smartphones the mobile digital hub is key for long-term success.
We have become spoiled — every year a new version of OS X. For the most part the updates to OS X have been good, but sometimes we lament that a particular feature was removed or that Apple has a new implementation of a feature we liked the way it was. But the most glaring criticism over the past couple years has been the move away from a rich and deep look to a more flat and, what critics call, “cartoony” look.
Apple’s stock has been stuck at the $120-130/share range for the past several months. It’s peak was $134.45 back in February. But since that time the stock has been relatively flat when compared to the previous year of continual growth.
If you are old enough to remember when the first iPods hit the streets, what people noticed first was not the scroll wheel or the iPod itself but those white ear buds and cord that are still with us today. When you saw someone sporting white ear buds and cord, that found its way to the iPod, you immediately knew that person was listening to music or a podcast on Apple’s iPod. Rather than ship gray or black ear buds (like other manufacturers), Apple chose white, which stood out like a neon sign screaming “iPod being used here”.
The phablet is all the rage. Half smartphone – half tablet, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus is on fire. According to Carolina Milanesi, of Kantarworldpanel, iPhone 6 Plus gobbled up 44% of the worldwide phablet market during the first quarter of 2015. China is largely responsible for the overall iPhone 6 Plus consumption, but the U.S. and Europe are also playing an important role. Who is buying all these quasi-tablet/smartphone Pluses? Women.
Cultural differences aside, universally women carry purses, and generally speaking, men do not. Additionally, more men are in the workforce, and that makes a difference in device choice. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 69.7% of men are in the workforce, while 57.2% of women are in the labor market. Businessmen do not carry purses, rather, they slip their smartphones into a slacks or jacket pocket. Women, even those in the white collar labor force, often carry business-like purses. Women working retail or working-for-the-family Mom’s carry purses as well. If you have not caught on yet, a large display smartphone works well for purses, not so much for business suites, slacks or jeans.