Ka-Boom! Did you hear that Verizon guy, or is it the Sprint guy now?... That's the sound of the U.S. being blown apart, bit by bit, via Samsung devices. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which has already blown up in a little boys hands, set a man's pants on fire and burned down a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Let me be perfectly clear; I'm making fun of a whole slew of Samsung devices.
Just this past week, a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, not 7, but Note 2, caught fire in an overhead bin compartment on an airplane forcing an emergency landing. Of course, it's a week later, so what what other devices does Samsung engineer and sell that could possibly ignite and destroy something, somewhere? That would be Samsung's exploding clothing washers. Of course, there may be a completely logical reason for this.
Tuesday, at Apple's September special event, CEO, Tim Cook and crew revealed iPhone 7. Among it's biggest new technologies was the omission of a legacy feature – Apple has done away with the industry standard 3.5mm audio jack, and for a slew of good reasons. But none more impactful than the fact that Android makers are now torn in what to do with a standard Apple just ditched.
Apple VP of World Wide Marketing, Phil Schiller, pointed out new digital advantages for moving past the the analog standard. Yes, the move brings wireless headphone technologies towards becoming the new standard. Yes, it saves space within iPhone. Yes, the removal of the jack eliminates another area for water and dust ingression. The shift to using iPhone's Lightning connector for headphones certainly ushers in the digital age for Apple's headphones, but the initial pain it brings to the competition is greater than the benefits within iPhone 7 in and of itself.
It seemed like an eternity for Apple to move to an iPhone display form factor larger than 4-inches, but then it happened. In the threat of Samsung and Android gaining massive market share against Apple's stodgy belief that a 4-inch iPhone was the perfect size, Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and changed the course of the smartphone market.
Like going back to the future, today there is now the iPhone SE, which is chalk full of iPhone 6S power and abilities, all housed within a 4-inch display form factor, and costing only $399 off-contract. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has explained to CNBC's Jim Cramer, the iPhone SE is seeing better than anticipated sales. Despite iPhone SE's lower price point, Apple is likely to quietly push sales of the phone in Asia, and for good reason.
It is clear Apple is focusing on the iPad Pro line, trying to re-ignite a market segment it started with the original iPad. Lately, Microsoft has made a lot of noise in this market with its 2-in-1 Surface 1, 2, 3, and now, 4 models. The sell is you can have a real Windows computer but also a tablet when you want one. Instead of carrying two devices around you can just use one.
It is an old debate, but one worth revisiting at Apple. Does hiring the best employees result in becoming politically incorrect? And if so, will Apple sacrifice political expediency for the best employees? It does not necessarily have to be a false argument, as Apple could, theoretically achieve both, which is what Apple appears to be striving for.
Market dynamics dictate that companies should hire the best employees it can, in order to maintain and achieve a competitive edge over its competition. If a company hired a majority of Japanese, Russians, Hindus, or Latinos, it makes no difference to the corporation, so long as those people are most qualified to do the job. However, in today’s society, if a company practices such policies — hiring the best of the best — and the results of those hired does not match the race or gender (and perhaps soon religious) demographics of the country, these companies are increasingly coming under political fire that the company may be racist or bigoted. Apple is in such a position of prominence, it is rapidly becoming a target for such scrutiny.
It is time to quit talking around Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s feelings about a possible forthcoming Apple car. The core of what’s really going on is simply this — Elon Musk is scared silly of Apple releasing a car.
Amazon paired Fire TV with Nick Nolte. Google tried Kevin Bacon in their Google TV ads, while Roku’s used families and customer testimonial commercials in an attempt to make waves. Until the arrival of Apple’s 4th generation Apple TV, the company was content to do virtually nothing to advertise their cord cutting device. Not since the original Apple TV launched in 2007 had Apple delivered a single television commercial. While Apple sat back, satisfied with its “hobby” gaining modest sales via word of mouth, the challengers took sales leadership. Signs that things would change for Apple TV’s fortunes began in January, 2015, when Apple CEO, Tim Cook, announced Apple TV had sold over 25 million units. The "hobby" phrase, often associated with Apple TV from Apple’s management was dropped, and signs were in the air that the company was about to get serious with Apple TV.
2015 started out promising, with a trajectory that was like 2013 and 2014... up, up and more up. But mid-way through the year the market made a “correction” and while some stocks have recovered others continue trending the other direction. It is interesting to take a look back to see if our perceptions about the companies we banter about align with their stock price — what investors think about them.
Make no mistake, the end of good looking car design is over — at least if designers of electric vehicles have anything to say about it. It seems the era of “ugly is cool” has arrived. Automotive history has had its share of clunkers, but the tidal wave of ugly-by-electric shows no signs of slowing down, leaving it up to luxury and many mainstream brands to save the planet from absolutely hideous sheet metal design.
The auto industry: dull, unimaginative, predictable. The car market has remained relatively unchanged for decades, and a gluttony of focus group developed cars has helped keep it that way. The industry slowly innovates, making glacial ice-ages look fast.
The result is, at best, is incremental improvement, with Detroit scrambling to find the next niche segment to gain market share. But cracks in plodding automotive market are starting take place. From startups, to radical new fuel alternatives, the auto industry is on the precipice of the largest transformation in its history, and Apple appears ready to usher in its own sea change of ideas.