Lately, Apple has been adding to their space exploration team. Not only does Apple have their sights set on your mobile life, but evidently they look up at night and think about how to reach for the stars. Apple recently added two of Google's satellite executives to some vaguely understood hardware team. In April an inside-the-satellite-beltway blog site talked of Apple working with Boeing regarding Low Earth Orbit (LEO) multi-thousand satellite deployment. Sounds cool, but when it comes to Apple, the age old question remains; What's in it for me?
Have you ever been on a cruise or taken a flight? How about visiting another country far away or hiking to parts unknown? In each scenario internet access often costs far too much to justify, or simply isn't available. If you've ever attended a college football game good luck getting anything in or out of your iPhone, as the towers are typically jammed solid with traffic. Now envision all these places, or virtually everywhere, providing strong signal with amazing speeds for any task, anywhere, any time. That's what's in it for you.
It's a curious thing, that Apple. To have all but ignored the Mac for years made going into the Apple retail stores seem like a walk through a computing history museum. "...and here is the MacBook Air. Launched in 2008 and still does not have a Retina display, Thunderbolt, or any other port for that matter." At least it is – slowly – getting harder to point out how slow Apple has been to getting Mac's updated. Cook and crew clearly took their eye off the Mac ball for years, but things have changed in Cupertino, and much needed updates are on their way. Does this mean Apple's leadership is listening to customers, or does it merely explain the pivot due to iPad's constant and decreasing sales since 2014?...
If you haven't noticed, Apple silently racked up large scale iPad and MacBook Air sales over the Black Friday weekend, according to Adobe's analytics. But wait! Like a good Ginsu knife, there's more! Apple's Beats headphones were also show stoppers, and the new MacBook Pro has seen stronger than anticipated demand since its release. If you think there couldn't possibly be more, you'd be wrong! Apple's iPhone is also the most wanted item on Christmas wish lists this year, up by 2% over last year's desire for iPhones. There can't possible more than this, right?! Wrong! This weekend I moved to Verizon from AT&T, and upgraded muy plan with six new iPhone 7's!
Across the board Apple's sales are looking solid, but Verizon's virtual blind-side to AT&T this holiday weekend may have given Apple an extra boost. The largest US carrier offered $200 Visa cards and generous trade-in values on older iPhones for new customers. After the cash card arrives, my purchase of a 128GB iPhone 7 is a net zero dollars cost to me. The Verizon plan also provides my 6 lines with a 24GB per month data pool, with half of it able to be rolled over into future months. Verizon even offered $300 for a base iPhone 5, plus the $200 Visa card! It was an impressive offer, and coming from Verizon, a company known to rarely provide steep discounts, AT&T was caught flat footed.
Today is the day where many citizens in states across the country set off to the voting booth. Baring some form of miracle, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will become the 44th President of the United States of America. For this moment I'll be setting ALL political thoughts aside, save for one: Which President elect's tax plan would benefit Apple the most?
Trump's offshore tax policy states it will reduce the Federal repatriation tax to 10%. Tim Cook, when testifying before Congress in 2013, believed a fair tax rate would be around 26% (state and fed total), which is typically Apple's domestic tax rate in any given quarter. If Trump became President and was able to pass a 10% repatriation tax rate, Apple would likely move most, if not all, of their offshore holdings back to the US. This past summer the European Union (EU) pushed into Ireland's banking laws, demanding Apple pay the EU $14.5 billion in taxes. Trump's policy would likely motivate Apple all the more to move their holdings back into the states and out of other countries, where Apple's cash is vulnerable to swiftly changing perceptons and laws.
Stocks across the globe have been on a recent downward slide. China twice devaluated their currency last week, hitting companies like Apple hard with worries their products would no long be affordable to the Chinese consumer. This morning the DOW Industrial Average started with a 1,000 point plunge, and AAPL sank to $94.05 a share at the opening bell, leading the massive fear-based sell off. Then Apple CEO, Tim Cook, did something unheard of for the Cupertino-based company.
Cook emailed CNBC's Jim Cramer stating the following: “Jim, As you know we don't give mid-quarter updates and we rarely comment on moves in Apple stock. But I know your question is on the minds of many investors.”
Since its climb in February of 2015 from around $110/share, Apple’s stock has been hovering between $120-$130/share for four months now. Never mind continual profits or record iPhone sales quarter after quarter. No, no. Don’t be confused that actual performance of Apple will translate into actual growth in the value of the company.
Vacationing across Australia and Indonesia, a young surfer found himself struggling to figure out how to take decent selfie of himself while on his board. Taking a 35mm camera and strapping it onto his hand – via a rubber band no less – he quickly discovered that quality and practicality was lacking, but the idea merited exploring. Nick Woodman had given birth to GoPro.
Vans to trade shows, and hard work to hustle, GoPro started going viral, finding a market replacing the point and shoot camera. Smartphones, lead by Apple's camera quality, were absorbing the pocket camera market. Canon and Nikon countered, pushing higher-end pro-sumer and HDSLR cameras. GoPro had found a solid and vacant space, going public in June of 2014. Would GoPro strike Wall Street gold as it had the quality selfie video market? On day one, GoPro closed over $31 a share. Fast forward to today and GPRO continues its meteoric climb, now over $62 a share on swelling sales. Where will it end? Perhaps in Cupertino.
Financial reports and comments on them are one thing, but getting those little morsels of coded information from Tim Cook or Luca Maestri are quite another. Today at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time, Apple will be holding their Q3 2015 financial conference call with a host of financial analysts and investment researchers. Apple's financial statement, released at roughly 1:10 p.m. Pacific, should be fairly pedestrian. Financial analysts are anticipating 50-55 million iPhones sold, earnings at the higher end of Apple’s revenue guidance of $48 billion, all while keeping a keen eye for any Apple Watch sales information. But beyond the expected is where questions from the likes of Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster or UBS’s Steve Milunovich come forth precious nuggets of Apple’s future.
There are three major areas of commentary I'm looking for during the Q3 call. The first is HomeKit. It was a no-show at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The likely reason for the omission was due to the second area of interest, Apple TV. Both topics go hand-in-hand, as it is highly rumored that the next generation Apple TV will be, amongst other things, Apple’s home automation hub, requiring HomeKit specific tools. Cook will be asked about Apple TV. The question is, will he deliver any hints as to what may be coming, or how current Apple TV sales have been since the $30 price drop earlier in the year (now only $69)?
According to JMP Securities technology analyst Alex Guana, Apple’s slow launch into the wearables market has left a large opening for competitor Fitbit. Guana claims Fitbit is the “clear leader in the market with over 11 million units sold last year.” Guana continued by saying that Fitbit is currently ahead of Apple Watch as far as price points, battery life and GPS tracking. However, he did concede that long-term, Apple can bring a lot of “power” with iOS and versatility. These Apple advantages will give Fitbit some serious competition.