What made the original iMac, iPhone, iPad — and now Apple Watch — shine is that they were game changers. An industry was going one way but then when Apple entered the market, boom! The industry shifted direction to follow what Apple was doing.
Apple’s late summer special events have historically focused on the release of new iPhones. This season’s forthcoming September 9th event appears to be no different, but there is one product that appears ready to grace the stage which rarely makes an appearance anywhere, and it is likely to steal the show. Apple TV. Sorry iPhone, it appears you are about to be trumped.
When the all-new Apple TV arrives, likely introduced by Apple’s Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, it will not be as a feigned hobby. It won't have the same look. It won't have the same remote. It will not have the same interface, and it will host a slew of new features. According to a recent report by Parks Associates, Apple TV sales have slipped into 4th place behind Roku, Google and Amazon streaming solutions. Don't expect this to continue being the case after September 9. When Apple enters a market, they play to win, and not to be one of many participants on the stage. If rumors surrounding the Apple TV are accurate, the diminutive streaming set-top-box should acquire the living room’s top sales spot in a matter of days after its release.
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.”
I recently took a vacation in Brazil. It is winter there now, thus the locations I visited ranged in the mid-upper 80's, with relatively low humidity, with beaches sparsely populated, leaving them all to my family. Perfect. But in exploring Apple options I was sorely disappointed. Apple’s presence in Brazil is anything but perfect. Brazilian’s like to say “God is Brazilian!” If that were the case, then he’s using Samsung, LG or something else to conduct his wireless communications. Many Brazilians own iPhones, but most own an iPhone 4 or 5. Only a few scant few iPhone 6’s did I see, and here's why.
The US dollar retail price for a 64GB iPhone 6 is $749. In Brazil, the same iPhone is USD is just over $1,000. My new MacBook, which costs $1,599 Stateside, runs $3,300 USD when purchasing via Apple’s online Brazilian store. Within authorized Apple retail locations the prices are the same or more. Anyone using a Mac in Brazil is very likely amongst the über rich. Even though Foxconn has a major iPhone and iPad factory within Brazil’s largest city of Sao Paulo, there are still tariffs on Apple’s in-country built products. Perhaps it is due to component imports or Foxconn not being a Brazilian owned company. Whatever the reason, it puts a majority of current Apple products out of the financial reach of 95% of the Brazilian populous.
Lately things have not gone so well for Apple — not that they have been disasters, but for about 8-10 years there was nothing our favorite fruit company could do that wasn’t a gigantic success. iPhone, iOS SDK, iPad, Mac transition to Intel, OS X,... just to name a few. That does not mean Apple did everything right (kill Xserves for example), but overall their successes far outweighed any shortcomings.
However 2015 has been a different year for Apple. With much promise, Apple Watch was going to be that “new product” that everyone was wearing. It was supposed to be the year that whether you went to the mall, to church or to the airport, you would always spot several people wearing Apple Watch. Nearly five months in, that just is not the case. Apple Watch is for sale, but even Apple hid its sales numbers for the device in their last quarterly earnings report (expect the same for this quarter’s as well). That is not something you do for a product that is flying off the shelves.
2012, 2013, 2014,.... 2015? Will Apple hold its fourth consecutive special event in September this year? Answer: Yes! If there is one major difference between Tim Cook and Steve Jobs it is that Cook brings us predictability with Apple special events, whereas Jobs kept us continually guessing. We were never quite sure when something was going to happen — and Jobs certainly enjoyed that aspect of his unpredictability.
For the past three years, Cook has led the charge at a special event in September, followed by one in October. October is a magic month on Apple’s calendar as it is the beginning of the new fiscal year. Therefore charging sales early in the fiscal calendar is important to ensure a good fiscal year and avoid the need to play catch-up later on. This means front loading the year with new items to sell. Typically, September events have been where Apple announces the newest iPhone. In October, some other do-dad makes the stage. Last year it was Apple Watch and Apple Pay.
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.
You can forget yesterday’s record shattering numbers Apple CEO, Tim Cook, proudly revealed for Apple’s 3rd quarter of 2015. Ignore the fact that iPhone sales grew 35% year-over-year, or that Apple now has over $200 billion in cash for the first time in history. This is all irrelevant. None of this matters. Why? Because analysts guessed that Apple would sell between 50 - 55 million iPhones in the quarter, when in reality Apple only sold a record breaking 47.53 million iPhones. Apple did not achieve the conjured up sales figures the “experts” spewed forth, and therefore the result was Apple’s stock price must be punished. No offense to the political naive who do not understand history, but in the investment world, this makes about as much sense as, say, cutting a nuclear deal with Iran trusting they will do the right thing. The sad reality is, this vapid illogic is how the stock market largely operates each and every day. Companies stocks rise when they beat the expert guesstimates. Stocks prices fall when companies do not meet the expert expectations. It does not matter how the company actually preformed. It is all about the experts guessing game. Reason and logic need not apply.
Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge was supposed to be the “next best thing” in mobile phones. Commercials have this device touting its curved-edge display that lights up the side-panels, illuminating in blue for Craig, green for Gavin and red for Ramona, with text and other such items displayed. Really? Moreover, Samsung continues their staccato plucked strings as background music, trying to add as much intrigue to their product as possible. All the background music does for me is to notify me it's time to change the channel.
Wander any mall in the U.S. and you will not see many people, let alone any lines, trying to get into a mobile phone outlet looking for the latest Galaxy. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 was to drive massive traffic to such stores, in an attempt to stem Apple's iPhone momentum. It hasn't worked.
IBM is chief sponsor of the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, the grass championships at Wimbledon, England. For two weeks even novice onlookers tune into Wimbledon, as it scrapes into the consciousness of mainstream sports reporting. IBM is center stage, breaking into every commercial break. Even if a casual TV viewer, one cannot help but notice IBM. But Big Blue does more than just sponsor the tournament, they provide real-time statistics and graphics revealing where players are hitting each and every ball, their service success, and ball angles and heights. With Apple and IBM well into their $100 million partnership, it would be more than obvious the chair umpires would be officiating each match using iPads. That assumption would be wrong.
Chair umpires are using a Panasonic tablet. Specifically, Panasonic's Toughpad, deploying Intel Core i-series processing and Windows 7 or 8. Hawkeye, the system used to track the ball and validates whether the ball is in or out, is not infallible. In fact, it deploys non-high-speed 2D cameras, which must then estimate that track of the ball. Not exactly infallible. Why aren’t Apple iPads in the umpire’s chair, seamlessly working with IBM’s cloud technologies? Why use legacy 2D cameras, that cannot handle an ounce of low-light conditions, instead of showcasing iPhone 6+ and 240fps recording for Hawkeye?