Apple CEO Tim Cook conducted an interview a few weeks ago at the Goldman Sachs technology conference. Cook discussed Apple's product line, grid-free power initiatives and the forthcoming Apple Watch (once asked about it). I've listened to Tim Cook interviewed and watched him give presentations dozens of times, just as I had Steve Jobs. There is one thing about each man that becomes abundantly clear. Steve Jobs was a pure genius visionary, while Tim Cook is cunningly smart.
Jobs birthed Apple, was fired, and was then rehired to save it. He did more than just save the company, he drove it to record success. Jobs could simply see things others could not, and he taught his fellow executives to remove the glass ceiling and dogma surrounding large businesses. Jobs had pet projects, such as the ill-fated Cube, and wildly successful iPhone and iPad. Who knows what he had up his sleeve for Television.
April is almost here, and that means the launch of Apple Watch. The one looming question we here at T-GAAP have is, “What problem does Apple Watch solve?” Will it tell time better? Will it be a better status symbol? Is Apple Pay enough to make it valued and unique? To answer these questions we took a look at two previous launches of brand new Apple products and the time piece industry itself to find the answers.
Apple’s iPhone entered a market during a time when “smart phone” meant a devices such as a Blackberry that could handle email and not much more. Many tried but failed with web browsers. Managing contacts and calendar events was a downright nightmare, and the phones themselves were clunky and difficult to use. No one loved their mobile phones, everyone just put up with them. Enter iPhone. iPhone made all of functions exponentially easier. The multi-touch interface and full screen display made using iPhone simple yet elegant. iPhone did everything well and that was just the beginning. Once Apple delivered the App Store the entire platform exploded.
Some say Apple’s inability to pull off content deals with resistant networks is hampering the diminutive little device from being a runaway success. Others have said Apple TV is dated due to a lack of hacking features that no longer work, while others are bemoaning the fact that Apple has not updated its disappearing-in-couch remote, nor has Apple added voice control. None of these are major issues slowing down Apple TV.
At the heart of Apple TV's problems is the entertainment industry itself, and the reason is simple.
A good CEO knows that if their company rests on its success, impending doom will soon be at their doorstep. IBM became distracted and complacent. Microsoft believed it was invincible with over 90% market share. Thank goodness Tim Cook and Apple think differently.
Cook knows that despite all the success and glory with the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and the resurgence of the Mac, if Apple stands still history shows that Apple’s fate is certain — decline. While IBM and Microsoft are still with us today, they are not the companies they were at the peak of their success. The question is how Apple will maintain its success into the next decade.
What is in an Apple patent? Usually, not much. Apple applies for hundreds of patents for all sorts of unusual and strange technologies, but Monday the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent that could change the way we view the world – literally. But is the patent a rehash of something old, or does Apple really want this Kodak goodness for a future device?
Can you hear it? That is Apple’s stealthy, yet highly effective marketing arm about to blow the media’s doors off with Apple Watch hype. This will not be some Microsoftian campaign, where massive kiosks are displayed in Times Square in an effort to create some sort of false enthusiasm. Nor will Apple’s promotion include renting Radio City Music Hall, containing several dance routines and a skit about a single Mom (thanks for searing that into my brain Samsung). Once the holiday season is over, with Christmas iPhones having been unwrapped and the New Years parties complete, Apple will start a quiet, yet savvy campaign for launching its market disruptive Apple Watch.
Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist for Apple in the mid-80’s, was interviewed on Bloomberg Surveillance today. And while Kawasaki has insight on where Apple once was, his ideas of Apple are now clearly from the outside looking in. Guy Kawasaki’s belief that Apple is a luxury brand is simply wrong.
In October I figured that Apple could ship/sell as many as 60 - 70 million iPhones for the December quarter. Three main factors contributed to such large sales figures: A stronger than expected September quarter, China’s government delaying iPhone approval, and a lack of highly competitive products. Further fuel was thrown on the fire with KGI's Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, forecasting Apple would sell 71.5 million iPhones for quarter.
Is a 70 million iPhone quarter truly possible? There is plenty of smoke surrounding this would-be fire. Apple’s stock price has been continuing to climb, suggesting investors are onboard with such speculation, readying themselves for a big payday come Apple’s quarterly report. Chris Caso, Apple analyst for Susquahanna increased his AAPL target price from $120 - $135. Strong sales of Mac’s and Beats headsets may be taking place, but they can not justify such a strong stock climb, nor constant upgrades from analysts.
A lot has been said of Apple Watch, and what “starting at $350” really means. True enough, the heavier entry level model will represent the base price, but claims of Apple charging up to $10,000 for the gold edition is outrageous. Apple has never had any intention to price themselves out of any market for any reason. Giving 80% of everyone what they need 90% of the time is Apple’s silent mantra. Anything outside of that philosophy shows an utter misunderstanding of who Apple is and what they do.
It was just a couple of months ago that bloggers across the globe — including a few of us at T-GAAP — were asking whether Apple CEO Tim Cook was ever going to take Apple forward. More iPhone, iPad, an Mac updates, it was becoming an innovation snooze-fest as Apple hadn’t entered a new market category or created a revolutionary new product for years.
While WWDC gave developers an entire suite of new software tools such as Metal, Heath Kit and Swift, consumers were wondering whether the magic of creating something new had died with Steve Jobs. Don’t get me wrong, Tim Cook has done a wonderful job managing the company, but users of Apple product expect more than just good company management, they expect cool new technologies that no one but Apple can deliver.