My brother and T-GAAP colleague wrote an article yesterday, “Over / Under: Angela Ahrendts out by June?” We have never in our four year history seen such a lightning rod for positive and negative comments about the same article. Mark was called brilliant and an idiot at the same time (funny because sometime I think he is a brilliant idiot — but that’s another story).
In all seriousness we at T-GAAP are very aware that the problem with the Apple Watch launch isn’t solely due to Angela Ahrendts’ new way of launching a fashion item via the Apple Store. That said, her new methods did not help any. While the Apple Watch production has been rumored to be plagued with low display yields by LG, or another manufacturing process, we don’t think this is a supply chain issue. A supply chain problem would have reared its head long ago, so Tim Cook would have known about it before his March Keynote that things were going sideways. Apple flubbered big-time in its communication to customers. Apple set expectations one way, based on the history of delivering products, and then has failed to come close to meeting those expectations. The problem is as much a marketing problem as a manufacturing one. The pre-order system only inflated Apple’s woes. And Apple Watch isn’t the only casualty in this process as MacBook has suffered the same fate. Today, you can go into an Apple Store to look and touch, but cannot walk out with one of Apple's two new products — a cardinal sin for retail sales.
The new MacBook was supposed to be in the hands of tens of thousands by now. When Tim Cook showed off this bad-boy laptop at the March 2015 special event, all I could think was — hmmm, my MacBook Air is now looking rather clunky (it's only a mid-2013 model heaven’s sake!).
Apple’s attention to detail is impressive: the new Force Touch trackpad, butterfly individually lit LED keyboard, retina display, smaller size and most of all the weight — only 2lbs! In addition to all that goodness comes a choice of three stylish colors: silver, gold and space gray. To top it off, the new MacBook comes with a solid 9 to 10 hours of battery life (all day use is how Apple likes to talk about this). Unfortunately, for the next four-six weeks the only place you can use one is in an Apple retail store, secured to one of their nice wooden display tables. After a test drive, and MacBook-lust sets in, you’ll need to order online and pray that the next 4-6 weeks lead time holds up to being accurate.
On Friday, April 10th, Apple Watch pre-ordering was launched, and by-appointment-only demos were available for would-be buyers in order to get some personal time with Apple’s first wearable device. Another Apple product, largely overshadowed by Apple Watch, was also launched. Or was it?
The all-new MacBook was to be available for purchase – not just pre-order – on April 10th. Friday morning, I gathered in line at Portland, Oregon's downtown Apple store. Upon entering it appeared that roughly a 1/3rd of the people in line were waiting to get their hands on the new MacBook. Unfortunately those hoping to make a purchase and walk away with the new laptop were sorely disappointed, because there were no MacBooks in stock to buy from Apple. Two customers I spoke with had flown in from Utah, and another had taken the day off to drive several hours in order to purchase the MacBook. Needless to say, customers were not happy about the news — No MacBooks available in store for purchase.
April 10, 2015, Apple Store Pioneer Place, Portland, OR, 8:15 AM. Most all Apple retail locations state-side open at 10 AM, and at least in Portland, OR, no lines exist – yet. One lone guy was pacing the front doors, wanting to get a look at Apple Watch, but if he tried to use Apple’s Concierge system after 12:00 AM last night, he was out of luck at least in this region. Many were unsuccessful in using Apple’s Store app to schedule an Apple Watch appointment, as it appears Apple’s system was apparently overloaded.
If you hadn’t noticed, Apple is on what can only be described as a never-ending tear of success, and their enemies seem incapable or inept at stopping them. But this does not mean other tech players aren’t trying to wear their big-boy pants — they just continue to come up short at competing effectively. Perhaps the worst offender is Microsoft. Under former CEO Steve Ballmer, the Redmond software giant became very good at making lofty promises, delivering failures, demonstrating vaporware or throwing an occasional chair. Today’s Microsoft, run by Satya Nadella, is now a softer, gentler software vendor, but has yet to be any more effective at defeating the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and soon to arrive and dominate the wearable market, Apple Watch.
Nadella showed initial promise by downplaying the consumer electronics market, turning his focus on enterprise solutions. Old habits die hard. Microsoft is once again is pulling out their Fisher Price "My First Marketing Playbook" in another attempt at capturing the consumers eye with Surface 3. Will a cheaper Surface, whose best feature is the 5 seconds of switching between a poor tablet and so-so ultrabook, backed with a massive advertising budget, be enough to derail Apple’s best laid plans?
The first-ever publicly displayed new MacBook Geekbench 3 test results reveal the new 2lb. laptop to be amazing fast. If further testing confirms these scores, Apple’s new MacBook would be the best integration of Intel’s new Core M-Y571 processor to-date.
The MacBook tested used the upgraded processor — 1.2 GHz — capable of running up to 2.6 GHz with Intel’s Turbo Boost technology. The single-core showcased an impressive 2831 result, while the dual-core results came in at stunning fast 5567, running Mac OS X 10.10.2.
Have you ever been on a camp-out or a backpacking trip and during breakfast, lunch or dinner someone pulls out a spork? You know, a spoon that half-way up becomes a mini-fork? For advanced sporks the side can also be used as a knife to cut food. Microsoft’s Surface 3 is the perfect spork, but would you use it beyond your digital campsite?
A spork’s not a really good spoon, and it’s not really a good fork, but it’s functional enough, given an outdoor hiking/camping situation. If you lose the spork it isn’t a great investment gone south — it’s just a spork!
Apple Watch goes on pre-order sale April 10, and the new MacBook is available for in-store pickup on the same date. But Microsoft just tried their best to crash Apple's party, announcing a new Surface tablet/laptop product which effectively replaces the failed Surface RT. Will Microsoft's long-term endeavor to convert customers from using a laptop or tablet, to using their merged device pay off? Despite a massive ad campaign, Surface Pro 3 December quarter sales resulted in only 1 million units sold and the Surface RT product was canceled as a nearly $1 billion write-off earlier in the year. Yet Microsoft seems to be beyond stubborn in continuing to pushing their idea.
The immediate temptation is to compare the new Surface 3 to an Apple iPad Air 2 or an 11" MacBook Air, as this is exactly what Microsoft wants it to be stacked up against. Their marketing clearly positions certain strengths against the iPad and others against the MacBook Air, in an attempt to blur the lines that the Surface 3 is both a great tablet and ultrabook laptop. But is Surface 3 a great tablet and ultrabook, or something that is less than the sum of it's parts? It's time to take a look at the areas of Surface 3 that Microsoft isn't spinning.
Apple recently launched a revolutionary all-new MacBook, updated and added a new feature to the MacBook Pro and refreshed their MacBook Air line. Not since early 2011 has Apple had six distinct laptop models in which to choose from, with price points starting at $899, moving well beyond $2,500 for a custom outfitted, hot rod machine. Which MacBook is right for you?
I’m going to make this pretty simple, so I will start with the basics. If you have ever purchased a car, home, or watched Property Brothers, it all starts with a budget. What can you afford? If you do not have $899 to spend on a laptop, then you can stop right here, as Apple simply has nothing new to offer you as far as a laptop goes. However, if you are a student, the entry price starts at $849, while moving upstream generally saves $100 off any MacBook. For non-students, if your budget can fit between $899 - $2,000, you can afford every MacBook in every display size Apple has to offer.
It is 11 days until Apple Stores explode with traffic — as people line up to get their first hand look (and purchase) Apple Watch. This type of event is something only Samsung, Microsoft and Google can only dream about, where people are excited and will stand in long lines for hours to see and purchase their products. Apple has done a masterful job in creating hype, but more importantly, being able to deliver on that hype by exceeding expectations.