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.
Android smartphones continue to fall behind Apple's iPhone technology at an alarming rate. Here is a quick look at how Apple has coerced Google and their hardware vendors to spend countless billions playing catchup, forced into following Apple’s lead. The Android + 3rd party hardware attempts at deliver powerful, yet simple Apple-like solutions continue to stumble, leaving the duopoly further behind Apple’s superior iPhone hardware + software integration and execution.
Multi-Touch: It was the original 3.5" multi-touch iPhone that sent the entire smartphone market back to the drawing board. Android quickly copied Apple’s home screen, icons, along with look and feel, while Samsung and others dropped physical keyboards, integrating lower quality touch technologies. HTC quickly dropped the idea of pushing the stylus as the best method for smartphone interaction in favor of touch. Fast forward to today and any number of Android smartphones still lack the visceral feel of Apple’s touch technology. A copy is never as good as the original.
Millions of mobile users the world over continue to live in silos of the fragmented Android mobile world, kludged together with the legacy of the Windows desktop world. While Microsoft just launched Windows 10, showcasing how they have caught up to some areas Apple’s current OS X Yosemite, Microsoft will further illustrate just how far they have fallen behind during Apple’s OS X El Capitan launch which is only weeks away. While Windows is a large step behind OS X, it is Google and their Android hardware partners that are about to fall off the cliff, failing to keep pace with Apple’s iOS and ever unifying platforms at an alarming rate.
Google’s latest example of failure comes in the form of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5. Due to collapsing sales and Apple’s imminent launch of iPhone 6S, and 6S Plus, the Note 5 looks to compel millions of additional Android users to upgrade to Apple’s latest and greatest, if not settle for a year old, faster, cheaper, better real-life battery life, iPhone 6. Rushing the Note 5 launch, Samsung has now left their high-end cupboards bear for at least the next 6 months, and yet their latest and greatest are not even competing well against Apple’s year old iPhones.
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.
With the launch of Apple Watch, a subtle move was made by Apple that may usher in massive change for the company and its next generation iPhone. Apple Watch contains an OLED display, the first time Apple has used such type of display technology on any of their devices. Until Apple Watch, Apple had loyally stuck to LED backlit LCD panels for iPods, iPads and iPhones, but Apple Watch ushered in an OLED display for a variety of reasons. OLED displays are thinner than LCDs, can draw less power, have flexible options, and are more visible in direct sunlight due to their inherent high contrast ratio (the blacks simply do not wash out).
Financially, Apple is “The iPhone Company”. During Apple’s 2Q15, iPhone accounted for over 80% of the company’s profits. iPhone is the vital to the continued success of Apple, and changing any technology within the world’s most popular smartphone is a risk that could bolster its appeal — or completely derail the device. Changing from LED to OLED could represent such a risk, so should iPhone 7 make the jump to OLED?
Looking beyond the new MacBook’s 13.1" thinness, its 2-lb weight, retina display, state-of-the-art individually backlit keyboard and solid-state multi-touch trackpad, the new MacBook for all its pizzazz is set to crush the Windows-based competition with what may be the most import specification of all for the mobile crowd — battery life.
DigiTimes is at it again, claiming a new iPhone 6 is in the works, according to their “upstream supply chain” contacts. We have bashed on DigiTimes before, as they make an easy target. The Asian tech publication has spewed forth so many “upstream supply chain” nonsense, they should take up the tag line: “Believe us, because even a broken clock is right twice a day.”
Their latest rumor is that an iPhone 6 mini is in the works, and while this might seem like a crazy rumor, ironically, it might have some merit. Here is a look at how an iPhone mini might work for Apple:
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.
The launch of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can be described in many ways, but all of those ways mean one thing — big success. You don’t have to like Apple or iPhone, but when you see someone using iPhone 6 you are going have one of the following thoughts: “Why is my phone so crappy?” or “I need to get one of those”.
iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launched this past Friday (Oct. 17th) in China, and while Apple is being coy about the sales they achieved, rumors have persisted that Apple received as many as 10 - 20 million pre-orders within China alone. Initial launch countries, including the U.S., notched 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales during the iPhone 6’s opening weekend. Evercore Partners analyst, Rob Cihra, estimates 37 million iPhones to be sold during the September quarter. However, Apple’s biggest iPhone quarter is yet to come.