Forget what side of politics you play on. I am tossing my views aside for this article, just laying out the “logic” cards. Apple is supporting the Hillary Clinton campaign, and even more so Tim Cook. If you thought Apple’s best interests would be to support Trump, who talks about fighting tough on trade imbalance, or better tax rates, there is a lot more to it than that.
First and perhaps foremost is viewing how Cook separates Apple’s needs and wants with his own personal politics. Cook is involved in LGBT politics, and Apple is squarely in support of many LGBT ideals. But many shareholders wonder what this has to do with company profits? And which Presidential candidate should Apple support for maximum financial gains? But maybe Cook and many others on Apple’s board think beyond financial goals with their politics, but there are a few items we can clearly understand (well, as best we can in this crazy Presidential race).
Putting it lightly, U.S. Senator, Elizabeth Warren, is a bit of a firebrand for the far-left of the Democrat party, and seems to enjoy taking shots at American companies. Why? You'll need to ask the Senator, but her latest statements blasting Apple, Google and others could be viewed a bit differently than Warren would like to present. Ironically, her points could be turned right around at her.
In a close knit meeting with supporters in 2012, Warren gave her infamous "You didn't build that!" speech (you know, around the same time she was also claiming her Native American status), she told a group of donors that companies think they are really hot stuff. "They didn't build that!" Warren said. Referring to companies successes, that built their empires on the backs of government work and everyone else's taxes. Warren argued companies didn't build the roads which their goods and services traveled on, the government did that. Companies didn't have police to keep them safe, the government provided security. And the firefighters that kept their warehouses from burning to the ground, these companies are alive due to government, not the other way around.
Over the last several months I have more than touched on Apple’s lack of hardware advancements. With WWDC having come and gone without a single new hardware release or update, it is time to take a deeper looking into One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, CA and figure out just what is going on.
1) Apple Car
There can be little doubt about it. Apple is building an electric car, and the company is pouring massive resources into it. The car program, known as the project Titan, it has been rumored the team could cherry pick any worker from anywhere in the company, at any level. If this is indeed the case, expect some brain drain and a few hiccups in other hardware and software areas to occur, if many of Apple’s best and brightest have been thrown to the car.
In the wake of Apple’s WWDC keynote event this past Monday, it appears we are in for a storm of hardware releases coming this fall. A Tsunami of products are now overdue, but launching so many highly needed updates together brings tremendous risk.
No big game changers have come about with Apple’s updates over the past few years. Apple TV’s big moment was Apps, yet it does not support 4K nor does Apple have it's own streaming package. This Fall, Apple Watch will be 18 months old. iMac’s are becoming ancient, and the current MacBook Air was just entered into the Smithsonian. Walking into an Apple store today feels like being time-warped back to 2014. The only thing you may notice is a slimmer MacBook in three different colors and a larger iPad. Modern hardware updates have been sloth slow.
April 24, 2015. It was to be a big day in Apple’s history, and a big day for Tim Cook to show the world he could match the brilliance of his predecessor Steve Jobs. Apple Watch was finally available for sale. It was Cook’s first new product category and it was fully under his direction and guidance. The result? Yawn.
Apple Watch is cool and works well within the Apple eco system, but it wasn’t a must-have item, and yet Apple spent abundant resources on bringing this gem (pun intended) to market. Products that suffered in Apple Watch’s development wake have been iPhone, iPad, iOS, Mac and OS X. It seems under Cook Apple can really only fully focus on one item at a time, which is exactly where Apple is today.
It seemed like an eternity for Apple to move to an iPhone display form factor larger than 4-inches, but then it happened. In the threat of Samsung and Android gaining massive market share against Apple's stodgy belief that a 4-inch iPhone was the perfect size, Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and changed the course of the smartphone market.
Like going back to the future, today there is now the iPhone SE, which is chalk full of iPhone 6S power and abilities, all housed within a 4-inch display form factor, and costing only $399 off-contract. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has explained to CNBC's Jim Cramer, the iPhone SE is seeing better than anticipated sales. Despite iPhone SE's lower price point, Apple is likely to quietly push sales of the phone in Asia, and for good reason.
Apple’s Mac lineup is stale, and that is putting it mildly. The Mac Pro is now a staggering 2 1/2 years into its lifecycle without a single upgrade. The MacBook Air has seen almost no changes, save for incremental processor updates since 2010. The iMac form factor has not changed since the fall of 2012. The newly minted MacBook and MacBook Pro's have seen only slight incremental upgrades this past year, and the Mac mini is a mere afterthought. What's going on?
The only significant new release to Apple’s Mac lineup has been the MacBook (of which I use and love), in April of 2015. It recently received a slight Intel processor update. Wow... In fact, all Apple has been keen to do the past few years is release Intel processor updates to products, with the MacBook Air still living in an ancient design, with what can now only be described as a horribly low-resolution display. Apple’s Mac lineup has become a cash cow with little invention, but that may be about to change.
It is clear Apple is focusing on the iPad Pro line, trying to re-ignite a market segment it started with the original iPad. Lately, Microsoft has made a lot of noise in this market with its 2-in-1 Surface 1, 2, 3, and now, 4 models. The sell is you can have a real Windows computer but also a tablet when you want one. Instead of carrying two devices around you can just use one.
With the arrival of the 9.7" iPad Pro and its starting price point of $599, I began to wonder for whom is this product targeted? For starters, the new iPad Pro has many of the same features as its larger 12.9" sibling coupled with a few extra goodies, such as Apple's latest 12-megapixel iSight camera technologies, 4K video, and a higher resolution front-facing FaceTime camera. Technology aside, the answer that will – or will not – drive 9.7" iPad Pro sales is going to all about the screen size. Is it worth saving $200 to settle for a 9.7" display, or is it best to wait, save and purchase the original 12.9" iPad Pro?
I have a son who is battling this very question. He could certainly get into the iPad Pro 9.7" much sooner than saving and waiting to get the 12.9" version, but he is also an artist, and the extra screen real estate is likely to make a big difference over time. The questions for him are, how big a difference, and will he regret the smaller screen once he purchases it? If he purchases it?
Sometimes you can learn just as much about a company by what is not said as opposed to what is said. Case in point is Tim Cook & Co.’s most recent special event held this past week. At the special event we were dazzled by an updated iPhone line and a new iPad Pro size. Like a magician, Apple said, “Look over here!” However, what one product line — product category — did Apple not talk about at all, as if it didn’t even exist. Macs.
Every model in the Mac product category is now over a year old — even their newest items. Some Macs, like the Mac Pro are now over two years old. It seems like the Mac line-up has been relegated to cash-cow status and therefore Apple is putting as little effort (aka little money) into Macs as possible and reaping as much margin and cash as possible. Or is something else afoot?