Today is the day where many citizens in states across the country set off to the voting booth. Baring some form of miracle, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will become the 44th President of the United States of America. For this moment I'll be setting ALL political thoughts aside, save for one: Which President elect's tax plan would benefit Apple the most?
Trump's offshore tax policy states it will reduce the Federal repatriation tax to 10%. Tim Cook, when testifying before Congress in 2013, believed a fair tax rate would be around 26% (state and fed total), which is typically Apple's domestic tax rate in any given quarter. If Trump became President and was able to pass a 10% repatriation tax rate, Apple would likely move most, if not all, of their offshore holdings back to the US. This past summer the European Union (EU) pushed into Ireland's banking laws, demanding Apple pay the EU $14.5 billion in taxes. Trump's policy would likely motivate Apple all the more to move their holdings back into the states and out of other countries, where Apple's cash is vulnerable to swiftly changing perceptons and laws.
On Tuesday I wrote an article with the premise that Microsoft, from their marketing arm to product offerings are mirroring Apple amazingly well, surpassing Cupertino's technologies in many ways. Immediately, Apple apologists were decrying the Surface Studio as a wannabe, gimmicky iMac, and that the price was unjustifiably high.
Yesterday Apple launched the all-new MacBook Pro, with innovative touch bar, complete with built-in Touch ID. The new technology looks well refined and thoroughly thought out. Touch bar makes sense in hundreds of different use cases and the rest of the MacBook was given highly effective refinements throughout. Apple may have stemmed any creative pro tide away from it's notebook shores with the new MacBooks, but there is still trouble within Apple's desktop offerings. The competition knows it and is attacking in full force.
While Samsung is in Galaxy Note 7 never happened mode and the media is getting over digesting Apple's latest iPhone 7 and Apple Watch offerings, Apple is bustling about preparing for their October 27, special event. This time it's all about the Mac – F I N A L L Y!
We've previously discussed how walking into an Apple Store is like stepping into a computer museum, but Phil Schiller should be all about delivering some welcome Mac news. But which Macs will get updates and how major, or minor, will those updates be?
Say it ain't so, but then again is it really all that wise to question Mark Gurman of Bloomberg? According to Gurman, Apple's Bob Mansfield, heading up Apple's car aspirations, has drastically scaled back the program guiding it towards an autonomous only, software-based state. The project, running under the not-so-secret code name Project Titan, once on track to be a grand electric car, could realize itself as little more than autonomous driving software technology to be licensed to automotive manufacturers. Evidently, the door is open for the technology to be worked back into a fully developed Apple car in the far future. But currently any "Apple car or bust!" direction is now off the table. Or is it?
If Mansfield has indeed dialed back Project Titan, focusing only on autonomous driving for the time being, it would be hard to view it as anything less than a massive failure within Apple's leadership. We previously discussed how Apple has lost momentum in many categories, missing complete launch cycles due to Project Titan brain-drain. For the car program to be scaled back in this fashion, while hurting the company in other areas, will be utterly unacceptable from many within Apple's investment circles and beyond, striking another blow to Tim Cook's leadership abilities.
Apple's Mac lineup has been languishing over the past few years, and their may be valid reasons as to why. Perhaps Apple been preparing to migrate away from Intel to their own A-series processors? Or would iPad's be ushering in a new area of computing relegating Mac's to back of the line? Any number of rumors have given chase as to why Apple's overall Mac lineup has become extremely stale, but it appears Apple is staying firmly Intel for their next generation processors, and thus a slew of long overdue Macs should should be unveiled during an October special event.
Apple is planning a major Mac invasion of new technologies, but it does not explain why this has been long overdue. Two big distractions may have been causing Apple's innovative Mac engine to sputter on 3-cylinders the past few years.
Tuesday, at Apple's September special event, CEO, Tim Cook and crew revealed iPhone 7. Among it's biggest new technologies was the omission of a legacy feature – Apple has done away with the industry standard 3.5mm audio jack, and for a slew of good reasons. But none more impactful than the fact that Android makers are now torn in what to do with a standard Apple just ditched.
Apple VP of World Wide Marketing, Phil Schiller, pointed out new digital advantages for moving past the the analog standard. Yes, the move brings wireless headphone technologies towards becoming the new standard. Yes, it saves space within iPhone. Yes, the removal of the jack eliminates another area for water and dust ingression. The shift to using iPhone's Lightning connector for headphones certainly ushers in the digital age for Apple's headphones, but the initial pain it brings to the competition is greater than the benefits within iPhone 7 in and of itself.
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.