Apple car rumors may be on a slow burn as of late, but that has not stopped Apple from hiring Tesla, Fiat Chrysler, or any number of automotive company employees. And Apple’s supposed off-campus car headquarters is as locked down as ever. All indications are Apple is quietly, secretly, developing their own car at warp speed.
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.
An all-new Apple TV has been highly anticipated since it was a no show at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference this past June. Rumors suggest the revised Apple TV will be thinner and slightly wider, with iOS 9 acting as the software core of the device. A state-of-the-art A9 processor, Siri integration, an app store, Home Kit and possible Force Touch remote control are all said to be apart of Apple's new black box. But new high tech goodies come at a price.
During an Apple Watch special event in March, CEO Tim Cook announced Apple TV would begin selling at a price of $69. For years Apple TV had been selling at $99. The lower price not only saw an increase in Apple TV sales, but also paved the way for an all-new Apple TV to enter the market at a higher price point. The lower price for the current Apple TV also gives Apple the flexibility to continue selling it as an entry level option, competing with Roku and others in the sub-$100 market.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg rumored that Apple's forthcoming Apple TV revamp will not include what many see as a key flagship feature – a streaming network bundle. Interviewed on Bloomberg TV, Sr. Intelligence Analyst, John Butler, followed up the rumor stating he believed Apple has underestimated how long a process it would be to forge network TV contracts. Dressed in suit and tie, topped off with sharp looking glasses, Butler looks and sounds most credible, but do John Butler's claims really match reality?
On February 9, Dish Network launched their over-the-top internet protocol service, called SlingTV. SlingTV's base package includes 23 networks, costs $20 a month and has accumulated roughly 250,000 subscribers. How has Dish Network been able to put together an impressive bundle of popular networks, but Apple, working on an over-the-top solution for years, been unable to negotiate a workable deal?
When I learned that another new photo editing application was coming, one that claimed it would be able to take on the juggernaut of the industry, Adobe Photoshop, I rolled my eyes. “First this software will need to be able to knock off Pixelmator,” I thought. I downloaded Affinity Photos immediately, and within one day of using the software I realized that Affinity was no competition for Pixelmator – it easily surpassed it.
The company in charge of Affinity is Serif LTD., located in Nottingham, England. Serif has been around since 1987, and has a host of web and creative editing tools, largely focused on the consumer and educational markets. If you have never heard of them, as I had not, there is a big reason for that. Until Affinity Photo, all Serif's software was built exclusively for Windows. However, with the Mac continuing to grow and stay firmly entrenched in the creative markets, Serif set off in a new direction. Affinity Photo was engineered from the ground up for OS X. There is no Affinity Windows counterpart. There no shared code or pallet design ported from the platform best forgotten. Affinity Photo is 100% OS X goodness, and already includes Force Touch capability.
Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge was supposed to be the “next best thing” in mobile phones. Commercials have this device touting its curved-edge display that lights up the side-panels, illuminating in blue for Craig, green for Gavin and red for Ramona, with text and other such items displayed. Really? Moreover, Samsung continues their staccato plucked strings as background music, trying to add as much intrigue to their product as possible. All the background music does for me is to notify me it's time to change the channel.
Wander any mall in the U.S. and you will not see many people, let alone any lines, trying to get into a mobile phone outlet looking for the latest Galaxy. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 was to drive massive traffic to such stores, in an attempt to stem Apple's iPhone momentum. It hasn't worked.
According to JMP Securities technology analyst Alex Guana, Apple’s slow launch into the wearables market has left a large opening for competitor Fitbit. Guana claims Fitbit is the “clear leader in the market with over 11 million units sold last year.” Guana continued by saying that Fitbit is currently ahead of Apple Watch as far as price points, battery life and GPS tracking. However, he did concede that long-term, Apple can bring a lot of “power” with iOS and versatility. These Apple advantages will give Fitbit some serious competition.
The phablet is all the rage. Half smartphone – half tablet, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus is on fire. According to Carolina Milanesi, of Kantarworldpanel, iPhone 6 Plus gobbled up 44% of the worldwide phablet market during the first quarter of 2015. China is largely responsible for the overall iPhone 6 Plus consumption, but the U.S. and Europe are also playing an important role. Who is buying all these quasi-tablet/smartphone Pluses? Women.
Cultural differences aside, universally women carry purses, and generally speaking, men do not. Additionally, more men are in the workforce, and that makes a difference in device choice. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 69.7% of men are in the workforce, while 57.2% of women are in the labor market. Businessmen do not carry purses, rather, they slip their smartphones into a slacks or jacket pocket. Women, even those in the white collar labor force, often carry business-like purses. Women working retail or working-for-the-family Mom’s carry purses as well. If you have not caught on yet, a large display smartphone works well for purses, not so much for business suites, slacks or jeans.
If you've ever wondered how Apple stacks up financially in relation to software giant Microsoft, perhaps your perspective should be flipped. It is Microsoft that must be viewed in relation to Apple’s success. During the last quarter Apple amassed an additional $32.7 billion in net income and cash, while Microsoft’s total revenue for the quarter stalled at $21.7 billion, up only 6% YOY. This meager growth barely tracks above inflation, and is not keeping pace with internal cost increases. The downward trend for Microsoft came in their net income, which saw a 5% decline in the face of larger revenues, a seriously dangerous equation. Microsoft blamed the strong US dollar for the fall, but Apple had no need for such excuses during their quarterly report. Apple’s YOY revenues grew 27%, while driving larger gross margins and a 30% rise in net income. The two companies couldn't be on more different paths.
Just in case you were wondering, that slothy software company from Redmond, Washington, is holding their Build 2015 developer’s conference now (April 29-May 1) in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. The results so far? A collective yawn with a smattering of panic.
Microsoft's CEO, Sayta Nadella, is hard at work, focusing everyone on Windows 10. Not to be confused with Windows 9 (which nomenclature was mysteriously skipped), Windows 10 is to be the savior of Microsoft, pulling the Pacific Northwest company out of its 10-year stupor, which was run by former CEO Steve Ballmer (now an NBA basketball owner-super-genius). One of the key products announced, was a conversion package. Developers will be able to “easily” port their Android and iOS apps to Windows 10 platforms — excluding apps written with Apple’s popular Swift code that is.