This weekend I spent some time watching college football and some of the NFL. I always find it fascinating to see who is spending big bucks to advertise in this expensive sports-drama space. In August Microsoft made a big splash about the Surface Pro 2 tablet (modified for exclusive NFL use) being the NFL’s sideline tablet of choice, after paying the NFL $400 million to join in of course. This weekend I saw a few commercials for the Surface Pro 3, going head-head against a Macbook Air. I also observed several Samsung commercials. One Samsung ad explained how the iPhone 6 Plus 5.5" screen is no big deal because Samsung had such a device in 2012. And then there was the Google Now commercial, where Google’s digital personal assistant is asked how long Koala bears sleep (up to 18 hours according to Google Now — if you’re curious).
This is for reference or if you completely missed the Keynote presentation where Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Pay and Apple Watch.
September 12, 2014 — you can place an order for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
There is a saying, “It doesn’t matter how you start it is how you finish that matters.” Those of us who were unable to attend Apple’s Silicon Valley Gala, found streaming the event quite the challenge during the first 30-40 minutes of Tim Cook’s Keynote. Immediately Twitter was a-buzz concerning the inability to stream the event on Apple TV or through the website. But fortunately Apple fixed the problems and we were able to see, without interruption, “One more thing...”
For the past several years owners of Apple’s stock must be pleased with the company's leadership. The stock price hit a lul during the first half of 2013, but since then AAPL has returned to its pervious value. The real question is what will happen next.
Last night, while stumbling upon Penn & Teller’s whimsical Fool Us TV show (sorry, I really don’t watch much live TV anymore — thank you Apple TV), I found myself watching what I thought was another Microsoft Surface commercial, wasn’t a Microsoft ad at all. Rather, it was a generic Intel tablet commercial, pushing the idea that Intel-based tablets are what people need (not ARM-based or iPad tablets). Just how desperate is this dual-force Microsoft and Intel I wondered?
Microsoft’s failing campaign to sell their heavy, battery draining 2-in-1 Surface Pro is one thing, but Intel trying to sell the idea that the only type of tablet worth buying is due to something the user will never see, touch or understand – the processor. Apple’s dark decade of the 90’s laid the groundwork for Intel to advertise to, what could be described as, low technology information consumers. Intel was successful in pushing the idea that when looking to buy a new PC, that only an ”Intel Inside” PC was worth considering.
2010 was the last time the Apple faithful were treated to a new product category launch. The iPad made its debut just three years after the incredibly successful iPhone introduction. Over four years has passed since the iPad was announced, yet Apple has produced nothing “new.” Over the years iPhone and iPad have certainly improved — iPad now has a mini companion — but Apple’s history has set expectations for the company to launch something yet unseen, yet unknown, or yet to be done, every few years.
This Fall presents Apple another opportunity to break the cycle of just another set of upgrades to current product categories. The iPhone 6 (aka iPhone Air) is most likely going to sport a larger display (or displays), but it may be a new product that steals the show. Under Tim Cook’s leadership, there have been two special events in the Fall. A September show (2012, 2013) and an October show (2012, 2013). October is a special month for Apple as it is the beginning of its fiscal calendar. If you have never worked for a fortune 500 company, let me tell you, that is a big deal. Never under estimate when products launch and how they are tied to how bonuses are calculated.
In 2004, just ten years ago, the New England Patriots were the NFL’s new dynasty with three Super Bowl victories in four years. Lost, Amazing Race and 24 were the top three hit television shows. The U.S. war in Iraq was just one year old, and Microsoft was the undisputed king of the tech world.
T-Mobile, the 4th largest cell phone/data carrier in the U.S., is trying to shake things up a bit by rolling out multiple offers — that do not charge for data usage. When cell phones first came out in the 90’s, it was talk-time that was restricted by cost. Each plan had “so many minutes” of talk-time in the plan. But thanks to the wonder of competition, carriers built out their networks and beat each other down with better and better talk-time offers until talk time became unlimited on most plans. Today it is almost assumed that a plan of any value will have unlimited talk-time.
It may be going unnoticed, but Apple is quietly going about, continually gaining mobile market share, building an ever-larger iOS customer base world-wide. If anyone is noticing, it's Apple’s competitors of iPhone and iPad. Samsung, LG, HTC, Nokia, Motorola and others are doing their best to keep pace. Ironically, it is Apple’s competition that are proving to be their own worst enemy.
Maturing markets typically lead to consolidation and uniformity, but this is not what is taking place in the mobile space. In recent years, only Apple and Samsung have been profitable within the smartphone and tablet markets, leaving HTC, LG and others searching for ways to make a buck, which is leading to a massive fracturing of the mobile OS market.
Earlier this week I reviewed the Surface Pro 3 and how it stacked up against the MacBook Air as an ultrabook laptop. I wore the objectivity cape as long as possible, but it was simply no contest. From hardware to operating system, the MacBook Air delivered a vastly superior ultrabook experience. But the Surface Pro 3 claims something the MacBook Air does not – that it is the best of a laptop and best of a tablet. The former was covered, but now it is time to dig into the latter. Does the Surface Pro 3 make for the best tablet when compared against the leader of the pack, the iPad Air?
Microsoft has been keen to market the Surface Pro 3 against the MacBook Air, but raw processing power of the Surface seemingly gives it an advantage over the iPad Air, not the MacBook Air. Geekbench testing reveals Surface has the power edge over the iPad Air: