Apple’s practice of not conducting focus groups or looking to the outside world to decide what products it will make and what features will, or will not be included, is well known. But then is Apple solely working behind closed doors in making decisions for the next amazing Apple products? No. Despite what you may think, Apple does look to understand the consumer, as I personally witnessed via an Apple email survey that arrived in my Inbox last week. The email obviously follows on the heels of my recent MacBook purchase.
During yesterday’s WWDC keynote event, Apple announced a host of new software technologies and upgraded solutions. OS X El Capitan looks to be a solid release, incorporating Metal, updating Notes, integrating iPhone gestures, and making the entire OS faster. The entire El Capitan package looked like another solid – and free – OS X upgrade. iOS suddenly became much smarter and relevant with iOS 9, and Apple’s aggressive OS update with watchOS 2 lets developers run wild with newfound power on the wrist. Apple Music looks to be the iTunes update everyone has been waiting for, and it finally arrived. Among the piles of announcements, perhaps the most ground breaking, if not shocking, was nothing more than a mere footnote. Apple is launching Apple Music, its largest software initiative in years, for Android.
Starting June 30, Apple Music will be available for iOS, OS X, and Windows. Apple states Apple Music will also be available for Apple TV and Android phones this fall. Apple PR can burry that OS name wherever it wants (front, back, the middle of a sentence), it still sticks out like nothing else – Android.
For the last several months I’ve been squirreling away some money here and some there — not for any particular purpose, but I knew at some point when I had “enough” I’ll want to buy something of value. Since the launch of Apple Watch I have toyed with the idea of picking one up. The only problem with that idea is that it is more difficult in reality than it should be. With Apple Watch supply still being outstripped by demand, ordering an Apple Watch is simple, but getting one, not so much.
My T-GAAP colleague picked up a new MacBook recently. It is very nice, and very tempting. My current MacBook Air is the mid-2013 model. But with 8MB of RAM, the core i7 processor and 512GB SSD, I have yet to find a good reason to dump it for something new. Speed and storage are not issues, and it runs the latest version of OS X plus all the apps I need just fine.
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?
Stupid is as stupid does. Or in this case, Ford is continuing it's vain attempt in adding value to their vehicles by pushing their own technology interface, called SYNC. Ford, and the auto industry as a whole, has clearly shown their core competencies fall well within the realm of dual-clutch transmissions and combustion engines, but attempting to be Silicon Valley is not within their wheelhouse. Like a politician that acts like an expert on every subject, the auto industry's facade is that it understands high-tech. Overall, their attempts have been laughable. The original iPhone launched in 2007. It's now 2015, and Detroit sill can't get bluetooth to work right.
The core of the ill-fated SYNC technology was developed by Microsoft, which has finally been left behind by Ford after receiving ding after ding in car reviews for using the technology. I own a Ford SYNC equipped vehicle and I can validate, it is a horrible experience.
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.
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.
It has begun. Just days before the new Apple Watch will be available for the public to look at, try on and order, the attention seeking, anti-Apple press have started launching their missiles at Apple and its latest device.
Yahoo! is running a story by Reuters which quotes Geoffrey Fowler of the Wall Street Journal, Nilay Pitel of The Verge and Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times. All of them make silly statements, like Fowler’s, “I won't pay the $1,000 it would cost for the model I tested, only to see a significant improvement roll in before too long.” Fowler's false premise assumes no one values a $1,000 version of the watch — wrong. If Fowler does not think the Apple Watch is worth $1,000, then he can always buy a less expensive model, and that is one of the beauties of Apple Watch: the innumerable choices and price points for all types of people. Evidently Fowler has missed that obvious point. Fowler myopically reviews Apple Watch from a tech point of view only, thus his review is terribly flawed. It misses half of what Apple Watch is all about — fashion.
Apple Watch hype has hit a fever pitch, but don't think the mania is over quite yet. The watch does not go on pre-sale until April 10, thus the noise should last at least another month before settling down. Meanwhile, MacBook owners – including us at T-GAAP – are embroiled in debating the merits of the latest MacBook versus the rest of the refreshed MacBook lineup. For all of Apple's efforts in focusing our attention onto the latest and greatest, it can be said the iPod started it all, and yet the product will have been without an update for 3 years come this September. Should Apple make a 6th generation iPod touch?
At the heart of the current 5th generation iPod touch is Apple's 32-bit A5 processor. To gain some perspective in how old this chipset is, it was last used in the iPhone 4S. The iPod also sports a 4" screen, while the latest iPhones have moved onto 4.7" and 5.5" displays. The iPod touch utilizes some old technologies, and yet has stubbornly remained at $199 for just a 16 GB version. Topping off iPod touch's dated appeal, sales figures for the entire iPod lineup are no longer reported in Apple's quarterly conference call or press release. The days of this diminutive little iPhone – without the phone – seem numbered, but there is a glimmer of hope.
While Google and Apple’s search engine contract is about to expire, other players stand in line like available bachelorettes, desperate to become Apple’s next choice for Safari’s default search tool. And while it would seem Apple and Google are likely to hammer out another contract together, Apple could use this opportunity to turn the search engine game upside down, selecting little known DuckDuckGo as their default search engine of choice.