Vacationing across Australia and Indonesia, a young surfer found himself struggling to figure out how to take decent selfie of himself while on his board. Taking a 35mm camera and strapping it onto his hand – via a rubber band no less – he quickly discovered that quality and practicality was lacking, but the idea merited exploring. Nick Woodman had given birth to GoPro.
Vans to trade shows, and hard work to hustle, GoPro started going viral, finding a market replacing the point and shoot camera. Smartphones, lead by Apple's camera quality, were absorbing the pocket camera market. Canon and Nikon countered, pushing higher-end pro-sumer and HDSLR cameras. GoPro had found a solid and vacant space, going public in June of 2014. Would GoPro strike Wall Street gold as it had the quality selfie video market? On day one, GoPro closed over $31 a share. Fast forward to today and GPRO continues its meteoric climb, now over $62 a share on swelling sales. Where will it end? Perhaps in Cupertino.
You can forget yesterday’s record shattering numbers Apple CEO, Tim Cook, proudly revealed for Apple’s 3rd quarter of 2015. Ignore the fact that iPhone sales grew 35% year-over-year, or that Apple now has over $200 billion in cash for the first time in history. This is all irrelevant. None of this matters. Why? Because analysts guessed that Apple would sell between 50 - 55 million iPhones in the quarter, when in reality Apple only sold a record breaking 47.53 million iPhones. Apple did not achieve the conjured up sales figures the “experts” spewed forth, and therefore the result was Apple’s stock price must be punished. No offense to the political naive who do not understand history, but in the investment world, this makes about as much sense as, say, cutting a nuclear deal with Iran trusting they will do the right thing. The sad reality is, this vapid illogic is how the stock market largely operates each and every day. Companies stocks rise when they beat the expert guesstimates. Stocks prices fall when companies do not meet the expert expectations. It does not matter how the company actually preformed. It is all about the experts guessing game. Reason and logic need not apply.
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.
IBM is chief sponsor of the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, the grass championships at Wimbledon, England. For two weeks even novice onlookers tune into Wimbledon, as it scrapes into the consciousness of mainstream sports reporting. IBM is center stage, breaking into every commercial break. Even if a casual TV viewer, one cannot help but notice IBM. But Big Blue does more than just sponsor the tournament, they provide real-time statistics and graphics revealing where players are hitting each and every ball, their service success, and ball angles and heights. With Apple and IBM well into their $100 million partnership, it would be more than obvious the chair umpires would be officiating each match using iPads. That assumption would be wrong.
Chair umpires are using a Panasonic tablet. Specifically, Panasonic's Toughpad, deploying Intel Core i-series processing and Windows 7 or 8. Hawkeye, the system used to track the ball and validates whether the ball is in or out, is not infallible. In fact, it deploys non-high-speed 2D cameras, which must then estimate that track of the ball. Not exactly infallible. Why aren’t Apple iPads in the umpire’s chair, seamlessly working with IBM’s cloud technologies? Why use legacy 2D cameras, that cannot handle an ounce of low-light conditions, instead of showcasing iPhone 6+ and 240fps recording for Hawkeye?
“Cord Cutter’s” are those who have stopped paying $100-260+ USD to cable and satellite companies for hundreds of network channels. It has been two years since I took the plunge and saved myself then $90/month. Mark, the other guy here at Two Guys and a Podcast, was a radical in this cause, never subscribing to cable or satellite services — ever. Both of us are avid sports fans. Both of us news junkies. Yet somehow we are able to get the sports we want and the news we need without these services. How? It’s called the internet.
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.