Lately, Apple has been adding to their space exploration team. Not only does Apple have their sights set on your mobile life, but evidently they look up at night and think about how to reach for the stars. Apple recently added two of Google's satellite executives to some vaguely understood hardware team. In April an inside-the-satellite-beltway blog site talked of Apple working with Boeing regarding Low Earth Orbit (LEO) multi-thousand satellite deployment. Sounds cool, but when it comes to Apple, the age old question remains; What's in it for me?
Have you ever been on a cruise or taken a flight? How about visiting another country far away or hiking to parts unknown? In each scenario internet access often costs far too much to justify, or simply isn't available. If you've ever attended a college football game good luck getting anything in or out of your iPhone, as the towers are typically jammed solid with traffic. Now envision all these places, or virtually everywhere, providing strong signal with amazing speeds for any task, anywhere, any time. That's what's in it for you.
If you haven't noticed, Apple silently racked up large scale iPad and MacBook Air sales over the Black Friday weekend, according to Adobe's analytics. But wait! Like a good Ginsu knife, there's more! Apple's Beats headphones were also show stoppers, and the new MacBook Pro has seen stronger than anticipated demand since its release. If you think there couldn't possibly be more, you'd be wrong! Apple's iPhone is also the most wanted item on Christmas wish lists this year, up by 2% over last year's desire for iPhones. There can't possible more than this, right?! Wrong! This weekend I moved to Verizon from AT&T, and upgraded muy plan with six new iPhone 7's!
Across the board Apple's sales are looking solid, but Verizon's virtual blind-side to AT&T this holiday weekend may have given Apple an extra boost. The largest US carrier offered $200 Visa cards and generous trade-in values on older iPhones for new customers. After the cash card arrives, my purchase of a 128GB iPhone 7 is a net zero dollars cost to me. The Verizon plan also provides my 6 lines with a 24GB per month data pool, with half of it able to be rolled over into future months. Verizon even offered $300 for a base iPhone 5, plus the $200 Visa card! It was an impressive offer, and coming from Verizon, a company known to rarely provide steep discounts, AT&T was caught flat footed.
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.
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.
Say it ain't so but DigiTimes may have just pulled a rabbit out of their hat, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. The publication's latest rumor claims Apple will be launching all-new MacBooks during the second calendar quarter. Of course, DigiTimes may only have this partially correct.
During Apple's special event on Monday no new MacBook graced the stage, leaving many wondering when the now aging year old product would receive an update. I've speculated that a 14" version, complimenting the 12.1" model would make a great fit to the lineup, but nothing has yet to materialize.
On September 9, during Apple's San Francisco special event, Apple’s Sr. Vice President, worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, took to the stage and introduced the iPad Pro. The latest and largest tablet of its kind from Apple delivers an incredible 12.9", 5.6 million pixel display, and weighs only 1.5 lbs. Accompanying the iPad Pro is a versatile accessory called Apple Pencil along with an optional Smart Keyboard. While the iPad Pro left the audience quite pleased, Schiller made one comment that was likely to have left Intel speechless.
Yesterday Apple released its September 9, special event invitation to select media with the message “Hey Siri, give us a hint.” Thousands of people instantly grabbed their iOS devices asking Siri to “give them a hint” to see if anything particular regarding the event came up. At times, Siri does say “Well, I hear there is something big happening on September 9,” but beyond the cute response, Apple's keeping Siri quiet. At times Apple has hidden hints within their invitations as to what may be coming. This invitation may also hold some clues.
After finally receiving a MacBook, that went on sale April 10th, I’ve been able to put it through it's paces. I've used the MacBook in coffee shops, traveled over 700 miles with it, pushed a full NBA playoff stream through it, crushed out hundreds of emails, edited a dozen or so Pixelmator images and worked over the charger and keyboard thoroughly. To quickly summarize this new MacBook — it is the perfect road warrior laptop and business companion, eliminating any need for an iPad, and for many the MacBook Air.
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.
Steve Wozniak, famous co-founder of Apple, was in Washington DC last Thursday to watch the 3-2 vote in favor of net neutrality. The FCC vote now makes the internet, in the U.S., a regulated utility under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission.
Wozniak claimed “There’s no big ISP that is going to bring broadband to my house,” Wozniak said, who often checks into his home in Los Gatos on Foursquare. “I live a short little Segway ride down a hill. When I go into town, I take a Segway down, not even a car, I am that close. And I don’t have broadband and I’m Silicon Valley and I don’t have broadband because I have no choice.”