Over 895 million people flew on planes within, or in and out, of the U.S. in 2015. The number of passengers set another an all-time record, which is estimated to be broken again in 2016, with over 900 million people having flown in U.S airspace. And on every flight, before takeoff, and without fail since mid-September, a special announcement to all passengers is given, ordering them shut off their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones and store them in the above compartments or in a carry-on, below the seat in front of them.
I’ve been on six flights since mid-September, and while the wording from different airlines has been slightly different, the message has been abundantly clear; “Completely turn off and hide your Samsung Note 7. You will not use or charge it on this fly, potentially burning us all out of the flippin’ sky!" Every time I've heard the instructions, a semi chuckle has broken out with passengers looking at their neighbors to ensure they do not have a Galaxy Note 7, and if they do, making sure they shut them down.
Ka-Boom! Did you hear that Verizon guy, or is it the Sprint guy now?... That's the sound of the U.S. being blown apart, bit by bit, via Samsung devices. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which has already blown up in a little boys hands, set a man's pants on fire and burned down a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Let me be perfectly clear; I'm making fun of a whole slew of Samsung devices.
Just this past week, a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, not 7, but Note 2, caught fire in an overhead bin compartment on an airplane forcing an emergency landing. Of course, it's a week later, so what what other devices does Samsung engineer and sell that could possibly ignite and destroy something, somewhere? That would be Samsung's exploding clothing washers. Of course, there may be a completely logical reason for this.
Tuesday, at Apple's September special event, CEO, Tim Cook and crew revealed iPhone 7. Among it's biggest new technologies was the omission of a legacy feature – Apple has done away with the industry standard 3.5mm audio jack, and for a slew of good reasons. But none more impactful than the fact that Android makers are now torn in what to do with a standard Apple just ditched.
Apple VP of World Wide Marketing, Phil Schiller, pointed out new digital advantages for moving past the the analog standard. Yes, the move brings wireless headphone technologies towards becoming the new standard. Yes, it saves space within iPhone. Yes, the removal of the jack eliminates another area for water and dust ingression. The shift to using iPhone's Lightning connector for headphones certainly ushers in the digital age for Apple's headphones, but the initial pain it brings to the competition is greater than the benefits within iPhone 7 in and of itself.
It seemed like an eternity for Apple to move to an iPhone display form factor larger than 4-inches, but then it happened. In the threat of Samsung and Android gaining massive market share against Apple's stodgy belief that a 4-inch iPhone was the perfect size, Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and changed the course of the smartphone market.
Like going back to the future, today there is now the iPhone SE, which is chalk full of iPhone 6S power and abilities, all housed within a 4-inch display form factor, and costing only $399 off-contract. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has explained to CNBC's Jim Cramer, the iPhone SE is seeing better than anticipated sales. Despite iPhone SE's lower price point, Apple is likely to quietly push sales of the phone in Asia, and for good reason.
2015 started out promising, with a trajectory that was like 2013 and 2014... up, up and more up. But mid-way through the year the market made a “correction” and while some stocks have recovered others continue trending the other direction. It is interesting to take a look back to see if our perceptions about the companies we banter about align with their stock price — what investors think about them.
Android smartphones continue to fall behind Apple's iPhone technology at an alarming rate. Here is a quick look at how Apple has coerced Google and their hardware vendors to spend countless billions playing catchup, forced into following Apple’s lead. The Android + 3rd party hardware attempts at deliver powerful, yet simple Apple-like solutions continue to stumble, leaving the duopoly further behind Apple’s superior iPhone hardware + software integration and execution.
Multi-Touch: It was the original 3.5" multi-touch iPhone that sent the entire smartphone market back to the drawing board. Android quickly copied Apple’s home screen, icons, along with look and feel, while Samsung and others dropped physical keyboards, integrating lower quality touch technologies. HTC quickly dropped the idea of pushing the stylus as the best method for smartphone interaction in favor of touch. Fast forward to today and any number of Android smartphones still lack the visceral feel of Apple’s touch technology. A copy is never as good as the original.
Millions of mobile users the world over continue to live in silos of the fragmented Android mobile world, kludged together with the legacy of the Windows desktop world. While Microsoft just launched Windows 10, showcasing how they have caught up to some areas Apple’s current OS X Yosemite, Microsoft will further illustrate just how far they have fallen behind during Apple’s OS X El Capitan launch which is only weeks away. While Windows is a large step behind OS X, it is Google and their Android hardware partners that are about to fall off the cliff, failing to keep pace with Apple’s iOS and ever unifying platforms at an alarming rate.
Google’s latest example of failure comes in the form of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5. Due to collapsing sales and Apple’s imminent launch of iPhone 6S, and 6S Plus, the Note 5 looks to compel millions of additional Android users to upgrade to Apple’s latest and greatest, if not settle for a year old, faster, cheaper, better real-life battery life, iPhone 6. Rushing the Note 5 launch, Samsung has now left their high-end cupboards bear for at least the next 6 months, and yet their latest and greatest are not even competing well against Apple’s year old iPhones.
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.
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?
Looking beyond the new MacBook’s 13.1" thinness, its 2-lb weight, retina display, state-of-the-art individually backlit keyboard and solid-state multi-touch trackpad, the new MacBook for all its pizzazz is set to crush the Windows-based competition with what may be the most import specification of all for the mobile crowd — battery life.