Three Guys and a Podcast: Apple News & Analysis
The latest cell phone market share figures should have tablet makers quaking in fear of what Apple may do to them once iPad 3 arrives. Currently, Apple is sucking all the profits out of the market. Moreover, many of Apple's competitors have taken their best stab at iPad by flooding the channel, but with weak sell-though results (just ask Samsung, HP or RIM how tablets are working out).
The latest figures peg Apple's global tablet market share at 61.3%. Like with iPhone vs Android phones, we saw Android quickly race out ahead in deployment numbers, which are flattening out or starting to work back in Apple's favor. New numbers for the iPhone comes from BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk, predicting up to 30 million iPhones could be sold in the September quarter. If iPhone sales are poised for this absolute explosion, what will halo effect be for iPads vs the rest of the pack?
Apple doesn't have partners, they have suppliers. But when Apple entered the cell industry it had no choice but to enter into partnership agreements with AT&T and others across the globe. Don't confuse necessity with anything Jobs and company are happy with, as Apple is setting course to go nuclear with its pernicious carriers.
Until now, the iPhone has been built with the philosophy of design elegance and overall quality. Apple has been able to work this way due to the business model being focused on subsidized products, hidding the true costs of iPhones into two-year contracts. But Apple's forthcoming iPhone 5 launch promises to change this model and the way we purchase iPhones.
If you think the worldwide population buys cell phones via two-year subsidized contracts the way U.S. and European consumers do, think again. In fact, the majority of the cell phone's sold across the globe each year are non-subsidized purchases which use prepaid minutes and data plans.
Prepaid programs are also catching on in the U.S., largely led by Sprint, desperate to attract new customers — and it's working. In 2010 the US prepaid market grew to $16 billion. Smaller companies like Cricket Wireless operate as purely prepaid carriers, attracting people with poor credit ratings or for those who can't afford the larger carrier's monthly fees. Apple has yet to truly attack the non-subsidized market, especially those in low-income regions, but the company appears to be on the precipice of entering the prepaid market, leaving Android, WebOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 to tear each other apart for market share table scraps.
Mark your calendar. Today is the day Verizon ends unlimited data plans, putting a nail in the coffin of all-things all-the-time mobile. Eventually all carriers will follow this model as they are all addicted to charge-per-minute plans, so why not charge per bit downloaded, so their thinking goes.
Governing minutes or data, it is the way pipe providers, and unlimited plans are completely counter to their business soul. But ending unlimited plans on AT&T, and now Verizon, it's an Omen of things to come from every data provider, mobile or not. The capping of data is rapidly extending into homes via cable and fiber internet providers. This shouldn't shock anyone. All of these players were spawned from the world of telecommunications, thus the game is the same across the board. How they can extract every cent from our wallets will seemingly never end. However, there is one white knight that has the cash and cajones to change the game – Apple.
It's 4 am and I'm packing up, leaving the hotel to catch my flight. Getting back to LAX is a snap, and returning the rental car goes off without a hitch. A second security checkpoint is opened to speed the check-in process, making for a relatively uneventful journey to the gate.
At this point I'm looking around to find the nearest caffeine injection center when I get my first laugh of the day. Large portrait LCD's are positioned within the terminals, running an ad stating "Amateur Hour Is Over" showcasing the Blackberry Playbook. I'm not sure if I laughed out loud, but if I did it was certainly justified. I came away with four possible reactions to the ad, none of which bode well for RIM or their ill-fated Playbook:
Apple is very good at making hardware. They are also very good at making software that runs on that hardware. But what they are really good at is creating an eco-system that uses their hardware and software to solve a much larger problem.
What made Apple's lead in digital music sales and then the creation of an entire new industry — podcasting — so successful was this self-sustaining eco-system. For cool hardware Apple gave us the iPod; for cool software iTunes (desktop version); but it was the iTunes Music Store was the linchpin that made it so other companies couldn't just make cheaper hardware and/or software to compete on par with Apple. Sure one could buy a Samsung MP3 player and purchase music from Amazon, but the integration was always second-rate. Nothing ever just worked like the iPod, iTunes and the iTunes music store.
With Apple's announcement of OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud, Ballmer and the Redmond collective must be picking themselves off the floor trying to figure out what just happened.
Alas, not all is lost for Microsoft — if they follow my simple advise. Well, thinking about that again, the chance Microsoft might listen to reason instead of the Windows/Office juggernaut is slim to none —and slim left town!
Holy covered banners Batman! We had thought Apple raised all their banners this past Friday, but have been proven wrong. It appears Werner Reschke (Guy #3), was correct in his guess that Apple may put up covered banners Sunday night. Nice call Werner. You can see more original T-GAAP WWDC banner photos here.
We are not sure what this banner holds under it's black veil, but here are three of our best guesses:
When it comes to smartphones, they've delivered us a lot of mobile computing goodness. But nothing great in technology-land seems to come along without a catch. In the cell phone world, the unsavory lining to success is radiation.
EWG (Environmental Working Group) has served up a plethora of appliance and smartphone test results as it relates to radiation. What this means to the user, that's debatable, but anyone can find articles and test results to support just about any position on the topic. At this point, an overarching rule of thumb is cell phone radiation is not good for the body, but how much can the human body take is another question. Looking specifically at smartphones, EWG tested 83 products, and out of the bunch Motorola came away the loser. As for Apple?...
If Boy Genius reporting is accurate, Apple is setting the stage to make the higher educational sales competition a no-contest event this summer. The report claims Apple will be offering $200 off any iPad with the purchase of a Mac, which is an additional offer added to the typical free iPod touch offer given to students during the educational buying season. Apple offering iPads as low as $299 – it's a game over situation.
If you have any form of youth in the house and were considering a Mac or iPad, this "may be coming" offer marks the time to get some new Apple goodness. Students are on, or around, campus most of the time, thus a majority are likely to just go with an iPad wifi model. But many students will consider a 3G version with Apple's tempting discount, pitting Apple against its carrier partners, specifically Verizon.