Sunday, February 22, 2015

Apple's attempt to do good

Apple has made pledges and commitments in many areas.
I knew Tim Cook had pledged support for working conditions.  I did not know Jeff Williams had expressed support so strongly.  2014 Techcrunch Apple BBC response - Mr. Williams made the statement that if Apple stops using problematic tin sources, other companies will just snap up the sources and nothing will change.  It takes conviction to take a harder road, take the heat, and change things and stay involved.

For me this rings very true to how Apple operates.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Some thoughts on Apple Watch and expected profitability

I'm thinking about what I'm hearing about Apple, Apple Watch, and fashion.  Apple has the people and product to get into and stay profitably in fashion, and the strategy to protect and enhance the brand.

HBR had an article in October: Apple: Luxury Brand or Mass Marketer?  Cult of Mac had one just a couple of days ago: Why Apple Watch will wrap up luxury market in China.  What I am hearing and reading is that people are saving up to buy Apple products.  Apple sales are not fitting historical stereotypes for consumer electronics, and thus the idea that Apple must make a cheaper product at this time has been proven wrong.

We also know that Apple has hired many fashion executives - from my blog post last September, What is going on with Apple hires and acquihires in 2014? I see that Apple hired:

  • Angela Ahrendts - former CEO of Burberry
  • Paul Devenve - former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent
  • Catherine Monier - former European President, head of retail, Yves Saint Laurent
  • Patrick Pruniaux - former VP Sales, Tag Heuer
  • Marc Newson - famed designer
Apple is clearly pushing into fashion.

On thoughts of price and revenues...  At $350 to start, it takes nearly 3 million to bring in 1 billion.  It has been rumored (at Apple Insider) that the high end gold model could be priced at $5,000.  Only 200,000 units would bring in 1 billion at that price.  Apple has proven time and again that they can manufacture, deliver, and sell mass quantities of product.  To my way of thinking, $1B+ of sales the first year is well within the realm of possibility.  I also suspect that the profit margin on the Apple Watch may be higher than Apple's general product.  If it were to be, say, 50%, then that would mean another $0.5B+ of profits.  It might not be a massive profit-changer for a profitability juggernaut like Apple, but it is certainly substantial in an absolute sense.

Some people who have disposable income will buy an expensive model as a gift for someone.  Apple makes attractive watch bands and some people will buy two or three, and they can also be expensive.  With a fashion product, Apple will adjust the look over time both of the watch and of the bands.  People may collect Apple Watch, and various watch bands.  Complete-ist collectors will attempt to have one of each band and watch; there are some of them out there.  I can imagine that one or more may make the news some time after Apple Watch is rolled out.

Assuming Apple Watch makes it into fashion stores, Apple brand exposure and value should increase nicely.  You can also bet that any such stores will support Apple Pay.

I have an original black Starbucks card.  People have greatly surprised me by oooh-ing over it many times.  "I had never seen one of those before." is something I hear.  That is something that will be happening years from now with Apple Watch.

There are some folks, as in an article last September in John Gruber's Daring Fireball, thinking about the upgradeability of the electronic components inside Apple Watch.  If indeed this were to be made possible, I think it is quite clear that Apple's product would be in a category all its own pretty much across the history of electronics.

Now about what Apple Watch is for besides fashion:

  • Notifications and communications - don't even pull out your phone.  Intimately communicate with taptic feedback
  • Apple Pay - even simpler to use than an iPhone 6 or 6+!  Not even a finger scan is needed.
  • Health monitoring - It will be with you even when you leave your iPhone somewhere, so step tracking will be better.  Heart rate monitoring is already available with other products, but not with other fashionable products, and some that are out (fitbit) are intentionally not compatible with Apple HealthKit.
  • Other apps - Siri and Maps, again to keep your iPhone in your pocket.
Is this enough?  What will 3rd party applications bring?  We will have to wait until it is released to see.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Daniel Eran Dilger on fire at the start of 2015

Daniel Eran Dilger wrote 18 articles for Apple Insider in January, 2015, presented Apple Insider's first podcast, and was featured on The Tech Night Owl LIVE.  He is on fire!  He're hoping he keeps it up.

January, 2015:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why I still like and use OS X with a passion

I am reading some posts from folks who feel quality problems with OS X are forcing them to leave OS X or have great concerns about it:
While I agree that there are some important bugs, I want to point out how I feel Apple is looking out for its users. 

It reminds me of a discussion of being poor vs rich vs being alive long ago (as a king).  Forgive what is likely to be a not-so-short digression on living long ago vs now:
  • Food: Maybe kings could get spices, food, nutrition, variety, and have a fairly continuous food supply, but not most other people.  Famines were not uncommon.  Spices were for the wealthy.  Sailors got scurvy.  This is not so much like the lives of most of us today.
  • Facilities:  Kings did not have what are common facilities today: refrigerators, microwave ovens, hot/cold indoor plumbing with safe drinking water, indoor bathrooms, heater/air conditioning
  • Health: Medicine 200 years ago was something like leeches and prayers compared to now.  We have vaccines, antibiotics, and a whole system.  Live expectancy was vastly less than it is now, even for kings.
We quickly forget what we did not have not so long ago.  We often stop appreciating what we do have.

For me, OS X is an amazing environment to work in.  This experience is not completely separable from the hardware.
  • I can do my work from a Macbook Air - a tiny portable computer.  Never before the Macbook Air could I use a tiny portable for all of my work; previous machines had not enough compute power or RAM.
  • Apple's work in OS X to save battery life and save RAM is something we should celebrate more.  Compressed memory, the ability to see applications taking battery life, the creation of modes that allow applications to be efficient, and rewriting Apple's apps to use that efficiency are amazing!
  • The security focus and capabilities in OS X are also amazing.  Apple's focus on sandboxing goes beyond other vendors in most cases.  Safari not even running some plugins without permission saves power and keeps things more secure.  Apple is also making judicious security patches that do not take 1+ hours to deploy (ahem - Microsoft).  I have never had malware running on my machine to my knowledge, and I have never had another mac user that I know relay to me that they have had such a problem.  I did have malware of many kinds affect my use of Microsoft over the years.
  • Continuity and handoff - Apple has made the experience of using my other devices with OS X so much more usable.
    • Text Messages:  I had already used messages on my computer in place of typing on my iPhone much of the time.  Does anyone think about text messaging before iPhone?  So many people just used feature phones and the old phone keypad before iPhone, but even those with smartphones before iPhone had a vastly inferior experience.  This just takes it to a much more usable place!
    • Phone calls - I just use my computer instead of pulling out my iPhone.  It is handy.  Or, I can refuse a call and send a text reply.  This is amazing during meetings.
    • Airdrop between OS X and iOS has been really helpful in many instances for me.  iCloud will take that to an even better place as I do not have to even copy files; they are just there.
    • Even before these new features, having my bookmarks reliably sync'ed to my desktop and iPhone was great and helpful!
There are many other things, written about many time by many people, about how great OS X is.  I just think it is worth remembering to be happy about what amazing progress and innovative technology we do get to use every single day.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Separating AppleIDs and Family Sharing - benefits and possible drawbacks

I have felt the need for quite some time to create some separation of Apple accounts with my family.  iOS 8 and Yosemite make this more appealing.  Your Apple account is your AppleID.

First, how many places are there to set your account?  There are 5!  If you separate them, make sure to do so every place you intend to do so.

Update on 1/6/14 - TidBITS linked to an article about Family Sharing that is important from someone quitting family sharing:
-- iTunes match is not shared, from what I can tell.  I was told I could continue to share music content, but this is not the whole truth.  I was sharing via iTunes Match.  The separate ID does not allow for this.

What are the implications?
  • iCloud
    • This separates iCloud backups of ios devices!
    • This separates photostreams for each person - you lose the ability to stream photos with any devices on a separate iCloud account
    • It enables easy setup and sharing of:
      • a shared photo album all family members may publish to when they choose.  This typically causes an alert just like with other shared photo albums.
      • a family calendar
      • a family reminder "group"
    • If you use one account, you can keep a shared photostream and iCloud storage account for backups, but then could be sharing contacts, calendars, documents, and more.  This can be problematic.
  • iTunes, App Store, iBooks bookstore
    • App purchases are available to all family members (although I read that there is an ability to hide purchases.  I have not explored this)
      • In app purchases are only available per account and are not family-shareable
    • iTunes Match is no longer shared.  If you share music via iTunes match, another account will need to be purchased.  I believe it will also need to be "primed" with all of your music.  This looks like a bit of a mess!
  • Messages
    • This needs to be separate for each person to be able to use sms messages on their mac linked to their iPhone.
  • Facetime
    • This needs to be separate for each person to be able to use their cellular phone linked with their mac to make/receive phone calls.
With shared messages and facetime, wackiness such as receiving all family texts on one computer and/or one iPhone can be accomplished!
  • GameCenter
    • Separation means a family competition can begin!  Also, separate friend lists can be had.

I think messages and facetime are close to being synonymous.  I suspect in some future version of iOS and Yosemite, they will no longer be separate.  In fact, I suspect that this complexity of 5 different places to use an account will be eliminated and shrink to one account at some point.
  • I think it is clear that each person using a separate AppleID for Messages, Facetime, and Gamecenter always makes sense.  If I have that wrong, and you disagree, please tell me.
  • iCloud:
    • This one Graham Spencer of MacStories strongly recommends be separate (see link below).
    • This is very hard for families used to having a completely shared photostream; auto-sharing is lost.
    • It also means if you have one purchased larger iCloud storage capability, it is no longer shared for backups.
    • It lets each user have their own documents, calendar, contacts, while enabling easy sharing of the same with family members.  This makes it seem pretty necessary.
  • iTunes
    • If you use 2-factor authentication, and you should, your family members need to type this in when purchases are made.  This means having it separate is probably a necessary idea.  However, you lose sharing in-app purchases, such as true app-activation in some cases.
    • When family members split from your family group at some future date, they keep their purchases.  What else does it mean?  This is not clear.
I really do hope Apple can eliminate this kind of complexity for its users.

Here are a few articles for reference which can really help as well:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

List of Daniel Eran Dilger's AppleInsider articles for December 2014

Mr. Dilger has been producing many articles this December, and for some of us a concise list is helpful:

December 2014:

Here is a link to a previous post with his articles back through 2013:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Apple stock market manipulation - it is back, or it never left?

As I have watched Apple's stock price rise, I recall what felt like years of stock market manipulation lifting as the year over year sales increases by Apple won out over the pundits (at best) and manipulators.

Bert Dohmen at Forbes has a new article that is a great example of the behavior: Apple: Icon, Icahn Or iGone?

I actually think Mr. Dohmen has a good point when he says, "Remember, market tops are made when everything looks best, not when they are bad."  Another possible way to think about it is that money can be made when someone can short stock and then drive down the stock price.  FUD - fear, uncertainty, and doubt - and another statement from his article that I agree with but at best creates price uncertainty, is, "My rule: when everyone is in, avoid!"

He talks about "Wall Street firms" competing to raise their future stock price estimate for Apple, and argues that the recent large drop is an example of fund managers starting to get out as the peak is reached.

Then he talks about how Apple is losing market share, and how market share is important to investors.  These feel like arguments made over and over again, over years, and are specious.  If Apple were to lose market share because somehow the market is growing, it could be a view into a huge future market opportunity for Apple.  This can actually be a good sign instead of a sign of doom.  This concept seems evident in another Forbes article, Apple Is Starting To Claw Back Some iPhone Market Share.  Even Mr. Dohmen states both that Apple is both losing and gaining market share.  He says, "Apple is losing market share in the U.S." and in the same paragraph also says, "[...] the iPhone 6 was launched and sales boosted market share above 40% once again."  He is using the same analytics data and company.  He also says, "Sales in Europe and Japan are lackluster. In Japan, market share dropped a big 15.9%.".  Using the same data source, Daniel Eran Dilger says something very different in his appleinsider article, 'Huge' iPhone 6 sales drive iOS to 40% smartphone market share in Australia, US, UK, Japan.  Mr. Dohmen's comment about this?  He dismisses it, saying "But that was the typical new product bump."

Without referring to share of profits in a market, market share is or can be meaningless.  Articles like Mr Dohmen's which carefully avoid such concepts while

Even while talking about Apple Pay, Mr. Dohmen attempts to create new fear and doubt with statements like, ... the competition was ahead of Apple. A competing system is MCX, over two years old.  MCX doesn’t have the potential vulnerability of NFC (technology used by Apple)."  My question is what potential vulnerability?  This sounds like a completely manufactured non-existent vulnerability.  In any case no references to this vulnerability are cited by Mr. Dohmen.  Another very misleading example is, "competition has virtually destroyed the sales of the vastly overprice iPod."  Sales are not as high, but destroyed typically refers to something that is not a dip in sales.  And the concept that large iPhone sales might hurt iPad sales, which is of great financial benefit to Apple, is a concept Mr. Dohmen would not touch with a ten foot pole.

I think Forbes should not publish misleading articles like this one.  They do seem to publish articles with many different opinions, but when is misleading information something that can be considered legal manipulation?