AMITIAE - Friday 27 April 2012

Cassandra: Friday Review - The Weekend Arrives

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Opening Gambit:

The iPad arrives in Thailand (at last). More comments on Apple's Q2 results and the feedback: red faces. Apple reports record profits, Greenpeace protest again abut iCloud power use. Samsung silly stunt in Australia. More patent news. SSD and RAM expected to fall in price. Amazon, Nintendo and Zynga also report finances. Nokia decline: all Elop's fault says former exec..

Apple Stuff

I had email Friday morning from Apple to tell me that the iPad had arrived. I think most people were aware of that, but this is for the late appearance in Thailand I suppose. The Apple online store has been duly updated and there is a new iPad page. From press release information I saw a couple of days ago, True started their party at Siam Paragon at 23:00 last night, with the device going on sale at midnight. I expect there was all the usual publicity and announcements, with the first person in the line being photographed holding a Number 1 and an iPad. All a bit old now. AIS are due to deliver their iPads at The Rink, Central World starting at 11:00. There was nothing from DTAC. The iStudio retail outlets should also be selling from 11:00 and mine will be put into my hands round lunchtime.

While the column had an outline of Apple's Q2 results on Wednesday, I had concentrated on the run up to the conference call with the incredible amount of false information being put online that seemed to me deliberately to undermine Apple and send the share price down. One can speculate on the reasons, but the most likely is that if the shares fall they will rise again after a good announcement, which is exactly what happened.

Incredibly (or maybe not considering the dumb comments that were being put out) it seems that many analysts -- you put your money in these guys' hands -- had not factored in sales of iPhones outside the US. As Apple is a global company, and has been for a while, this is negligent.

When I looked a couple of hours after markets had opened, the shares had gone up some $50, easing back at the end of the day to $610. I smell a rat. All that negative press last week forced the shares down, and after the figures were released, up they go again, so some people have made a lot of money.

There was a slight whiff of hypocrisy from the Stephen Foley article on Apple's record results on Wednesday morning. The headline "Apple results give Cook last laugh at critics" jars somewhat with the previous list of negative articles on Apple that were all I could find with a Google search that I had in Monday's Cassandra column. Foley opens with, "Apple confounded a chorus of sceptics to post blow-out sales of the iPhone and quarterly profits that have doubled in just a year", but does not mention his membership of that chorus.

One commentator who tells us he was not among the purveyors of doom, is Richard Saintvilus who (post-Q2 result) is revelling in the fact in his 3-page article that when he wrote earlier that Apple was on its way to high figures, everyone who contacted him told him he was crazy. Not so, as we know now. In the article he asks, "why did anyone ever doubt that it could produce these results?" I would say that it is in their interests to do so.

Far more sober and factual, in the best possible way, is the output of Horace Dediu on ASYMCO whose charts and analysis put the IT industry in context (and often in its place). Following the Q2 2012 results, he released his own comparisons and especially useful is a table that looks Quarter by Quarter at sales of Apple products. The pattern, he writes, has been very consistent for the last 12 months, which some of those expert analysts must have missed.

In a later article, Horace Dediu wonders (as I do), why was Wall Street so surprised by Apple's performance? His is one of a couple of articles I read that suggests US analysts are missing the point that sales are now global: and year round.

The figures of course have brought the worms out from under their stones. As well as Greenpeace (below) having another bite of the cherry, we are told that there are now demands that Apple increase the dividend it announced (very reluctantly) not so long ago. JeeYeon Park on CNBC Market Insider reports on this with the attitude appearing to be that this is a done job. Some analysts really cannot see the wood for the trees.

Another worm we reported on earlier in the week was George Colony, CEO of Forrester who thinks that because Steve Jobs has gone and Tim Cook is in the chair, Apple will fade like Sony. Like many he misses some of the obvious things that show how unlike Sony Apple really is. Larry Dignan takes him up on these assertions.

While we are on shares, it is reported by MacNN and others that the new head of Apple retail, John Browett has been granted 100,000 shares which will vest in 5 years. This is worth $56 million if he stays.

And just a few hours after Apple posted its Q2 2012 results with an increase in reserves to $110 billion, out of the woodwork comes Greenpeace again with the same claims it was making a week or so ago about Apple's dirty cloud. It is always Apple, despite the other companies named in the text, and even though Apple has a solar array, it is Apple that is using dirty fuel to drive the cloud.

The claims by Kumi Naidoo are preposterous, especially in the light of those other companies named. Naidoo also dismisses Apple's claims about using 100% renewable energy, because it doesn't say how. Why should Apple be beholden to GP?

I don't know what information he thinks he knows about Apple, but the idea that all Tim Cook has to do is get on the phone to Duke -- the coal company -- and move a mountain top or perhaps divide the Red Sea, are unrealistic: he knows as much as I do about what Apple can do, and I know nothing. Some of his figures too are a little on the fantastic side: Apple released data on what it uses the last time Greenpeace wrote on this, only a couple of weeks ago.

Maybe it is not a coincidence after all. Perhaps what GP wants with its continuous efforts to name and embarrass Apple -- as I say, only a couple of weeks after the last time, and on the same subject too -- is a large donation and then it would go away, convinced that Cupertino does, after all, mean well. This is a tried and tested way that others have followed, some by way of class action lawsuits (my kid bought in-app upgrades on my credit card, let's sue Apple) or patents (like the patent trolls) or the Proview trade name dispute, when a broken company in debt to the tune of $400 million has one last card to play. It comes really close to what I would think of as blackmail.

The comments from readers that appeared later are an indication that others think this self-appointed guardian (who probably wrote the piece on a computer that used electricity), doth protest far too much.

Connected with the GP attempts to embarrass Apple just after its Q2 figures were announced, Kelly Hodgkins reports that the organization tried a balloon-releasing stunt in some Apple stores, but it backfired as some of the GP persons supposed to turn up were stuck in traffic (those SUVs take up so much space), but also with the iCloud logo on the balloons, many customers thought it was Apple PR. Some applauded the event and others thought Apple was being picked on because of its high-profile position.

Samsung also staged a protest against Apple, but in Australia we read, with the theme, Wake Up, which is probably a guerrilla marketing tactic for its upcoming Galaxy S III. I will leave the link to the MacDaily News item as there are some useful comments there. It is noted that Apple is one of Samsung's best customers and this is repaid by cloning and insulting advertising.

Late Wednesday a press release from Apple announced this year's World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco and tickets were put on sale. They were gone in 2 hours (Erica Sadun, TUAW).

With the WWDC selling out in 2 hours, I guess that means a lot of developers want to get in on the act. I have been to a couple of these, but only to the Keynote part. Passing the Moscone Center later and in the following days, I could see the developers hard at it, taking in the valuable information. Sometimes, as they left you could hear the intense conversations between some of them over new APIs or other features: heady stuff. Let me now take you back to a comment on Wednesday, in which the UK "boffins" to use the dated Register vocabulary, claimed there was no Internet economy. As I suggested then, perhaps not in the UK.

A report on Thursday morning by Bryan Chaffin on the MacObserver, told us that some developers had had their tickets revoked because Apple said they were not eligible. The developer (and Bryan Chaffin) disputes this. According to comments, others were in the same boat and it appears to have been due to the purchase of multiple tickets on one credit card, which I would have thought was perfectly acceptable. It appears that some of the new controls Apple put into place were to control tickets and avoid scalping as happened past year.

There was more later by Ted Landau on The MacObserver with several comments on the way the ticket distribution was handled this year-- not too well apparently -- and how there are a lot of dissatisfied developers, especially on the West Coast who woke up too late to buy any.

As part of the release information Dave Caolo reports on TUAW that Apple is to provide 150 scholarships for students to attend WWDC and that as an indicaiton of the dynamism that is being found in some parts of the world (I guess we can omit the UK -- see above), the scheme is open to any student over 13 and will be based on Technical ability; Creativity of ideas expressed in products or projects; Prior WWDC attendance (which I guess means those who have not attended before will have a better chance); and Technical and work experience. There is a link in Dave's article.

We have been following the news about the Flashback Trojan which spread on some Macs and then appeared to be under control, once the updates were installed and users took proper security measures. However, some companies, most notably Kaspersky saw this as a golden opportunity to tap the market they have been dreaming of for years and put out some information that Josh Lowensohn includes in an article that has the suggestion, from Kaspersky, that Mac security is 10 years behind Microsoft's. Ummm? With about 20 examples of malware, OS X users have not yet caught up with the 100,000+ viruses for Windows, is that what they mean? Rixstep strongly disputes the Kaspersky claim calling it FUD. I would agree with most of what is in the article but (a minor point I know) disagree on the point of using Trojan with a capital "T".

A possible sting in the tail here. Not so long ago, we would use sites that specialised in Mac software to seek out and download freeware, shareware and even some commercial software, although it was often better to buy that from the developer's own site. This was useful here as for years some companies refused to send software to Thailand (and try buying applications from Amazon). I love the idea of the Mac App Store, but there are definitely some things missing, like NeoOffice, Hugin or GIMP, as well as a lot more with some developers not wishing to comply with Apple's rules. Mike Schramm on TUAW writes that there is now a single source that gathers these non-App Store apps in one place, called Hackstore. The link is in his article as you should read that, but it is not simply an online link, there is an app to download as well, like Apple's online service. However, when I installed it, I saw that it was going to be using streaming services and with Little Snitch that it connected to sites in Russia. I passed on that. I will find my own software.

A note this week that Sir Jonathan Ive had been awarded the British Visionary Innovator 2012 award according to Chris Oldroyd on iMore.

I see that among the iOS updates this morning, Twitter is listed and it shows a number of significant improvements.

Half and Half

And another patent case comes out of the woodwork with Potter Technologies (nothing to do with the boy-wizard) claiming that all major smartphone vendors, are infringing on a patent on natural-language voice control of a computer. Of course Apple is included in this as well as Google, Microsoft, Nokia, RIM, Samsung Electronics, Sony, LG Electronics, Motorola Mobility, ZTE, Huawei Technologies, Kyocera, Sharp, and Pantech, we are told by Steve Sande on TUAW.

Some good news for anyone in the market for a computer later this year as Topher Kessler reports on the projected prices of SSD drives. They are expected to drop as will the price of RAM. He suggests that, "a 250GB SSD will cost roughly $280 on average, whereas a 250GB conventional HDD will cost about $80." He also offers some useful advice on dual-drive setups.

When I used to go to watch Formula 1 racing in the 1960s, the mercurial boss of the Ferrari team was one Luca di Montezemolo who subsequently became CEO of the company. Electronista reports that he recently met with Tim Cook and the heads of Google at Stanford University. They talked about common ground: the same love for the product, maniacal attention to technology, but also to design. Might there be some tie up in the future? It is in companies' interests to share technology in some cases, but a red Apple computer? Heaven forfend.

There has been a fair amount of press concerning the patent disputes between Samsung and Apple, with the latter claiming that some of Samsung's devices have been little more than clones. As part of the process of getting to the bottom of who did what, when and how, Samsung was ordered to provide documents by the court and it is suspected that these (like the Lindholm emails in the Google/Oracle case) may show far more than the company wants us all to know. However, Electronista reports, Samsung (again, shades of Google here) is not complying with the court orders and that is going to cost it something, even if it is insisting it will comply (sometime, soon, maybe, sure).

Other Matters

The Google/Oracle case unfolds and there were some interesting revelations when some of the bosses from Google had their turns on the witness stand. One little piece of information concerned potential sales of Android-installed devices. Andy Rubin had wanted to take 33% of the market in 2011, but only came close after the Kindle created a peak in sales after its release, Electronista reports. So all of the devices stacked up against the iPad are still not able to make the advances they think they should. I wonder why?

Nintendo, the gaming giant from Japan has reported its first annual loss of $533 million, the BBC Business site reports. The losses had been expected and the company says it will be back in the back next year.

We see in an article by Ross Miller on the Verge that Amazon also reported its Q1 figures this week and that along with sales up at 34 percent year-over to $13.18 billion, net income was down 35 percent to $130 million and then we read that "Of its top 100 bestselling books, 16 are exclusive to its store. . . ." 16% and the DoJ is going after Apple?

Another company reporting its finances was Zynga. In an article by Alex Wilhelm on TNW we are told that it "posted a first-quarter loss of $85 million, or 12 cents a share. Revenue was $321 million, an increase of 32 percent from a year." There are a lot if useful statistics in the article.

We have mentioned TSA operators before and only recently one was jailed for stealing (at least) 8 iPads from passenger luggage. This week we are told by the BBC, 4 more TSA (former and current) staff have been charged with accepting bribes to allow drugs to slip through the screening system. In another news item, by Roxana Hegeman (AP), the TSA is defending the pat down of a 4-year old girl: she was described as "uncooperative". I bet. ". . . No common sense and . . . no compassion," say the child's grandmother.

There is some more information on the Nikon batteries that are being recalled. I have the same type as is affected, but Adi Robertson on The Verge has some detail on which units are affected. The specific batteries were sold from March 2012 with or without one of the cameras and the confirmation is the ninth digit in the serial number. That begins the last six in the number, which on my battery is BA1654. If the B had been "E" or "F" that would have indicated one of the problem units.

With Nokia now declining there was a revealing comment or two in an interview with a former Nokia exec, Lee Williams, reports Electronista, who blames current CEO, Elop, for the company's problems. Not forward looking and acting more like CFO than CEO are two of the criticisms, while he also comments on strategic decisions which may have been wrong. However, in another note by Daniel Eran Dilger on AppleInsider, it appears that Nokia has earned more from the iPhone by licensing of patents to Apple, than from its own Lumia Windows phone.

Local Items

A report in The Straits Times by Irene Tham outlines information about an experiment that is to be conducted in Singapore later this year that allows cash payments to be made from mobile devices. The drawback as far as I can see is that the phone needs a "sleeve" that has a magnetic reader.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

information Tag information Tag

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page