eXtensions - Thursday 4 January 2024

Thursday Review: Apple Doomed Again; New Products Expected; Revealing Statistics; TV Offerings

By Graham K. Rogers


Welcome to the new year. I hope 2024 is better for you than 2023. The SET began with a fall, particularly hitting tech stocks, with the usual sentiment that Apple is doomed and (for some) Tim Cook must go. The Q1 2024 figures might lighten things but not for Wall Street. History repeats itself: there is always something wrong with the iPhone. Comments on AppleTV and Netflix series.

I see that at the beginning of the month, Barclays, a banking organisation that appears to have little love for Apple - once the epitome of trustworthiness, but these days with some baggage - downgraded the company, claiming worries about hardware: the iPhone 15. I note that an article on Seeking Alpha (Khaveen Investments) claims that Apple has reached peak valuation. We should also note that these negative reports came at the start of the year when there was a significant fall for all stocks on the SET.

Within a day, as well as other stocks seeing a drop, particularly in tech areas, other analysts had begin to pile in on Apple. There was a 3% drop in the stock price. Check the price for 3 months ago and also this time last year when it was significantly lower. Better still, try a look at 10 years or "All". But others weighed in, including MacDaily News (MDN), who picked up on a Bloomberg report blaming Cook for stagnation, with a side-serving of reliance on China. Not long after Cook was appointed by the board, MDN was one of the pack baying for Cook's replacement.

10 year stock proce for Apple

He is no Steve Jobs, that is for sure, but then people like Jobs appear rarely. The article (link at MDN) does mention the diversification over the last few years in India and South-east Asia, but almost as a footnote and manages a negative spin on this too. Then MDN weighs in. Other reports (see below) in the last couple of weeks have noted that sales of the iPhone are good, particularly when compared to other manufacturers. We shall see more when the next financial results are published.

Apple Vision Pro glass
Apple Vision Pro glass - Image courtesy of Apple

Remember that at some time in January - perhaps around 23-25 - Apple will announce its Q1 2024 figures. This is interesting as there are now several predictions that Apple will release its Vision Pro at the end of January, with Oliver Haslam (Redmond Pie) picking up on a rumor that suggests 27 January will be the day. It is not uncommon for Apple to release or update a product just after its Quarterly Results. Normally Apple beats the predictions of the street, but is still penalized as Wall Street analysts tut-tut about the next quarter and the shares fall, even after records are broken.

A short while after a financial report, the price of the shares begins to rise again and all the investors, who had dumped the stock early (perhaps guided by those like Barclays) then bought again when the price was low, are in line to make a healthy profit. Those who had held on to the stock still make a profit, only not so much, and the price of Apple shares keep rising. They are a bit lower this week than six months ago, like many stocks this week, but far higher than 10 years ago. More to come I would think. Wall Street has never understood Apple.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max
iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max - Image courtesy of Apple

And then 10 minutes after I wrote the original sentences of the above section, Dennis Sellers (AppleWorld Today) reports that "Apple continues to be the undisputed leader in the global premium smartphone market, according to new data from Counterpoint Research." Dennis Sellers also comments this week on the loss of the Airport Router. I am still using mine although did try a more modern WiFi router, but security was questionable, so I reverted to the Airport. He thinks it is time Apple revised its decision to drop the device and produce a new one with Wifi 6 or WiFi 7 capabilities. As he points out, Apple has revived other dead products and this one would please a lot of users.

As well as the rumors about the Vision Pro release, I am looking forward to new Macs and an iPadPro all with the M3 chip. I had been tempted by an M3 iMac, but over the holidays I looked at the way I work and the M1 MacBook is fine for current needs, while the M1 Mac mini at work is just doing the job as usual. Most of my work these days is done on the iPad Pro with an iPad mini for occasional backup. I feel my best investment would be a more powerful iPad Pro, although I still wish (as per the Pro designation) I could use my flatbed scanner with it and tether a camera. There are a couple of other things that are better suited to the Mac, but most of my work is now done on the iPad Pro.

Apple Silicon Macs
Apple Silicon Macs - Image courtesy of Apple

At the start of each month, the statistics page for the eXtensions site resets. I notice that some files I had written a while back are still being accessed. Usually these drop out of the statistics list for the month when I make new postings, but in recent months one or two have been persistent while others still garner hits. A widely read item is one I wrote in 2016 when it had been suggested that the El Niño phenomenon could cause Apple a logistics nightmare. This was a spoof - I don't do that very often - and a link at the bottom leads to a second page that outlined the ways in which some commentators (I mentioned Fortune specifically) aim at Apple using any minor problem. I guess if Tim Cook sneezes, Apple is doomed.

In another articles, I commented on the criticism that appeared when the iPhone 8 was released. I was critical of some of the negative reporting: "Some commentators are even writing that there is a new processor, a new camera, wireless charging, and a new glass back, and then insisting that it is still the same. That A11 processor by the way has 6-cores instead of the 4 cores of the A10; and the camera is up now to 12 MP." Some also ignored the easy to check fact that the iPhone 8 used Bluetooth 5 instead of the previous version 4, while others were writing that this was really the iPhone 7s. It clearly was not. History repeats itself.

The iFixit teardown that I also linked to - "this is not at all like the iPhone 7" - and "the new Apple GPU, Neural Engine, its 6 core CPU, NVMe SSD controller and new custom video encoder". I outlined teaching the Face Detection feature and how it worked to a group of students in the Science Faculty. I also criticised an article on Apple's Face Detection that had appeared in Scientific American, although I had to correct one point when information was later made available in an Apple White Paper, but this was not a good critique from such a revered publication.

I am also pleased that one item still seeing several hits is an examination I made of the use of eye reflections in photographs to identify criminal suspects (or anything). I noted the famous "enhance and enlarge" scene from Blade Runner and more recent academic research that used a Hasselblad digital camera. I was using a Nikon D7000 and an iPhone 5s at the time. My current D850 and iPhone 15Pro are capable of better results than I reported, so maybe it is time to have another look.

eye images
Me right of center; bystander to the left; station and train behind

I was pleased to see that Slow Horses has been renewed for a 5th series. This is so beautifully underplayed, especially compared with the usual spy movies, although the BBC Smiley series with Alec Guiness was well done. Gary Oldman plays the head of the slow horses with a look of total disrepair. Despite appearing idle and disinterested, the character is as sharp as a scalpel. His disheveled appearance is not exactly a fiction as I can remember some police officers who had less than impeccable behavior. An example that comes to mind is the detective that left his false teeth in a pint of beer while he went to the bathroom to make sure no one took a drink.

Over on Netflix a detective-cum-spy thriller based on a Harlan Coben novel has me interested. Fool me Once has a lot of gaps, both in terms of the plot and the ethics of many of the characters, although there is plenty of action to drive it forward. Like several series and movies this depends on its progress from errors made by characters and withholding information. Why the main character (Maya Stern played by Michelle Keegan) does not tell the police what she knows is frustrating. There are some really good performances, particularly from minor characters like Oona Dark (Syreeta Kumar) the wife of a murdered victim, while Adeel Akhtar puts in a good performance as the suffering DS Sami Kierce. Joanna Lumley is an aloof matriarch and even by episode 6 (out of 8) I am not sure if she is a good guy or a bad guy.

Apple has posted a teaser on X (Twitter) about the second season of Severance (MacDaily News). It was "announced that principal photography is officially under way". I must admit to being less than taken by Severance than many, although the dystopian ideas (and the appearance of Christopher Walken) were interesting. Although Dark Horses has finished series 4, I am still watching Monsters, which was more interesting than I had imagined and For All of Us: the alternative space race.

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. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)


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