AMITIAE - Friday 27 April 2012
Cassandra: Friday Review - The Weekend Arrives
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 StuffI 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Half and HalfAnd 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.
Other MattersThe 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?
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.
Local ItemsA 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.
For further information, e-mail to