AMITIAE - Wednesday 12 February 2014
Cassandra: Mid-Week Comment - The Icahn Can-Can on Hold; Apple Patents and Hardware; Analyst Reaches a Conclusion I Made in 2010 on A-series Chips; Thurrott Comes Round at Last
By Graham K. Rogers
Bear in mind that when it was announced earlier that Icahn had a large parcel of Apple shares, the price went up; so why would it rise again when he decided to withdraw his buy back plan? In the interim, with Wall Street's usual panic when the record quarterly figures were announced, the drop was artificial. Now that the white knights have arrived, it is time to buy again and in the middle of the week, the shares were back up to around $536 meaning that (with a rough calculation) Icahn made around $60 million on the 3.88 million shares he holds for now. Sooner or later, the shares will rise enough and Icahn will sell, if he does not think that he can take control.
One of the major reasons that the share prices rose was the announcement that Apple had increased the number of purchases it made with its own buyback program. Instead of spreading the planned purchases over a couple of years, the price was right, so shrewdly, Apple brought the purchase forward and has also made some money (on paper). There was a consensus that if Apple was investing in itself, then maybe what Tim Cook has been saying over the last few months really is true and new classes of products are on the way. Honestly, some people who get paid for following Apple really do not understand the company at all.
Two new appointments are reported by MacNN: a new head of Human Resources in Denise Smith; and the move of Joel Podolny to Apple University. he had previously been HR head. As the article notes, Apple took the unusual step of releasing an offical statement, but this is not that much of a surprise considering recent criticism on the lack of ladies at the top of Apple.
There is also a mysterious (sort of) job listing that Neil Hughes on Apple Insider reports on: Instrumentation Design/NPI Engineer. The unusual point about this (he suggests) is that the listing includes the comment, that this is for current platforms and "new platforms as of now unannounced". This of course may mean nothing much; or it could be that new development that Tim Cook has been hinting at for a while [my source for this was MacDaily News].
One of the staff to go, through the simple reason of retirement, is Rita Lane, vice president of operations for the iPad, Mac desktops, and Mac accessories, Mark Gurman writes for 9to5 Mac.
Another to leave Apple a while back was Jordan Price who worked as a mobile designer at Apple but did not have a good time of it, Alex Price writes on Cult of Mac. In the end, it appears he could not deal with the pressures - including meetings all the time - and walked like many before (and since I expect).
The notebook is the source of the information that police use to write statements and make reports. It can be used in giving evidence, if it is accepted that the notes were made "at the time or very soon after". As some notes may be made up a bit longer after, this can be stretched, but at least there are entries afterwards (giving a chronological control). With a computer, it is not so hard to enter text or other data long after the event, so there would need to be greater controls, to prevent abuses.
There are of course other uses and apps developed by the police, including one for ordering a police uniform. Zibreg has some useful information and comments here.
I am not alone and others are beginning to wake up to the innovative strengths Apple has here. Writing on Seeking Alpha, Mark Hibben discusses the way these processors are destined to disrupt the industry (especially Intel) and outlines why others felt that this approach was likely to meet failure. They were wrong. I must see if I can find at least one article I wrote this in.
That did not take long, using Spotlight, and it is actually an article I wrote for the Bangkok Post, Database, back in 2010, when I looked at the first iPad:
Under the hood it is even more significant as the processor inside is Apple's own - the A4 -- and the first created basically in-house by PA Semi. Not only can that free Apple from Intel, but future development could occur without having to share the output with PC assemblers. That might lead to even bigger surprises.
I had also made similar comments on some of the articles that went with the podcasts I used to make. See, no one takes any notice and it is staring them in the face. You will only be able to read the first part of the Seeking Alpha article due to the paywall there (my link for this was MacDaily News where links on the page go back to 2013]. Why pay for Seeking Alpha when you can link here for free?
Also joining a long queue are those waiting for the new Mac Pro, which is turning into something of a surprising success story: not the first successful Apple product of course. The old Mac Pro (you can still see these in Bangkok stores) was not expected to be replaced, until someone started a campaign on FaceBook.
Tim Cook did respond and promised that there would be something new. When the first video was shown - at WWDC last June - it was clear that a total rethink had occurred. At the later product announcement of new Macs, iPads and the iPhone 5s, we saw more including the triangular central core.
What has also become obvious in looking at specifications as the release came round in the last days of 2013 (keeping to Tim Cook's promise - but only just) was that this was not for the ordinary user. The G5 Mac Pro could find a use in some homes or small businesses, but this was clearly aimed at professional photographers or movie makers and would be overkill for many users: the iMac is a better bet. Nonetheless, as orders poured in so the shipping dates moved back; January, then February, March and now April, Benjamin Mayo writes on 9to5 Mac (among others). That is the same in the Thai online store as well as the US store.
Also commenting on the way shipping dates were changing was Peter Cohen on iMore, who despite the news asks for calm and writes, "The backlog of Mac Pros really hasn't changed that much." He puts forward several reasons why this is situation normal and it is not that the manufacturers are slipping, but that orders are growing. Not sure I entirely agree, but there is a healthy aspect to this: all those people want a new Mac Pro.
As a sort of side note, Ben Lovejoy on 9to5 Mac writes about Apple comments on patent trolls and some of the 92 lawsuits it has faced in the last 3 years.
As reinforcement (of what has been reported before), we are told by Patrick Seitz on Investors.com that the mobile phone industry is likely to see little or no revenue growth this year, but that Apple claimed 87.4% of phone earnings (with Samsung at 32.2.%). Looking at the figure there is something wrong as that gives a 119.6% market. Others are making big losses. Apple rose in a year from 77.8% of mobile phone industry profits, followed by Samsung with 26.1%. I do hope that some of the analysts read this report: despite their advice, Apple is doing rather well, thank you [my source for this was MacDaily News].
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals as reported by Jeff John Roberts on GigaOm, indicates that Apple did not get its way and the appointment of Bromwich still stands, but in the decision did remind Bromwich of the original point of his investigation, which may be a partial victory. Adding to this was a report from John Paczkowski on re/code who included part of the court decision, including the comment that "the monitor will conduct his activities within the bounds of that order."
There will be an appeal later this year, and I am sure Bromwich will be mentioned more than once in what seems to be a somewhat slippery original decision by Judge Cote. Adding
He thinks Win 8 was wrong and blames Steve Sinofsky for that (Microsoft did too apparently): "Windows 8 is not well-designed. It's a mess. But Windows 8 is a bigger problem than that. Windows 8 is a disaster in every sense of the word."
He also suggests that this was the reason for Ballmer's (well overdue) departure and thinks that the 8.1 update is making things worse and that the company needs to focus on the real users. Is that like Apple? I have always suggested that Microsoft needs to start again with Windows, using a stronger under-base than DOS (parts are still in there), but they worry too much about legacy customers and don't let go. Unfortunately for them, the customers do.
This week, DL Cade writes on PetaPixel about a new style keyboard with a radical design that is intended for users of Adobe Photoshop. This has not yet been produced and the Shortcut-S is a Kickstarter project (they hope for enough backing). Much interesting information on the Shortcut-S site
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. 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.
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