Vote generic!

From Politico, reporting on a new Public Policy Polling poll:

In a survey of 24 seats, Republicans fall behind in 17 head-to-head matches against “generic Democrat candidates” among registered voters and lag in an additional four districts when respondents are told the Republican candidate supported the shutdown, according to the surveys by Public Policy Polling that were funded by the liberal group, MoveOn.org.

Yeah. Except lots of people will vote for a generic candidate they can make up in their head over a real guy. Most of these representatives don’t even have opponents yet. The vote for them is more than a year away.

On the other hand, PPP is a really top-notch polling outfit, regardless of political leaning and the sponsor of this poll. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to scare a few members into pushing for a clean CR vote and a raising of the debt ceiling. Either way, it’ll be a bonanza for everyone’s fund-raising.

Siege this

The New York Times Magazine is out with a piece documenting the development and unveiling of the original iPhone (coinciding, I presume, with the second anniversary of Steve Job’s death). I’d like to say that overall it’s a great piece, but I can’t since I had to stop reading it at the tenth paragraph. I suppose I’ll get back to finishing it after I write this post.

Up until the tenth paragraph (and the three that follow), it’s really awesome stuff. I totally get off on these behind-the-scenes kind of long reads, regardless of the company or product they’re covering. It’s fascinating to see how different companies and different personalities birth products. This account seemed just as compelling right before the author veered off into the land of unfounded popular opinion.

And yet Apple today is under siege.

Oh, god. Really? The most profitable electronics manufacture in the world? Under siege? Every company in the civilized world would like to be as under siege as Apple.

From the moment in late 2007 that Google unveiled Android — and its own plan to dominate the world of mobile phones and other mobile devices — Google hasn’t just tried to compete with the iPhone; it has succeeded in competing with the iPhone.

Just because another company has found a way to compete in the same marketplace doesn’t mean you’re “under siege.” Is Ford under siege by Toyota? Or McDonald’s by Wendy’s? Last I heard, they’re all doing well. But not as well as Apple, the assumed siege victim here. Why must Apple have north of a 70% marketshare to be deemed as succeeding? What other company is held to this standard?

Android has exploded in popularity since it took hold in 2010. Its share of the global smartphone market is approaching 80 percent, while Apple’s has fallen below 20 percent.

Which means nothing, really. Note that Google makes more money from their apps and services on iOS than they do on their own platform. Note that, in fact, the company that’s really found a way to compete with Apple is not Google as much as it’s Samsung. And when I say “compete” I mean “mindlessly copy.” But whatever. It works for them. They and Apple are literally making all the money in the smartphone marketplace.

The better comparison for Apple is the often-made example of BMW. Tiny marketshare; Lots of mindshare and profits. Companies that make premium products are not often (if ever) the ones that make the most of those kinds of products.

A similar trend is under way with iPads: in 2010 the iPad had about 90 percent of the tablet market; now more than 60 percent of the tablets sold run Android.

How many Android tablets do you see in the wild compared to iPads? I know they’re selling a lot of these things, but to whom? Where are they being used? Are they basically zero margin, low-end products? Or, as in the case of Amazon’s Kindles, just low-margin storefronts? Remember, Apple doesn’t work for marketshare. They work for profit share. In that regard, they’re killing it.

What worries Apple fans most of all is not knowing where the company is headed.

This “fan” didn’t know where they were headed under Jobs, either.

When Jobs died in October 2011, the prevailing question wasn’t whether Tim Cook could succeed him, but whether anyone could. When Jobs ran Apple, the company was an innovation machine, churning out revolutionary products every three to five years. He told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he had another breakthrough coming — a revolution in TV. But under Cook, nothing has materialized, and the lack of confidence among investors is palpable.

The presumption regarding the TV product is that the content owners can’t figure out terms that would let Apple have access to their shows that Apple wouldn’t be a fool to accept. These are the insightful and innovative head cases like those running CBS and Comcast. Having a platform that works is not the same as having a product absent the content it needs to be relevant. Unlike other companies, Apple doesn’t release half-baked concepts into the marketplace and expect people to buy them.

With regard to investors, I’d suggest they never understood why Apple was successful in the first place, so I wouldn’t read too much into their confidence issues now. Except that I have a substantial (for me) position in AAPL, of course.

Apple product announcements used to routinely send its stock soaring.

That’s just totally false. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Expectations have, since the iMac’s introduction, always been totally unrealistic. When they don’t announce anti-gravity solar-powered bread slicing iPods, the stock slides. Every time.

When Cook presented the latest smartphones in September, the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s, Apple’s stock fell 10 percent.

Right. Like I said…

A year ago the company’s stock price was at $702 a share, making Apple the world’s most valuable corporation. Today, it’s down more than 25 percent from that peak.

Keep in mind the stock went up to $702 under Tim Cook’s watch, not Jobs’.

Comparing anyone with Steve Jobs is unfair.

Of course it is, but you’ll do it anyway.

To me, this little foray into the land of crappy insights and apparent inability to fact-check (i.e., use Google) reads like an editor falling into a kind of false equivalency trap. The story was perhaps too positive toward the company or Jobs. It didn’t fit the lazy media narrative regarding Apple. These couple of paragraphs read like a last minute, ham-handed insertion to “toughen up” the piece. Too bad. It makes me question the accuracy of everything that follows.

Don’t suck

The NYTimes this morning has a piece on the assumed fall of Blackberry. A few snippets…

It is an unforgiving law of modern business: adapt or die.

Make that: adapt fast — or die even faster.

And…

The abrupt decline of BlackBerry illustrates how consumers and investors demand almost instant change these days, especially from tech companies.

Let’s not forget that Blackberry initially dismissed the touch interface as something business users wouldn’t want. But, even though, they kicked out the Blackberry Storm in late 2008, just about a year after the first iPhone. That, I think is pretty fast considering nobody had a phone with only a touch interface (with any kind of adoption) before the iPhone came along and changed everything in 2007.

The issue with Blackberry wasn’t that they were too slow. It’s that the Storm sucked. Hard. The thing that’s more important than being fast is not being shitty.

She looks pissed

ANNA REED/STAR TRIBUNE

This is a billboard that recently went up near the Minnesota Fairgrounds (presumably to be seen by the 1.7 million or so people who will attend the fair later this month).

  1. Around about half a million Minnesotans don’t have access to affordable insurance. They have no doctor, let alone their “own.”
  2. Different insurance plans have different networks of doctors. That’s a long-standing fact. If your insurance plan changes, it’s possible your doctor doesn’t accept it (even if your insurance company stays the same). This is not a phenomenon created by The Affordable Care Act or Minnesota’s implementation of its state exchange (MNsure).
  3. If you already have insurance (which most people do), there’s nothing in The Affordable Care Act or MNsure that changes which doctor you can see.

More FUD from the right meant to scare people into paralysis instead of actually addressing the issues we all have to face. Ironically, a single-payer system of health care would result in the widest choice of doctors since competing insurance plans with different networks of providers would presumable be eliminated. But let’s not talk about that.

From the Star-Tribune.

Damned if you do/don’t

Gruber quotes from a Wall Street Journal story:

Apple routinely tests various designs and has been known to make changes late in the design process, so it isn’t clear whether the proposed new product will make its way to market. However, an iPad Mini with a retina display appears more likely, particularly after Google Inc. released its latest Nexus 7 tablet last week with a high-resolution screen.

And then points out in commentary on the WSJ’s review of the new Nexus 7 and it’s sub-par battery life and the aforementioned rumor of a Retina iPad mini:

We demand magic — a retina iPad Mini with no decrease in battery life, but no increase in thickness, weight, or price. And they need to produce at least 20 million of them by Christmas.

Right. And if Apple chooses price, size, weight, and battery over screen resolution (an increase of which would undoubtedly cause one of those other attributes to suffer), the punditry will rise up and eviscerate Apple and its failure to “innovate.”

My gut says this fall is too soon to expect a Retina iPad mini.

Big Poopy

Imagine a guy you work with losing his shit that bad while holding a deadly weapon. Think that guy would be in the office the next day?

“Samsung is now more profitable than Apple, according to second-quarter financial results released by Samsung on Friday in Seoul.”

From the New York Times, apparently forgetting or not caring that Samsung makes a few other things besides phones (like televisions and boats) and thinking a comparison of Apple’s earnings and Samsung’s is somehow relevant.