The Miracle (of Tim Cook), Earnings Chicken, and the Normalcy of Slowing Growth

I apologize in advance…both for this stream-of-consciousness-esque post, and for being unapologetically corny:

I woke up at the moment
When the miracle occurred
Heard some analysts give props the stock deserved

Every point it ever lost
Now has been returned
The most profitable firm I’d ever heard

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What Do Apple, A Volcano, A Statue and An Empire Have in Common? A Second Superficial Look at the Perceptions of Apple

What do Apple, a volcano, a statue and an empire have in common? That’s actually kind of a trick question – different people have different opinions on which archetype Apple most closely resembles.

Lately, at least some people think Apple is an empire in decline, or showing signs of it. (Even as a certain influential dev-blogger who “started” all this has since updated his thoughts on the matter.)

I happen to think Apple, like all other companies, is a volcano (specifically, an active one in Apple’s case) – perhaps a contrarian position, who knows.

Many others think of Apple as if it were a statue – say, of Steve Jobs. Once crafted and honed to the pinnacle of excellence, and maintained/standing the test of time like the greatest of sculptures around the world. But, lately? Under continuous, merciless assault from the elements, a tempest or software sandstorm of Apple’s own making. Blasting away the sheen, the shine, and slowly, the statue itself. Continue reading

Lazy Sunday Musings: Can Apple “Thrive” in 2013? Plus, a Sort of AAPL Tree Mission Statement

Daniel Eran Dilger – a very sharp, maybe even “edgy” Apple commentator who has done much to raise the profile of AppleInsider since he signed on there as a contributor – wrote an excellent piece on Apple’s “survival prospects” amidst the oft-lionized, oft-conflated competition that is Android.  It’s a highly recommended read. 

You don’t need true belief, just a decent breadth of knowledge of Apple’s past and present to objectively determine that Apple is very much on a survival trajectory.  Barring any worrisome missteps that I’m constantly watching for, Apple is already a Wal-Mart, a Disney, an IBM.  Some in the media just don’t know it yet.

But here at the AAPL Tree, some of the three readers, along with your humble correspondent, might be looking a bit beyond that.

Wal-Mart (14.7 multiple), Disney (19.1 multiple) and IBM (13.2 multiple) all have one thing in common – a blue-chip reputation on Wall Street.  Fair to say that Apple (9.5 multiple)…doesn’t right now.  Never mind that over the past five years, Apple has had the utterly superior growth story.  It’s all “what have you done for me lately” over at Wall Street, and really, Apple’s deceleration (in results) has taken most all of us by surprise.

What Wall Street, AAPL longs and/or upside traders are looking for (in my opinion) is a sign that Apple will at least begin to grow again on a consistent, year-over-year (YOY) quarterly compare basis.  And as is common with companies under the electron scanning microscope, it’s earnings growth that matters the most.  (Amazon?  Netflix?  Move along, nothing to see here.  Dividends, buybacks?  Only the thinnest of support for Apple.)  This is partly why my blog exists.  To track and estimate fundamentals from guidance, trends, and what little intel there is to go on.  To overview the drivers of and impediments to Apple’s growth.  To search for signs of growth.

It just ain’t happening in fiscal Q3 this year, in my opinion.  Maybe not even fiscal Q4.  But I’ll be watching as best I can.  And I hope you’ll tag along for the ride.

AAPLTree Weekend: “Quick hits” on Apple news and rumors.

Green iPhone?

Sure, I can go with that.  That plastic film over the alleged rear case obscures the full radioactive lime effect though, so let’s reserve judgment on that maybe-color.  If the CheapPhone is for real, I think we can trust Ive’s team and whoever else decides color choices at Apple to cobble together a pleasing palette for consumers. >>> (via MacRumors)

TSMC supplying Apple chips (I mean, SoCs) next year or so?

Sweet.  Diversification is always good, particularly when you’re as big a business as Apple is.  Meanwhile, Samsung certainly seems to be going its own way with the “stock” big.LITTLE ARM Cortex-A15/A7 combo with the dual-quad-core Exynos 5 SoC.  So as long as Samsung keeps delivering on Apple’s specifications as it always has (having a premier screen/RAM/flash/chip foundry componentry division), I have no reason to believe the supply chain side of the equation will be any less smooth than last year.

Besides, my guess is Apple won’t go to any more than 4 CPU cores for the Apple A7 generation.  Who knows, it might even stay at a “mere” dual-core if there’s enough performance to be found there.  “Not as much as competing Android products” certainly fits the “Apple is doomed” narrative lately.  Heh. >>> (via MacRumors)

Er, glowy Apple logo home button on one or more future iDevices?

I’m guessing…no.  Complexity, “garishness”, power consumption, “hello stranger I own an iPhone/iPod touch/iPad if it wasn’t already obvious enough, is that ‘mug me’ target on my back showing?”.

And if it somehow did happen, even as an unlit outline?  Then there’s some troubling evidence that Jony Ive is turning over the design reins to…Marketing (/iOS 7 rumor reference).  Consider me a skeptic for now – if iOS 7 takes some training wheels off, why slap ’em back on and “simplify” the simplest of Home buttons? >>> (via MacDailyNews)

As the first half of 2013 draws to a close…

Apple’s quietest half-year (that I can remember, anyway) concludes as well.

Leaving out an iBookstore launch here and launch of pre-existing product in Greater China there, we’ve got:

• A higher-capacity, 128GB edition of the iPad 4

• A 1136×640, current-gen Retina display 16GB iPod touch (can anyone say, harbinger of the CheapPhone™?)***

• Haswell-powered, power-sipping MacBook Airs

• 802.11ac AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule (aw, no Airport Express update)

• And promises of OS X Mavericks, the second-gen Mac Pro, and iOS 7 at WWDC, two of which are due sometime in the Fall, the other – TBA.

So really, it’s one new (refreshed) MacBook (Air) (yes, with Haswell and 802.11ac and PCI-based flash storage, but it’s not as if most pundits or Wall Street cares about those “unimportant” details), and two new 802.11ac routers.  As I said – quiet.  That second one is actually pretty intriguing as far as later in the year goes (standardizing on 1136×640 Retina + Lightning), but still, as a derivation of the current-gen iPod touch it’s not exactly new.

Before one turns the page or just plain closes the book on Apple/AAPL, though, that “second half” – maybe even the “fourth quarter”, aka Fall 2013 – probably should be evaluated first.

“Mistakes were made” by Apple?  Well let’s just say it’s doubtful Apple management thinks the 2013 product cadence is optimal, their good point about “it takes time…” aside.

And it’s also doubtful Apple’s choice of announcing its massive $100B by end of 2015 capital return plan alongside “not so great” fiscal Q2 2013 earnings was by accident.

But hey, stay tuned. If you like, anyway. I will.

***”CheapPhone” – my nickname for the fabled cheaper iPhone, whatever form it takes.

Random musings on iOS 7 being some part intentional or convenient “platform defense” (the short version)


Differentiation and freshness are always important to consumers.  And Apple playing to its strengths and keeping ahead of the competition are things it has every right to do.

Apple’s “done worse” than this.  Compared to OS 9 >> OS X or PPC >> Intel, I’m guessing this is relatively painless for developers.  Maybe even exciting.  If, for instance, developers can leverage Control Center and convince Apple to add functionality, such as (a) customizable quick-launch buttons or (b) allowing Control Center to have some app-specific functionality while in that app.

Consumers are sophisticated – enough to not like Maps, and rightfully point out the deficiencies in Siri.  In the end they determine iOS 7’s success, and they’ll see through anything in iOS 7 that isn’t to their benefit.  And developers have a good three months or so to tell Apple exactly what they think about iOS 7’s new coding, APIs, conventions, obfuscations?, or whatever – it’s in Apple’s best interest to listen to what they have to say.

Oh, and before I forget – if iOS 7, what about Windows 8?

(Longer-form version may follow.)