Tag: apple

Big Tech taken to task Down Under

strayaTop tech companies are being called to task by an Australian committee that argues the country is getting a raw deal by unfair price discrimination.

Aussie MP Ed Husic moaned to the Australian that by some estimates, prices for Australia can be 60 percent more than in the States. He and the committee will be putting Apple, Microsoft and Adobe on 22 March, according to the BBC. Although the firms have replied in writing, until now they have not bothered to meet any representatives in person.

Although price differences aren’t as drastic in the USA and the UK, there is still a gap – with the only difference usually being in pound sterling rather than the dollar. Depending on what action the committee takes, there is the potential to set the bar on international price differences, and whether they should be altered in line with currency values.

Husic told the Australian that, considering IT is so widely used in both business and consumer segments, prices for hardware and software can “have a major commercial and economic impact”. He said that bringing IT prices down and “easing the bite of price discrimination” should be an “important micro-economic priority”. Of course, convincing conglomerates that tinkering with their margins is a good idea will be easier said than done.

The bigger picture, however, will be that if pricing is more competitive, consumers and businesses won’t hesitates as much to buy – even in challenging economic conditions.

Channeleye’s likely tips for new Pope

Leo-I_Attila_Raphael-(1)With Pope Benedict announcing that he is cleaning out his desk and collecting his pink slip, Channel Eye has come up with a list of those who it thinks will have the right stuff to be the next Pope. Now we know that one of the jobs of the Pope is to be Catholic, but given that the church is unlikely to survive another 100 years unless it liberals up a bit, we have given our nominations on the basis that if they can run an IT company they can probably look after the world’s largest religious organisation.

1. Steve Ballmer
Ballmer is already half way to the job by having the inner certainty that he is God. Ballmer would sort out most of the Catholic church’s problems by shouting at them until they go away. Pope Ballmer would probably encourage cardinals to make all sorts of power plays so long as they left him alone. We predict that under his rule, the Catholic church would adopt wide scale contraception to avoid another Ballmer.

2. Sir William Gates
Since resigning from Microsoft’s top job, Gates has been heading towards sainthood. Not only is he well on the way of purging Africa from the devilish mosquito, his various charity work is now healing the sick of Polio. If he were appointed Pope, Gates would closely monitor other religions and then try to mimic their success.

3. Steve Jobs
A tricky choice for the church given that he is already dead, however, that has not stopped him being the head of the world’s fastest growing religion. Chances are that thanks to Apple technology he could do the job from the afterlife, all it would take is to replace all those videos of him with an iPad so that he appears to be holding a bible. We predict that under the rule of Jobs, which would be eternal, you would have to pay half of your salary to the church every year and queue to get into the sermons.

4. Leo Apotheker
A bit ofan  outsider but given that Cardinal Ratzinger was a similar figure within the Catholic church, and it is known for being fairly conservative, we think he could be a starter. Pope Apotheker would start by selling off all the churches and training all priests so that they could handle business management software, like SAP. While many people will not understand why the Catholic Church should dump everything it makes money on and moving into business software, Apotheker would point out that this was exactly the same plan he would have run for HP if those pesky board members had not been involved.

5. Michael Dell
Although he might be a little busy for the job, Michael Dell will abandon all the churches and tell his priests to take their services directly to parishioners. However, if this plan starts to go wrong, he will do a deal with Microsoft to buy out the Church from its Mafia backers and make himself the supreme pontiff and not have to answer to anyone.

6. Paul Otellini
Paul Otellini is retiring soon so might be up for the job, as he is a big fan of monopolies and will probably rule the Catholic Church in the same way as he did at Intel. This would involve leaning on the supplies of other religions and advising them to follow the Roman Catholic Church. Then the other religions would go broke and collapse. In some cases, where they had interesting theology, Intel might buy up their patents and incorporate them into Catholic theology.

Slow Ultrabook sales hurt NAND suppliers in 2012

nand-chipsGlobal NAND memory revenue fell seven percent in 2012, on the back of lackluster Ultrabook sales.

Although demand for smartphones remains strong, IHS iSuppli reports that NAND industry revenue fell to $19.7 billion last year, down from $21.2 billion in 2011. IHS expects revenue to rebound this year and reach $22.4 billion. Sales should continue expanding over the next few years.

Apple’s iPhone gobbled up 10.5 percent of all NAND shipments in 2012. An average iPhone shipped with 24.5GB of NAND, which means most consumers still opt for the entry level 16GB model. All other smartphones combined used 10.5 percent.

Although there was plenty of growth in mobile, IHS iSuppli concluded that Ultrabook demand failed to meet expectations. Ultrabooks have had some success penetrating the consumer market, but overall adoption remains underwhelming.

On the whole, NAND production slowed sown in mid 2012 in order to stabilise and reduce inventory. IHS iSuppli now says manufacturers need to tightly manage their supply in the first half of 2013, as the first six months of the year are seasonally a weak period for the industry.

An increasing number of vendors are focusing solely on internal storage and ditching microSD slots in tablets and smartphones. While this trend might be good for NAND demand in the short term, emerging technologies such as cloud storage coupled with 4G could pose a challenge down the road.

Apple turned resellers into hostile competition

skippysonny_1334Apple might have scored an own goal down-under by culling its channel savagely and pushing its own retail model.

Last year, Apple fired more than 200 Australian resellers. Many of them had been selling Apple gear for years. The sackings came without warning or explanation.

One Sydney reseller told CRN Australia that all he got was a two line email terminating his reseller status. It ended his connection to Apple which brought $5 million worth goods to Australian businesses, health organisations and not-for-profits.

Another reseller who was dropped from Apple’s list was Sydney reseller Complete PC Solutions. Director Frank Triantafyllou said Apple made up figures which claimed his outfit had not sold enough products. Not only was that untrue, but what he found was that Apple was not really behaving like a partner.

His company often found he was competing against Apple’s own sales team and would find that product was not being made available for him to sell.

In one case he wanted 100 iPads for a school customer but was told by Apple he wasn’t authorised to supply that particular product.

The feeling down under is that Apple has peaked and it is losing business opportunities because it can’t handle the channel. The reason it can’t handle its channel is because it can’t give up control.
Apple’s policy appears to be one of forcing customers to go direct. This is helped by the development of its own retail channel. While this boosts the company at a local level it means the loss of huge numbers of sales.

Apple also failed to notice that those 200 resellers suddenly turned from committed advocates to actively hostile competition.

What the resellers have done is to recommend to their installed base of customers products which are not blessed by Apple. Talking up the merits of rival products seems to be working.

For example, HP’s ElitePad business tablet is being pushed for having a number of superior features for businesses, including better touch control, better keyboard, battery life, faster processing and of course Windows 8 and Flash compatibility.

Instead of pushing Apple, they have established an idea, which we are seeing among Apple resellers in Europe too, that Apple is a spent force.

One Roman reseller, which had been a keen Apple supplier for a decade, said that he started recommending other products because Apple’s time was over.

“It used to be that Apple was seen as infallible, and perhaps under Steve Jobs it was, but now cracks are appearing,” he told ChannelEye. “We could have put up with them being arrogant before, but now it is just annoying.”

Church of Scientology runs Apple inspired Super Bowl ad

scientology-adThe Church of Scientology ran a rather amusing Super Bowl ad in several cities and the ad was apparently inspired by Apple.

Everything, from the music, narration and the clean post-production points to Cupertino, although it’s nothing like Apple’s iconic 1984 ad. However, it is a lot like Apple’s 1997 “Think Different” spot.

The ad speaks about seekers of knowledge, freethinkers, non-conformists, rebels, artists and a bunch of other New Age woo. The only thing missing is an iMac at the end.

The ad is part of the organisation’s “knowledge” campaign, which is rather amusing as the Church of Scientology has gone to great lengths to prevent the publication of its religious texts, which are copyrighted.

But you can always Google Xenu or visit RationalWiki for more information on Scientology’s beliefs. The Church of Scientology is often accused of being a money grabbing cult. So it is not that different from Apple after all.

Much like Apple, the Church of Scientology was created to change the world and generate a bit of cash for its founder. The other version is that it was the result of a bet. However, unlike Apple, which was launched by a couple of geeks who really did change the world, the Church of Scientology was launched by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer who spent much of his life on the run from US authorities. It did not change the world. Also, Apple designers tend to have better taste.

It is based on Dianetics, an atrocious attempt at pseudoscience and spirituality written by Hubbard at a time when he was struggling to make rent. Apple also enjoys a cultish following, but even Tom Cruise and John Travolta would struggle if they tried to turn the iTunes Terms and Conditions into a religious text. Hubbard would not, and he would probably copyright it to boot.

 

Samsung eats into Apple’s tablets

Samsung HQ in CaliforniaResearch firm IDC has released a set of figures showing that Apple’s dominance in the tablet market has started to slide.

But Samsung effectively doubled its market share in the last quarter of 2012, according to IDC. The Galaxy tablets sold nearly eight million units representing a market share of 2.2 million.

Apple, on the other hand, has seen its market share slip from 51.7 percent to 43.6 percent, although it sold more units.

IDC said that the last quarter of 2012 saw worldwide sales of tablets rise to 52.5 million units, a rise of 75 percent.

It’s not a direct correlation, but PC shipments fell in the last quarter of 2012. But even though Microsoft introduced the Surface tablet towards the end of last year, it only sold 900,000 units.  The price of the Surface is hurting sales, IDC believes.

Extended warranties are an untapped gold mine

Alaska - Gold MineIn the troubled economic times it is starting to look like resellers are turning to extended warranties as a good way to boost cash.

Buried in Dell’s quarterly results was a surprise statistic which indicated that the importance of the box shifter’s extended warranty program continues to rise.

A few years ago it was twice as large as the product warranty operation, now it’s four times larger and it is accounting for a rising percentage of the company’s total revenue.

Dell has traditionally been a big fan of the extended warranty programme and the idea was nicked by Apple, which has now become the world’s largest peddler of extended warranties.

In its heyday, Dell could control the sales channel from beginning to end through its extended warranty policy, kicking HP which usually sold its computers through retailers. These retailers had their own brands of extended warranty to sell and ended up harming HP’s margins.

The money involved was huge, according to Warranty Week. It estimated that Dell had sold $31.1 billion worth of extended warranties since February 2004, as opposed to the $17.5 billion Apple has sold since October 2003.

Apple saw its extended warranty revenue rocket upwards since the launch of the iPhone in late 2007 and probably matches Dell by now.

All this starts to make it clear why Apple has been so keen to avoid EU laws on warranty. Apple has its AppleCare programme, which is an extended warranty that kicks in after a customer owns a product for longer than a year. EU law says that the warranty for electronic goods should be two years, which makes AppleCare less attractive.

Apple has been in hot water in Italy, and now in Holland, for selling its AppleCare packages without doing enough to tell customers that in most cases they do not need it.

The way resellers can get around all this is to offer extended warranty packages which are more generous than the EU laws. But for this to work, the warranty would still have to expire before the parts on the electronic items start to fall to bits.

Last year, Dell reported $4.3 billion in extended warranty sales revenue, and $1.025 billion in product warranty accruals. Apple sold $5.3 billion worth of AppleCare contracts. It was estimated that the cost of actually fixing Apple products was $1.786 billion in claims paid last year.

This means that even with the large volume of products and the lowering of price of components, the profits that the two biggest warranty peddlers have are extremely high.

Apple’s down but it’s far from out

Apple, iPadConsumer behemoth Apple reported its first quarter financial results yesterday and while it posted revenues of $54.5 billion and a net profit of $13.1 billion, compared to revenues of $46.3 billion and profits of $13.1 billion in the same financial quarter last year, profits were flat.

Gross margin fell to 38.6 percent compared to 44.7 percent in the same quarter last year. Apple is forecasting gross margins between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent for its second quarter, with estimated revenues between $41 billion and $43 billion.

So, what’s the problem? CEO Tim Cook said that supply problems were a matter to be concerned about, despite media reports.  And Apple has got a stash of cash in its corporate coffers – not far short of $137 billion in both liquid ashes and in cash.  That gives it a pot of gold that would let it buy other companies to make a splash in new or other developing markets.

A bigger problem is its existing slew of products, including the wildly successful iPad and the solidly popular iPhone.  It does face a challenge on the tablet front – particularly so from Google and Amazon devices.  Microsoft Windows 8 using Intel chips may not be so much of a challenge.  Intel cannot necessarily lower the price of its microprocessors, given its business model and Microsoft appears to believe that tablet devices running the touch version of Windows 8 should command the same prices as Apple iPads, or be even more expensive.

Apple’s share price (AAPL: Nasdaq), stood at $460.15 at press time.

Tablets set to take more PC market share

Apple iPadA market research company said that tablets are set to cannibalise more PC sales as their popularity continues to grow.

ABI Research estimates that 145 million tablets will ship this year, with 50 percent of sales outside the USA. Price, new entrants to the market and increased shipments into enterprise will help drive the growth.

Business sales will account for as much of 19 percent during 2013, and a variety of slates using Intel chips and Windows 8 will begin to make more impact this year, according to Jeff Orr, senior director at ABI.

Meanwhile Israeii company Perion said it conducted a survey of 4,400 iPad users about how they used their machines.  Ninety percent of those surveyed said they used their iPads to read and write email.

Women are more likely to read and write emails from their pads, while the favourite app is Apple Mail at 41 percent, Gmail at 31 percent and Hotmail at 13 percent. Eighteen percent of people use browsers to access webmail rather than using clients.

Samsung flattens Apple in smartphone helter-skelter

Samsung rules the roostA report suggests Apple will see its sales of smartphones peak this year and from then on will pursue the seemingly unstoppable rise and rise of Samsung.

According to ABI Research, smartphones will represent 50 percent of all handset sales in 2013, and by 2018 2.4 billion smartphones shipping will represent 69 percent of all handsets. By then, LTE handsets will represent 50 percent of smartphone shipments and 35 percent of all handsts.

Michael Morgan, a senior analyst at ABI, said: “Apple will be chasing Samsung’s technology, software device leadership in 2013 through the foreseeable future.” He said that the Korean chaebol grew its smartphone market share from eight percent to over 30 percent last year. Apple will remain flat until 2018, he predicted. While Samsung is relying on Google Android for 90 percent of its smartphone shipments, ABI thinks that it will use other OSes including Bada, Tizen and Windows Phone.

Even though many handsets will support LTE in the future, people may not have access to LTE networks.  ABI thinks that LTE will be the fastest growing WWAN in history.

Samsung has plenty of advantages over Apple – it is a vertically integrated company and is able to keep costs down by providing essential components from its own manufacturing arsenals.