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Jun 022014
 

More Cool Stuff Coming Out of Apple in Fall 2014
Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference today in San Francisco.

The conference provided Apple CEO Tim Cook the opportunity to take to the stage and present some drool-worthy facts to the audience and outline new cool stuff that’s on the way:

Apple 2014 - Hightlights

What’s Coming

OS X Yosemite – Apple’s successor to OS X Mavericks desktop operating system

iOS 8 – The new mobile OS (for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch)

Swift – A new programming language for Apple platforms that works alongside Objective C and C in an application

OS X Yosemite

Apple executives introduced OS X Yosemite desktop operating system and iOS 8 mobile OS to the developer community today.

Some nice features of OS X Yosemite include the ability to make and receive iPhone calls on the Mac. Useful when the iPhone is upstairs and SI is responding to a priceless comment. ;) Another cool feature is Handoff which lets the Mac know the last thing you were doing on the iPad or iPhone and vice versa. This means you can start a job on an iPad/iPhone/iPod touch and complete it on the Mac or the other way around.

Spotlight is beefed up to search both the local device and pull material from the Internet.

I skipped OS X Mavericks out of concern that my Mac would slow down. But when OS X Yosemite releases I might be tempted to do the upgrade. Since I have 20GB of RAM, and a quad-core i5 processor, my speed concerns are perhaps unwarranted.

iOS 8

iOS 8 enhancements include adding voice to text messages, improved photo management, WiFi calling, a Healthbook app, better Spotlight search and integration with Mac to let users start a task in iPhone and continue on iPad or Mac and vice versa.

iOS 8 should work with iPhone 4S and above, iPad 2 and above on the tablet side and iPod touch (5th generation).

Both OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 are available for developers today.

The public will be able to get them in the fall.

Did I tell you the Yosemite and iOS 8 upgrades are free? :)

Apple also talked up Swift, a new coding language to build apps for its iOS and OS X platforms and it’s supposedly 220 times faster than Python.

Other announcements included an iCloud Drive that lets users easily store and access files kept in Apple’s iCloud from all devices including Windows PCs.

Related Apple Posts:
The Many Idiots Who Were Wrong on Apple
Jul 312013
 

Driven by strong downloads from smartphone and tablet users in India and Brazil, app downloads from the Google Play app store were higher than from Apple’s App Store in the second quarter of 2013.

This is the first time downloads of Android apps from Google Play have exceeded iOS app downloads from Apple’s App Store.

According to app download tracking service App Annie, downloads of Android apps from Google Play was 10% higher than iOS app downloads from Apple’s App Store.

Google Play Downloads Exceed Apple App Store Downloads

Google Play’s growth vis-a-vis Apple App Store is not surprising as Apple’s iOS mobile software has been losing ground to devices running Google’s Android platform.

Apple’s share of the smartphone has been declining while that of Android vendors like Samsung rising.

In the first quarter of 2013, Samsung’s smartphone marketshare was 32.7% while Apple had fallen to 17.3%.

Emerging Markets

App Annie’s number crunchers found that Google Play downloads in the second quarter were driven by emerging markets where Android devices are popular because they’re cheaper than Apple’s iPhones and iPad tablets.

Google Play Downloads for Top Countries in Q2 2013

Brazil climbed two spots and joined India and Russia in the top five countries by downloads for Google Play.

Gaming apps provided a big push to Google Play downloads in Brazil.

Android smartphones from Samsung, Nokia, HTC, LG and less known Chinese brands are much cheaper than iPhones or iPad tablets.

Samsung, Nokia, HTC and LG also have the advantage of established distribution channels to market and sell their Android devices.

App Revenues – Apple Leads

But when you look at revenues, the picture is completely different.

Revenues from Apple’s App Store continue to be way higher than the Google Play store.

In the second quarter, Apple App Store revenues were 2.3x that of Google Play.

Google Play Downloads Exceed Apple App Store Downloads

Indian Scenario

Although India is No-3 for Google Play downloads, it does not figure among the top-5 countries for revenues.

Many Indians have disdain for intellectual property of others and piracy of software is rampant in the country.

Google Play Revenues for Top Countries in Q2 2013

Gaming dominated revenue share for both app stores, accounting for 80% of revenues in Google Play and 75% of revenues in the Apple App Store.

iOS Picture

Apple is unlikely to be worried about Google Play overtaking it in app downloads as long as it continues to rake in higher revenues.

United States retained its top position for iOS downloads and revenues.

iOS Downloads for Top Countries in Q2 2013

Thanks to carrier subsidies, iPhones are popular in the U.S.

iOS Revenues for Top Countries in Q2 2013

Games, social networking and music were the major revenue categories for Apple iOS App Store.

In the Google Play store, games, communication and social categories were the major revenue generators.

Jul 292013
 

Great profits are invariably preceded by great crimes (both legal and ethical).

Apple, the second most profitable company in the world, routinely lavishes millions in pay and stock options on its top executives including CEO Tim Cook.

But the Chinese workers who make possible the billions in profits that Apple amasses every quarter continue to suffer in wretched working conditions, are paid low wages and live in horrid circumstances.

In the past, Chinese workers have even killed themselves over miserable conditions at Apple’s suppliers.

While a lot of blame has gone to the suppliers for shabby treatment of their workers, Apple is also culpable since it pays too little to its manufacturing partners to maintain its high profit margins.

Apple Profits from 2010-2013

Violations Galore

A new report by China Labor Watch of working conditions in three factories of Apple supplier Pegatron highlights 86 legal and ethical violations.

The violations cover dispatch labor abuse, hiring discrimination, women’s rights violations, underage labor, contract violations, insufficient worker training, excessive working hours, insufficient wages, poor working conditions, poor living conditions, difficulty in taking leave, labor health and safety concerns, ineffective grievance channels, abuse by management, and environmental pollution.

Pegatron is making the cheaper plastic iPhones that Apple plans to release in the coming months to fend off competition from the Android smartphones. Continue reading »

Jul 232013
 

Bring ‘em on!

That was the strong message Apple sent to the Samsungs, Sonys, Motorolas, HTCs and other Android vendors nipping at its heels.

Apple sold 31.2 million iPhones in its fiscal third quarter ending June 29 proving that the pricey smartphones can still weather the attack from the dozens of Android devices flooding the market.

iPhone unit sales were 5.1 million units ahead of analysts estimates of 26.1 million units for the quarter.

Average selling price of the iPhones were 4% (about $27) less year-over-year.

Apple sold a significant number of lower-priced iPhone 4 and 4S in the quarter, leading to lower average selling price.

In the same quarter a year ago, Apple sold 26 million iPhones.

Total iPhone sales since launch in 2007 were 387.57 million units at the end of June.

Strong iPhone Sales in Q3-2013

If you include sales in the current quarter, total iPhone sales since launch must be nearing the 400 million mark.

iPhone Sales Nearing 400m Units

iPhone – Indian Picture

On a conference call with analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook said iPhone sales were up 400% in India.

But keep in mind that the iPhone base is still pretty low in India compared to mature markets like the U.S.

Unlike the U.S. market, consumers in India must pay full price for the iPhone since they are not subsidized by the carriers.

Lower priced smartphones from Samsung, Micromax and Karbonn are posing a stiff challenge to the pricey iPhone in India. Continue reading »

Jun 102013
 

At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple today provided some numbers to assure everyone that the company was still riding high with consumers and developers.

Apple Snapshot - June 2013

Strong Momentum

There has been so much noise in the media that Android is crushing Apple, the iPhone and iPad market share is falling and other such alarmist prognostications that one would think Apple has become like Dell, a company in dire straits.

Although Apple’s profits fell in the second quarter, the company is far from being in a precarious position.

Apple continues to enjoy the strong support of consumers who adore its iPad tablets, iPhone mobile phones and MacBook notebooks.

On the applications front too, Apple continues to enjoy the strong loyalty of developers.

The company says it’s got six million developers beavering away on its iOS mobile platform, of whom 1.5 million came aboard in the last 12 months.

With so many developers working on iOS, there’s bound to be a flood of apps on Apple’s AppStore.

And indeed there are.

Apple CEO Tim Cook today boasted to a crowded hall of developers in San Francisco that the AppStore now offers 900,000 apps, including 375,000 written specially for the iPad tablet.

The AppStore continues to be the largest App marketplace in the world, dwarfing similar efforts by Google and Amazon for the Android platform.

Mobile app developers are said to get 74% of their revenues from the iOS platform, 20% from Android and the rest from other platforms like Windows, Blackberry etc.

Apple’s strong showing in recent years is not merely on the mobile side.

Even as Windows PCs struggle against the onslaught of tablets and smartphones, Apple’s Mac computers show strong performance.

Over the last five years, iMac and Mac mini desktops and the MacBook notebook line have grown much faster (15%) than Windows (3%).

Apple may not have the larger numbers on its side in computer sales but the company is making the bulk of the profits on the PC platform.

The Apple naysayers are licking their wounds.

Apple Store Advantage

One of the biggest advantages Apple has vis-a-vis rivals like Google, Microsoft, Dell, Amazon, Samsung etc is a strong retail network of company owned stores where consumers can play with the iMacs, iPads, iPhones and MacBooks  without facing any of the pressure of buying right away.

Apple said today it’s now got 407 stores in 14 countries.

I have been to both Apple stores and Windows stores (yes, Microsoft has belatedly started aping the Apple stores) in the U.S.

Often, the Apple stores are crowded while the Windows stores (see below) are so deserted that you actually begin to feel sorry for Microsoft.

Microsoft Store DesertedMicrosoft Store Deserted in a U.S. Mall

Apple Store in U.S. MallApple Store in the Same U.S. Mall – Crowded

With Apple announcing new models of MacBook Air notebook, a Mac Pro desktop in an alluring design, iOS 7 and an iTunes Radio service today at the developers conference, the loyal Apple base and developer community have both been energized.

Hey, we’re not even talking of the budget iPhone rumored to be in the works for emerging markets.

All things considered, you can be sure Apple’s star will continue to burn bright for some more time.

May 302013
 

Cheap and classy are not siblings.

Au contraire, they’re usually antipodes.

Apple’s enduring appeal to millions owes to the essential fact that its products are classy.

iPhone, iMac, iPad and iPod touch are shining examples of Apple’s commitment to designing great devices that induce euphoric shock and awe.

Each device is a delight to behold and use.

But Apple’s products have never been cheap. Beyond the fanboys and the well-off, Apple’s products attract only a wistful longing.

While it has often been the quality, design, ease of use and profit leader, Apple has rarely ever been the market leader (at least not for long as the diminishing market share of iPhone and iPad demonstrates) because of its high price.

Apple Embarks on Cheaper Road
Cheaper iPod touch

Cheap Road

Now in a desperate drive for higher revenues Apple is embarking on the cheap road.

The company launched a cheaper 4-inch iPod touch with Retina display today.

And if the rumor mill is right, a cheaper iPhone and cheaper iPad Mini will hit the market in the second half.

In my not-so-humble opinion, going cheap means making sacrifices.

Sacrificing quality, design, features and the whole nine yards.

Nothing will convince me that great products come cheap.

For instance, the new cheaper iPod touch Apple launched today for $229 lacks a rear camera and a lanyard hook.

When a rear camera is de rigueur in handheld entertainment devices, Apple yanked the camera away (the regular $299 iPod touch has a 5MP rear camera).

By moving into cheap territory, Apple risks losing its appeal to, and over time the loyalty of, its demanding customers and ultimately its cachet as a company delivering extraordinary products.

Going cheap is taking the easy way out in life.

Far harder is to design new features, unleash jaw-dropping innovations or enter and disrupt a new line of business with classy products (the way Apple has done in the past with the iPhone and signed the death warrant of Blackberry and Nokia).

Taking the cheap road is a slippery slope that does not bode well for Apple.

For Apple, there’s no retreating from the cheap road and the inevitable damage to its brand down the road.