Microsoft named insider Satya Nadella as CEO. Co-founder Bill Gates resigned as Chairman, but decided to stick around as Founder and Technology Advisor. You know, just in case.
Back in 2012, a few months after Steve Jobs died, newly crowned CEO Tim Cook told analysts that Apple had some amazing products in the pipeline. We waited until 2013 and Tim Cook said the same thing. Amazing products are coming. Now it’s 2014 and guess what? Tim Cook’s song is the same. Amazing products are coming.
Either Cook believes that products with modest upgrades constitute amazing products in the pipeline or he’s biding his time until the company’s inherent vision catches up with technological capability.
Apple hasn’t released a product roadmap and other than the Mac Pro, nothing really new and different since the iPad in 2010.
Are the products in Apple’s product pipeline for real?
The company that always seems to Think Different might be leaving clues. For example, Apple hired Angela Ahrendts, the famous Burberry’s chief, to run Apple’s retail stores. Think upscale retail. Apple hired Dr. Michael O’Reilly, former CMO and EVP of Medical Affairs at Masimo. Think health products. Former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent is now Apple’s VP of special projects. Think wearable devices. Apple also hired Ravi Narasimhan from a health sensor company, and Nancy Dougherty a highly touted engineer whose products include health monitoring equipment. Think medical devices.
It’s possible that all these hires are a smokescreen and Apple’s product pipeline is absolutely stark naked empty.
I don’t believe that for a New York minute.
Apple’s products fall into the affordable premium category, but are decidedly upscale from the riffraff of Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, et al, so we should expect future products to be in the premium segment as well.
Wearable devices of all kinds come to mind, including the long awaited iWatch and iGlasses, but others like iMed could easily move Apple into the rapidly growing health products industry, a business segment where Apple can do what it does best– leveraged integration with other Apple products.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see that Apple’s future products are beginning to take shape. There’s visibility this year where there was only invisibility last year.
Apple reported record revenue and profits. Again. And AAPL dropped like a rock on the market. Again. Is there anything good to take from all this?
Investor Carl Icahn took a bath on his AAPL holdings. I don’t want to rejoice in the misery of others, but in his case I’ll make an exception.
Whether Icahn thinks Apple is still a growth story or not, his investment has probably helped to run up the stock in recent months, and despite the post-earnings downturn, his strategy is as obvious as a three-legged stool.
- Help to run up the stock price and cash out with a healthy return
- Sit on AAPL until the company hits another growth run with new products
- Squeeze Apple for a larger stock buyback and go home richer
Apple has hit a wall of sorts. When a company runs past $100-billion in annual revenue it becomes more difficult to grow by 10-percent a year, let alone the 25-percent that Wall Street charlatans prefer.
Therein lies Apple’s problem. Growth.
Forget the fact that Apple is wildly profitable, has trouble meeting new product demand, or that customers love both the company and their products. Forget the fact that Apple, even with enormously ridiculous buybacks, sits on over $100-billion. Forget the fact that Apple is highly diversified with multiple profitable revenue streams that are unmatched by any competitor (Mac, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, retail stores, app stores).
From my perspective, Wall Street rewards risk and growth and, at least for now, Apple is neither. The company is viewed as safe if not stodgy, predictable if not passive. How well a company is run or how much profit it can squeeze out of a product line is unimportant to the miscreants of Wall Street.
It’s all about growth and Apple isn’t growing as much these days. Still, it was good to see Icahn take a bath (although I’m sure he found the recent drop to be a buying opportunity, too).
Yes, I plan to watch the Super Bowl. Why? The TV commercials. The game might be interesting, but it’s the television commercials that everyone else will be talking about for days afterwards. Besides some entertainment sprinkled throughout the game, what am I looking for?
A glimmer of hope.
A glimmer about Apple’s newest product (or one of the oldest).
It’s been 14 years since Apple ran a commercial in the Super Bowl. One of the greatest Super Bowl ads ever was Apple’s introduction of the Mac back in 1984. Apple surprised the world with the Mac in 1984 and 30 years later the Mac lives on, stronger and a better value than ever.
What makes me think that Apple might advertise in this year’s Super Bowl? Advertising legend Lee Clow dropped a hint on Twitter.
Gonna be a good Super Bowl. Mac’s gonna be 30.
That’s not much to go on which is why it’s in the glimmer of hope category. If anyone outside of Apple would know, it’s Clow, who co-created Apple’s legendary ’1984′ TV commercial.
Let’s assume for the moment that Apple will advertise in the Super Bowl. What Apple product will be advertised? Mac? iPhone? iPad?
Or, something new?
In the ’1984′ TV commercial Apple advertised something new. If Apple advertises the Mac again, then the company could be accused of jumping the shark; looking backwards, glorifying the past and the accomplishments of history; not looking forward to the future (a Steve Jobs thing).
If Apple advertises iPhone or iPad in the 2014 Super Bowl it is merely taking advantage of a huge worldwide viewing audience (particularly one that pays attention to the commercials), and that’s certainly acceptable, but nothing out of the ordinary.
So, back to the glimmer of hope. What better time for Apple to introduce a new product than with a commercial in the 2014 Super Bowl, 30 years after the Mac was introduced?
It could happen.
Now, if Apple does introduce a new product line, what will it be? iWatch? iGlasses? iPhablet? A safe and predictable Apple will run a Your Verse commercial. The Apple we know and love would instead introduce a new product.
Will 2014 be like 1984?
Consider my title a serious question, but it’s not exactly what you think. I’m not advocating that Google Glass (or even Apple’s own version, iGlasses; hint, wink, nudge) fail in the marketplace and become a footnote in technology history.
My view is quite the contrary. More on that in a moment. First, already there are a number of instances of Google Glass wearers being questioned by authorities. The most recent Glass news involved a moviegoer in Ohio who was taken by authorities from the movie he was watching. Why? He was wearing Google Glass, and authorities thought he might be trying to record the movie he was watching and that’s illegal (not to mention difficult).
Because Google Glass has a built in video camera the device is already banned in restaurants, movie theaters, and other locales. Google Glass is distinct, so it’s easy to spot who is wearing them.
Second, the original question. What happens when Google Glass disappears? And by disappear I mean you cannot tell if a person’s glasses are normal glasses or Google (or Apple) enhanced glasses.
How will authorities or anyone be able to tell the difference between someone wearing regular prescription glasses (or, sunglasses) from a discrete version of Google Glass?
The fear of Big Brother watching becomes a fear that everyone with glasses is Big Brother. Talk about a loss of privacy.
On the other hand, what can users and wearers get in future, more powerful, more discrete versions of Google Glass that will help the device to overcome the stigma that’s already grown sufficient to involve federal authorities? What built-in safeguards will be required to ensure the privacy of those near Google Glass users?
It’s not that capturing a video of someone in a private meeting or in public is difficult today. Video cameras and microphones can easily be hidden from view and used to capture anything, anytime, almost anywhere. For now, because of the unique physical design, Google Glass is easily identified. Out of sight, out of mind for the former. Visible, identifiable surveillance devices are a whole different ball game.
What happens then Google Glass disappears from view and appears as ordinary glasses, yet has even more capability, more recording capacity, better connectivity?
Unfortunately, I see the government getting involved quickly with this growing phenomenon, and putting limits on what Google Glass derivatives can do and how, all in the name of privacy and security.
Imagine that. The government as a champion for privacy and security.