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A Few Bad Apples Shouldn’t Spoil the Whole Bunch, Mr. Cook

Listening to Apple’s fiscal second quarter 2016 earnings conference call yesterday was like attending a funeral—where the eulogy is for someone whom you know has gone to Hell. There’s no way to sugarcoat that the good days are over and an eternity of burning flesh awaits. I kid you not. Haul over to iTunes and download the replay. You’ll feel the grim reaper looking over your shoulder while CEO Tim Cook talks as joyfully about Apple’s performance as a man granted last words before the gallows.

And I wonder why? So what that Apple reported its first revenue decline in 13 years, or that iPhone sales fell for the first time ever, or that Q3 guidance is a few billion short of Wall Street consensus? This friggin’ company still mints money, and that ain’t changing anytime soon. Revenue reached $50.6 billion—more than Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft, and PayPal combined. Apple’s $10.5 billion net income exceeds that of Alphabet and Microsoft together. Oh, and iPhone generated more revenue ($32.86 billion) than either competitor’s total sales. Apple ended the quarter with a $232 billion cash horde. And we get a wake, not a celebration? 
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Tim Cook’s Defining Moment

Some documents are historically significant. They mark moments, comment on them, in manner demanding future citation and even use in courts or classrooms. That’s how I read Apple CEO Tim Cook’s “Open Letter to Our Customers“, about breaking iPhone encryption  His exposition spotlights seminal moment in the United States of America: Government’s further expansion of powers encroaching indiviuals’ rights to privacy and one company standing up and saying “No”.

Some people will scoff at my comparison, but it truly is what I see. Cook is like Rosa Parks, refusing to take a seat at the back of the bus—or in this instance behind one court judge and the FBI. Cook and Apple stand up for us all. I applaud law enforcement’s efforts to protect us from terrorism but tyranny shouldn’t be the means; taking away Constitutionally-given freedoms to protect them. Tim Cook is right. 
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The Holy War Against Apple Lightning

A recent SumOfUs petition begins with those magnanimous words: “Apple is about to rip off every one of its customers. Again”. Ha! The sentence is Holy Writ. Canonize it into the Gospel of Tim Cook, who, extending the metaphor. is like the Apostle Paul, whose discipleship took Christianity forward but beyond Christ’s shadow. We all know the hallowed story of the Jesus Phone, and how humbly Steve Jobs saved humankind from Satan (Bill Gates) and ushered in the post-PC era. Snicker. But only under Cook has Jobs’ aspiratonal doctrine spanned the globe, under the glow of a billion bitten-fruit logos.

That, my friends, is how you offend two religious groups, with the Apple Faithful the more-likely vengeful. Hell hath no fury like—you know the rest. But seriously, I mean no disrespect to the esteemed Jobs (God rest his soul) but to his successor, who made Apple a giant among publicly-traded  corporations, and you pay the price for it. 
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Apple’s Two Vulcan Problem

Back in April 2013, when Forbes ran a commentary asserting it was time for Tim Cook to go, I forcefully responded that “Apple needs a COO, not new CEO“. The day has arrived, with the company announcing this morning that Jeff Williams fills the vacant chief operating officer position. Eh, that’s not what I had in mind, and Apple investors should question the wisdom of the appointment, too.

I mean no slight towards Mr. Williams, who looks more the adequately competent to handle the job. Like Cook, when COO, Williams is a manufacturing and logistics leader—excellent credentials to manage day-to-day operations over the world’s wealthiest tech company as measured by market cap and quarterly net income. The problem: Cook and Williams are questionable pairing, because their backgrounds and skillsets are too much alike. You got an electron circling another electron in the atom’s nucleus. 
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Android vs iPhone: When Hype Bites

The haughty headline from yesterday’s Apple fiscal fourth quarter 2015 earnings report isn’t big revenue or profit performance ($51.5 billion and $11.1 billion, respectively), but a figure given by CEO Tim Cook during the analyst call: “We recorded the highest rate on record for Android switches last quarter at 30 percent”.

Blogs, and some news sites, set the statement off like an atomic blast of free marketing for Apple. The fallout spreads across the InterWebs this fine Wednesday, largely undisputed or corroborated. Just because Cook claims something doesn’t make it true. To get some perspective, and to either correct or confirm the public record, today I asked a half-dozen analysts: “Does your analysis of the smartphone market support that assertion?” 
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Steve Jobs Who?

I shouldn’t be surprised, but…While in Apple Store the other day making a purchase, I chatted with the staffer helping me about the retail shop’s legacy. I don’t remember what influenced me to mention being at the original store’s opening in May 2001, which I covered for CNET News. “In Virginia?” She asked. I affirmed, Tysons Corner. “I have a picture”.

After which I fumbled like an old fart bringing up the image above from Flickr on my phone. She politely suggested the app, which wasn’t installed, as I clumsily used the browser. When I finally got the image on screen she asked, with some giddiness: “Is that Tim Cook?” Not cofounder Steve Jobs, who sits next to Apple’s current CEO. 
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WWDC 2015: My Story in Tweets

As the week closes, I reflect on Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, which commenced on June 8, 2015. I watched the keynote on Apple TV and live-tweeted from my comfy couch. Fittingly from Chromebook Pixel LS.

I find iOS 9 interesting enough to test. Today, I signed up for an Apple Developer account; my old one expired years ago. The process took a phone call, because Apple claimed my bank declined to pay. How strange. So I tried another card. Then a third. Hey, my accounts are good! I called the bitten-fruit for assistance, and someone senior in developer support manually processed the $99 fee, because of the glitch. How fraked is that? 
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Whatever Apple Was, It Isn’t Anymore

I should read Harvard Business Review more often. There, Juan Pablo Vazquez Sampere offers insightful and fresh perspective in post: “We Shouldn’t Be Dazzled by Apple’s Earnings Report“. Of course, I would agree, having written something similar in past BetaNews posts. Point is the same, just the context changed. I lack his prestige and venue, and that’s okay. The observations we both make aren’t rocket science, or shouldn’t be.

Simply stated: Atop the pinnacle of success, Apple stands at the precipice of failure. The scrappy innovator is gone, replaced by the, ah, Establishment cofounder Steve Jobs and his renegades challenged with years of guerrilla tactics. Apple has in this decade achieved huge success. But managing success is challenging, if your business model is innovation. The two objectives often work cross-purposes. 
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My Real-Time Reaction to Apple Watch and iPhone 6

The big event is over. Today, Apple announced iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, respectively; Apple Pay; and Apple Watch. What we don’t know is as important, if not more, than what we do. For example, Apple didn’t pinpoint when in 2015 the smartwatch would be available or how long the battery will last. But Cook did discuss the ease of charging overnight, which probably indicates enough.

As I suggested three days ago, today’s media event marks the beginning of the Tim Cook era, as he does things his way rather than Steve Jobs’. Notice how the CEO favors emphasizing the company brand over “i” this or that in product names. He also shed typical stern look for big, bold—and frequent—smiles. This is Cook’s day. 
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Tim Cook must prove He can be an Innovation Leader

I must disagree with colleague Mark Wilson, who last week asserted: “There is no reason for anyone to care about the iPhone 6“, which as I write has 124 comments. I’m a big fan of provocative posts, because they engage the readership. But my feelings differ about commentaries that bluster without substance. Mark is absolutely wrong. There is every reason for everyone to care about the next iPhone.

Mark asserts that iPhone “used to be aspirational and high-end. Now the world and his dog has an Apple handset and it’s turned from something special into a poor substitute for one of the countless alternatives…The iPhone is run-of-the-mill. It is predictable. It’s just plain boring”.  In many ways, I agree, but his boring assessment is every reason to “care about the iPhone 6”. 
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