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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Can Steve Jobs unplug cable TV?

CBS and Disney may join Apple's $30 per month TV service, says the Wall St. Journal

[Originally posted Dec. 22, 2009 on]

This could be totally disruptive. Or it could be another "hobby" like Apple TV that never quite takes off.

In a front-page story published Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that CBS (CBS) and Disney (DIS) are "considering participating" in Apple's (AAPL) plan to offer television subscriptions over the Internet.

It was the first hint of interest from TV content providers since the news broke last month -- in All Things Digital, another News Corp. (NWS) property -- that Apple was preparing to offer such a service to its 100 million-plus iTunes subscribers.

As initially described, customers would pay Apple $30 a month for streaming access to the best of TV.  Cable companies charge Americans an average of more than $70 a month for huge bundles of programs, most of which their subscribers never watch and didn't ask for.

Apple's service would be more like a streaming music service that offers all the content you want for a flat monthly fee. Without a critical mass of popular TV shows, it will never get off the ground. But if Steve Jobs can broker enough deals in Hollywood, the company may be, as MG Siegler puts it in TechCrunch Monday night, "on the verge of kneecapping the cable industry."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hedge funds: Riding the AAPL slingshot

Jason Schwarz's "Seven Reasons the Shorts Love Apple" is an investor's must-read

[Originally posted Dec. 20, 2009 on]

"If you can keep a good stock down," writes Jason Schwarz, "then you are able to load up for the ride back up. It's like a slingshot -- the harder you pull, the more propulsion you generate."

Schwarz, an investment analyst with a knack for self promotion -- through a newsletter, an e-book, and a new hardcover -- has written an easy-to-follow primer on why Apple (AAPL) has become the hedge funds' favorite punching bag. It was published as a gallery last week in TheStreet by Jim Cramer, a guy who knows a thing or two about manipulating Apple's stock price. (See here.)

For investors who wonder why Apple goes down just when common sense suggests it should go up, it's a must-read.

Below fold, the highlights:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Video: Three bullets and a MacBook

Lily Sussman is back from Egypt with the laptop that got "blown up" at the Israeli border

[Originally posted Dec. 19, 2009, on]

Three weeks ago, an American student working in Cairo was questioned for two hours at the Israeli border before security officials confiscated her Apple (AAPL) MacBook, called in a sapper, and shot it full of holes.
Lily Sussman, 21, told the story on her blog, where it drew more than a thousand comments and a fair amount of coverage in the Mideast press.

Before she flew home for the holidays, she gave The Daily News Egypt the video interview posted below the fold.

UPDATE: By luck or careful aim, Sussman's hard drive emerged unscathed. "I've managed to recover all the data!" she writes. "Yayy...It's a survivor. I have yet to hear back from the man handling my case about when and what I will be compensated."

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Morgan Stanley drinks the Apple Kool-Aid

The investment bank has seen the future and it looks a lot like the iPhone

[Originally posted Dec. 16, 2009 on]

Apple's (AAPL) iPhone was the hero of an hour-long conference-call seminar on The Mobile Internet presented Tuesday by Morgan Stanley.

The report was intended to be a follow-up to Mary Meeker's 1995 "The Internet Report," which became known as "the bible" of the dot-com boom.

Graphics like the one at right charting the rapid growth of the iPhone/iPod touch/iTunes ecosystem -- the fastest new-tech ramp up in history, according to Meeker's team of 27 research analysts -- dominated the 92-slide PowerPoint stack.

This particular slide shows that the rate of adoption of the iPhone and iPod touch in their first nine quarters on the market outpaced NTT's DoCoMo two-fold, Netscape five-fold and AOL eight-fold.

Based on past performance, according to Morgan Stanley, Apple is in the "pole position" in the race to dominate mobile Internet computing, which is supposed to be for the 2000s what desktop Internet computing was for the 1990s, personal computing for the 1980s, mini computing for the 1970s, and mainframe computing for the 1960s.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Gray Lady visits the App Store

Apple's controversial software emporium gets a sympathetic hearing at the New York Times

[Originally posted Dec. 6, 2009 on]

Apple (AAPL) only opens its doors to reporters when it needs something from them -- like glowing reviews for a glitzy new gadget.

What it needs right now, apparently, is a friendly account of what's going on at the iPhone App Store, a runaway hit galloping so fast that even Apple -- a company that knows a thing or two about control -- is having trouble holding on to the reins.

And a sympathetic ear is what it got from Jenna Wortham, a former Wired freelancer who joined the New York Times two years ago to cover Web start-ups and mobile communications for the paper's Bits blog.

Apple granted Wortham interviews with two senior vice presidents -- Phil Schiller, who supervises the App Store approval process, and Eddie Cue, who runs iTunes -- which she supplemented with material from Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty, Flurry's Peter Farago, a handful of developers, and Apple's major competitors.

Her 3,000 word piece is the lead story on the front page of the Sunday Business section, and Apple PR should be pleased. Among the highlights:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ad wars: Droid manly; iPhone girly

Motorola targets young men with its most testosterone-heavy TV commercial yet

[Originally posted Dec. 4, 2009 on]

Someone had fun writing this ad copy:
Droid. Should a phone be pretty? Should it be a tiara-wearing digitally clueless beauty pageant queen? Or should it be fast? Racehorse duct-taped to a Scud missile fast. We say the latter. So we built the phone that does. Does rip through the Web like a circular saw through a ripe banana. Is it a precious porcelain figurine of a phone? In truth? No. It's not a princess. It's a robot. A phone that trades hair-do for can-do.
The new Droid commercial that debuted in prime-time Thursday night (and is pasted below the fold) opened a new front in Motorola (MOT) and Verizon's (VZ) $100 million ad campaign to take market share from Apple's (AAPL) iPhone.

Earlier commercials had appealed to the fragile male ego with icons of masculinity: stealth bombers, heavyweight fighters, rock-crushing machinery.

This one goes after the competition by painting it -- and its users -- as effeminate.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The great iPhone death watch

What critics were saying about Steve Jobs' smartphone in the months before it launched

[Originally posted Dec. 1, 2009 on]

Three years ago, when it became clear that Apple (AAPL) was about to unveil some kind of mobile phone, critics began to weigh in on its chances of success. AAPLinvestors' Terry Gregory, building on a list of skeptical quotes begun by MacDailyNews, has put together what may be the definitive collection.

A sample:

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”
Palm CEO Ed Colligan, commenting on then-rumored Apple iPhone, 16 Nov 2006

“Apple is slated to come out with a new phone… And it will largely fail."
Michael Kanellos, CNET, 7 December 2006

"The only question remaining is if, when the iPod phone fails, it will take the iPod with it.”
Bill Ray, The Register, 26 December 2006