Tag Archives: Apple

Mobile Faceoff Mid-2015: Samsung vs. Apple

Galaxy S6 phone and iPhone 6 displayed side-by-side

With the top three selling mobile phones in the United States produced by the two companies, it may seem that the rivalry between Samsung and Apple is settling in for the long haul. However, the most recent numbers provide a window into how tumultuous the market is in the highly coveted wireless industry. Apple’s newest launches, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, have enjoyed considerable success, in large part because of changes to the operating system, but more importantly, finally increasing the screen size in an effort to appeal to more business users. Samsung’s most recent launches, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, generated considerable buzz from consumers upon their release, but industry analysts speculate that this interest diminished quickly due to a lack of innovative design in the newest Galaxy models.

Despite having the iPhone 6, the number one selling phone, Apple actually lost ground in overall market presence among smartphone users in the first part of 2015. Around 80% of the American population has a smartphone, of which 31% are running a device that has iOS. Compared to this total, roughly 66% of smartphone users have a device running the Android platform. However, in terms of overall profit, Apple saw significant gains during the first few months of the year. This growth has been, in large part, sustained by foreign interest. A prime example of Apple’s profitability in a year when there are no major upgrades planned for the new iPhone is the company’s request for the production of an additional 92 million units. Most of these are destined to be sold in China, although the size of the request to Apple’s manufactures has led some analysts to speculate that the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus may have more upgrades than initially planned.

Meanwhile, Samsung is scrambling to address its sales issues. Over the last thirty-six months, the company has seen its wireless profits fall every quarter. Part of the issue with the latest phone launch was related to production trouble for the Galaxy S6 Edge screens. Even worse for Samsung though was the negative publicity generated by poor reviews on social media for the S6. Complaints on Facebook and Twitter highlighted underwhelming battery life, problems with clarity when completing calls, and overall concerns that the phone itself was unreliable. While its main line of wireless phones has not lived up to expectations, Samsung’s specialty phones, particularly the Active branch that is designed to survive screen scratches, exposure to water, and the occasional drop onto the floor from table height, has seen remarkable growth. Until it can address the reliability concerns associated with its flagship phones, Samsung may turn its attention to consumers who are looking for a sturdy mobile device that does not require a bulky, limiting case.

DROPPED CALL: No news is always good news for Apple

Apple is one of the few companies that have enough credibility, product equity and respectability built up that they literally don’t have to say one word to get consumers talking.

Take the iPhone 6, for example.  Apple hasn’t so much set a release date, talked about the existence of this would be super phone or even hinted at it on their web site or through an employee or spokesperson leaking actual photos, and the internet and customers alike are buzzing about everything from the size of the screen to any new features that weren’t present in the iPhone 5s, c, or any other incarnation of their lauded and innovative smart phone.

Other rumors circling through the online phone community has the iPhone 6 not only sporting a larger screen but also Apple contemplating introducing not one but two new phones some time in 2014. Even the iPhone 6 cases are taking center stage since they’re reported design will let the public know what to expect from the new look version of the iPhone.

The genius behind Apple and how they push product is equal parts the features, look and feel of the smart phone and all that comes with it, but also the innate marketing and aptitude to understand that sometimes the less said the better. And Apple is more than willing to let various web sites, major news outlets and reports start a bevy of rumors to spark even more interest in the iPhone 6.

Truthfully, the iPhone 6, 7 or 10 could feature only a modicum of changes, and the lines at electronic stores still would be out the door, because that is the kind of clout that Apple carries with it. Proof of that comes from the 5c model and how Apple began offering a variety of colors for the phone, and that small change captivated the consumer. If anyone had qualms or questions about just how easily Apple can tug on the consumer heart strings of customers was put to rest when the 5c and their colorful take on simple phone skins. You could make the same argument for Samsung, Microsoft or other brands of that ilk, the ones that have won over the masses by producing products that have altered the landscape of their markets.

Everyone is in agreement that Apple undoubtedly is working on something in the way of a new phone for future release, but buzz mounting even without mentioning anything is only something Apple can pull off.

End of the line: Has smart phone technology reached its pinnacle?

Everyone is familiar with the term “it is all downhill from here.”

A lot of times that rhetoric centers on celebrating a milestone birthday, typically 40 years old, when someone in the crowd of friends or family shout that exact phrase from afar.

Rarely do you take that saying and apply it to technology. In fact, when you think of technology, the exact opposite comes to mind. Technology typically is always advancing, particularly when you talk about electronics: televisions, tablets, computers and phones.

The last item on that list, however, brings an interest conversation to the table, one that wonders if the technology behind the smart phone has reached the point where nothing more can be done with these remarkable devices.

The arrival of the smart phone was legendary and changed the landscape of modern communication forever. The idea of a phone call is about as outdated as the pay phone, as smart phones coupled with apps, email, text capabilities and social media at your fingertips made talking incredibly passe.

From the inception of the iPhone to its various incarnations to others that followed suit and have done superbly well for themselves as well, the smart phone is a cultural and technological staple.

Trying to find someone who doesn’t have a smart phone could be quite difficult if not nearly impossible.

But examining the last few years of the smart phone, one has to wonder what’s left to do. Is there anything more smart phones can do that hasn’t already been done?

At first glance, the smart phone appears to have hit the proverbial wall when it comes to discovering the next big thing. Screens are getting bigger and clearer, and some operating systems on those phones have tapped into giving more health and fitness benefits to users, but aside from those changes, not much is on the horizon from a phone standpoint..

What you’re seeing companies like Apple and Samsung doing at the moment is letting the phone aspects of their business reach the auto pilot mode of sorts and are starting to settle in on growing other parts of the business (tablets, smart watches or even in the case of Google the glasses that double as computers).

That doesn’t mean those aforementioned companies that sell billions of dollars in phones are going to simply ignore their staple product, but you might be waiting quite a while before something new that is smart phone related arrives and wows you the same way the original concept did.

Dropped call: Is Apple actually playing catch up with competitors?

When you think about Apple and all it has done for the computer, cell phone, technology and communications industry, certain words come to mind. Pioneer. Visionary. Frontrunner. One that often never is uttered, or at least hasn’t for quite some time, is “copy cat.” But considering that Apple is unveiling their new line of iPhones in the fall, specifically September, and the major attraction is larger screens, you have to wonder if Apple is starting to lose its innovation and instead is trading it in for a more laid back approach to how it pieces together products.

No one is ever going to argue or be taken to task by commenting just how superb and sensational Apple has been. Between the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple made a career, not to mention billions of dollars, on taking the impossible and transforming it into a realistic, tangible product for all to see. Apple started the smart phone trend, while others have followed suit.

Now, it appears the roles have been reversed. But before we start writing the epitaph for Apple, you have to keep in mind that this company has always found ways to reinvigorate and reinvent itself as a pioneer in the business. That isn’t to suggest that Apple is somehow archaic or outdated in what they’re doing. In fact, iPhone sales are still strong, even with the notion that new phones are on the horizon. What is being suggested, however, is Apple perhaps getting back a little more swagger when it comes to new products and items on the horizon that take our breath away with how simple, smart and savvy they are.

The latest from Apple seems just like more of the same, regurgitated variations of products we’ve already seen from this iconic company. The idea of an iPad mini hardly seems like it deserves its own release date when, aside from all the guts and software working faster and sleeker, is essentially a smaller version of what we’ve already seen. The flip side to that argument hinges on defending Apple for what they not only created but started: smart phones and tablets. Keep in mind there are only so many ways to improve what already seemed to have been perfected by Apple. Look at the television production industry as proof that 3D TVs and curved models might make the picture better but hardly is high definition redefined.

Maybe Apple has a few tricks left or some products in the works worth headlines. In the meantime, Apple is putting out a new iPhone, and that still means something. Not quite as much as it used to, however.

Apple’s iPhone 5 Pre-Sale Sells Out and that Means Money in the Bank for Apple

Well, today is the official pre-order day for Apple’s iPhone 5, and well, sorry, if you haven’t already reserved yours it is too late, because the pre-order sale has sold out.  It is because of this demand that Foxconn, the Chinese company that manufactures these technological jewels, took the, um, “unusual” (immoral?) steps of getting nearby universities to suspend classes and then the universities “offered” mandatory internships (if there is such a thing) to their students to visit the factory and “assist” Foxconn in meeting the needed number of iPhone 5’s to meet this demand.  Those students, and their internships, appear to be doing the trick, because there are no expected delays in in shipping the new iPhone to fill these sold-out pre-orders.

So, with all of those pre-sales, this is certainly money in Apple’s bank, but just how much money?  I mean no business is going to sell their product — especially their crowned jewel of profitability — at a loss.  Well according to the estimates from TechInsights, it costs Apple around $168 dollars to make each iPhone 5, which I admit is more than I thought it did; given all of those mandatory interns.  So, simple math tells us that depending on which version you pre-bought ($199-$399), then Apple is making between $32 – $231 dollars on each unit.  $32 dollars doesn’t seem like a lot, but that is basing the profits off of what it cost you.  The actual retail price for this new toy is about $650, and even though you may have only paid $199, that is because you also signed a 2 year contract with a wireless provider.  The wireless provider is subsidizing your cost through that contract; they (the wireless provider) still had to pay Apple the full $650 for the phone, so when you consider this, Apple’s profit per unit is actually about $480; which is not too shabby.

Maybe they can roll some of those profits into at least buying those kind mandatory interns’ books; once they are allowed to return to classes that is.

 

“Mandatory Interns” are Assembling the iPhone 5 — I hope it’s worth it.

Modern technology is grand, isn’t it?  I mean never in the history of humankind has the world been so interconnected.  Have a friend in Sweden?  Log into whatever social network application and send them a message instantly; or browse their photos, or whatever.  Do you have something on your mind that you want share with, essentially the world?  Well then just fire up your Twitter account and let’er rip — so long it fits within the 140 character limits of course.  And with the advent of smartphones we can do all of this from the palm of our hands almost anywhere we go — almost.

Well, that’s all well and good for us consumers, and given the profit margins of the companies (except RIMM) that own the patents and invented these technological marvels, I’d say it is good for them too.  But how is all of this success, and joyous ability to connect to virtually everyone, and everywhere, treating those who manufacture these devices?

Well, again, if you are the company that manufactures these devices then you’re probably looking pretty damn good too.  Unfortunately, if you are the person on the assembly line, then depending on which “magic” phone you are putting together your success might be seen a little differently.

I don’t think it is any big secret that most (if not all) of our smart phones are manufactured overseas, specifically in China.  I also don’t think it is any big secret that the smartphone that is considered a “must have,” or the “coolest” is Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone.

It seems that every other year, or so, Apple releases a newer version, and with every new version released there are lines that form the night before the official sales date outside of Apple Stores across the country, and I guess the world too.

Because of the expected/pent-up demand for the up-coming iPhone 5, the company Foxconn, in China, that assembles these hipster icons is short on the number of employees needed to meet the needed number of phones Apple is expecting to sell on its release date.  Oh, No!  What on Earth are all of those “first adopters” going to do, if they can’t get this gizmo on day one?

<What follows is called satire>

Have no fear, Foxconn, and I’m sure maybe a government official or two, or three, they all have your back.  It was decided that they would go to nearby universities and get them to, umm, “suspend” classes and then have those students participate in “mandatory” internships on the assembly line, in order to fill the initial orders.  It’s all good though, because these are paid internships, with the students earning about $250 a month.  Hey, the cost of living is so cheap in China, and they’re college students, so I’m sure that must be a relative fortune.  Especially considering their educations were involuntarily put on hold, and that they only work 12 hours a day/6 days a week; all so several college students here can be the first to have the 5th iteration of a cell phone that really isn’t too big a leap over the 4th iteration.

Maybe some thank you letters should be sent?  Nah, that’s so last century – just send them a “shout out” on Twitter; it will get to them as soon as they can afford their own iPhone — oh and when their government actually allows them to access Twitter.