The Apple Meme Is Still Strong
This is self evident unless you live in a cave. Even among people not remotely interested in technology, Apple comes up in conversation. I hear Apple mentioned on random commercials. Whenever a computer is depicted, it tends to be a Mac.
This weekend I saw John Oliver’s standup routine. Not only did he talk about Apple, but the guy who opened for him did as well. And even Vinnie Brand talked about it.
I think using an iPhone is something new to do with your hands to make social situations less awkward. The old thing was smoking cigarettes. In New York, we can’t smoke inside anymore… or outside in some places.
Memes grow like bacteria. Instead of invading a petri dish, memes invade our minds. One of the richest men in the world said that share of market isn’t important. It’s all about share of mind.
Before iOS 5 came out, I jailbroke my iPhone 4. Jailbreaking allows one to download apps and extra features. It is lawful. I highly recommend it.
Thanks to Haptic Pro, I was able to get touch feedback on my keyboard. (There is now NO REASON left to buy a Blackberry.) Also I was able to use the volume button as a shutter button for the camera. BiteSMS made it easier to send text messages. On my iPad, I could use a split-screen keyboard in portrait mode.
It seems that whatever features are available via jailbreaking eventually end up in Apple’s operating system. I think that Apple closely watches the jailbreak community for hints on what improvements need to be made. Therefore the notion that iOS = “closed” / Android = “opened” is just a myth. As long as you’re patient, iOS is a very open system. Apple has more of a moat on the software side than people think.
As far as hardware, no one can argue that Apple doesn’t have an edge. We’ll see this again in a few months when iPad 3 is rolled out. It will be the only tablet with a Retina display. That feature alone will ensure that competing tablets will have drastically reduced sales.
Fear Of The Unknown
One of the reasons that Apple’s stock has been such an outlier is that money managers used to analyze the company through the rear view mirror. No one wanted to “think different” because they didn’t want the career risk. The iPod was released as the Tech Bubble burst. Wall Street was slow to recognize the iPod’s critical mass. When the stock broke through $50, I remember people saying that this was just a one-hit wonder. Then the iPhone came out. That hit critical mass by 2009. And this time the doubters said Apple was a two-hit wonder. Then the iPad came out in 2010, achieving critical mass last year. Now the doubters are saying this is a three-hit wonder.
Maybe I have more imagination than most people and I don’t think looking at past financial performance is very useful. The Street’s attitude towards Apple has changed for the better. A $500 per share price target is a lot more reasonable than $300. A lot of companies remain vulnerable to Apple. See my reviews (1 and 2) of GoogleTV. This is truly one of the worst products ever made. If Apple chooses to enter this market, almost all of the incumbents will go out of business. Without competition from Apple, Sony’s TV business already loses money! Howard Stringer is an idiot for hanging on… and soon he won’t have a choice but to let go. For decades the incumbents have been preoccupied with picture quality. Kind of like the stupid digital camera makers who thought the game was as simple as one-upping the other guy in megapixels. Kind of like Sony, the stupid company who lost its Walkman franchise because it wanted to make smaller and smaller Minidisc players and refusing to acknowledge the world’s love of MP3.
Apple really should enter the TV market. In 2011, LCD TV sales surpassed 200 million. Assuming an average selling price of $500, this market is worth $100 billion. Apple should have no problem owning at least 1/4 of the market in a few years. That would boost revenue by about 15%.