Oct 282011

Imagine my semi-surprise when the “market research firm” Strategy Analytics released its numbers for global smartphone vendor shipments and stated that Samsung had shipped a whopping 370% more smartphones this past quarter (3rd quarter) than they did in the same quarter in 2010. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because these statistics are as impossible as “market research firms” are credible.

Samsung actually produced a useful document which seriously calls into question this wonderful 370% number: its financial reporting presentation for this past quarter, which I pulled from their “Investor Relations” webpage.

Quick aside – check out the Samsung Investor Relations website landing page:

No, take a good look at it:

It must be oddly comforting to Samsung’s investors that the same shitpile design aesthetic was applied to both Samsung’s web presence and their shartphone operating systems.

Back on point. According to the 2nd slide labeled “Segment Information”, 3rd quarter sales (in trillion Won) only increased 37% YoY.

Created in Windows Paint

So Strategy Analytics is saying that the number of smartphones shipped is greater than the increase in sales by a factor of 10 when compared to Samsung’s own information. Where’s that skeptical baby .jpg?

There he is!

Of course it’s entirely possible that Samsung shipped every one of those alleged 28 million phones in the 3rd quarter and most of them are still hanging out in the channel. The strategy, sometimes known as “stuffing the channel” is what I call “beating off into a dirty sweatsock”. It feels good when you do it, but it kind of sucks when you have to dispose of the evidence. Let’s see how Sammy deals with that in the 4th quarter.

Oct 272011

Nick Bilton, who writes for the Times “Bits” blog, is the latest to insist that Apple is making a TV. It’s becoming one of those predictions with no end date, another fantasy project for Apple to swoop in and rescue a medium that people are always bitching about. Nick thinks Apple’s Siri technology will be the real differentiator, which isn’t bad as Apple fantasies go. I personally feel that the summary of the Times piece on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (aka TUAW) sums up everything wrong with this prediction:

An Apple TV would presumably tackle the wide variance in TV sizes and capabilities with a MacBook Pro/iPhone approach of ‘fewer choices, less confusion,’ but it’s less clear how the company would meet its own expectations for profitability in a challenging market. Getting content and collaborating with other TV providers could be a sticking point, especially without the legendary negotiating skills of Steve Jobs, and Apple hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with its existing iOS-based TV product. We’ll have to wait and see.

So Apple is definitely going to enter an industry where the norm is to offer products of numerous sizes, has historically microscopic margins and is entirely dependent on the whims of content providers. Oh – and Apple already has a product in this space that provides all the functionality of a TV (without Siri, of course).

I’ll wait and see – apparently while everyone else is writing about how inevitable it is.

 Posted by at 8:26 pm
Oct 252011

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: I don’t care that The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is about the relatively shitty conditions under which all of our consumer electronics are made. The fact that the vast majority of every single product that could be seen as a target of your disposable income isn’t what’s being marketed on the marquee and it’s not the vehicle the one man show is using to hammer home your Western, consumerist guilt. It’s a singling out of Apple Inc. and Steve Jobs that gets people in the door.

The show focuses on one man’s trip to Shenzhen and the conditions he observed in some of the factories where Apple makes its products, taking tours that apparently aren’t even in the “Not for Tourists” guides. He meets with factory managers, workers and reps for underground organized labor movements at these companies. I have no intention of going, but from what I’ve gleaned from reviews, it seems appropriately awful and eye-opening. It’s also more than a little disingenuous.

First off, this is not a problem for which Apple is exclusively responsible, despite what all of the marketing for the performance would have you believe. A partial list of companies not named Apple that also have their devices manufactured in Shenzhen include Acer Inc., Amazon.com, Intel, Cisco, HP, Dell, Nintendo, Nokia, Microsoft, MSI, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Vizio. Did I mention this list is from one factory? Chances are, anything you buy that has an electronic component will come from a factory in Shenzhen. That’s why its one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.

Conspicuous consumption is one of those things the West is made to feel horribly about. It harkens back to every parental chiding about finishing your dinner because of the millions of starving Ethopians. I’m not going to argue that consumption and waste aren’t a global problem, but making money off of the name of one party to it and its now-deceased co-founder and CEO has a very familiar stink to it.

That fruit was hanging waaaay too low

Of course, I could have this all wrong. If it so happens that all the proceeds from the production (net expenses) go to the Shenzhen labor movement or some other worthy cause related to the issue, that’d be a pretty good indication that the person is more interested in helping solve the problem as opposed to cashing in off a big name and bitching about it, which is my suspicion. What can I say – I’m a pessimist. If I’m wrong, I’ll be happy to remove my post forthwith, apologize and buy a ticket to the show.

 Posted by at 3:13 pm
Oct 252011

I love talking gangsta. True story: teenage TMA and his friends won first place in lip syncing competition. The tune: Public Enemy’s “Night of the Living Baseheads”. Nothing instills fear in suburbs like five lily-white kids flailing around to raps about urban angst. I’d argue that it’s a rite of passage. It’s also pretty irrelevant, but I’m tangential like that.

To the matter at hand. Two months ago, Google got pwned by the Feds to the tune of $500 million for supporting Canadian drug companies’ bid to illegally advertise in the U.S. (sidenote: that $500 million is going into a fund to benefit those affected by their purchase of unregulated drugs – right guys? Guys?). Now, due mostly to the Buzz debacle, Google has agreed to have its privacy practices audited by the FTC. For twenty years. Google sounds like a bunch of good guys to whom you should trust all of your personal information. If you’re not rocking an NFC-enhanced smartphone and Google Wallet, what are you waiting for? The government will be watching them!


At least now we know where the $500 million is going.

 Posted by at 9:28 am
Oct 212011

With Steve Jobs’ biography scheduled for release on the 24th, the internets have been abuzz with excerpts from the book. There’s a particularly scathing one about Jobs’s reaction to Android. According to an AP report:

“‘I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,’ Jobs said. ‘I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.’”

And remember that photo of Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt sitting outside of a Palo Alto café? Well, looks like we found out what the topic was:

That explains the look on Jobs’s face (Dickhead: Just. Stop. It) and the Schmidt’s puppy-busted-destroying-his-master’s-$300-Bostonians posture of shame. If he had a tail, it’d be between his legs. I’m not entirely convinced he doesn’t.

 Posted by at 8:49 am
Oct 192011

I’ll open with something you may not have known: Android has an interface designer. His name is Matias Duarte. Not only does he exist, he thinks a lot of the work he’s done on Android’s 4.0 iteration, Ice Cream Sandwich. So much so that he used some of his words in an interview with This is My Next/The Verge to take a couple of shots at elements of Apple’s UI design. From electronista:

Right now if you look at all of these applications that are designed in this real-objecty, faux wood paneling, faux brushed metal, faux jelly button kind of thing,” Duarte said. “If you step back and you really look at them, they look kind of juvenile. They’re not photorealistic, they’re illustrations. If you look back at the web, people did the same thing. All these cartoony things hanging off a page. If you tried that today, people would be laughing, unless you were doing it in a kitsch, poking-fun-at-yourself, retro art way.”

You mean like this?

I can’t say I’m sold on iOS’s Find My Friends “ride ’em cowboy” theme, but for Duarte to call out Apple’s UI against Android’s bacon strip of a mobile OS shows just how far Mountain View is from the grown-up’s table.  As the Android team has shown us time and again, class isn’t their strong suit.

Oct 182011

So get this: Apple has beaten Wall Street estimates for earnings 14 quarters in a row. That’s over 3 years, which is insane. How did analysts manage to pull this “why do you keep hitting yourself?” routine for so long? Aside from hilariously underestimating the popularity of Apple’s offerings, they also pretty much ignored Apple’s product cycles, most notably for the iPhone and iPad. Question for all you high-paid Street analysts: what is going to happen to iPhone sales the last quarter before the introduction of a new model?

I’ll give you guys a minute…

They’re going to go down relative to the prior quarter, especially when that quarter is enjoying a bump from the introduction of a new carrier. Makes sense, right?

So why the freak-out when Apple missed the Street’s estimates of $7.22 per share (by $.17) and revenue of $29.5 billion (by $1.25 billion)? Because analysts picked this quarter to froth their loins over Apple with absolutely no good reason. After the catastrophic passing of Apple’s CEO (the Street’s sentiment up until the day it happened) and mere days before the release of the newest version of their flagship device, this is the quarter they choose to ignore Apple’s guidance and blow out their estimates?


Oct 142011

Poor Samsung. Can’t a guy knock off a few patented features of a competitor’s product anymore? Remember the salad years? Windows 3.1? Those were the days! Now they’ve got these CEOs who refuse to license their stuff and these bands of lawyers to back them up! And to make matters worse, the courts are backing them up!

This week has been particularly miserable for Sammy. Not only has the parade of preliminary injunctions grown to include Australia (in addition to Germany and the Netherlands), a federal judge in California opined that Samsung does infringe on some of Apple’s patents in the U.S. and a Dutch court ruled that Samsung couldn’t use FRAND patents to force an injunction against Apple’s products. Rough week.

“You keep him here!”

Apple doesn’t want to charge you a licensing fee, nor do they want to cross-license your bullshit, bought-from-another-company patents. Apple wants you to stop knocking off their innovation, even if your execution has been laughable. And they’ll go to the mat – and the courts – to shut you down. Maybe now they have your attention.

Oct 132011

I can’t say I’m surprised: one of the most anticipated features of iOS 5, AirPlay mirroring, won’t work with apps like HBO Go and the Cinemax equivalent, Max Go. HBO’s app could be even better with mirroring – the “interactive viewing features” could run full screen on the iPad instead of along the right-hand border of the screen. Instead, your TV gives you some bullshit error message.

I won't hold my fucking breath

Not all apps are AirPlay ignorant, but their implementation is spotty. Apps like Netflix make nice use of the dual screen layout, leaving the controls on the pad while the content streams. The ABC player works, but the content is shrunk considerably. The PBS app doesn’t have this problem; its content is in glorious HD.

The bottom line is that the best content is still being held back by the puny minds who want to dictate how you enjoy the shit you already pay for.

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