Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Apple Execs would like to say: Stop with the Speculation

Subtitle:  Expectation Setting and Apple

Although Marcus is often hyper critical of Apple, especially its increasingly planned obsolescent Engineering, I'm still frequently asked about my take on the Company with respect to its products and Share Price.

Indeed today I am wading thru over 70 Apple Articles on Finance, products, software and futures.  That's a typical daily load.  Many of the articles are contradictory, so what do I think?

Product Set
Apple has previously had an excellent track of innovation, particularly reinventing new markets notably the Ipod portable music player, iPad tablet computers, iPhone Smartphone, and lastly Apple Watch, its Smartwatch.

It was all going so well until the Apple Watch,  (lets call it iWatch) that just didn't become an essential go to commodity like the predecessor lines I mentioned.

This is a major issue because new markets bring on a whole new Customer base who then can also be attracted to your other product lines.   The Apple Watch is a medium size failure in this respect.   It's sold respectably, which for Apple is just not good enough

Expectation Setting
Main main critique would be something else though.

It is a Dickensian old but true and now recurring story:

Promise X,  Deliver X+1.  Result == Happiness

Promise X, Deliver X-1.  Result == Unhapiness

Apple is now most definitely a failure of its own prior success. Essentially Fanboys and Tech journalists have now formed an unholy alliance. Despite more cautious Apple statements, they are doing the promising, suggesting more and more, when Apple can surely only deliver a mere fraction of the spotty kit basement fantasy that is being reported

Bucks Fizz: The Land of Make Believe

Case Study:
The Headphone Jack

This is already one company retailing a Smartphone sans headphone jack.  But it is LeEco and not Apple.  I personally think that this is a great leap forward.  As Engineers Marcus and Agata's take is that  this would

- To Reduce overall phone complexity
- Less case perforations >> more rigidity and better waterproofing
- Don't include a pointless set of cheap crappy headphones
- Use Bluetooth Low Energy i.e. Bluetooth 4.x for audio output and microphone input
- Smaller simpler overall phone packaging and lower costs

The headphone jack removal is one of a number of rumours.  But it and other genuinely innovative ideas are the result of endless speculation, supposed leaks, phone renders, mockup, and a totally disproportionate level or reporting compared to future phone functionality

More iPhone Rumours

- Headphone Jack Deletion
- Thinner profile
- 2 rear cameras
- Flush camera
- Internal non removable SIM card
- OLED display
- Thin or zero bezel display
- No Antenna Lines  (who cares?)
- Water resistance

Yes, I can promise you, Apple will not deliver all of the above. Come on!

iPhone Futures
- A predicted launch date of Sept 2016, not WWDC
- But this could be pulled forward if the share price begins to tank prior
- iPhone to become increasingly noncompetitive in its price to function rating against Android Competition.

(2015 company filing)

- Therefore I see iPhone sales to decline and continue to reduce the income stream. But still remember that current iPhone sales alone bring in more revenue than some tech companies entirety.  e.g. IBM.  In other words these are still astonishing sales figures and yet the share price is still /only what it is/

What I predict for the Share Price

- AAPL will at best track the NASDAQ index
- So before iPhone 7 launch in say September 2016, if you believe NASDAQ will crash, or significantly decline then AAPL will with it

- On iPhone 7 announce the stock will decline, pretty sharply, because expectations won't match reality, and within 2 months the stock should recover
- AAPL will no longer be the safe better than the index or inflation or easy money stock that many investors have relied on to sure up and give them hopes of an easy retirement

-  In other words if you have no clue what other stock to buy, or if you believe the NASDAQ will rise at or above inflation or to another chosen metric you rate  (like a Retail Price Index), then BUY

- else If you bought AAPL, and its currently in profit, and you think the general market will tank or decline, then SELL

- else if you are currently negative equity wrt AAPL then HOLD and hope

- if you currently hold AAPL and don't know what to do then HOLD

Financial Sample Links



Monday, May 30, 2016

Appreciating ASUS

ASUS Zenfone 3 Base Model

Whilst this posting might make Marcus appear to be a ASUS fanboy pushover I can assure you it is not the case.

ASUS is of course not the perfect vendor, but they do consistently deliver innovation at a very economical price.

I do like their tag line

Luxury on your own terms

Not all of us follow ASUS closely, not all of us are subscribed to their YouTube channel.  In fact you may have missed their 1 hour plus Computex 2016  announcement that I present here:

ASUS Press Event

Saving ASUS or Apple from the sinking Ship
If I had the chance to save ASUS or Apple from the conceptual sinking ship I'd go for ASUS every time

- ASUS consistently produces innovation, so does Apple of course
- Comparable phones which conservatively have 80% plus of the function of a comparable Apple product are selling below 50% or Apple Retail.  That is some feat of Engineering and Business acumen
- They are delivering a real value proposition to their customers
- The Zenfone 3 looks on paper  (both base and delux) models to be another solid performer.  Though I reserve judgement for actual recommendations for at least 2 months (so don't buy now) until detailed testing has been made
 Zenfone 3 models: base (ZE552KL), the premium Zenfone 3 Deluxe (ZS570KL) and the media-consumption focused Zenfone 3 Ultra (ZU680KL).- Engadget's good Zenfone 3 summary page is here

If you have the Time

- I recommend watch the entire ASUS presentation above (1 hour +) or for the three minute summary it is here

- Also check back for Computex 2016 coverage , last day is June 4th 2016, so after that the major tech dailies will present their summaries

Right now this Windows Central page is Computex summary reading

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Rallye du Chablais, Montreux stop

Renault Parking

As part, and surely the last part of Marcus' birthday celebration treats organised by Agata,  I find myself reporting from Montreux and the Rallye du Chablais

There is not much to say, except that Marcus stood by to watch the cars checkin, the drivers get out, and presumably go for a snack, and then the cars begin to check out.

The Rallye has various different categories but I note they included

a) Vintage Cars
b) Modern Post 2000 cars
c) Teeny modern cars in a Junior category.

A lot of photographs to follow
All,and many more, are available at full resolution at the Google Photos Link

Cars leaving


Saturday, May 28, 2016

You see what you want to see

Just think about it.

I thought about this text as some acquaintances were about to celebrate or as I would call it indoctrinate their child into a religious practise that I believe is both outmoded and will be regarded in the child's lifetime as harmful.

I have had many religious friends who have taken this step with their children as well as a few, and I regard quite distastefully dishonest secular parents who push their children into a Religiously founded upbringing.  In these cases, parents who for decades have never been religious, suddenly as parents start attending church, though not modifying any kind of behaviour or outlook so far as I can tell, and then push/ advise child of their Religious faith when they are at an early age, say 5. All because they think it is 'traditional' or  'may help them integrate into society'

For Marcus the principled and non Hypocritical behaviour would be to raise a child in the same Religious or Secular belief system as the family, but give the child the opportunity to change their affiliation when they are old enough to reason, and support the child in their choice however painful  (e.g. they change from your belief system to one alien to you).

Journee Lausannoise du Velo 2016

Here is Marcus, Agata and Sandra's report of our participation in the JLV Journee Lausannoise du Velo 2016

The Courses

 There are several Mountain Bike (VTT) and Road courses and those suitable for children.   We are planning on the 150Km road route.

 The Plan
The ideal plan was that we three would do the 150Km bicycle route and arrive back at the finish just in time for the prizes draw at 15.30.

Sandra who is just getting used to road cycling, decided on doing the 100Km route, probably a wise choice in view of her experience, nevetheless the plan was to meet at the Start, in Chalet a Gobet forest at 07.45

Failed Preparation

Ironically Marcus verified that Sandra had checked her bicycle the night before and I thought I had checked mine too.  All screws tight and parts adjusted.  However after actually cycling out of the garage at 07.00 I found to my horror my Red bicycle - UNcyclable.

Gears kept skipping, and we cycled home and found that the chain had developed a stiff link, and that it would not 'unstiff'.

So I am now back to the Green bicycle, as shown above which has a very low gear totally unsuitable for any hilly course.  Remind me, is Lausanne Velo, hilly?  Yes, unfortunately, frequent long ascents and descents.    Hmm this going to be interesting

Oh, and the Rain

Rainy 8am start to our 150 Km cycle tour

As fair-weather cyclists (!!) we have been studying the weather hard for the last week.   Saturday should be a little rainy at 8am but by 9am apparently its going to be dry and then even sunny .....

So at 8am it was raining continuously and it had done so all night previous making the roads saturated wet.

Some Objectives

- Convince Sandra to take the 150 and not 100 Km route.  There is a route split at about 50Km where she has to make a choice

- Don't go too fast!

- Have fun, which also is related to taking full advantage of the comprehensive food stops

- Arrive back for the Raffle prizes at 15.30 and hope for a big prize!


 Eventually our Dossards were mounted to our backs, and Marcus and Agata started their Garmin timers and music players and other gadgetry.  We took some photos and then when we could not find any more timewasting we set off in moderate rain.

 First StopKm 40
As usual a huge food tent is available distributing tea, coffee, Gruyere cheese, plain and milk chocolate.   It's all included in the entry to the race price.

This year Marcus and Agata planned to eat only provided food and drink from our USN race fluid in our Water bottles.

Marcus started with a huge portion of Gruyere cheese.  Supporting the local economy you know!

Km 60
The route always goes past this house on 'Paradise Street' and this year I stopped for a photo.   Actually its on a flat section between 2 steep ascents.

On my Green race bicycle, totally unsuitable for hills, any incline up has to be sprinted, else with its low gearing your legs just grind to a halt.  So here I stopped for a momentary rest before the sprint, part 2.

Break2: Mount Vully

Mount Vully Stop

Earlier Sandra split from us to continue the 100Km route.  I think this was the right choice in view of her training.  This left Marcus and Agata for the Mount Vully climb.  Boy it is steep at the end.

Is that an enormous block of Gruyere cheese I see in front of me?

Stop 3, KM 141

Even more cheese Marcus

I know, 9Km from the end of the race and we stopped!  Well Agata was out of fluids and I was greedy, waiting for more Gruyere Cheese.

More Greyere Cheese grommit!

And an infinity of Chocolate.  Yummy.

Advertising the local Cheese manufacturer

We Finished

We collected our Defi Points.

We waited patiently for our big prize from the raffle.  Unfortunately this was won by somebody else, (I know, shocking!!) and all the smaller prizes went to kids, so I suspect I had not red the prize categories correctly.

Anyway every signed participant gets a small gift which this year is a handlebar mounted smartphone case.  We can't use it, so it's free to the first friend reading this who wants it!  (X2)

Lausanne Volunteering was there

Lausanne Police attended and they have their own Motorhome :-)

Despite a dodgy start in terms of weather and Marcus' bike preparation we went on to have a fantastic time.  The last half of the race was in the dry, with generous food stops and the beautiful Vaud countryside to cycle through.

Agata Marcus and Sandra all made it to the finish without accidents, trauma, just with broad Smiles, and for Marcus a belly full of delicious Gruyere cheese.