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Marketing 101: Study Apple

The highly anticipated debut of the Verizon iPhone progressed today, or to be exact, at 3:00 AM EST.  I set my alarm last night/this morning to pre-order the iPhone after two rough years with my Blackberry Storm 1.  I never thought I would say this, but I am officially “one of those Apple geeks”.

I like to go against the crowd most of the time, and delayed my first purchase of an Apple product until just a year ago with my first iPod.  The iPhone will be my second.  I am one of the “late adopters” as marketing buffs would define my purchasing behavior for tech gadgets. I used to chuckle to myself and watch in disappointed awe when walking in the mall on the days of new Apple product releases, with lines stretching to the end of building and even outside. I used to laugh at my friends who used their Macbook, iPad, iPhone, and iPod simultaneously. I used to roll my eyes at Super Bowl parties and move theaters at the iPhone addicts who paid no attention to the big game or Jessica Alba.

After all the years of clever TV and internet ads, word-of-mouth advertising by loyal customers, jetting to the Apple Store to relieve my stress, and then finally dreaming of all the cool things I could do, I took action.  I woke up at 3 AM to pre-order a product a week in advance to make sure that I don’t have to wait any longer than February 10th to join the Apple craze. I now have an “Apple budget” in my account.  I am evidence that Apple’s marketing is extraordinary, exceptional, and transcendent.

My advice to marketing professors and boardroom executives: throw your old marketing books and snazzy presentations away, STUDY APPLE.

the Daily Debuts

Earlier this morning News Corporation had a press meeting to reveal their iPad newspaper application will be made available same day. Although many do not find this to be particularly important because there

is already the New York Times and other news paper applications, media corporations have been highly anticipating this debut. A reporter from the New York Times claims it will be the first of a kind — “a ‘newspaper’ with rich media and photography built especially for the iPad.”

This application is going to change the idea of newspapers. Many younger kids who have tablets readily available will check out the newspaper because of its different design and futuristic graphics. To me, this is a great addition to the iPad and for $39.99 an even better price.

Cable TV Providers and “Them”

The growing availability of online video subscription has bolstered the market for set-top boxes (STBs). The question that begs to be answered though is, should the cable companies be worried yet? Are these STBs a good replacement for cable? There are multiple issues with STBs like Roku. The first is live content. Traditional programming is still largely available online only after it has aired on regular TV. The other major hurdle for connected devices is their usability. TV viewing has essentially been a passive experience. The only action is flipping the channels on the remote. STBs require higher user interaction and the users have to make conscious choices on what to watch.

In spite of these shortcomings connected devices are becoming a reality and cable companies should be worried. Interestingly, the solution for live content on connected devices is actually being offered up by the cable companies themselves. Cable companies are now ramping up their offerings to connected devices providers. Comcast tested it first version of XFinity TV app for iPad. This App acts a remote control and has the ability to show On Demand content on iPad. Verizon is also testing apps for iPads and other tablets. This type of convergence is needed by the cable companies to slow down the wave of cable-cutting, the consumers are riding.

 The offerings like Google TV, Boxee are not meant to replace cable. They work in tandem with the cable/Dish. The TV masquerades as a computer powered by Google TV (with powerful apps such as YouTube, Netflix, and Pandora etc.). Apple TV is an STB that works with any Apple device in gathering content from the internet and streaming it to the TV. It is meant to enhance the enjoyment of other iOS products. According to Steve Jobs, Apple TV is a “hobby”.

Technology-wise most of the STBs require internet connection and come with built-in Ethernet adapters. Many have Wi-Fi adapters as well. They have built-in video cards for streaming as well. The top component manufacturers in this arena are Cisco, Motorola, Technicolor, and Samsung.  Interestingly they are also the providers for cable/IPTV STBs.

 Cisco recently launched Videoscape, supposedly a rival for Google TV. Cisco is also building digital TV components it hopes to sell to service providers who want to rival Google TV. Manufacturers like Logitech provide Google TV, whereas Sony is offering Internet TV powered with Google TV.  The Sony Internet TV seems like an ultimate solution to the merge of internet and TV. The combination of these 2 giants might drive smaller players like Boxee, Roku out of business. Google TV has strategic partnerships with Sony, Intel and Logitech. The concept of Google TV is good but the cost makes it prohibitive. Although Android is free, the cost of the components from Intel drive up the cost. The TV market is very competitive and Google TV will raise the prices making it an unattractive option to consumers. Until consumers are willing to pay extra dollars for an Integrated TV, Google TV may face some difficulties. The solution then is to build STBs that work with Google TV on any display and that’s what Panasonic, Samsung and Motorola are up to. Motorola is the components manufacturer for cable/IPTV STBs and connected devices and probably won’t lose as much in this battle.

All in all, there definitely seems to be a downward trend in cable subscribers and cord cutting is a factor. There are other factors to this like the weak economy and high unemployment. SNL Kagan, an online research and analysis firm for the media and communications industry, suggests that the STBs and video streaming subscribers are relatively new in the market. But once the economy rebounds, subscribers who have gotten used to life without pay TV will probably have even more options to turn to, depressing any rebound in the number of cable subs. If cable giants like Comcast, Time Warner cable, Cablevision, Cox and Mediacom are not worried already, they should be now.

In an iPhone 4 State of Mind

I thought that this would make someone laugh…

Do you have a Tumor??…
There’s an app for that. :)

Read this before buying your next PDA or Mobile Device: More Cyber security attacks

According to research done by a highly known security company, there is speculation that there will be an increase in cyber attacks targeting sites such as Facebook, and devices including the iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices. It is said that Hackers will manipulate algorithms of certain channels to trick web surfers into entering fake webpages, exposing them to malware. This malware will include spam and other malicious data-stealing content.

Cyber Watching

According to Patrick Runald (Websense’s Senior manager of research) “2011 will bring a series of dangerous threats that strip corporate data and immobilize infrastructure. Most traditional security methods don’t work. Companies and governance need to constantly evaluate those defenses. Up-to-the-minute threat protection that unifies content intelligence is an organisation’s best defense against web attacks, messaging breaches and data loss.”

He also states that mobile devices will be a heavy target since they hold a lot of personal and confidential information. Threats no longer need to be binary files that are delivered as attachments anymore. They can be scripted and/or placed withing rich-text media (much of what is found a lot in social media sites). It is suspected that criminals will use various attacks to download and steal mobile information maliciously as well as alter web browsers in the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices in the near future. No other news about plans to thwart these type of attacks have been released as of yet.

Stay tuned.

Steve is dead…

Steve Jobs Is Dead

A little conspiracy theory for you all…

Apple recently appropriated the rights to sell Beatles songs on iTunes.  Perhaps they took another page out of the Fab 4′s book; fake the death of your founder.  The “Paul is dead” rumor began in late 1969 when college students claimed that hints to Paul McCartney’s demise could be found in Beatles lyrics and cover art.  At the time, the Beatles were at an inflection point.  The group was in the process of a break-up and its members were pondering their solo careers.  The sources of the rumor are vague, but what better way to reinvent one’s self, and in turn catapult the next phase of one’s career, than to emerge from beyond the grave?  It worked for a guy from Nazareth.

Apple too is at an inflection point, I think.  Sure the stock is at 52-week highs and they just crushed earnings expectations, but a company that for the past several years was untouchable in the consumer electronics segment is seeing some competition.  Samsung, HTC,  and Motorola are producing worthy adversaries of  both the iPhone and iPad.  By all accounts the stock is cheap given its cash hoard and growth prospects, but a good kick in the pants from Steve and his medical team probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.

VIX looks ready to spike

The VIX looks ready to spike. It has tested this level of support a few times and failed to break through. Overall weakness from Steve Job’s leave of absence and Citigroup’s earnings should drag down the market as well.

mini Lloyd vs. mini Steve

Tickle-Me-Elmo can go suck a lemon.  The hottest dolls this holiday season are Steve and Lloyd; err maybe just Lloyd.  After an initial batch of 300 sold, Apple couldn’t stand to have their founder exploited in miniature and sent Chinese toy manufacturer, M.I.C. Gadget, a cease and desist order.  Little Lloyd, however, can still be yours for $100 at  In many ways Steve and Lloyd are each other’s foils - Steve worshiped by the masses, Lloyd not; Lloyd changes his clothes, Steve doesn’t; and maybe, as evidenced by this latest figurine fiasco, Lloyd is a little more comfortable with self-promotion.

Apple, where art thou?

I still remember the disappointment I felt years ago after finding out the iPhone would be carried exclusively by AT&T instead of coming to Verizon Wireless. How torn I was. I really liked the iPhone. But I liked Verizon more. All those years of reliability. In the hills and valleys, no matter where, I always had service. My contract was up for renewal when the first iPhone debuted but I refused to just up and leave my trusted carrier with the blink of an eye! And WHY did Apple decide to go with AT&T instead of Verizon? I would ask my self this same question over and over again. (Sigh). I guess I’d just have to wait for the new all-touch blackberry Storm (iPhone’s rival at the time) instead and search high and low for a theme I could download to make it look like the much adored iPhone.

That was me about 2-3 years ago. Fast forward to about 3 months ago, when I thought I’d put all of my wishes and desires of the iPhone behind me. I was proved wrong the minute I heard the iPhone would be coming to Verizon later this year. I couldn’t believe the news! I searched for new news articles about the iPhone/Verizon merge every day. It seemed like everyone was blogging, tweeting, and talking about it. But as the days, weeks, and months passed, I found the new news topics and opinions of its editors to be not only contradictory, but frustrating. One day headlines would read about the introduction of the iPhone to Verizon as early as the end of 2010. The next would state the phone’s unavailability until early to mid 2011. Others would quote CEO’s denying any knowledge of  the merge between the iPhone and Verizon in the near future, while speculators supporting the merge thought the denials stemmed from VZ not wanting to affect current Android sales. And still others stated that the much wanted iPhone sales coming to Verizon was a rumor and actually confused with that of the iPAD.

Needless to say, I have stopped searching the news every day to keep track of the so called merge between my favorite Verizon and iPhone. Like most, I have been burned by all of the media attention which, although good for the two companies involved,  can be a consumer’s best friend or worst enemy. My contract is up for renewal again. In fact, I have been eligible for an upgrade since the early summer. I was, however, awaiting the iPhone’s availability through my carrier before upgrading. Things have changed now and I am tired of the old bait and switch. I have now set my affections upon a new operating system. At least I know where Android stands.

Apple Event Preview

Everyone in the Tech World is waiting for one thing tomorrow and that’s the Apple fall event tomorrow in San Francisco.  The event is scheduled to take place 1 PM ET and will be able via live stream if you are a MAC user, if you’re a Window’s user check out Engadget’s link,  Click Here.

The rumors have been have been being tossed around throughout the week so let’s start with the most likely and work our way down the list.   First, item to discuss is the iPod which you will be seeing tomorrow.  Apple always rolls out new iPod’s so this is basically a guarantee.  The nano and shuffle could both be updated tomorrow, possibly with a touchscreen.  We will most likely see updated versions of the iPod touch with more memory and also an updated version of the iPod classic, but Apple could easily stop producing the classic and move directly to the touch.  Finally, we could see a completely new iPod which could be to the touch what the nano is to the shuffle.

The rumor mill is swirling with a new version of iTunes which will introduce the $0.99 cent TV show rentals which will be available within 24 hours of the showing.  I don’t really understand this concept considering TV shows are very easy to obtain for free.  The other iTunes rumor is a new cloud based iTunes.  The cloud based iTunes would include streaming music and video directly to the devices and possibly offer a subscription based model.  The last iTunes rumor is that iTunes goes to a web based model.  Theweb based model would be lightweight and put an emphasis on social aspects, allowing users to share their music and tastes with one another.  Also there is a rumor Apple may be doubling song preview length.

The final rumor topic is iTV, formerly known as Apple TV.  The noise is will see a smaller 4GB device with a focus on streaming and a switch to iOS.  People are also expecting the arrival of Apps.  Finally, there was news out today that NFLX will be available on Apple TV with 99 cent movie rentals from ABC and FOX.  So who really cares if it’s coming out tomorrow, it’s doesn’t sound like anything new, just another box with the Apple logo to put in the living room.

Overall , it should be interesting to have what Apple has to say tomorrow.  New iPod’s will be released tomorrow and I could really careless about iTV, but, what they decide to do with iTunes is exciting.  I don’t think they’ll go to the internet because that Google’s turf and I think the move to the cloud is the logical next step.

Tune in to HedgeFundLive tomorrow and we’ll bring you through the event step by step.