Given the announced (and shipping) smartwatch products from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Pebble, and other manufacturers, and the substantial rumors around an iWatch from Apple, the question is when, not if, Apple will introduce a wearable offering. But there are some fresh reports that suggest a new twist.
Yesterday Apple forecast revenue of $37–40 billion for the September quarter. That compares to their record revenue of 37.4 billion in the just-ended June quarter. The forecast was lower than many analysts were expecting. And since everyone is expecting Apple to sell a huge number of iPhone 6 units when it launches, that forecast suggests the iPhone 6 will arrive no sooner than late September. The betting right now is on September 26 as the launch date. That would still be in September, thereby boosting revenues the last few days of the month, but not early enough to push anticipated revenue over $40 billion.
Another quarter, another solid profit reported by Apple. But it seems like investors always want more—When asked what his number (to retire) was, Josh Brolin's character in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps said, "More." In this case, the number was 35.2 million iPhones sold, which is a new record for Apple, but amazingly, expectations were higher. That number represents a 12 percent increase over the same quarter from 2013, but it's apparently not enough to make investors happy. That rate is on par with the rest of the smartphone market (understandable, because Apple is a big part of it), but much less than Windows Phone, which is growing at 28% (also understandable, because it's coming from such a small share.) Most businesses would be happy with such increases, but investors seem to have a special relationship with Apple.
If there's any doubt that the iPhone 6 is generating excitement, that's put to rest by the fact that Chinese online sellers on the Alibaba website have already begun taking preorders for the phone. What other phone would start selling even before it's announced?
MacBook owners have (usually) appreciated the glowing Apple logo on the back of their MacBooks. It's a neat touch that shows Apple's attention to detail. Now iPhone owners might see something similar when they turn their phone around. The previously etched-in Apple logo on other metal iPhones may now be replaced by a plastic opening, according to the latest spy shots from Uswitch.com.
Apple will be releasing their June quarterly earnings report tomorrow after the market closes, and will be answering questions from investors. Of course, investors are eager to know how Apple did, and expectations for this quarter are fairly high. But even more important for many is the guidance Apple will give regarding the September quarter. Wall Street always wants to know not only how Apple did, but how it expects to do in the coming quarter. And if, as everyone is expecting, Apple begins selling the iPhone 6 in September, that will certainly affect Apple's earnings forecast for the September quarter. So Apple's guidance should give a clue regarding what we'll see and when. Of course, Apple never explicitly says what's coming. If the guidance is especially high, it could mean we'll get something in addition to the iPhone 6 before the end of September.
Not all the Apple news is about sapphire screens and the pending iPhone 6. Apple is promoting their latest iTunes Festival, and this time it's based on London. You can win tickets to attend, or for the rest of us, stream the content using an iOS device, including Apple TV.
Apple's main competitor these days seems not to be other phones but rather the high expectations created by the rumor mill. I'm among those who've stoked the expectation for a sapphire display on the iPhone 6. But the latest scratch test of an alleged iPhone 6 front panel reveals that it's not pure sapphire but likely has a sapphire composite laminate on the display. As the test shows, it's definitely harder and more scratch-resistant than Gorilla Glass but not as hard as the pure sapphire used in the Home button. Marques Brownlee, whose earlier scratch-test video I covered in this post, explains in his newest video (embedded below) the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Minerals are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with diamond being the hardest at 10. Simply, any mineral on the scale can scratch minerals rated below it but not anything rated above it. Gorilla Glass comes in at 6.8 on the scale. Sapphire is 9. The only thing that should be able to scratch sapphire should be diamond. But in his test he shows how both garnet sandpaper (rated 7) and emery sandpaper (rated 8) can scratch the iPhone 6 front panel, suggesting it's not pure sapphire.
Two rumors courtesy of a report in Taiwan's Economic News Daily indicate that Apple is ramping up to begin production of the iPhone 6. According to the report, mass production of the 4.7-inch phone will begin this month (specifically, the third week of July), with mass production of the 5.5-inch phone expected to begin in August.
Surveys and statistics can be used to suit any agenda, but one from Ranker.com suggests that cable companies, banks, and airlines have terrible service (no surprise) and that a lot of people think Apple is evil. The customer survey list includes notorious firms like Time Warner, AT&T, Bank of America, Walmart, American Airlines, Comcast, Citibank and more. Apple is ranked 22nd "worst" customer service, with 120 up votes ("worst") to 126 down votes ("not worst"), so it's almost a dead heat between haters and lovers.
Since the iPhone 6 is expected to have a larger, 4.7-inch display, naturally it will need a battery with greater capacity. The question is how much larger the capacity will be. The iPhone 5s has a capacity of 1,570 mAh, and an earlier rumor pegged the iPhone 6 battery at between 1,800 and 1,900 mAh. Now the French site Nowhereelse.fr has posted photos of a battery alleged to be from an iPhone 6. The photo shows the battery has a rating of 1,810 mAh.
I use my daughters' upgrades at AT&T to keep my iPhone up-to-date. They get the previous generation. My youngest daughter, just graduating from college, was still on an iPhone 4. I went to the AT&T store for the upgrade, but we didn’t have one. No, I didn’t look online first, I just assumed as many do, that an upgrade was waiting somewhere.
Yet more evidence that Apple is gearing up to begin manufacturing the iPhone 6 is the appearance online of a photo said to be the Touch ID sensor that will be used in the new phone.
With the advent of bring-your-own-device (BYOD), enterprises have adopted Apple products, sometimes reluctantly, in quantities never seen before. Much of this adoption has come primarily in the form of iPhones and iPads. The exposure of many enterprise applications to the web have also made the integration with Apple’s Macintosh less of a support issue for many organizations. But legacy applications running on mainframes still dominate healthcare, telecommunications, banking, government, and many other industries.
In the early 1990s, Lou Gerstner, then head of IBM, wrote a book entitled Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? It was about his efforts to turn around a stodgy mainframe systems and also-ran PC vendor into a service provider. He and other IBM stewards have made tough decisions such as eliminating OS/2 (a powerful Windows competitor that ended in what Gerstner called a "resounding defeat") and selling off their entire PC line to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo. Lenovo has since added Motorola to their arsenal, while IBM is increasingly offering services as their raison d'etre.
According to the website Stuff, Amazon Japan inadvertently posted a listing for the iPhone 6. It appeared to confirm we'll be seeing a 4.7-inch iPhone, but there was no mention of a 5.5-inch size. The listing said it would be available in Japan on September 30. And it gave the dimensions of 130 x 65 x 7mm, which compares to the iPhone 5s specs of 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm. So apparently the new phone will be even thinner than the iPhone 5s. In addition, the weight was listed as 113g, compared to 112g for the iPhone 5s. The listing also suggests the phone will be getting a price boost.
It's a balancing act, reviewing the many rumors floating around and determining if they're worth reporting or dismissing. The latest rumors suggests competing iWatch sizes (anywhere from 1.3-inch to 1.6-inch to 1.8-inch) and designs will be shipped this fall. My impression is that it's more likely Apple is testing a variety of designs to see what makes sense, or different generations of the product are being tested.
Android may have a larger marketshare, but recent reports from Custora show that Apple fans are using their devices for online shopping at a monopolistic rate. As much as 80 percent of tablet-based shopping is done on an iPad. Considering iPads start at $300 and Android tablets can be purchased for as little as $50, this is remarkable.
According to AppleInsider, market analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who typically has pretty good inside information about forthcoming products and the timing of their release, issued a note to investors over the weekend saying that production issues facing the rumored 5.5-inch iPhone may cause it to be delayed—until 2015, or in a best-case scenario, late November.
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