Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.
According to data by Kantar Worldpanel, as of late November Apple's share of the smartphone market rose to 53% in the U.S. over the preceding 12 weeks. Compared to the 12-week period from the previous year, Apple's share rose by 17.5% while the share for Android devices dropped 10.9% to 41.9%. As you can see, all other platforms constitute just a tiny fraction of the market. According to Business Insider, Apple is on the verge of dominating the U.S.
Apple is currently airing a Christmas-themed commercial for the iPad that features FaceTime. A young girl performs "I'll Be Home for Christmas" via FaceTime while her grandfather watches. It's a simple commercial, with no cuts -- just the song. You see the girl on the grandfather's iPad, and the grandfather on the girl's iPad mini. This sort of commercial shows the wonderful way in which Apple makes technology warm and friendly.
No doubt about it, the iPad mini is a hit. According to DigiTimes, which has sources in Apple's supply chain (but which isn't always accurate), Apple had initially estimated they would sell 10 million iPad minis in 2012. But then due to the shortage of components, which was caused by the challenge of manufacturing defect-free devices, Apple adjusted their expectation downward to 6-8 million units. Apple always pushes the limits of the technology, and the result is that during initial production many of the devices have defects simply because they're difficult to build. But then the manufacturer gradually gets better at it, yield rates improve, and more units are produced at a lower overall cost. Yield rates for the iPad mini have now improved, and according to DigiTimes, Apple has increased its 2012 order for iPad minis from 8 million units to 10 million. DigiTimes says that Apple should sell over 10 million units and could sell as many as 12 million this year.
Barack Obama got Time magazine's nod for Person of the Year, as might be expected, but less expected may have been Apple CEO Tim Cook's selection as one of 4 runners-up. If you've ever wondered who Tim Cook is and what he means for the future of Apple, I urge you to read Lev Grossman's brilliant profile of him. Here's how he describes the way in which Cook contrasts with the late founder Steve Jobs: "Jobs was loud, brash, unpredictable, uninhibited and very often unshaven. Cook isn’t. He doesn’t look like the CEO of Apple, he looks more like an Apple product: quiet, tidy, carefully curated, meticulously tooled and at the same time strangely warm and inviting. He doesn’t look like Jobs, he looks like something Jobs would have made. Cook’s flawless cap of white hair could have been designed by Jony Ive and fabricated in China out of brushed aluminum."
Apple's stock is swooning, actually dipping below $500 yesterday after reaching a high of $704 not so long ago. It's hard to say why, but in the long term the question lingers: will Apple be able to come up with the Next Big Thing? After reading an excellent article by Jeremy Allaire on All Things D, I'm convinced that the answer is yes. And that it will be an Apple HDTV. Allaire's points just make sense, and reading them one gets the sense that this will be an inevitible next step for Apple.
In my post last Saturday I noted discounts from AT&T and WalMart for the iPad and iPhone, and I wanted to higlight those prices again. WalMart is offering the amazing deal of an iPhone 5 for $127 with a 2-year contract. The 30-day promotion began last Friday. You can read more on MacRumors. Note, though, that this offer is only available in stores, and apparently only available at WalMart Supercenters. All Things D reports checking a number of stores and finding inventories and pricing of the phones to be quite inconsistent.
As I suggested would be the case when the iPad mini first came out, it's on track to becoming the most popular iPad, outselling the iPad with retina display, according to market analyst David Hsieh with NPD DisplaySearch. Apparently Apple had expected to sell some 6 million iPad minis in 2012, with most of those sales coming in the December quarter. But according to Hsieh, as reported by CNET, Apple has asked the makers of the display panel for the iPad mini to ship over 12 million of them for the quarter.