Apple executives like to talk about the post-PC era as an opportunity. But they have a post-Steve Jobs crisis that needs resolution first -- and fast. This week's calendar fourth quarter earnings report is time to assess where the company is and where it might be a year from now, and whether investors should lift falling shares from the nosedive.
Post-Steve Jobs -- and I'm talking as much about the time before his death -- Apple has lost the quality that made great products. The company’s approach to computer/device design is consistent and pervasive: Humanization. Apple design seeks to humanize complex technological products. There has been much written about Apple design in context of products that look good. But there is something more fundamental: Designing tech that is easy to use by making it more an extension of the human being -- more part of you. It's this quality missing from recent new product iterations, which aren't any more human-like than their predecessors. Meanwhile, competitors like Samsung do better.
My beloved iPhone 5 recently disappeared -- lost or stolen doesn't matter. Gone is gone. Verizon ticks me off; the warranty is supposed to get me a new one for $100 deductible. But no! VZW wants me to pay full subsidized price again! So, I do what anybody would; I fire Big Red!!!
I go for cost savings and switch to T-Mobile, figuring to buy the top-of-the-line geek Android toy and sell -- or better, trade -- it. I assume the Samsung Galaxy S III is top-geek merchandise but instead T-Mo pushes me towards the Galaxy Note II. What a deal online -- $200. I immediately list it on Craigslist, looking to trade for iPhone 5. To my surprise I get multiple offers. I mean, who as a sane person would want that deal?
ChangeWave has new data out today showing an expected, but dramatic, decline in iPhone buying intentions over the next 90 days and unexpected jump for Samsung smartphones -- two models particularly: Galaxy S III and Note II. One-half of US consumers say they'll buy Apple's handset, but that's down from 71 percent three months earlier. Interest in the South Korean manufacturer's devices surged to 21 percent from 13 percent during the same time frame.
"Consumer buying intent for Samsung smartphones has been extraordinary to start the year", Paul Carton, ChangeWave's vice president of research, says. "Considering the Galaxy S III has been out for several months we'd normally expect a slowdown by now, but it’s still red hot. We’re also seeing strong interest in Samsung’s large-screen phone -- the Galaxy Note II. Super-sized smartphones are taking the industry by storm in 2013". Among those planning to buy a Samsung smartphone, 69 percent say Galaxy S3 and 23 percent Note II.
In a ruling that will surprise precisely no one -- not even anyone inside Apple’s camp -- U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has denied Apple’s request for a permanent injunction against the Samsung products which were found to have infringed the Cupertino, Calif.-based corporation's patents, saying there was not enough evidence that the infringement had hurt Apple's North American sales.
In equally unsurprising news judge Koh also rejected Samsung’s request for retrial. The Korean firm had called into question the jury foreman’s impartiality after he failed to disclose he had been sued by his former employer Seagate Technology, a firm Samsung holds a stake in.
The South Korean tech giant has released a short YouTube teaser promising a new product which will be revealed on January 8-11 2013, presumably at the International CES in Las Vegas.
"The world awaits" the video says at the beginning before quickly flashing up words like "Innovation", "Ideas", "Design", "Technology", "Dreams", "Wonder", and "Future". It's obviously just an attempt to drum up interest in the forthcoming product and get the Samsung faithful speculating, as there are no other clues as to what the product might be. There are already plenty of guesses in the comments under the video, of course.
Apple’s stunning $1.05 billion victory over Samsung in August might have had the fanboys punching the air in delight, and left the South Korean company reeling, but it was never going to be the end of the matter. While patent battles continue to rage in other countries, all eyes are still on the U.S. courts as the two rivals square up once more for a second round.
Apple was back in court yesterday to defend its billion dollar award and persuade U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to permanently ban a number of older, infringing Samsung devices. Samsung for its part is trying to get the figure awarded against it reduced, or for the verdict to be dismissed (and a new trial arranged) following alleged juror misconduct. The jury foreman, Velvin Hogan, was sued by his former employer Seagate Technology in 1993, and as Samsung holds a stake in that company, lawyers for the South Korean giant argued Hogan’s failure to disclose the issue brought into serious question his impartiality.
US Thanksgiving is a time for reflection on the year behind, with plenty of time to ponder resolutions for January 1st. Yesterday, I posted about the things Microsoft should be grateful for in 2012. Today, I followed up with another, for Google. For consistency's sake, the list numbers eight, in line with Microsoft's, for which I chose to hat-tip Windows 8.
The list is by no means comprehensive, just some things that stand ahead of others -- and it is organized from least to most important. Google had a great year, perhaps the best ever. Few companies released more innovative products, affecting so many people and building such positive brand awareness.
As expected, Apple has come in for some blistering criticism from the UK courts over its refusal to publish a straightforward apology stating that Samsung did not copy the iPad.
The full ruling of the court of appeal hearing, published today, pulls no punches, describing Apple’s compliance with the newspaper advertisement order (in which it was instructed to publish an apology in several UK newspapers and magazines) as "lackadaisical at best". The recent statement published on its website was found to be even more serious as it contained "false material" and made out the case as about Samsung copying the iPad, when it wasn’t. (It was actually about whether Samsung had copied Apple’s registered design.)
Sometimes, we don't agree on what's the best approach to stories. Colleague Mihaita Bamburic and I looked at the same Strategy Analytics numbers but reach different takeaways. He focuses on Samsung Galaxy S III shipments surpassing iPhone 4S during Q3. I latch on to something else: S3 shipments tripling in one quarter.
Samsung started selling S3 internationally on May 29 -- 28 countries to start, with expansion planned to 147 locales from 297 cellular carriers. The smartphone soft launched in the United States on June 21. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung shipped 5.4 million Galaxy S IIIs during second quarter, more than tripling to 18 million in Q3. That's a helluva change, even for a new product shipping first time into the sales channel.
Strategy Analytics reports that during third quarter, and for the first time this year, Samsung Galaxy S III shipments surged ahead of iPhone 4S.
The South Korean manufacturer shipped 18 million S3s, for 10.7 percent share in global smartphone share. Strategy Analytics states that Samsung's success can be attributed to a number of factors, such as extensive market availability, important operator subsidies and large touchscreen design. On the other hand, Apple only managed to ship an estimated 16.2 million iPhone 4S units globally, reaching 9.7 percent share, enough to lose the crown as the world's most popular smartphone.
Does anyone really like to be bullied? Is arrogance something most people aspire to achieve, or behavior socially embraced? You know the answers. But these qualities too much describe Apple since its sudden success starting in 2010. The company continually sticks a middle finger in the face of competitors, judges, partners, the patent system and pretty much anyone or anything else. The corporate attitude is a disaster underway that, unless checked, will ruin reputation long in the making.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company makes many of the same mistakes Microsoft did during the late 1990s. Apple's most valuable commodity is its brand, which is being squandered at alarming pace. For a company for which so much stock share value derives from perception, the risk is huge.
As ordered by the UK courts, Apple has finally posted the statement regarding the outcome of its case with Samsung on the front page of its website. Except it hasn’t posted the statement as such, but rather a link to it, and as you’d probably expect by now, there’s much more to the posting than a simple apology.
Go to Apple UK and at first glance it will seem as if the apology has yet to be posted. However, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll find this statement:
If you’ve been following the story, you’ll know Apple was ordered to post a notice on its UK website and in several newspapers, stating that Samsung did not copy the iPad. After losing its appeal, Apple complied, sort of, by posting a statement as directed on its site. Only instead of it taking the form of an apology, it dwelt on how uncool Samsung products are, and how the UK court is out of step with the rest of the world.
Yesterday, the UK court told Apple to take down the "incorrect" statement and put up a proper apology (and on the front page of the site, rather than on a linked page), giving it 48 hours to do so. Today Apple has complied with the first part of the order -- removing the notice -- but the replacement is unlikely to make an appearance until just before the deadline expires. However, the new statement has appeared in newspapers today, and while it follows the court’s request, it’s the sort of thing that will have the already annoyed judges wanting to punch walls.
I wondered whether UK judges would kick in the teeth of arrogant Apple lawyers. They'll need dental work now. Today, the Court of Appeal in London delivered a figurative fist to the face in response to Apple posting a court-ordered apology that was anything but -- and actually accomplishes the opposite of its intent.
In July, UK judge Colin Birss ruled against Apple in a case charging Samsung with copying iPad's design. He ordered Apple to post an apology on its website and in major publications, to help offset the public image damage inflicted on Samsung. The American company appealed and lost. That notice, posted last week, defies the spirit of the order, an appellate judge told Apple lawyers today, according to Bloomberg.
Back in July, UK Judge Colin Birss ruled that "Samsung isn't cool enough to copy Apple." As a result, after losing the appeal, the Cupertino, Calif.-based corporation issued a notice on its United Kingdom website, but it's not what you'd expect.
Apple was supposed to explain to the visitors of its website that Samsung did not copy iPad design with the Galaxy Tab. Instead, Apple carefully placed the UK-based court in a bad light in relation to other court rulings from Germany and the United States. In the latter, Apple was awarded $1 billion in damages, with Samsung losing on both occasions as the copycat. Apple played the notice to its advantage.