Posts filed under “Web/Tech”

The idea factory

Is music a zero sum game?

Consider the following:  Clearchannel has stumbled badly, along with most of the radio sector. Their "Hamburger helper" strategy has clearly backfired. The attempt to paint an inability to sell out ad times as a customer friendly move didn’t fool anyone. That’s before we talk about satellite radio, which hasn’t even begun to hit its stride.

The big labels are floundering; They never knew what to make of digital. Their inability to get ahead of the digital distribution curve, their horrific handling of P2P, and their self inflicted PR wounds will likely dog them for years to come.

And Microsoft, well, their attempt to be all things to all people — a function of their enormity — has yet to really pay off. The most interesting thing about the Redmond behemoth is that they cannot seem to make a profit in any arena where they are not leveraged to a monopoly. (you should know my disclosures on MSFT by now).

Lets look at an entirely different approach to music and technology: Apple.

They make really cool products. Beautifully designed, innovative in the way the address consumer needs, technologically transparent and elegant. They truly have become an idea factory. And its paid off in spades for them (see chart below).

Only a handful of companies have been able to establish themselves, reinvent and reinvent again what they actually are — while remaining true to a core set of beliefs. For Apple, that’s user friendly, well-designed interface, products that delight.

How many other companies have done that? I can think of a few besides Apple: Harley Davidson, G.E.,  3M, The Gap (i.e, Banana Republic and Old Navy),and to some degree, American Express. IBM certainly has successfully reinvented itself. If you consider all the divisions Sears created,than you have to include them also: Dean Witter, Allstate, Discover, H&R Block and Coldwell Banker.

In the technology sphere, however, how often does that actually happen?  Dell is the low-cost, direct-to-consumer PC builder. Will they succeed at becoming a consumer electronics company — or will they at most be a PC maker that happens to also sell inexpensive Plasma TVs?

That’s what makes Apple so interesting as a  company . . .


An iPod a Day

Apple’s shares have soared to new heights since the company introduced its popular music player:

1. Sept. 29, 2000: Apple’s stock tumbles after warning of earnings shortfall amid weak sales of its G4 Cube computer.
2. Oct. 23, 2001: Apple introduces its iPod digital music player.
3. Jan. 7, 2002: Redesigned iMac computer with a flat screen is released.
4. April 28, 2003: iTunes Music store opens and sells one million downloads in its first week.
5. Jan, 6, 2004: The smaller iPod Mini is introduced. Apple says it has sold two million iPods to date.
6. July 12, 2004: iTunes downloads top 100 million.
7. Jan. 12, 2005: Apple says it sold 4.6 million iPods in December quarter and more than 10 million to date.
8. Feb. 11, 2005: Apple announces 2-for-1 stock split.

Source: WSJ

Category: Investing, Music, Web/Tech

Uh-Oh: Apple on the Cover of Fortune

Category: Investing, Media, Web/Tech

Video Game Industry Sales Reach Record Pace in 2004

Category: Music, Web/Tech

VOTE: Best Financial Industry/Investment Blog

Category: Web/Tech

Apple aiming for the sweetspot ?

Since we’ve been discussing the impact of Apple lately, I thought it worthwhile to point to a graphic depiction of Apple’s marketing strategy, as conceived by future Wired comtributor Paul Nixon.

I’m not sure I agree with Paul’s statement that "until January 2005,
Apple had no iPod that served the mass market
" givent he enormous sales
numbers the Pod has rung up. But the broader point of targeting the new devices
at truly mass entry level (i.e., cheap) is valid.

click for larger graphic


Check out the full size graph here:

Nice work, Paul

Apple’s Tipping Point: Macs for the Masses
Paul Nixon
Nixlog, January 12, 2005

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Category: Finance, Web/Tech

Wall Street Remains Clueless as Ever as to Apple’s Products

From all the chatter I’ve heard on Wall Street, I get the sense that many PC analysts – long wed to the windows world – have no clue what to make of the mini Mac. I cannot say I am surprised.

Just last year, one PC analyst at a bulge bracket firm suggested Apple sell itself to Sony. Another suggested that Apple start producing Windows machines, or use Intel chips.

Umm, no.

This is part of a long term misunderstanding of Apple by the Street. Most of them don’t “get” Apple; They certainly haven’t been able to figure out Steve Jobs. And since all but one (that I know of) work primarily on a Windows machine, they never really understood what the fuss about the Mac was all about.

Until the iPod came along. Apple created a category killer by engineering a marvelous piece of user friendly technology made from essentially off the shelf components. The secret sauce was their terrific user interface. That forced some Analysts to start getting clued into what the cult of Macintosh was all about.

But what about this new Mac mini?

Understand what Apple is doing with the mini:

1) It’s a Windows replacement machine;

2) Geeks like it!

3) It’s potentially the centerpiece for a Home theatre

4) It’s a cheap 2nd Apple for faithful MacHeads

Let’s focus on #2 today (#1 will be the subject of a column later this week).

In the old days, geeks recommended Windows because they were a “standard,” they let admins under the hood pretty regularly  — and they were cheap.

Indeed, the original name for Windows 95 was “the IT department full employment act.”
It was buggy, difficult to maintain, vulnerable and crash prone – but
it was the industry standard. Any IT guy you spoke to in the mid 90s
would tell you how much cheaper the Wintel machines were to buy, how
much more software there was for it.

he didn’t tell you was how much higher the cost of ownership was –
namely his salary. Its eventually became his entire support staff’s


The result of that “bias” has been costly to maintain PC networks in most offices, and unsupported PCs in most homes. Every home PC user who has ever had a major Windows headache – security issues, virus infections, corrupted ini files, missing dll library – is desperate for an easy to use alternative.

Here we are a decade later, and a new generation of younger IT employees have inherited these headaches from their predecessors. And, to judge by the geek blogs and websites, they are none to happy about it. From Malware to spam hijacking to Explorer vulnerabilities, keeping a windows network running – or even a single internet connected machine – is a time consuming, frustrating job.

For what most people use their PCs for – email, internet surfing, music playing / CD burning, word processing – this is all the machine they need.

And Geeks like it! They really like it! — And they are key influencers of purchases by many people . . .

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Category: Investing, Web/Tech

Fun with Google

Category: Web/Tech

Hunting for the next iPod

Category: Web/Tech

Is the RIAA successful or not?

Category: Music, Web/Tech

Microsoft Conduct Is Challenged Again


Microsoft Conduct Is Challenged Again

As it pushes to settle other antitrust suits, Microsoft Corp. faces new, potentially damaging allegations about its business conduct in a patent-theft and monopolization case pending in a federal court in Baltimore.

In a court filing unsealed late Monday, a small Silicon Valley software company called Inc. alleges that Microsoft routinely destroyed much of its internal e-mail despite the many federal investigations and private suits it has faced in recent years, when it was often under court orders to preserve such communications., whose early investors included the Irish rock band U2, filed its suit two years ago. It charges that Microsoft used Burst’s digital-media technology in Windows, solving a technical problem that was slowing the acceptance of Internet video. Burst also claims that Microsoft tried to patent the technology after a technical briefing from Burst, and altered Windows so that Burst’s product wouldn’t work. Microsoft denies the charges.

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Category: Finance, Web/Tech