Apple is wholly unoriginal … and that’s okay ? Here Comes Sam(sung)

Apple is set to announce a handful of new products next week that you’ve already seen elsewhere. But when it comes to Apple, that’s not a problem.

Whether it’s larger phones, a smartwatch or a new mobile payments system — all of which are rumored to be announced next week — Apple will be following the lead of other companies that already have products on the market. That’s prompting renewed criticism that the company has lost its ability to innovate following the death of former CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.

But even if Apple isn’t the first company to make these products, its track record indicates that it still has the opportunity to reap gains by executing them better than the competition.
“Apple is not usually first to market — they typically make an existing product much better and more usable,” said Amit Daryanani, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a pair of larger iPhones next week measuring 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, up from four inches on the iPhone 5S.
Those larger phones will finally give Apple (AAPL, Tech30) some entries into the “phablet” market. That product category has been led in recent years by rival Samsung.
For Apple, the larger phones are low-hanging fruit. Customers spent over $10 billion in the company’s App Store last year, the bulk of that going to gaming apps. Bigger screens and faster processors on the new iPhones will make those games even more compelling.
As for smartwatches, Apple will be following on the heels of devices from companies like Samsung, LG and Motorola that sync with smartphones and offer features like directions and fitness tracking.
But the recent crop of smartwatches have underwhelmed reviewers and failed to present a compelling reason why they’re more convenient than simply taking your phone out of your pocket. If Apple can find a way to improve on those models — perhaps with more sophisticated health tracking or location awareness — consumers may finally have a reason to ditch their old Timexes en masse.
The opportunity is even bigger in mobile payments, where smartphone-based systems like Isis and Google (GOOGL, Tech30) Wallet have been around for years without catching on.

Apple has reportedly been working with major credit-card companies on an iPhone-based payment system. The company already has more than 800 million credit cards on file thanks to iTunes and App Store accounts, according to some estimates, giving it a massive ready customer base.
Add to that the security of the iPhone’s fingerprint identification system and Apple could finally push merchants and consumers to ditch plastic and move to smartphone-based transactions.
“To say that Apple is coming out with a product that already exists ignores the fact that there were MP3 players before the iPod and smartphones before the iPhone,” said Walter Piecyk, an analyst with BTIG. “Those products defined their categories

Having trouble with your iPhone 5 battery? You might be eligible for a free replacement.
Apple (AAPL, Tech30) said “a very small percentage” of iPhone 5 smartphones may “suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently.”

Don’t get too excited just yet. After a year or two, everyone’s iPhone battery seems to carry less juice than it once did. But Apple’s repair program is limited to certain customers in the United States and China.
Only iPhone 5 smartphones sold between September 2012 and January 2013 are eligible, and only those that fall within a certain range of serial numbers. Apple has opened a website that allows people to determine whether their phones are eligible. (To access your serial number, tap Settings > General > About > Serial Number).

Investors curbed their bets on Apple on Wednesday.

One possible reason: They got a reminder that the company won’t have a free run at the market this fall even with the release of the hotly anticipated iPhone 6 and supposed iWatch.

Apple’s shares fell 4.2%, having hit an all-time closing high of $103.30 on Tuesday. The drop coincided with rival Samsung’s event at the IFA show in Germany, where it previewed new versions of its Galaxy

Apple Inc. (AAPL)-Nasdaq
Prev Close: 103.30
Open: 103.20
Bid: 98.79 x 100
Ask: 98.82 x 100
1y Target Est: 106.83
Beta: 0.83
Earnings Date: Oct 27 – Oct 31 (Est.)
Day’s Range: 98.58 – 103.20
52wk Range: 63.89 – 103.74
Volume: 125,424,577
Avg Vol (3m): 49,884,300
Market Cap: 592.44B
P/E (ttm): 16.60
EPS (ttm): 5.96
Div & Yield: 1.88 (2.00%

iShares SouthKorea ETF (EWY : NYSE : US$65.27), Net Change: -0.13, % Change: -0.20%, Volume: 1,332,424
Arms race?

Samsung unveiled new versions of its Galaxy Note smartphone on Wednesday, featuring a crisper, 5.7-inch display edition version of the Note with a curved edge screen on one of the phone’s sides, helping users to stay focused on their main screen without having to respond to calendar reminders or incoming emails.

It also demonstrated a Virtual Reality headset that on version of the Note with a curved edge screen on one of the phone’s sides, helping users to stay focused on their main screen without having to respond to calendar reminders or incoming emails.

. The launch comes just less than a week before Apple’s September 9 event where Apple is expected to roll out a 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 as well as a possible iWatch device. Last week, Samsung said it would begin selling a stand-alone wristwatch, the Samsung Gear S, which will be able to make and receive calls without having to be tethered to a smartphone. Apple is also expected to join forces with credit card companies to provide a mobile payment option for the iPhone 6 and iOS 8.

Leaked : Next Version Of Windows Is Coming Soon

Microsoft Just Accidentally Revealed The Next Version Of Windows Is Coming Soon
Microsoft’s Chinese division may have accidentally revealed the next major update to Windows over social media, suggesting its launch is right around the corner.
Microsoft China may have outted the company’s plans in a post on Chinese social network Weibo by asking the following: “Microsoft’s latest OS Windows 9 is coming soon, do you think the Start menu at the left bottom will make a comeback?”

The company also posted an image with what appears to be Windows tiles arranged to form the number nine, along with the question. Microsoft later confirmed to The Verge that this image is simply a mockup, meaning it has nothing to do with what Windows 9 will look like.

 

The Weibo post was removed quickly, but Chinese website Cnbeta captured a screenshot before Microsoft took it down, as The Verge first spotted.

We expect to learn more about what the next iteration of Windows will entail later this month. Microsoft is said to be preparing a press event for Sept. 30, where it will presumably unveil a Technology Preview of the upcoming operating system. It’s unclear exactly what a Technology Preview includes, but it’ll likely provide a glimpse at upcoming Windows features such as the mini Start menu.

From what we’ve heard about Windows 9, it seems like Microsoft is making some significant design changes to make its mobile-friendly OS more palatable for traditional PC users.

Mary J. Foley of ZDNet, who has an excellent track record when it comes to reporting Microsoft news, reported that Microsoft will remove the Charms sidebar from Windows for its next release. Users may also be able to open “Metro”-style apps in separate windows on the desktop as well.

Nokia Sale To Microsoft

Image representing Nokia as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

NOK : NYSE : US$3.90 HOLD 
Target: US$5.50 

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Nokia Corporation designs, manufactures, and sells a full range of mobile devices as well as network infrastructure along with services and software on a global basis. The company offers mobile phones and devices based on common mobile phone standards and offers devices that range from entry level to high-end, multifunction smartphones.
All amounts in US$ unless otherwise noted

Technology — Communications Technology — Wireless Equipment
NOKIA SELLS DEVICES & SERVICES BUSINESS TO MICROSOFT FOR ALL-CASH €5.4B TRANSACTION
Investment recommendation: With our global surveys indicating gradually improving Windows Phone 8 smartphone sales due to strong sales of the Lumia 520 and other mid/low-tier Lumia smartphones, we believe the timing makes sense for Microsoft to purchase Nokia’s Devices & Services business in order to fund stronger long-term growth trends. We maintain our HOLD rating but increase our price target to $5.50 ahead of Nokia’s 8 AM EDT conference call.
Investment highlights
 Microsoft will pay €3.79 billion to purchase Nokia’s Devices & Services business and €1.65 billion to license Nokia’s patents for a total transaction price of €5.44 billion in cash. We believe the transaction should close in the first quarter of 2014.
 Our recent survey work indicated steadily improving sales of the Lumia 520 and other low/mid-tier Lumia smartphones. In fact, our surveys indicated solid Lumia 520 sales not only in emerging markets such as Russia and key APAC region countries, but also in developed markets such as the U.K. and the U.S.
 We believe Microsoft with its strong balance sheet and increased focus on hardware devices can help accelerate the growing WP8 smartphone momentum. We estimate Lumia sales now constitute over 85% of WP8 smartphone sales. We believe Microsoft has recently worked more in concert with Nokia to drive sales, as evidenced by Microsoft’s advertising campaign featuring Lumia features and by Nokia 1020’s ranking as a top 3 selling smartphone at AT&T.
Stephen Elop is stepping down as CEO, as Nokia focuses on its three businesses of NSN, HERE, and Advanced Technologies.
 Due to improving Lumia sales trends and prior to the acquisition closing , we slightly raise our 2H/C2013 and C2014 D&S handset sales estimates, resulting in our 2013 non-IFRS EPS estimate increasing from $0.04 to $0.06 and our 2014 estimate increasing from $0.07 to
$0.10.
Valuation: Our $5.50 price target (was $33.30) is based on our sum-of-parts analysis.

 

Windows 8 Is A Flop : New York Times

Microsoft’s attempt to regain relevance and defend its core franchise with Windows 8 is off to a “shaky,” “tepid” start, says the New York Times.

 

Emmanuel Fromont, president of the America’s division of Acer, the number four PC maker, tells Nick Wingfield at the Times sales of Windows 8 PCs are coming in worse than expected. “It’s a slow start, there’s no question,” says Fromont.

Fromont isn’t the only person telling this story. At the end of November, Asus CFO David Chang said, “Demand for Windows 8 is not that good right now.”

And in the Times’ story, NPD analyst Stephen Baker is quoted as saying, “I think everybody would have hoped for a better start.” (NPD previously issued a negative report on the state of Windows 8.)

There are two reasons Windows 8 sales are slower than expected.

  • Windows 8 is a new experience with a steep learning curve that is intimidating some consumers.
  • Consumers are buying iPads, and delaying upgrades of their Windows-based PCs.

We didn’t reach out to Microsoft for comment on this story, but we know what it would say.

Microsoft would say it’s still too early to judge. It would say NPD’s data set is incomplete. It would say that it announced 40 million Windows 8 upgrades, which is better than it did with Windows 7 over a comparable period of time.

All of those are legitimated rebuttals. This is an ongoing story for Microsoft. But at first glance, it’s just not looking great for Microsoft.

Nederlands: Logo van Microsoft Windows 1.0, 2....
Nederlands: Logo van Microsoft Windows 1.0, 2.xx,3.xx, 95, 98, Me en 2000. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apple and Google Team Up On Kodak

English:
English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apple (AAPL : NASDAQ : US$529.82)
Google (GOOG : NASDAQ : US$685.42
Apple and Google are teaming up to offer more than $500 million to
purchase Kodak‟s patents out of bankruptcy, according to sources close to the matter.

The rivals have partnered after leading two separate groups this summer to buy some of Kodak‟s 1,100 imaging patents. The Apple-led group included  Microsoft (MSFT) and Intellectual Ventures Management LLC while Google‟s team included RPX Corp. and Asian makers of its Android phones. The two offers were both below $500 million. The deal is important for Kodak, who obtained commitments for $830 million in exit financing last month, contingent on the sale of its digital-imaging patents for at least $500 million.
Apple, Google and Kodak all declined to comment on the potential purchase. In the past, Kodak has said tha the patents could

be worth as much as $2.57 billion and that they have generated more than $3 billion in licensing revenue. That said, one industry expert said that “the portfolio is actually worth much less because it has been widely licensed.”

Apple Innovating Away From iPhones

Apple Inc. new headquarters
Apple Inc. new headquarters (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

the way back in February of this year, Apple’s iPhone business alone surpassed the size of Microsoft’s entire business, reaching nearly $25-billion in annual revenue versus Microsoft’s ~$20-billion.

Since February, Apple’s iPhone business has only grown, widening this gap.

Here’s what’s more remarkable yet: At this very moment, Apple is working on technology that, if successfully developed, will cannibalize and ultimately destroy that iPhone business.

We have two pieces of evidence.

The first is that Apple has established a pattern.

Unlike most companies, Apple has a remarkable ability to predict the kinds of gadgets that will undercut the gadgets it sells, and then build these new gadgets better than anyone else could.

The best example of this is the iPad, which is actively disrupting Apple’s own Mac business.

During Business Insider’s Ignition Conference last week, top Apple analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray talked about Apple’s tendency to cannibalize its own businesses and predicted that it would continue to do so.

He speculated that Apple is working on consumer robotics, wearable computers, 3D printing, consumable computers, and automated technology.

He showed everyone this chart, which visualizes Apple’s pattern:

Munster on Apple

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Here’s the other reason it’s safe to assume Apple is quietly working on the destruction of its most massive business, the iPhone.

Just like Google and Microsoft, Apple is working on computerized glasses.

Computerized glasses, are, at the moment, the technology that is most likely to bring the smartphone era to an end.

They fit into an obvious pattern, where computers have been getting smaller and closer to our faces since their very beginning.

First they were in big rooms, then they sat on desktops, then they sat on our laps, and now they’re in our palms. Next they’ll be on our faces.

We have the rough schematics of Apple’s project.

They’ve been  publicly available on the US Patent Office’s Web site since this summer, when they were noticed by several Apple-watching websites.

In the patent filing, Apple calls the gadget  a “head-mounted display” or “HMD.”

The filing is authored by Tony Fadell, designer of the iPod, and John Tang. Fadell is no longer at Apple, but Tang is.

Some highlights from the description:

  • An HMD is “a display device that a person wears on the head in order to have video information directly displayed in front of the eyes.”
  • “The optics are typically embedded in a helmet, glasses, or a visor, which a user can wear.”
  • “HMDs can be used to view a see-through image imposed upon a real world view, thereby creating what is typically referred to as an augmented reality.”
Apple says HMDs can be used…
  • To “display relevant tactical information, such as maps or thermal imaging data.”
  • To “provide stereoscopic views of CAD schematics, simulations or remote sensing applications.”
  • For “gaming and entertainment applications.”
A gadget that features applications for maps, games, and a million other uses? Sounds familiar.

Here’s an illustration from the patent filing:

Apple Patent

Tech Trends That Will Make Someone Billions Of Dollars Next Year

Big Data
Big Data (Photo credit: Kevin Krejci)

The world will spend a whopping $2.1 trillion on tech in 2013

The world will spend a whopping $2.1 trillion on tech in 2013

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2013 will be a make-it-or-break-it year in mobile for some vendors

2013 will be a make-it-or-break-it year in mobile for some vendors

Steve Kovach, Business Insider

When it come to mobile, 2013 will bring us these three things:

  • Mini tablets with screens less than 8 inches in size will be the rage, accounting for 60% of tablets sold.
  • The market for smartphones and tablets combined will grow by 20%.
  • 2013 will be a make-or-break year for mobile platforms. Those that don’t attract interest from at least 50% of app developers won’t survive. Google and Apple are past that threshold. Microsoft now sits at 33%. RIM is at 9%.

Big IT companies will feast on smaller cloud players

Big IT companies will feast on smaller cloud players

The software-as-a-service phenomenon really grew up in the past 12 months, with big vendors like Oracle and SAP spending billions to buy their way into the market.

IDC thinks we haven’t seen anything yet.

“There will be over $25 billion in SaaS acquisitions over the next 20 months, up from $17 billion in the past 20 months,” it says.

Some companies are too highly valued to make for easy acquisitions, like the publicly traded Salesforce.com, worth $22 billion, or the fast-growing, still-private Box at $1.2 billion. But a bunch of others could be ripe for deals: Okta, Zenoss, and ServiceMax come to mind

A lot of smaller, specialized clouds will sprout up

A lot of smaller, specialized clouds will sprout up

In 2012, a lot of new cloud tech came out that made it easier and more affordable for anyone to build a cloud.

That means that in 2013, a whole bunch of new clouds will crop up. These will serve specific industries, for instance hospitals, construction companies, banks.

Big data will get bigger

Just like 2012 was the year that mobile devices and cloud computing became the must-have things for every company, big data will be the thing everyone will use in 2013.

IDC says the big-data market will grow at an annual rate of 40%. It will hit about $5 billion in 2012, $10 billion by 2013, and $53 billion by 2017.

The data center as we know it is over

The data center as we know it is over

Meet Yellowstone, the super hero supercomputing fighting climate change

NCAR

New data-center technologies that took root in 2012 will become the big thing in 2013.

These include “converged systems,” where companies buy machines that have computation, storage, networking, and software bundled together.

Another is software-defined networks, which is a new way to build networks.

These represent a tremendous opportunity for the established players like Cisco, Dell, HP, and Oracle. But they are also a big risk if they get it wrong. A whole class of startups are rising up to disrupt these guys.

Your work computer will be an ID you keep in your head

Your work computer will be an ID you keep in your head

AP

The bring-your-own-device trend, also known as BYOD, will morph into BYID—bring-your-own-ID.

That is, your work computer will be available to you anywhere, on any device. All you have to do is properly log in.

This is the ultimate result of investments in new cloud, mobile, and data-center technologies