Epee and quarterstaff

It is an old riddle that goes back to the renaissance: ‘What do the Epee and quarterstaff have in common?’ The answer is that they extent reach. The lesson is that everything has its reach and the power remains when you do not exceed the 90% of it until you are either forced, or if you have a 100% certainty of causing a fatal hit. Making the mistake in those days meant certain death. Those days were not about points, it was not about bragging on besting a person, it was kill or be killed, plain and simple. A lesson that is 500 years old and Apple apparently never learned it. So in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/30/apple-iphone-sales-first-quarter-earnings) we see ‘Apple’s iPhone sales fall 17% in first quarter as flagship product struggles‘, what was interesting was: “The company made a profit of $11.6bn – ahead of expectations. But this quarter marked another quarterly decline in profit and revenue as the company struggled to move beyond the iPhone“, even as Apple is in a buyback phase to regain its heralded one trillion dollar company, there are still clouds in the background. It starts with the iPhone, an iPhone Xr 128GB is $1299, the not most powerful version of the iPhone Xs is $2049. Yet the competing Androids are $1499 (Google Pixel 3), $1599 (Huawei P30 pro) and $1699 (Samsung S10), those are all on the same, or in some regards on a more superior level; if we are concerned consumers and we are willing to step down a little we can get decently competitive phones for $449, that is what Apple is up against, you can shout all you want on how refined, elitist and top range your phone is, but the amount of people with that kind of cash available is dwindling down and Apple is realising that buying back stock and take control of the smacking they are about to get is indeed a wise choice, but so far my prediction remains that Apple is heading towards a 30% decline of net value is not unrealistic at all. Then there are the issues on the computer side of apple too. What Digital Trends called ‘Flexgate’ last January is still on the mind of many, and as they gave us the quote: “the stage light effect is caused by flaws with a cabling system that Apple uses to attach each MacBook display to the internals of the laptop. In MacBook models from 2016 and newer, Apple switched to a new flexible and thin ribbon cable, which over a long period of time can face fatigue and eventually tear as the lid is repeatedly opened and closed on the laptop” with additional information (at https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/flexgate-issue-plaguing-some-macbook-pro-owners/) we see that Apple has played the ‘presentation innovation’ card slightly too visible, so now there is a backlash. Then there is bendgate (iPad Pro bending), then we get in addition the May 2018 class-action lawsuit that alleges that Apple has “failed and continues to fail to disclose” problems with its butterfly keyboard. It says Apple’s actions are violating several competition and regulatory laws, including California’s Unfair Competition Law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The lawsuit is seeking damages for the class, as well as an acknowledgement by Apple that there’s a problem with its keyboard design. This case is not over and done with, because it will be a global problem soon enough, so the steps that Apple has to take will take a massive chunk on their value and profit reporting within the coming year. Al these actions whilst they have plenty more issues coming their way. Now in their defence, the entire Flexgate could have happened to anyone, but proper testing does give light to these dangers, it is interesting to note that IKEA might have a better quality testing department than Apple does, which shows that Scandinavians optionally have a better idea towards exceeding customer service and keeping proper tabs on quality. This all before you realise that Tech Insider reported ‘Apple is squirrelling away money to pay for lawsuits related to its iPhone ‘batterygate’ throttling scandal‘ (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/iphone-batterygate-lawsuits-cause-apple-to-set-aside-money-2019-2) an issue that is still not done with and might not be done with until 2020. So when you see that list costing them optional billions, do you think that my view was unrealistic?

As they give us: “previous class-action suits have resulted in $US450 million judgments against the iPhone maker“, I feel certain that this will not get it done in this case and if they are really really lucky, it might only cost them $45 billion, you forget that the Euro courts are snapping at the heels of Apple as well, 27 nations all with a score of angry customers, we realise that there is always a cost to doing business and there is premium to pay when the limelight is set on what might call ‘intentional deceptive conduct’ and ‘batterygate’ fits that bill and then some. This is not the end; there is also indirect damage to come. This was given by Apple Insider with ‘Latest Facebook-related security breach finds millions of records exposed on Amazon servers‘, there we see (at https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/04/03/latest-facebook-related-security-breach-finds-millions-of-records-exposed-on-amazon-servers) that Apple was connected: “These include data sharing deals with companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Sony, plus people being able to look up strangers based on phone numbers submitted for two-factor authentication“, so when we see data-sharing, we think it is only Facebook, but sharing goes in many directions and what did Apple share? the entire ‘people being able to look up strangers based on phone numbers submitted for two-factor authentication‘ implies that Apple optionally has a decent amount to answer for, or perhaps better stated, there is plenty of issues brought to light that the Apple legal teams need to ignore, deny or carefully phrase into another direction, there is only so many fines any company can live with before the larger population bails and if that happens before December 2019 than my prediction of 30% could end up being way too optimistic, but I keep a conservative view on the matters for now. Consider the steps that Apple has been making, their ‘new’ iMac Pro, it is a computer that starts at $7,299, whilst the normal new iMac, a computer that would satisfy 95% of all Apple users is a mere $2,799. Now, I am not opposed to an overpowered computer, but consider the cost of creating it, redesigning parts and making it look more expensive, do the amount of buyers rectify for that? Is the ROI curve not massively overstated and when we realise that, is a company where its marketing is insisting on annual innovation not out of control? What is the price tag of that you reckon? It becomes even more laughable when we consider a review (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YwYZvmYecI) where we see the MacRumors channel giving us at 5:30 that the iMac Pro (2017 model) exports 4K video in 2:44, whilst the normal iMac (2019 model) does the same thing in 2:31, it seems trivial, yet remember that there is a $7,299 versus $2,799 in play and within 2 years the value of $4,500 was lost to the user, as such the life time value of an iMac has pretty much gone into the basement taking out customer loyalty overnight. the last time I looked, looking cool for a year at the price of $4,500 was decently overrated for most people, and it makes for a business case that the iMac pro could be regarded as wasted investment for its consumers soon thereafter (in some places they refer to that as: ‘warranty until you exit the premises‘.

These are some of the issues that Apple is facing and there are a lot more issues (yet most of those are actually trivial). It is there that we return to the Guardian with: ‘the company struggled to move beyond the iPhone‘, that and the 2018 iPad Pro Bendgate issue does not help any and that is where we see that quality assessment has failed miserably. The need to look innovative, lighter and thinner means that testing becomes more and more important. So when the consumer was treated to ‘Apple releases an official statement on reports that some iPad Pros have come bent right out of the box’ on January 2019 with: “Relative to the issue you referenced regarding the new iPad Pro, its unibody design meets or exceeds all of Apple’s high quality standards of design and precision manufacturing.”, and as such the consumer feels duped to say the least. One source also gives us: “Apple claims that the bending can’t exceed more than 400 micron–“the width of fewer than four sheets of paper at most,” which is a “tighter specification for flatness than previous generations,” the note says.

The tech note further states that the antenna splits “may make subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use.”“, whilst the image from MacRumors (at https://www.macrumors.com/guide/ipad-pro-2018-bending-issue/) shows a bending issue close to 1,000% of what they claim, making the issue rise to the surface and also gives a much larger light of additional class actions that might be filed later this year if Apple does not change policy immediately, so is my 30% drop still off? I already gave some visibility to that (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/02/24/future-through-the-sub-line/) almost 3 months ago, and I have not noticed any clear loud actions by Apple Marketing to counter the damage that this issue was bringing.

It is not what Apple claims to do, it is the failing on a few levels, the marketing on several product lines and the neglect of services that shows that not only is it struggling to move beyond the iPhone, at present they have very few options left to them in any of the product lines to set any stage of ‘moving beyond’ and that too will suppress growth to a much larger degree, and optionally for a much longer time. All that whilst they should have known when they started the Pro and high priced iPhone series that they are selling to people who demand perfection and high end quality especially at the prices that they are selling it at, at that point your QA department is the most important department you have, not your marketing department.

It is the direct visibility when you extent beyond your reach, you get hammered down and you get hammered down hard, in the renaissance that apple individual would not be defeated, that person would merely be dead and forgotten, I hope that this is the lessons that apple takes to heart because the treasures of 5G are looming and Apple might be out in the cold soon enough. I reckon that the $4.5 billion payment to Qualcomm is making that obvious and clear to all, which is news that was released only hours ago with: “As pointed out by Axios, Qualcomm will record $4.5 to $4.7 billion in revenue from the Apple settlement, which includes a “cash payment from Apple and the release of related liabilities.”” (Source: MacRumors).

Apple still has a long way to go to get back on top, I wonder if they ever will.

 

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