Tag Archives: forecasting

What’s in the room?

It is merely a reference to a modernised joke by the Groucho brothers. ‘Wow, is that a really large penis, or is there an elephant in the room?‘ This is the situation we face (and yes it was an elephant). The stage we see when we are confronted with: “The 240-year-old department store chain was valued at just £65m by the end of the day, after its shares fell by 21% amid reports that it was now being shunned by suppliers. It was the biggest one-day fall recorded by the retailer for more than a decade” (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/14/debenhams-shares-fall-by-21). There is a question forming in my mind, but I will refrain from voicing it for now. You see, we also see: “The sharp decline also came after very poor weekly sales figures released by John Lewis on Tuesday. The rival department store chain said fashion and home sales collapsed by more than 11% on 2017 levels last week“. This now leads us to the question ‘Hold on, Debenhams is impacted by the bad sales of a competitor?‘ and that is not the worst. John Lewis is doing the British thing and blaming the weather though ‘John Lewis blames weather for clothing and homeware slump‘ they are all in an ‘I am so upset mode‘ due to: “The poor clothing figures came despite the employee-owned chain’s recent investment in its womenswear ranges, including the 300-piece John Lewis & Partners collection“. Debenhams reported more bad news in the recent past and they are all signals and symptoms of another problem. Yet the issue of that problem is not the actual problem, it is actually seen through “The move comes just weeks after credit ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its long-term outlook for Debenhams and increased its “probability of default” rating, which assesses how likely it is that the company will be unable to pay some or all of its debts“. It is not Debenhams, it is Moody’s that is part of the problem and there should be some consideration whether we should look at orchestration here. From my personal view there are two elements. One is actually Debenhams; the other is Moody’s as well as the analysts that they have.

Painting the frame of an empty picture

To get that, we need to look at the larger picture and therefor look at the frame of it all. There are plenty of people who have a job, yet their living expenses are high, and in winter even higher. Now we get the more important part in all this, which is: ‘This is not news!’ And that revelation puts Moody’s in part of the frame. In this day and age, laces like Sydney and London, the cost of living is through the roof and people can only barely get by. In Sydney we also have Christmas coming and it is going to be summer here soon, so the Australian population is going with the Australian bikini (hat and panties), so women look even more amazing than ever before and the weather ensues that they are not cold, so no heating bill (optionally some air-conditioning expenses). In the UK it is the reversed and under these conditions KMart, Target and places alike are doing really nice, whilst places like John Lewis with their “300-piece John Lewis & Partners collection” will not get much traction until the boxing day sales when prices go down 30% or more, so any increased revenue expectations is close to insane in November (besides black Friday that is). Optionally December will be on par (at best), so there we see my reason for the suspicion of orchestration. More so when we see information like “Debenhams did not deny the reports, but a spokesman said: “Many suppliers don’t use credit insurance. Those that have used it historically are well aware of the current situation and work with retailers to manage things accordingly“. This now gives us two parts. The first is seen with: ‘Those that have used it historically are well aware of the current situation‘, so not only is it a known situation, it is known historically so making the 21% down an even larger no-no, because a predicted event is either calculated in, or it is a stage of orchestration as I personally see it. This implies that some players are overly confident in the previous cycle, whilst the known elements were already in place that this was highly unlikely to ever happen. This is an additional part in my personal suspicion of orchestration of the numbers and optionally by the numbers.

The other article on John Lewis (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/13/john-lewis-says-mild-weather-to-blame-for-clothing-sales-slump) gives us: “It was also a challenging week for homeware, which fell 11.2.% after a sluggish housing market hit demand for curtains and cushions. Technology fared better and, though sales were down by 2.8%, the department was bolstered by gadget launches such as the iPhone XR“, and at this point we see even more.

You see, when we see the household spend being down, why would anyone get curtains and cushions at their homeware, whilst they get a decent and much better deal at places like IKEA? That would have been my forecast and knowing that is also adamant to the stage where the previous estimation of certain vendors would have been too positive in advance, in addition, technology sales would have been overestimated if it was down, yet not as much by the iPhone XR, so that implies (from my point of view) that there was a clear overestimation in the first place, as well as an optional overestimation of the new iPhone which by the way is at least 17% too expensive from the get go. Knowing these elements and you can see them in your own personal environment the best, you know that most of you are a little more cautious because of upcoming Christmas, all that implies that the organisations like Moody’s have been loading their cannons for another reason, because the entire cost of living is out of whack and it seems that it can now be used for optional economic orchestration, which is a huge no-no in my books. In addition, we see this downfall whilst the Black Friday has not started yet, a black Friday that could impact sales extremely positive as some see Debenhams (optionally John Lewis too) as the place to be on such a day. Consider that last year (according to the Express) ‘Debenhams offered up to 70 percent off on certain goods. Calvin Klein clothes were discounted by 50 percent‘, so when we see that, can we expect that these places were shunned last month so that the people could buy a lot more bargains? When you know that there is a chance that articles will be priced sown by 70%, would you shop now, or wait for an optional 70% cheaper pair of jeans (and if the man is lucky, his girlfriend will stock up on lingerie on that day too). All elements that are close to given, so when we see a 21% downfall on given expectations, whilst we see that certain elements are not considered in the first place, it is my believe that there is a setting of orchestration, which can have far reaching effects, especially as certain players with openly pressuring anti-Brexit feelings should no longer be ever trusted, not as they are trying to sway people through fear mongering. That is a personal believe of mine and so far I have been proven correct in more than one way ad on more than one occasion.

Let’s be clear, we need places like Fitch and Moody’s, yet when we see that certain known factors are downplayed by  analysts and when we see that they are not held accountable in any way, we see a power vacuum, where people unelected and optionally non-qualified are setting a dangerous stage for corporations to be scrutinised on a few counts where there was a seemingly level of neglect on applied business intelligence, at what point will we see the open questions on how the curve was overly downgraded at a prearranged point? If Debenhams and John Lewis get to hit the ball out of the part on the coming weekend and we see overly good news on the week after, will we start asking the questions on how analysts are optionally intentionally fear mongering companies into some level of administration? My views are supported by Springboard. The Guardian gives us: “The most recent data from Springboard, which counts shopper numbers, showed high street footfall down 2% in October – the 11th consecutive month of decline. Its analysts suggested shoppers were waiting for Black Friday and other seasonal promotions“. When we see that view and we do see that there has been a drop and the drop can be explained in simple and logical ways, at that point we see that there is an urgent need for Moody’s to explain their actions and give us jerk-knee actions like lowering the forecast for well over a fifth of the value, whilst the known status for the UK has been that Christmas tends to be a decent time, especially as there is no Thanksgiving outside of the US (for the most).

It seems to me that analysts and credit agencies like Fitch and Moody’s are becoming the elephant in the room and their actions should be the beginning of a lot of questions, especially as there are still too much questions on how they were in denial for too long in the 2008 bank and housing issues. It seems that they have been given a pass for too long and it is time to address that, especially as the US has been deploying whatever they can to avert Brexit into a remain status, they do not like to lose their upgraded revenue at the exploitation of Europe any day soon and that has come under fire to a much larger degree, and it should be receiving a lot more scrutiny by all levels of media soon enough (actually,  they are already a year late on that too).

At some point serious people should address the elephant in the room. I am hereby voicing clearly that I might be completely wrong, yet I am asking questions, ready to be corrected. The facts are clearly shown that some actions are overly excessive, especially in light of certain parts shown out there, the Debenhams situation is not new, there are pressures and no one denies that, yet they are not new. There are clear indicators that this has been a longstanding issue, a longstanding status of consumers not having enough available to splurge in any real sense of the way, making the entire 21% drop questionable on many levels and we do not see the questions asked, more so the drop is just accepted as is, which is another issue as well. We can clearly ask John Lewis a certain amount of questions that link the words ‘sanity’ and ‘reasoning’ on their ‘300-piece John Lewis & Partners collection‘. When was that done? Was it ever done? When we see the mention of ‘The line, which will be available in sizes 8-20 and available at prices ranging from £10 for a cotton jersey tank to £250 for a cashmere coat‘, yet I see no information on where the mean, the median is and how many pieces are at the outliers of that 300 piece range, is that not an important part as well? You see if 45%-65% is between the lowest and the -1 median John Lewis really arranged for a good time for themselves, if more than 40% is higher than the mean, we see that their insight was poor, with the optional ‘utterly stupid’ label if 30% is between Median +1 and highest priced articles, especially in this economic climate. Did anyone look at that? I am asking, because I searched, but I did not find that information. I am willing to accept that I did not look everywhere and in the wrong places, but Google search is pretty good that way. So as that part is optionally missing, the question I had on analysts, forecasters and prognosticators is setting them in a not so good light, especially as this data would have been available pre-launch (consider that these catalogues needed months to be created and printed).

These are all elements that were available way ahead of a sudden drop in values. Now, in the case of John Lewis, there is a chance that the fashion was initially rejected (until Black Friday) but that too could have been accounted for ahead of time. This all gives additional value to the question: ‘What is in the room?‘ So what if it was not an elephant, but merely an overextended ego? How would we see the status that Moody’s, Fitch and others are giving certain UK retail downgrades ahead of the curve?

I wonder if we will see the questions come after Black Friday and in January 2019, but I am not getting my hopes up, not any day soon at present.

 

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The Global Economic Switch

There is a shift going on, now this shift is still in the planning stages, but the switch is very real and as we see the crumbling switch from enabler and entrepreneur, the US is moving towards becoming a mere consumer and dependent user. That is a switch some might have seen coming, others have not seen it at all and some are still in denial, claiming it is a short term inconvenient stage. I have no idea which is true, but the events that are a given are showing to be more than a mere short term event and the diplomatic impact will equally show to be a long term impact on what the US had and what it will become. Now there are indicators, but the image is not seen in a single view, so let’s paint this picture for you whilst adding the sources.

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian announced investment (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/05/saudi-arabia-and-egypt-agree-to-a-10-billion-deal-to-build-a-new-mega-city.html), is actually a lot more than the $10 billion forecasted, because the value as I showed in over the last year is more than becoming a reality, it is now in a planned stage, and planned much larger than I foresaw it going. It starts with “Saudi Arabia and Egypt have agreed to create a $10 billion joint fund to develop a mega-city in Egypt’s southern Sinai Peninsula, with both countries committing more than 1,000 square kilometres (386 square miles) of land to the new project“, you see, depending on the distance from Sharm-El-Sheikh the infrastructure will grow much faster and even as they will rely on what Sharm-El-Sheikh has, the growth of this new Mega-city could be the start of the tech-hub that benefits both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. As the technology hubs grow, so will the economy. It is also the first part to start getting combined 4G/5G preparation in place, because as this technology becomes available Saudi Arabia now has a first advantage in both upgrading its services and that gives optional access to 23-32 million out of a 95 million population. With the tech hubs, both the Sinai one as the half a trillion dollar NEOM, there will be a massive growth in dependency and requirements for technology. There is in addition, the Barcelona World Mobile Congress where on February 26th Huawei announced its full range of end-to-end (E2E) 3GPP-compliant 5G product solutions, now the other players will be following, yet Huawei has an advantage for now. With “The featured products are also the only available options within the industry to provide 5G E2E capabilities” we see that Huawei has chosen a path that allows them to grow and they will not be alone, but for now they are ahead of the crowds, so even as we see now “Huawei partnered with Zain Saudi Arabia, signing a Memorandum of Understanding promising to develop a new network strategy in the Kingdom. The aim of the MoU is to accelerate the realization of 5G networks and assist Zain in building the most advanced end-to-end networks in the region. The two companies will work together to accelerate the deployment of 4.5 to 5G networks, make further advances towards full cloudification, and produce additional strategy and planning in the field of ICT Synergy Cloud” (at https://www.arabtimesonline.com/news/huawei-outlines-vision-5g-future-co-unveils-latest-innovative-products-solutions-mwc/) merely a day ago. I gave that indication almost two weeks earlier, so how is that for a prediction. So even as the US is setting the bar at “Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington, DC and Houston” to be the first with 5G at the end of the year, what happens when you need to reach out to Wall Street and Manhattan? Will that be merely 4G, or will you suddenly experience other issues (between providers, reception issues and so on; oh, and as you go from protocol to protocol switching per cell tower on the move, watch that battery power drain as the battery percentage goes down like a timer in seconds 75, 74, 73, 72, 71 and so on. Please do not take my word on this, it is much better when your own eyes see the battery counter go down, it adds to the dramatic effect when you hear me howl with laughter (stating: ‘I told you so’). So even as the article ended with “Ken Hu, Huawei Rotating CEO, said: “The intelligent world is drawing near, filled with potential and possibilities. Ground-breaking technologies like 5G and IoT promise to solve complex business challenges and improve the lives of the population. Yet challenges remain on our path before these dreams are realized. MWC 2018 was an excellent opportunity for us to meet with other leading companies and discuss how together we can overcome these obstacles, achieve sustainable business growth, and Build a Better Connected World.”“, I will admit that I have an issue with that part, you see with ‘IoT promise to solve complex business challenges‘, we see the implied solution, but the IoT (Internet of Things) is merely the applied hype word in a solution that has not been designed yet. It is true that the application of IoT is a solution in itself towards a whole shoal of options and challenges, but as we consider that the 4G smartphone brings solutions, it requires the apps to be there and solve actual settings and that takes time, like all other needs. In that regard I see the IoT as the old sales technique of selling a concept before the product exists and I always thought that to be a broken non resolving approach to the greedy salespeople coming with a ‘pay it forward’ solution that is paid for before the product has been completed. It is a dodgy need, because in the end the (business) consumer needs and actual product to work with. Yet that might just be me imagining things.

United States of America

The view here starts with the Financial Times, who brought us ‘Currency markets send a warning on the US economy‘ (at https://www.ft.com/content/de57a6a2-1e32-11e8-a748-5da7d696ccab). So even as this is about the financial markets, there are a few points to take away from that. First there is “The pattern of higher interest rates and a weakening currency suggests that on multiple dimensions US assets now have to be put on sale to convince foreigners to hold them or induce Americans not to diversify into overseas assets. This pattern is relatively uncommon in the US though it happened in the Carter administration before Paul Volcker’s appointment as chair of the Federal Reserve and in the Clinton administration before Treasury secretary Robert Rubin’s invocation of the “strong dollar” policy. It is fairly ubiquitous in emerging markets where it reflects anxiety over a country’s policy framework“. The dangerous part here is ‘convince foreigners to hold them or induce Americans not to diversify into overseas assets’; you see it is a move of limitation, either the non-American buyer holds onto the for a much longer time, which needs convincing (usually with higher yields), as well as stopping Americans to go overseas into other markets, so it is not actually an ‘or’ situation, it is actually an ‘and’ setting where the inclusion needs to be both to remove doubt and volatility. The article ends with “The confidence of global markets is much easier to maintain than to regain. Currency markets are sending a signal that the US is not on a healthy path. Its time for the US to strengthen the strong fundamentals on which a strong dollar and healthy economy depends“, you see that view is set not merely in the war of tariffs, it is set where the global markets have been seeing a decline in US activity and more important acts that show that the US economy is feeble and the US infrastructure is not in strength, it is merely getting by and that is a dangerous place to be in. Even as I predicted that the inactions and the inability to act against Russia will be felt when Russia calls the bluff of America, it is now showing that the US on a larger scale is showing to be set towards a series of hurdles that will stagnate its economy and over the long haul (within two years) will show the danger of another recession, so when that happens and projects get halted, how will Sprint and other players pay for 5G? Entrepreneurial innovation tends to demand buckets of cash, cash that is not available, certainly not readily. Protectionism is merely the first hurdle and one of at least three in the setting of the tariff war. The Financial times gave the people the biggest fear and doubt on February 21st with “US ‘too big to fail’ regime set for Trump overhaul“, that ‘too big to fail‘ has been used before and a whole bunch of billionaire grapes got bitten rather badly in Europe. It is not merely the Chapter 14 implementation with the by-line ‘to shield the tax payers’, it is the text “Both Wall Street and overseas regulators have warned the administration over the dangers of dismantling the system but the Treasury said it wanted to narrow its use so it could serve only as a last resort“, the fact that ‘narrow’ and ‘Wall Street’ imply that the Chapter 14 will lack the teeth it needs and as such it is another parachute for the 1% bankers, banks and those making upwards of $253 million a year. So how much will this marker cost the tax payers in the end? Even as there is an abundance of recession fear articles and announcements by the media at large, that part even as it is likely to happen, it is not certain to happen and that fear needs to be removed (by other means than the Chapter 14 messages). You see, the problem is that the 1% has enough wealth to survive the next two recessions, whilst the quality of life of the other 99% has not been pushing forward towards the level it needed to be. So they will get hurt really bad if another recession happens within the next 16 months, which is close to all speculated views by the media at large. Whilst that is not much of an indication, the events in Saudi Arabia is only one element, the other elements is the one we will see next

Other players

There is more than one player in all this. The first is seen by CNBC (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/05/saudi-russia-oil-deal-leads-to-bigger-russia-role-in-middle-east.html), where we are treated to “The partnership with OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, allows Russia to strengthen its hand in the Middle East at the same time the U.S. role has been diminished“, the diminishing of the US as stated by other sources closes doors to the US on several shores, a dangerous change that comes at one of the least fortunate times. The quote “it is now the foundation for a broader relationship that has the potential to reduce already waning U.S. influence in the Middle East” is foremost set to the chilling friendships with Syria and Iran, it is not merely there. Turkey has been out of control for the longest of times and now that Turkey is smelling blood, it is trying to get much more out of the US, making them a very expensive ‘friend’, more so, the question becomes was Turkey ever a friend? In that whatever bites there could hinder the US with its access to the Middle East at large. Should Incirlik and Izmir become an issue, the economic print of the US would drastically change, because that would require the US to find a way to grow the option to get a base in Saudi Arabia and optionally in Israel. Whilst neither is a given, the costs of that will be staggering and the economic footprint of the US will equally become an issue down the road. Even if there would be an option to get one in Western India (who would like that economic windfall in their region), it would be a drastic fund pressuring move for the US.
Another option would be in Egypt and if that becomes an option it would in the longer term benefit both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whilst Egypt gets to grow its stability in the Sinai, the US would become a much larger target in Egypt, wherever its base would be placed. So that too would come at a cost for the US in a time it needs to turn over every dollar it spends. Another is Jordan, but there is no way to tell the impact, the costs and the options in that regard as I have no clear information or sources to give at this time. You see, the memorandum of understanding was signed with Jordan with Rex Tillerson a mere 3 weeks ago, so adding a conversation of adding a US base there might not be the one that would work (pure speculation from my side). In addition, the EU News (and others) who gave us “Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström added: “These US measures will have a negative impact on transatlantic relations and on global markets. In addition, they will raise costs and reduce choice for US consumers of steel and aluminium, including industries that import these commodities”” gives rise that there is a cooling of ‘friendliness’ between the EU nations and the US to some degree, so there is that impact as well. I am not talking about the tariff, I am talking to the diplomatic language where Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave us “Relations with the United States can no longer be taken for granted“, which is not a good thing as the Dutch port of Rotterdam is the gateway to Germany and its industrial heart, in addition the US pressures on France regarding the Iran nuclear deal could impact the two, but that is not a given, even better, it is unlikely to be an issue, which is a plus point, for the US for now as the Italian elections are over and the anti-EU parties made a massive gain (from 4% to 18%, whilst they surpassed the Berlusconi party) is still an issue in play. I agree with the Guardian that stated that the EU-issue is not in play, but as we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/03/italian-elections-european-union-populism), the need for Berlusconi was the man to save them from populism has now become a non-reality, the impact will grow and in that matter the US would need to play nice, very nice with Italy. You see there was always going to be an issue with Matteo Salvini, yet the fact that they became the largest party with 37% was unforeseen. There is no issue with iExit as the Italian version of Brexit is called, but its anti-immigration policies will give headaches for many EU nations and as the impact of US-EU nations is cooling, becoming an enabler for Italy might be the wiser of solution for the US. The BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43294041) gives much more, but the power is at the end with “Voter frustration here in Italy but evident and ongoing in Germany too surely shows it’s time for Brussels to sit up and really pay attention“, the shown fact that Brussels have not been doing that is the anchor around the neck for the EU and that will impact the US numbers as well. Even as Germany was the biggest friend of the US in the EU, the tariff and, the EU army and the need by America for Germany to play a larger role in the EU borders (taking some pressures from the US) are all elements that put more and more pressures on the US, even as some of the needs by the US are very valid, we need to realise that Newsweek gave us “Germany’s top diplomat has told foreign policy experts that his country’s relationship with the U.S. has suffered irreparable damage under the administration of President Donald Trump“, even as the damage began in the previous administration (to a small extent), the chosen path by the Trump administration has been adding negativity to it all. Syria must be seen as the largest of catalysts in that regard, it is merely my sense of humour that the Germans see the forced ‘friendship‘ with the French as a larger issue than the actual absence of the US in all that, but that is just my take on humour.

All these elements are part of the economic switch in all this, in support of this, there are sources that show that Saudi Arabia wants to grow its arms industry and as SAMI (Saudi Arabian Military Industries) is sitting down with the Russian who are eager to accommodate, I need to wonder why the hell Raytheon and Northrop Grumman were asleep at the wheel, or decided to remain vacant from that setting. So even as Remington (American outdoor Brands) has a product of sheer excellence, they are now not at the middle Eastern table, but in a novel mentioned in Chapter 11 and seeking a quick sale, perhaps someone can tell me how much could have been gained at the Riyadh SAMI conference table? So even as we read (at http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/saudi-arabia-wants-to-make-their-own-weapons-russia-eager-to-help-118030300622_1.html) that “likely to alarm American policy makers, who worry about losing ground to Russia and China in the Middle East“, where we see that this is understated to the largest degree. With “They’re already planning to buy the Russian S-400 air-defense system, under a deal that would let them manufacture related products at home” as well as “Half of Saudi procurement is supposed to be done locally by 2030, from about 2 per cent today” we see the extent of the market lost for both Raytheon and Northrop Grumman as two of the largest players in that field. Someone (more than one player) was asleep at the helm and by playing the card of exclusivity the ended up playing the card of exclusion, which takes them out of the game as such and that is the issue in this, because as far as I see it we have not seen such a large shift of plays optionally towards Russia and away from the US since before WW2, perhaps it might be more correct that this has never happened to this degree in history, that too is a factor that must be considered; so, suddenly the extended play changes. I mentioned part of this on Feb 24th (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/24/losing-values-towards-insanity/) in ‘Losing values towards insanity‘, yet I only had some unconfirmed parts and no idea why I had some parts, I had these parts a week ago, yet all these parts came to me over the last 24 hours with 1-2 exceptions, now we see a shifted picture. When we consider LLC Megaline (as well as Concord Management and Consulting) where Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin allegedly have been preparing to grow an ICT/Mobile infrastructure in Syria, that whilst construction fortunes would be coming their way too, the entire growth with Saudi Arabia as an optional side allows those two to split a few billions between the two of them, whilst at the same time growing the other fields they have access to and get a seat at the Saudi Arabian table at the same time. A side I never saw as I did not have the information I have read over the last 24 hours. To get any additional part in that play could set me up for life within 3 years, to get a 400% better lifestyle in 36 months than the 36 years of hard work allowed me to get is what would get any person to change their pupils to dollar signs and that is merely in their need for ICT, Data farms, Mobile facilitation, Data systems, forecasting, reporting and logistical infrastructures. In all this we see the clear evidence as given by several players that is now on route in a place where the US has a setting that is diminishing, so as those currencies go elsewhere, do you think it will not impact the US economy. That is apart from the greedy pharmaceuticals that are now pushing on India for the longest time. It is an additional place where non-US players will have options to gain market share. All that because certain players in the patent field were enablers towards the few greedy US pharmaceuticals as they increasingly ‘demanded‘ more and more outside of the patent scope that was once given (the attempted Trans Pacific Partnership was clear evidence of that), now we see hat impact and the US is at the axis of an economic switch where someone else will soon decide whether that switch will be switched on or off, no longer as the setting where the US sets the status, which is something the US has not faced before ever as far as I can tell, even the 2004 and 2008 events did not remove that option from them, but that is now a reality from sources like Bloomberg, Reuters, the Financial Times, CNBC, BBC and other players are setting the view that we are getting now. Even as none as saying it outright, the news as given provides a speculated picture where that may become a reality. I do believe that it could be prevented to some extent, but at the current course of the US ‘Kingmakers’ and ‘Wall Street regents’, that reality is slowly being removed from the US table of decision makers and once that reality hits, when they have to report that the Switch is set to ‘OFF‘, the impact will hit pretty much every market where the US is policy maker.

A world where the US player involved goes from being exclusive to excluded!

I wonder how the media will then cover it and who will they blame, because they will always be about laying the blame.

 

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Overpricing or Segregation?

What is enough in a PC? That is the question many have asked in the past. Some state that for gaming you need the max hardware possible; for those using a word processor, a spreadsheet, email and browse the internet, the minimum often suffices.

I have been in the middle of that equation for a long time; I was for well over a decade in the high end of it, as gaming was my life. Yet, the realisation became more and more that high end gaming is a game for those with high paying jobs was a reality we all had to face. Now we see the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Xp 12GB GDDR5X Video Card at $1950, whilst we can do 4K gaming and that one card is a 4K 65″ TV with either the Xbox X or the PS4 pro. Now consider that this is merely the graphics card and that the high end PC requires an additional $2K that is where the PC with 4K gaming requires 4 thousand dollars. It is a little stretch, because you can get there with a little less, but then also the less requires the hardware to be replaced quicker. So I moved to console gaming and I never regretted it. We all agree that I have lost out, but I can live with that. I can truly enjoy gaming without the price. So in this situation, can someone explain to me how the new iMac Pro will cost you in its maximum setting $20,743? Is there any justification to need such an overpowered device? I reckon that those into professional video editing might need it, but when we consider those 43 people in Australia (on that high level) who else does it benefit?

In comparison, a maximised Mac Pro costs you $11,617, so it is almost 50% cheaper. Now the comparison is not fair because the iMac Pro has an optional 4TB SSD drive, and that is not a cheap item, but the issue is that the overpowering of hardware might seem cool and nice, but let’s be fair, when we compare this through MS Word, we see the issue. The bulk of all people will never use more than 20% of that text editor, which is a reality we face yet at $200 we do not care, take the price a hundred fold, with $20,000 in the balance it adds up and even as MS Word has one version the computers do have options, and a lesser option is available, in this, that new iMac Pro is in minimum configuration $7K and at twice the price of a 4K gaming machine, with no real option for gaming, is that not a system that is over the top?

Now, some might think it is, some will state it is not and it is really in the eyes of the beholder. Yet in this day and age, when we have been thrusted into a stage where mobiles and most computer environments are set to a 2-4 year stage at best, how should we see the iMac pro? In addition, where the base model of the pro is 100% more expensive than the upgraded iMac 27″, is there a level of disjointed presentation?

Well, some do not think in that way and they are right to see it as such. One source (ZDNet) gives us: “The iMac Pro is aimed at professionals working with video (a lot of video), those into VR, 3D modeling, simulations, animation, audio engineers and such“, a view I wholeheartedly agree with, yet that view and that image has not been given when we see the marketing, the Apple site and even the apple stores. Now, first off, the apple stores have not been misleading, most have kept to some strict version of ‘party line’ and that is not a wrong stance. Also the view that ZDNet gives us at the end is spot on. With “It’s Mac for the 1 percent of Mac users, not the 99 percent. For the 99 percent, yes, the iMac Pro is overpriced and just throwing away money, but for the 1 percent who need the sort of power that a system like that can generate, it’s very reasonably priced” and that is where we see the issue, Mac is now segregating the markets trying to get the elite back into the Mac fold. Their timing is impeccable. Microsoft made a mess of things and with the gaming industry in the chaotic view of hardware the PC industry has become a mess. It moved towards the gamers who now represent $100 billion plus already we see that others went on the games routine whilst to some extent ignoring the high end graphical industry. It is something that I have heard a few times and to be honest, I ignored it. I grew there whilst being completely aware of all the hardware, which was 15-25 years ago. The graphical hardware market grew close to 1000%, so when I needed to dig into the PC hardware for another reason, I was amazed just how much there was and how affordable some stuff was, but in the highest gaming tier, the one tier where the gamer and high end video editing need overlaps, we see a lag, because selling to 99 gamers and one video editor means that most will not give a toss about the one video editor. Most will know what they need, but that market is not well managed. Issues like video drivers and Photoshop CC 2017 against Windows 10 are just a few of the dozens upon dozens of issues that seems to plague these users. Important is that this is not just some Adobe issue; it seems that the issues are still in a stage of flux. With “Microsoft warned that the April 2017 security update package has a known issue that could affect users’ computers and which the company is seeking to fix” a few months ago, we are starting to see more and more that Windows forgot that its core was not merely the gamer, it was an elite user group that it had slowly snagged away from Apple and now Apple is striking back in the best way possible, by giving them that niche again, by pushing these people with money away, they might soon see that the cutting edge Azure targets for high end graphic applications become a pool of enjoyment for the core Microsoft Office users. A market that they are targeting just as Apple gets its ducks in a row and snatches that population away from them.

That is indeed a clever move, because that was the market that made Apple great in the first place. So as we read on how Azure is aiming for the ArcGIS Pro population, we see that Apple has them outgunned and outclassed and not by a small amount either. Here the iMac Pro could be the difference between real time prototyping and anticipated results awaiting aggregation. That would instantly make the difference between a shoddy $5K-$8K gaming system used for data and the iMac Pro at $20K that can crunch data like a famished piranha, you can wait and watch those results become reality before you finish your first coffee.

In addition, as soon as Apple makes the second step we will see them getting a decent chunk out of the Business Intelligence, forecasting and even the Enterprise sized dash boarding market, because with 18 cores, you can do it all at the same time. This is not the first, not the second and not even the third case where Microsoft dropped the ball. They went wide, and forgot about the core business needs (or so you would think). Yet, the question remains how many can or are willing to pay the $20K question, even as we know that there are options in the $8K and $13K setting in that same device, because there is room for change between 8 and 18 cores. It seems that for a lot the system is overpriced, we can all agree on that, but for those who are in the segregated markets, it is not about a new player, it is more that the windows driven PC market, they just lost a massively sized niche, it is the price we pay for catering to the largest denominator, the question then becomes: ‘Can Microsoft and will it hit back?

Time will tell, what is the case is that the waiting is over and 2018 could potentially see a massive shift of high end users towards Apple, a change we have not seen for the longest of times, I wish them well, because in the end many average users will benefit from such a shift as well, because in confusion there is profit and Microsoft is optionally becoming one of the larger confused places in 2018.

So why should I care?

Apple started something that will soon be copied by A-brands like ASUS. It will remain a PC, but they now see that the high end users they do have, they want to keep it. This makes it almost exactly 20 years after I learned this lesson the hard way. There was a Dutch sales shop who had a special deal, the deal was the Apple Performa, maxed (as far as that was possible) for almost $2750, I was happy as hell. My apple (My first 100% owned by my own self) and I had a great time. I never regretted buying it, but there was a snatch, 3 months later that same shop had the Power-Mac on special, the difference was well over 300%, the difference $1000 (a lot in those days), but still 300% more power and new software that would no longer support the Performa system and older models, a system outdated before the warranty ran out. We are about to see a similar shift. We know multi-core systems, they have been around for a while, yet the shift is larger, so as we see new technologies, new solutions pushed on us whilst the actual current solutions as still broken to some extent, we will be pushed into a choice, will we follow the core or fall behind? Even as we see the marketing babble now on how it is upper tier, merely for the 1% and we feel to be in agreement (for now) we see a first wave of segregation. As the followers will emphasise on the high end computers, we will see a new wave of segregation.

And? So what? I do not want to pay too much!

This is the valid response for many players, for many users, they do not have the needs IT people have, many merely see the need they have now and that is not wrong, not in this life as the economy is not coming back the way it needs to be. Yet two elements are taking over, the first is Microsoft, we can’t get around them for the most and as e-commerce and corporate industry is moving, shows to be both their option and their flaw. As we see more push where 90% of the Fortune 500 is now stated to be on the Microsoft cloud, we see the need for multi-core systems more and more. Even as some might remember the quote form early 2017 “Find out why it’s the most complete #cloud solution“, the rest is only now catching on that the Azure cloud is dangerous in several ways. Chip Childers, the fearless leader of the Cloud Foundry Foundation gives us “We are shifting to a “cloud-first” world more and more. Even with private data centres, the use of cloud technologies is changing how we think about infrastructure, application platforms and software development“, yet the danger is also there yet not mentioned. This danger is slowly pushed onto us through the change that the US gave yesterday. As Net Neutrality is being abolished, there is a real danger that certain blocks could grow on a global scale. So as we see trillions in market value shift, how long until other players will set up barriers and set minimum business needs and cater to them above all others?

Core Cloud Solutions become a danger, because it forces the contemplation that it is no longer about bandwidth and strength of your internet connection, the high end of business is moving back to the Mainframe standards that existed strongly before the 90’s started. It will be about CPU Time Used. So at that point it is not about the amount of data, but the reception of CPU channels, as such the user with a multi core system will have a massive advantage, and the rest is segregated back towards second level, decreased options. It does not change consumer use of places like Netflix, but when you require the power of your value to be in Azure, the multicore systems are the key to enable you and disable connection huggers and non-revenue connected users, consumers at a price for limited access.

This is the future we push for; it is not created by or instigated by Apple. It merely sees what will be needed in 4 years when 5G is the foundation of our lives. I saw part of this as I designed part of a solution that will solve the NHS issues in the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, but I was slow to see that the lesson I was handed the hard way in 1997 is also around the corner. As Netflix and others (Google in part) is regressing towards the mean in some of their services and options that they will offer the global audience at large. The outliers (Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and SAP) will soon be facilitators to the Expression Dataset of the next model of usage that comes. There will be a shift and it will go on until 2022, as 5G will enable some players like NTT Data and Tata Communications to get an elevated seat, perhaps even a seat at that very table.

They will decide over the coming years that there is a shift and as people decide the level of access that they are getting they will soon learn that they are not merely deciding for themselves, because the earlier their children get full access, the more options they will get beyond their tertiary education. Soon we will learn that access is almost everything, but we will not learn that lesson the way we thought we would. Even I have no idea how this will play out, but such a shift beyond the iteration IT world we see now is exciting beyond belief. I hope I will end up being part of that world, I have been part of the IT/BI Industry since 1980 and I am about to see a new universe of skills unfold before my very eyes. I wonder how far I am able to get into that part, because these players will all need facilitation of services and most of them have been commission driven for too long, meaning that they are already falling behind.

What a world we are about to need to live in!

 

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