Confusing Positives and Tempting Apple TV+ Content

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As we close out the week, we see opaque takes on iPhone demand, Apple grows a workforce in India, and dinosaurs are back in action.

A Positive (?) Note on Apple from UBS

UBS Analyst David Vogt wrote a note on January iPhone sales this week, though very little of it made sense to me. Please allow me to read you one part:

On a global basis, we estimate iPhone sell-through (source: Counterpoint) in January was down ~11% YoY (20.9 million), a 700 bps improvement from the 18% YoY decline in December (22.6 million) and down 8% MoM following extensive supply chain disruptions late last year… If we extrapolate Jan-23 sell-through, we estimate Mar-23 quarter sell-through is tracking to ~52M units, in-line with our sell-in estimate.

There were three more paragraphs that were even less intelligible, so… you know… you tell me. It was Philip Elmer-DeWitt’s Apple 3.0 that posted the note. While I know I don’t know everything, I can usually pretty much follow notes like these. I was happy to read Elmer-DeWitt’s addendum, which said, “Must confess that I got lost in the details.”

Glad it wasn’t just me. 

Here are two quotes that did make sense: “iPhone strength in China and U.S. offset by weakness in Europe,” and, “While China sell-through was solid, iPhone sell-through improvement in the US was more muted.” His is not reaching for the parachute though. Vogt has a “Buy” rating on Apple shares. He’s set the UBS price target on the shares at $180. 

Jefferies Up on iPhone Demand Thanks to Web Traffic

A somewhat easier to understand note comes our way from Jefferies analyst Kyle McNealy. He thinks iPhone demand is better than the rest of Wall Street thinks, based on — the internet. 

Apple 3.0 posted this one as well. It’s got McNealy saying:

Web traffic to iPhone pages for the month of January at wireless carrier sites and was up 2% M/M and down -23% M/M, respectively. Wireless carriers are the bigger channel so overall it’s tracking ahead of normal historical seasonality (down -30% Q/Q) and Street iPhone unit expectations (down -21%).

That plus the fact that people are going for the Pro phones more than the others where the current iPhone line is concerned have him expecting a bit of strength for the March-quarter. 

I am not saying he’s wrong, but hanging your hopes, your hat, or anything else on web traffic feels tenuous. But these are the times in which we live. Quoting his note again:

We see page traffic tracking ahead of expectations as a positive sign that Apple isn’t seeing as much macro pressure as anticipated, at least through January. Nonetheless, we’re keeping our estimates unchanged given we’re still early in the quarter and any deterioration through Mar could derail the positivity.

Shake it off, Tink. Shake it off.

Mr. McNealy has a “Buy” rating on Apple shares. He’s set Jefferies’ price target on the shares at $195.

Report: Apple Responsible for 100,000 Indian Jobs Since August 2021

While the world ponders the diversification of Apple’s supply chain, an interesting assertion from AppleInsider. That site cites data from the Indian technology site Inc42, saying since the start of India’s Production Linked Incentive (PLI) program in August of 2021, “Apple has become the largest single job creator in the nation’s electronics sector, with 100,000 new positions.”

The site breaks it down to ~62,000 folks working for Apple contract manufacturers Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron. The other ~40,000 work for component suppliers such as Salcomp. 

Small numbers compared to China to be sure. But it’d be hard to argue that this train isn’t picking up steam.

In Wake of Violence, Apple Shutters North Carolina Store

Surprising news for a North Carolina Apple Store. Bloomberg says the Cupertino-company suddenly and unexpectedly closed its Northlake Mall store in Charlotte, North Carolina — permanently. 

The problem? A bit too much gunplay, it seems. Citing local news reports, Bloomberg says: 

…shots were fired outside of a Macy’s at the Northlake Mall on Tuesday, while another shooting took place in early February. There were additional shootings reported in December and in 2021.

So, not a rash decision, though a surprising one — even to employees. The store actually opened for business Wednesday morning, though employees were told that day that the store would be closing for good, effective immediately. 

It was apparently employees who said the shootings were the issue. Bloomberg says, “Apple confirmed the closure, but declined to comment further on the reasoning.”

Now the good news: Despite the loss of a store, nobody is losing their job. The piece says:

Apple told employees that there will be no layoffs and that staff at the Northlake Mall site would be transferred to the nearby SouthPark location in Charlotte or roles working at the company’s online store.

Plans were already underway for a new store in Charlotte next year. Even before this week’s closure, the new store was meant to replace the Northlake store, according to the report.  

Apple Releases ‘Mystery’ Studio Display Beta

On the heels of this week’s developer betas and public testing betas, something 9to5Mac refers to as a “mystery beta.” According to the piece, “the latest firmware beta update for Apple’s Studio Display is now available.” 

Oh. Mystery solved, then? Not really. While we know what the beta is for, we don’t know what it’s doing or is meant to do. “…Apple doesn’t give any release notes or clues to what’s changed or improved with the release,” according to the report.

Signs of Life for Apple’s High-Yield Savings Account

Signs of life for Apple’s high-yield savings account. AppleInsider points people to a Twitter post from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. That’s got him pointing people to a change in the terms and conditions for Apple Card. And that has Apple making ready. 

Talk of the savings account turns up two places, according to AppleInsider. “First,” the report says:

…as a definition: “‘Savings’ means the savings account provided by us that can be accessed through Apple Wallet.”

The second set of occurrences can be found under the section labeled “How you receive Daily Cash.” 

AppleInsider says that second one explains how people can choose a destination for Apple Card’s Daily Cash — either on the Apple Cash card or in Savings. 

No indication in any of it on exactly when the Savings will begin.

Apple TV+ Announces Second Season for ‘Prehistoric Planet’

Apple has announced a second season for the dinosaur docuseries “Prehistoric Planet.” Hey that reminds me — I still need to watch the first season of the dinosaur docuseries “Prehistoric Planet.” If you missed it, as I have so far, Apple says:

“Prehistoric Planet” combines award-winning wildlife filmmaking, the latest paleontology learnings and state-of-the-art technology to unveil the spectacular habitats and inhabitants of ancient Earth for a one-of-a-kind immersive experience.

Well, two of a kind now. The Cupertino-streamer issued a press release Wednesday, announcing the series’ return. Still executive produced by Jon Favreau and still narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the release has Apple:

…thrilled that viewers will once again have the opportunity to be immersed in the wonders of our world as it was 66 million years ago and to experience even more weird and wonderful creatures in season two.

As they did for the first round, Apple is billing the second season as a “five-day, week-long event…” That five-day week begins on Monday, May 22. No trailer for season two yet. You can, of course, catch the first season now on Apple TV+.

Docuseries ‘Monster Factory’ Headed to Apple TV+

And finally today — You know what’s annoying? When you watch something you think you’ll have no interest in, then come dangerously close to getting hooked. For example — I watched the Nashville SC versus NYC SC MLS soccer match last Saturday. Just wanted to see how Apple was gonna do. Now, I wanna see how Nashville is gonna do. 

I’m not signing up for MLS Season Pass. Yet.

Ed. Commentary: Y’all notice, he said “Yet.” Just wait until the free matches dry up on him.

I checked out the latest Apple TV+ trailer with the same sort of… reluctance. I’m not a fan of pro wrestling. So what are the chances I’d be interested in a reality show about a bunch of people who want to be pro wrestlers and a guy who trains them? 

Then I watched the trailer.

Apple TV+ issued a press release Thursday announcing “Monster Factory.” According to the release:

…“Monster Factory” is the story of misfit dreamers at a wrestling school on the outskirts of a gritty New Jersey factory town who, with the help of their tough yet loving coach, fight for their big break as professional wrestlers.

What’s annoying about the trailer is — they’re real people with real dreams. And I care, because I’m not a robot. Yet. 

Six episodes in the docuseries. All six of them hit Apple TV+ on Friday, March 17. You can find out whether you’re a robot by checking out the trailer. It’s available now on YouTube.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I bring Mailbag Monday back for a second round. Email on China, AirDrop, and Passcodes. First though, the EC wants every messaging app to interoperate with every other messaging app. The TDO duo has thoughts — all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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