Playing Ping Pong with Apple’s Immediate Future

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Another week is out of the gates, and we’re back on the Observation Deck. Apple stock prices and sentiments are still playing ping-pong, there’s more shipping delays for iPhone 14 models, and Tim Cook talks about AR and VR. In the meantime, we look with sadness at the first real-world usage of Crash Detection, at least that we’ve heard of.

Barron’s Plays Apple Sentiment Ping-Pong

What’s going on with Apple shares and iPhone? Depends who you ask and when. A piece from Barron’s (via Apple News+) illustrates this well, under the headline, “Apple Stock Had an Awful September. But the Quarter Wasn’t Half-Bad.” Playing a solo game of ping pong, Barron’s points out that:

  • Demand for iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max started so strong, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives wonders/wondered whether Apple would be able to meet holiday demand
  • Data seen by one Jefferies analyst has the analyst thinking iPhone 14 demand in China is not as strong as had been expected
  • There was the dreaded Bloomberg report from last week that had Apple backing off of plans to increase iPhone 14 production
  • While Apple shares got the tar beaten out of them last week (down about 7%), they actually ended the September quarter up about 3%. According to Barron’s, that put the company “on pace for its best quarterly performance since the fourth quarter of 2021.”
  • Rosenblatt Securities analyst Barton Crockett raised his rating on Apple shares from “Neutral” to “Buy.” He also upped his price target on the shares from $160 to $189. That got drowned out though when…
  • BofA analyst Wamsi Mohan downgraded the shares from “Buy” to “Neutral,” dropping his price target on the shares from $185 to $160
  • Taking an even tack was KeyBanc analyst Brandon Nispel. While noting near-term negativity for Apple shares spurred by the Bloomberg report, he and his think it’s “neutral to consensus expectations and […] would take advantage by buying on the pullback.” He’s got an “Overweight” rating on Apple shares and a price target of $185.
  • There are still more “pro” players than “anti” where Apple shares are concerned. “Of the 41 analysts tracked by FactSet,” says Barron’s, “78% rate the stock as a Buy, 15% say it is a Hold and 7% rate it as a Sell.

Sort of Sorry for Your Delay, Kind Of

Wanna play ping-pong with Apple sentiment yourself? It’s easy! Just start reading Apple news. You’ll find yourself drawn to both sides in no time. News like the latest from Evercore analyst Amit Daryanani. Apple 3.0 ran part of a note he wrote last week, wherein he indicated that wait times for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have lengthened.

Yes he knows how that sounds. Quoting his note:

The iPhone 14 lineup has been available across most geographies for a few weeks now and lead-times have expanded (not a typo) since last week for the Pro & Pro Max models across all the geographies we track (ex. Japan) by ~1-6 days – the strong demand is in stark contrast to recent concerns around demand slowdown. Our assessment remains – that while units will be stable to slightly up, the real story here is ASPs will be up high single digits in H2, enabling upside to not just the Sept-qtr, but likely Dec-qtr…

Hitting the ball back the other way, a piece from MacRumors has electronics reseller SellCell saying that the resale values for iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are way down compared to iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini models at this point in their initial availability. Never mind the fact that iPhone 14 Plus is not available yet — SellCell has already set their buy and re-SellCell numbers it seems, and it seems they’ll be low. That said, SellCell says units at the iPhone 14 Pro end are actually performing better than last year’s 13 Pros. Honestly, that whole piece seems sort of pointless — except that it was a headline on MacRumors and could figure into a sentimental game of ping-pong.

Adding to the Plus Wait Time

While everybody seems ready to call it for the consumer end of the 14 line, it looks like iPhone 14 Plus is starting to put up a fight. Though it still showed launch day delivery of this Friday 7 October on Apple’s site here in the states, a piece from AppleInsider says wait times for the 14 Plus are starting to slip on other parts of the planet. Taking a look at JP Morgan’s Apple Product Availability Tracker, the site says:

…the silver lining for the iPhone 14 is the iPhone 14 Plus. As the October 7 release date nears, the lead times for that model are starting to extend beyond the first date of availability in most regions, except the United States. JP Morgan reckons this is a sign the model is finding favor with consumers as the release gets closer.

Such was the case when AppleInsider wrote its report, though it seems waits are building for the phone here in the States as well. I poked around on Apple’s site Sunday night and found at least some iPhone 14 Plus units showing delivery between 11 October and 13 October had I placed an order last night. That was true for every color and storage capacity I tried. I didn’t try them all, but I did try several. 

Big in Japan

More good news for the consumer end of the iPhone 14 line. The Evercore note I mentioned earlier had Mr. Daryanani noting extended lead times for the consumer end of the line in Japan. Quoting his note:

Japan is seeing continued extended lead times for the 128GB Midnight/Starlight versions of the iPhone 14. So far, Japan remains the only country to show consumer preference towards storage size or color in the current cycle.

He also says that iPhone demand “in countries like China & India is not only strong but skewing towards the high-end models.” Daryanani has an “Outperform” rating on Apple shares and a price target of $190.

Orders on Display

Let’s go one more round. Putting some spin on his serve is Display Supply Chain Consultants analyst Ross Young. 9to5Mac has him saying that orders for the consumer end of the line for Apple latest phones are down 38% versus orders last year for the consumer end of the iPhone 13 line. But, the piece says, “iPhone 14 Pro Max panel orders are 18% higher than the iPhone 13 Pro Max…” Additionally, orders for iPhone 14 Plus panels are said by the display analyst to be notably higher than last year’s orders for iPhone 13 mini. While the piece doesn’t lay out numbers on that, They must not be insignificant. By his reckoning, 9to5Mac says:

…total iPhone 14 panel orders this year are slightly higher than the iPhone 13 at the same time last year, due primarily to that increased iPhone 14 Pro Max demand.

So — What’s going on with Apple shares and iPhone? Depends who you ask and when.

Nebraska Authorities Alerted to Fatal One-Car Crash by iPhone’s Crash Detection

I kind of wondered when the first of these stories would come through. One would hope that stories of Apple’s Crash Detection working properly “in the wild” would involve first responders getting word of an accident that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, getting there in the nick of time, and saving all involved. Sadly, the first such story I’ve seen does not end well at all. Apple 3.0 ran part of an Associated Press story that had police in Nebraska responding late Saturday night/Sunday morning to an emergency call initiated by Crash Detection on an iPhone. Five people died at the scene. One died later at the hospital. The car had hit a tree. According to the report:

Police did not release any details on what caused the crash but said it was reported by an iPhone that detected the impact and called responders automatically when the phone’s owner didn’t respond.

Apple Tests WSJ’s Crash Detecting Acumen

To this point, people have treated Crash Detection tests on YouTube with amusement. Knowing whether it actually works is kind of important, though. Companies make claims, outfits test those claims, and consumers look to both for information. To that end, another outfit has put Crash Detection through its paces on YouTube. A couple of weeks back we heard about TechRax doing that. He’s the one who rigged a car to drive itself into other cars and a wall to test the safety feature on an iPhone 14 Pro. When he and his were actually able to hit something, Crash Detection did what it was supposed to do — detected crashes. 

Now, a piece from AppleInsider says the Wall Street Journal has posted its Crash Detection trials on YouTube, though their results seem less conclusive. The piece says the Journal had:

…a demolition derby driver repeatedly [drive] into two different vehicles. He wore an Apple Watch Ultra with an iPhone 14 model and Google Pixel in the car, which can also detect crashes.

Next, an iPhone 14 and Google Pixel were also placed side-by-side in each vehicle.

The Apple Watch Ultra spotted the wrecks every time. “However,” the piece says, “the iPhone didn’t detect any of the impacts inside the first car.” That’s the car being driven. The Pixel in the driver’s car did detect one crash, though none of the phones picked up on the crashes in the cars being crashed into. 

Longtime Apple watchers will not be surprised by Apple’s response. The Cupertino-company told the Journal, “you’re crashing it wrong.” A piece from MacRumors had the Journal’s Joanna Stern writing:

When I contacted Apple with the results, a company spokesman said that the testing conditions in the junkyard didn’t provide enough signals to the iPhone to trigger the feature in the stopped cars. It wasn’t connected to Bluetooth or CarPlay, which would have indicated the car was in use, and the vehicles might not have traveled enough distance prior to the crash to indicate driving. Had the iPhone received those extra indicators—and had its GPS shown the cars were on a real road—the likelihood of an alert would have been greater, [the company spokesman] said.

Officials Raid Apple Korea Over In-App Commission Charges

Apple’s on the horns of a new investigation in South Korea. AppleInsider says the company’s offices there were raided last week by officials from Korea’s Fair Trade Commission. They are said to be looking into allegations brought by the Korea Mobile Games Association (KMGA). 

According to the report, consumers in South Korea pay a Value Added Tax on App Store purchases of 10%. So — for example, if an app cost a dollar, a consumer would be paying a-dollar-ten. That extra ten-cents would go to pay the tax, with developers getting the dollar — minus Apple’s 30% commission. But, the KMGA says Apple’s not charging commission on the dollar. Rather, it accuses Apple of charging commission on the dollar-ten. That leaves Apple collecting 33% in in-app payment fees, not the 30% it should be collecting. 

It feels like this would be something for lawyers and accountants, not raids. And yet — a raid is what they got. 

Whatever the case, Apple seems pretty chill. A spokesperson for the company told AppleInsider: 

Apple is fully cooperating with [Korea’s Fair Trade Commission] during their investigation. We look forward to explaining how the App Store has been a tremendous business opportunity for Korean developers…

Didn’t sound like that was the question, but okay. 

Apple Acknowledges Microphone Issues for Recent Apple Watch Models

That problem some people are having with the microphones on Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra — Apple’s on it, according to MacRumors. The site ran a piece last week that had reports of the:

…Apple Watch [8 and Ultra] microphone becoming persistently unresponsive after some time, causing apps that rely on the mic to throw up errors and stop working entirely.

A memo to support people seen by MacRumors acknowledges the bug. Apple says restarting an affected Apple Watch may serve as a temporary fix. Indications are that the issue is software related, not hardware related. They suggest people stay up to date on their updates. That suggests to MacRumors that a fix is in the works.

Cook Talks AR/VR, Programing, and Politics

And finally today, as if to torture me personally, Apple CEO Tim Cook is teasing augmented reality and virtual reality yet again. As part of his European sweep, the CEO spoke with the Dutch news organization Bright. AppleInsider gathered some of Cook’s comments.

On programming:

I see programming as the only universal language. It’s the most important language you can learn,” he said. “Of course your native language is more important for communication, but a programming language is a way to tap into your creativity.

On politics:

The more barriers you put on something, the less innovative it can be,” Cook said. “So you have to ask yourself if what you’re asking for is really worth it. But I also think there are plenty of really smart politicians out there who understand things just fine. And the role of the electorate in a democracy is to elect people who prefer to see them as representatives.

A piece on the same interview from 9to5Mac had the CEO going a bit deeper, saying:

Technology is able to tackle the biggest problems that affect humanity. But I have great appreciation for the political process and the elected people who serve us. And I also fully realize that I am not one of them, I have a role. That’s empowering people with products that allow them to do things they couldn’t do otherwise.

And the part that tortures me — on Augmented Reality:

I think AR is a profound technology that will affect everything. Imagine suddenly being able to teach with AR and demonstrate things that way. Or medically, and so on. Like I said, we are really going to look back and think about how we once lived without AR.

He seems to think that the place and time for AR is everywhere and all the time. VR, on the other hand, should be time-boxed, in his estimation. On that, the CEO said:

I always think it’s important that people understand what something is. And I’m really not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is. It’s something you can really immerse yourself in. And that can be used in a good way. But I don’t think you want to live your whole life that way.

VR is for set periods, but not a way to communicate well. So I’m not against it, but that’s how I look at it.

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