Particle Debris (wk. ending 9/16) High Tech Wishful Thinking

Now that NBC, TBS and TNT have introduced iPad apps, I’m beginning to wonder if Apple isn’t slowly laying the groundwork for something that’s larger in scope. For example, currently you must be a subscriber to one of the carriers that carries TNT in order to receive TNT content on the iPad app. What if Apple worked a deal that you could be billed on iTunes in lieu of being a cable subscriber? What if Apple developed support for all the networks this way? What if AirPlay folds into this with your TV and a miniature dongle (Apple TV 3) that plugs into your HDMI input? The possibilities are intriguing.

For all you investment geeks, here’s a very thorough analysis of Apple’s worth: “Analyzing Apple’s Valuation: Expecting Further Upside.” Here’s a salient quote: “The best measure of a firm’s ability to create value for shareholders is expressed by comparing its return on invested capital (ROIC) with its weighted average cost of capital (WACC).” If you grok that, you’ll love the article at Seeking Alpha.

I have refrained from saying anything snarky about Windows 8 because I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet. My take, so far, however, is that PC/Windows fans are feeling like this is salvation — though I haven’t heard of any writers being raptured — leaving their spouses suddenly alone in a speeding car.

Advanced technology, indistinguishable from magic*, is hard to size up. It used to be that a guy from Consumer Reports could play with a toaster, wring it out, and write a report. “Yup. It’s a good toaster. A good buy.” Nowadays, with OSes having 40 millions lines of code and plugged into massive infrastructures like iTunes and iCloud, you can’t really assess a new OS just by looking at it. But some have tried.

Win 8 tablet


To me it’s like having a girlfriend gone bad. She says terrible things about you to your boss. She maxes out your credit card. She injures your cat with a sick joke related to the garbage disposal. You dump her. The next day, you see a beautiful contestant in the Miss America contest and decide she’s going to be your wife. Riiiight. It’s going to take a long time to wring out Windows 8, both versions for desktop and tablets, and there’s no guarantee at all that it will resonate with customers. None.

Worse, Microsoft believes it has a year to get Windows 8 for tablets right, and then all will be well.  They’ll have the rest of the century to compete with Apple.  Hewlett Packard, after 49 days, found out that’s not how it works.


What if, by some cosmic, accidental connection, your name became associated with a terrorist group in Google’s search engine. How would that affect you and how would you deal with the issue? Danah Boyd had some interesting thoughts on all all that this week in, “Guilt Through Algorithmic Association.” Scary stuff.

On the other hand, here’s something to drool over. Belkin is jumping on the Thunderbolt bandwagon with a USB/FireWire/gigabit Ethernet port dock. Price and availability are still TBD, but you can bet I’ll be all over it with a review.

Recently, I’ve talked about how important it is for a company to cast important financial decisions in the right light. Netflix didn’t do that, and ended up in trouble with subscribers who didn’t like the recent price hike. “Netflix subscribers who threatened to cancel their memberships after the 60 percent hike increase are making good on those threats,” according to Steve Crowe at CEPro.Netflix Loses 1 Million Subscribers, Shares Tumble 19%.” As a result, Netflix shares are in a nose dive. Here’s your moment of Zen: “At a press conference on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos admitted the company underestimated customer reaction.” Well, duh….

It was more like a head in the sand approach: we’re gonna do what we’re gonna do, and because our customers love us, we can get away with it. Didn’t work. In this assessment, Netflix Management is out of touch.

Sometimes dying products hang on by a thread. Some camps, writers and websites continue to prop up a product, hoping for success for emotional or techno-political reasons. The executives remain delusional. Then, along comes the brave soul who calls it like it is. Today, Brian White with Ticonderoga said it. “We believe the [RIM] PlayBook is poised to follow HP’s TouchPad as the next casualty of iPad’s tablet dominance.”


Adding PlayBook to the list…

There you go. The PlayBook is officially dead to us. I need to make a list of all the tablets that have met their death in the competition against Apple. Let’s make a list in the comments below.


* Authur C. Clarke, of course. We bow to his wisdom.