Wednesday, November 2, 2016

W1's killer app

The killer app for Apple's W1 chip is CarPlay.  Assuming a modest cost to create the chip, Apple could offer the chip to automakers to embed in the dash at no-cost to permit one-tap pairing, a more stable and smarter connection, etc.  Pairing headphones is painful but pairing in a car is worse as automotive systems often have two different Bluetooth profiles for the phone and audio – in particular, Siri runs over the phone profile and so will interrupt audio streams.

Headphones traditionally (but maybe not for long) use wires but cars traditionally use wireless.  I think W1 is starting with headphones but is intended to be extended out to a range of IoT devices and headunits, including and especially the car.

Monday, June 6, 2016

iPhone SE backorder

I ordered an iPhone SE on May 26. Apple estimated it would take about 2-3 weeks for delivery (that is around June 14).

I figured that, as has been typical for Apple, 2-3 weeks was a conservative estimate and the phone would arrive well before that. Instead, the delivery window hasn't shifted at all.  In fact the estimate for the earliest delivery date is now 3 weeks from the order date and the outside date has shifted to 4 weeks...

A few questions:

1) were sales completely underestimated? It seems clear that original estimates were low (given that the phones immediately went on backorder upon release).  But now it seems that estimates continue to remain wrong?
2) why are they still backordered? Is it supply and not demand?  Has demand increased and so made even revised sales expectations too low? Or is supply somehow constrained as Apple gears up for iPhone 7 (if there even will be a major change to an iPhone 7).
3) why were sales so underestimated in the beginning and, perhaps, now?
4) will up-to-date iPhones henceforth come in 3 sizes (4, 4.7, and 5.5 inches)?
5) will Apple change the launch cycles for iPhones and iPads to Spring and Fall, respectively?  I think this would better match gift cycles (it is cumbersome to gift an iPhone because of carrier subscriptions and so moving away from holiday makes sense).

All in all, the pessimism around Apple seems odd if even a phone that is cosmetically identical to the 4 year old iPhone 5 can sell out for weeks (and perhaps months).

Thursday, March 10, 2016

TiVo Mini and Apple TV

I am dedicated to TiVo - I've had multiple boxes for nearly 15 years.  I like the ease of use, the reliability, etc.  It's a great product and service (but very expensive).

I love the TiVo app for iOS.  It works great, it has a lot of flexibility, and has a pretty good interface (pretty good as it tries to do a lot, including acting as a soft remote control for multiple TiVo boxes).

TiVo makes a TiVo Mini. This is sort of a weird product - it is like a headunit for a TiVo that allows one to replicate the functions of a TiVo on a different monitor.  But, at its heart, is really just the TiVo app in hardware form.  And it is very expensive ($149).  And, even weirder, it is inconvenient to set up - it requires a hard wire (coax or ethernet) connection.  No wireless permitted.

My wish: that TiVo would release its app for Apple TV.  I know this would cut into TiVo Mini sales but I wonder how many people are really buying a Mini. I also wonder how many people would find TiVo more attractive if they could own one and watch in multiple locations with an AppleTV.  AppleTV seems to work fine on WiFi (unlike the TiVo Mini).  And the programming effort for TiVo is likely trivial (I believe tvOS is closely related to iOS).  I know that the TiVo remote won't work but, given that the main benefit of the TiVo Mini is just to stream from the "main" TiVo box, I think it would make sense for TiVo to offer this.  It would bring more people into the TiVo fold and that's probably a good thing.

Friday, January 15, 2016

What is a success?

I’m not cheerleading for the Apple Watch (exactly matching this article, I find myself simultaneously: telling most people not to buy it and yet, personally, wearing the Watch every day).

However, when it comes to determining if the Watch is a success, it seems like it would be useful to think about the right frame of reference.

The wrong frames of reference:  Annual sales in comparison to the iPhone’s revenues.  Annual sales in comparison to Apple’s overall revenues.    Benchmarking against the most successful product of the past 10 years? Revenues of the most valuable company in the world?  I agree they are relevant for the purpose of figuring out if the Watch will be a “needle-moving” business for Apple but they are bizarre benchmarks for success of the Watch itself.

I don’t know what the right frame of reference for success is but suggest that they might include:

1) Familiarity/Recognition.  This is measuring the success of building mindshare and interest in a new product - how well was the product rolled out.  Here, we have a product introduced less than a year ago that is widely recognized on sight and at a distance.  Even more conspicuously, if I say: “Is that The Watch?”, a large portion of listeners will assume I mean the Apple Watch.  For a newly introduced product, that seems like a measure of success.

2)  Market Share.  Unclear what the right scope of the market is (all watches?  all watches over $200?  all watches over $200 but less than $1000?) but it seems like it would be fair to compare the Watch against well known names.  Taking the three largest Japanese watchmakers (Seiko, Casio, and Citizen), their combined annual revenues are about $3 billion.  The largest Swiss watchmaker is Swatch/Omega.  Its revenues are about $10 billion.  If Apple Watch has sold anywhere near the numbers guessed (maybe 10 million), Apple is one of the largest sellers in the world by revenue in its first year (probably $7 billion).  For a watch (not a mobile phone, not an automobile), that seems like a measure of success.

3) Creating Prospects.  Apple Watch is a very imperfect product.  Releasing it in its initial state may have been a mistake (then again, given the above, maybe not?).  But, maybe a measure of success is how well Apple has created a potential platform.  The work of figuring out size, positioning, appearance, functions, and relationship with the phone seems to be pretty on target (given the balancing required by the state of technology and battery life).  The Watch doesn’t do all the things it should and many of the things it purports to do it doesn’t do well but, if part of the job is to create a credible platform that is worth paying attention to, again, the Watch seems to be a success.