Welcome to the nasty world of disconnect, where a high-flying company can say anything it wants, even if true, and the stock market prefers to look for troubling news.
Of course, that’s a part of that is our tabloid mentality, where we’re always searching for the juicy headlines that make a person or corporation look bad. In those circumstances, if Apple has record profits, the other shoe has to drop and there has to be something very wrong with the picture.
But let’s take a look at what Apple has been saying of late, courtesy of the published reports of their recent shareholder’s meeting, plus some general trends I’ve seen of late.
For one thing, Steve Jobs claims the company’s board has been doing its due diligence when it comes to finding a successor for the mercurial CEO. Just whom might that be? Well, Jobs claims anyone on the executive team could replace him, but some remain skeptical that any of them would have the charisma to gather the faithful in public at a Macworld Expo keynote and send them off yearning for Apple’s latest and greatest hardware.
When it comes to sales of the iPhone, Jobs confirms, once again, that they still expect to hit the 10 million milestone at the end of the year and, even more intriguing, that the company thinks all those unlocked phones around the world represents a good thing. Just as I suggested, Apple is pleased the thing has become so popular so fast.
The critics? They must still be looking for those mysterious phones that were never activated. I think they might find a few in China if they have some frequent flier miles to cash in.
Unlike previous shareholder meetings, there are no reports of serious disruptions or Steve Jobs arguing with anyone. It sounds as if the event went along without major skirmishes, with not so many revelations. After all, Apple isn’t about to tell you secrets about new products unless it fits in with a strategy that requires early revelations.
The latest speculation, however, is based on the products that Apple says it won’t build and why. Steve Jobs, for example, was quick to attack the quality and interface of existing wireless phones long before the iPhone was known to be a gleam in his eye. That was, of course, an excellent setup, because the iPhone indeed shows up many of those phones for the pathetic devices they are.
I remember one analyst meeting where Apple was asked about whether they’d come out with a cheap PC. They said no and, of course, the Mac mini debuted three months later. Of course, the mini remains in Apple’s arsenal, but it’s nearly invisible when it comes to promotion. I suppose they get enough sales to keep it going, mind you, but I wonder what would happen if they just added a little marketing juice to the mix. Or is the mini on the endangered species list, still, waiting for Apple to kill it.
Or, perhaps, morph the Apple TV into a full-fledged personal computer with media center capabilities. But isn’t that what some of you thought the mini would be at one time? Another possibility is a small home server, since Jobs specifically denied Apple was interested in producing such a product. A word to the wise.
Then there’s the question of whether you’ll ever see Flash support on the iPhone. I know we’ve begun to reduce our dependence on Flash for this site; our banner is now viewable in iPhone. We’ll be doing the same for the other sites over the next few weeks. I once thought that Flash support was inevitable, but Steve Jobs put the kibosh on that.
Perhaps it was also a clarion call for Adobe to come up with a version that lies between the PC edition and the mobile edition, something powerful enough to give you the full Flash experience, but not overextend the limited resources of an iPhone.
I also wonder what Adobe might be thinking now, since it is supposedly a loyal Apple partner, except in areas where Apple competes.
So is Apple prepping some sort of Flash replacement for the iPhone that supports the technology, but isn’t officially licensed from Adobe? That would seem to be an extreme step. Maybe they all want us to use QuickTime for everything and be done with it.
The big question, of course, is whether Wall Street cares about Apple’s reassurances that everything is just perfect. The weight of the world’s financial strains is felt deeply by Wall Street, and I doubt that any company, even if it makes great profits, would show serious stock growth under these circumstances. Of course, the fact that some Wall Street pundits seem to prefer it that way is another story, and not a pleasant one.
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