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Apple Commentary: Dumb and Dumber Revisited

So there’s a report out today from one tech site with a headline proclaiming that Apple CEO Tim Cook has confirmed that new product categories will be entered this year. Imagine that! But what most concerns me about that headline is that this is absolutely nothing new. Cook has been saying the very same thing for months now, so why should any of it become news all over again?

If I was writing the headline, I’d say something like “Tim Cook Repeats Promise that Apple Will Enter New Markets this Year” or new categories, or something that reflects accurately the official company mantra.

Now I would think, after all this, that Cook fully believes what he says, that Apple is working on products that will move the company into new markets. Fair enough. It’s also legitimate to speculate on what, but most of that conversation is stuck on wearables and TV.

The auto industry isn’t included, because iOS in the Car has already been announced.

Now a certain controversial politically conservative personality has referred to the press as the “lamestream media,” although that label can better be applied to a certain organization that pays her a salary. However, I wouldn’t object to the phrase “lame tech media” or “lame financial media,” because some supposed members of the press are doing a disservice to the profession.

So in addition to treating old news as something new, there are those false impressions that never seem to get corrected. So, yes, the iPhone 5c sold in much fewer numbers than the iPhone 5s, meaning higher average sale prices. From a financial point of view, if customers are paying more for a company’s products, that should be good news.

The problem is that some media pundits believe that the iPhone 5c was meant to be a cheap product, and that Apple failed by not making it cheap. But what about the iPhone 4S, which is free with a standard cellular contract? What about the iPhone 4, which has been kept in production for sale in developing countries? Oh yes, that information was treated as something new as well, when it was just a repetition of something that is already known by members of the press who are paying attention.

Yes, it appears to be true that Apple’s estimate of the product mix was off the last quarter, so they say, and that more higher-priced gear was sold. But the iPhone 5c, by all estimates I’ve seen, did better than last year’s mid-priced model, the iPhone 4s. In addition, it evidently did better than Samsung’s Galaxy S4, which was supposed to be a huge success.

If the past is the guide, the iPhone 5c would become the free-with-contract iPhone with the next model refresh. If, however, Apple gives up on plastic, it would mean it didn’t perform well enough. But if Apple keeps them in production, the critics will try to tell you that Apple is too stupid to see the handwriting on the wall.

Just for a simple reality check, my wife has an iPhone 5c, in white, and she hasn’t complained about bad performance or poor looks. Of course it’s kept safely in a clear plastic case framed in pink, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

Now even when Apple hasn’t introduced a product, there will be complaints. So consider those reports of alleged production problems with the iWatch.

Did I say iWatch?

Well, you haven’t awakened in a different reality. There is no iWatch, at least no such product has been announced. Sure, it’s very possible Apple has one under development, and prototypes are now being tested. Those tests would likely include production efficiency, and it may well be that the supply chain is accurate that there are some problems that need to be resolved before such a gadget is brought to market.

However, that’s nothing new for Apple, famous (or infamous) for using difficult fabrication processes to deliver gear with the proper look and feel. But Apple generally straightens things out, although some might suggest the failed Power Mac G4 Cube of the early 2000s always had an assortment of assembly issues with the sophisticated plastic casing.

So if Apple releases an iWatch this fall, and deliveries are weeks or months behind because of unresolved and chronic production issues, that would be a problem. But not now, even if you assume the rumors have some basis in fact.

In the end, Apple could decide an iWatch is not yet a viable product, but you can’t use existing smartwatches as anything more than rough guides over what Apple might deliver. Remember Apple’s penchant for entering new markets and solving ongoing problems.

I’ll admit I don’t know if there will be an iWatch, an Apple connected TV, or anything in either category in the offing for later this year. There may be other product categories that the media isn’t thinking about where Apple is poised to introduce something designed to amaze you. But, no, there will not be an Apple toaster oven, or some toaster oven/refrigerator combo. Besides, hasn’t Microsoft tried something that conveys a similar impression already?