Apple Versus The Television Makers

In the wee hours of the morning Howard Lindzon retweeted a tweet that I think best sums up Apple. It not only shows the impact of the tech giant on their competition but shows just how successful they are. It makes me wonder if the destruction the iPhone caused was a mere fluke or if Apples competition truly stands no chance. So I took that tweet and looked a little deeper.

The first step to delving deeper is looking at the basic numbers. To get a better overall picture of Apple and their effect on the Television makers we need to take a look at the Apple effect when it comes to their most recent premium product, the iPad. Here is a look at the competition and their reaction since the launch of the Apple iPad on April 3 of 2010.

Apple +157.34%
Microsoft +.05%
Google + .74%
Amazon +71.89%
Hewlett Packard -63.35%
Dell -15.67%

The numbers above speak for themselves. Though looking deeper and trying to understand the overall picture, there are a few points that one should take from the numbers. First off, those established in the market Apple is coming for should be on their A game or they soon won’t have any game. Second, Apple has the ability to create a new market which some of their competition may be able to take advantage of. In other words, Apple created a market and the competition often steals their premise to better serve themselves. Google and Amazon are players in the tablet market and even though they have mediocre products compared to Apple, they are still competing (or attempting to) they have not fallen by the wayside.

At the end of the year when Apple launched their next generation product, the iTV, you as an investor will be the one to judge the merit of the competition. As obvious through the above figures their is a right way and a wrong way to survive when Apple is gunning for your business. The companies that focused solely on one product line that Apple could make better, suffered. Those companies that diversified and offered a decent competition or put up a fight against apple, for example Google and their android phones, had a chance. Though the one theme that repeatedly presents itself is that betting against apple when it comes to new products is a fools errand.

Either way you cut it, the television makers are Apples new target and this tech giant is currently using a scorched earth policy when it comes to the competition.

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Are All Coffee Shops Made The Same?

I spend a lot of time in my local coffee shop. Mostly due to the closed door policy at my household often being construed as a “please come in and bother me” policy.The one thing that many coffee shops have in common as their naming suggest, is coffee. This may come as a surprise to many, but the product of coffee can be reproduced very easily. The same can be said about certain restaurants, though everyone knows that a Big Mac taste different than a Whopper. As we see Starbucks take on new markets throughout the world that are dynamically different from the United States, the best coffee play may be those with room to grow here at home.

Yes its easy to say that Starbucks is synonymous with coffee.That does not mean that only Starbucks will sell in America. I know Americans well and they are synonymous with lazy. If you offer me, the average lazy american, coffee at the corner I am at or the corner 5 blocks away, I will choose the former. As I mentioned above, coffee remains a interchangeable product. A cup of coffee from Starbucks can be swapped for that of a coffee cup from Dunkin’ Donuts (obviously this does not pertain to the minority of coffee enthusiasts). Just ask McDonald’s who has in the past year made leaps and bounds in the breakfast market, in particular in coffee sales, even in the frozen coffee drink sector that was thought to be owned by Starbucks. So as the success as McDonald’s and the obvious laziness of the masses suggests, ease of access prevails over branding when it comes to coffee.

Starbucks sits at the head of the class looking to expand globally. Others in the coffee industry still have room to go at home. Yes global growth has worked out well for many a company. When it comes to such a commodity as coffee the game may be different. New markets bring new challenges. I am not sitting here suggesting that Starbucks will fail in its continued expansion plans, though accessing new markets such as China and Latin America will not be an easy task as these consumers are a different beast with differing price points then their United States counterparts. For example tea rules with the caffeine heads of China which suggests that Starbucks will have to adjust its game plan extensively as it enters China. Being that Starbucks is a coffee company this movement should be a interesting ride.

As one looks for growth they can find it safely here in the United States. Some may prefer the riskier growth story, but as the global economy continues to look weak I would rather bet on American breakfast than Greece. It is to early to count out Caribou and other regional coffee shops. A portion of America runs on Dunkin’ and the potential is there for growth in an established coffee market. Starbucks is looking at growth abroad in markets that are more challenging and diverse. So to answer the above question simply, no all coffee shops are not made the same. As one bets on the future of coffee, which I will do in about 5 minutes with my second cup of the day, it is best to know where you think the most profits lay.

Photo by jennpopz


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Has Perception Changed?

A few weeks back I wrote a piece about negative perception surrounding Facebook and how it would turn at one point. After today’s major sell off in the broader markets and Facebook not giving back a substantial amount of its prior weeks gains,one can infer that perception has changed for the better. A month ago on a day like today, social media would have been destroyed, taken out back and shot. One could not look to hold for the long term because days of down 10% were the norm. With the market selling off like today,social media like Facebook, Zynga, Yelp, and many others would have taken the assault to the face. Today the perception of social media looks to have changed, because a dramatic sell off is far from the case.

This change of heart by the market may be due to the hope of good earnings or more likely the fact that the worst is behind these companies. The worst has occurred, the leader of the social media industry has come to the forefront and flopped completely. We have all recently witnessed the recovery from its near death experience. Does this mean its all clear sailing? No, that is far from the case, though as obvious through its recent positive trading, enthusiasm for Facebook has lifted the stock.

As we look forward to Zynga unleashed conference tomorrow we see that the social media industry has turned a corner. They (social media as a collective) are taking the next steps to allowing mobile to be a giant. As I recently mentioned in I See The Future, the future sits upon mobile, so this move lines up nicely for both Facebook and Zynga. Being that a large portion of both Zynga and Facebook’s profits come from these social games, that will now be easily accessed by mobile devices, they are now playing the wall street game.

So the “perception,” as I put it sometime ago has in fact changed and it looks as though social media is now playing the Wall Street game. As the social giants have won the social game it is now time for social media to prevail at the game of Wall Street.


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Facebook Gambling?

Who is to say that poker cannot revolutionize Facebook’s profits? With all the talk of Wall Street being unhappy with Facebook’s mobile monetization, no one has thought for a moment that maybe mobile monetization isn’t even the key. Great companies are built around many revenue sources, so that is why I see Facebook taking a multifold approach to revenues. One could only imagine how popular gambling could be once again, if it involved real money, and your Facebook friends. Those tech all stars that sit upon their billions out in silicone valley are much smarter than we ever thought. The next big thing is unquestionably online gambling, with or without the United States. Who is the global company set up to own this space? Why no other than the social media giant, Facebook.

As investors and traders we sit around all day, thinking, dreaming, trying to figure out what is next. While reading news and more news and more spewing of so called analyst, I pieced two and two together. Facebook will be the king, queen, and full fledged court of online Gambling. Yes, Gambling has been done online before. Yes, it was very profitable for those involved, though many had to give that money back to the U.S. government (suckers). The reality presents itself as this: if online gambling is legalized, Facebook is set to make a killing.

Fulora, leader of Facebook’s general monetization product developments recently said, “we hope to simplify the purchase experience, give you more flexibility and make it easier to reach a global audience of Facebook users who want a way to pay for you apps and games in their local currency.” I don’t know how you read that, but someone with half a brain can see there is much more than meets the eye. Why would Facebook have such a desire to move from their credit system to one focused solely on cash from all nations around the world?


The topic of gambling has consumed those that are bullish on Zynga. Now I believe it is time for Facebook believers to get behind the train on online gambling. In my opinion the adult version of gaming is gambling. As we have seen the growth in the older age demographic on Facebook it is fairly obvious that a move towards online gambling will capture the attention of many of its users. Gambling has long been considered a social activity and what better way to gamble and be social then via Facebook.

With the recent news out of Facebook changing their purchasing system to focus on local currency and the success as of late of Zynga Poker, the future seems to be lining up nicely. We have all read the news stories and heard the tales of the profits made from online gambling. Most of these success stories were not done with the power and knowledge of a company like Facebook, nor on the massive level of Facebook. Social and gambling are on the brink of colliding and Facebook has aligned itself perfectly for success.

Many of you will attempt to say that facebook is a family oriented company, they would never delve into gambling. Though the truth of the matter is that being a family oriented company means offering something for every memeber of the family. Facebook’s move to allow Zynga Poker means that Facebook sees the future already. Zuck is smart enough to know that daddy may love gambling, and that his 15 year old son should not have access to it. The prowess of Facebook allows for an access to a large market of gamblers (and potential gamblers) and the capacity to maintain a family atmosphere.

Yes, I think this bodes well for Zynga. Though overall the real winner here is Facebook, being that they have access to the many users and information about these respective individuals.

Photo by Melissa Gray

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I See The Future

Do you know what they told Henry Ford when he said he wanted to make an automobile? They said you sir are ridiculous. Who would ever quit riding their horse to ride around in something so unreliable as a car. Comical isn’t it? A horse was thought to be more reliable than a car, and the rest is history. Do you know what they said about the internet many a moons ago? They said al gore had created another fad and it would fall by the wayside. Well we sit here today reading financial news via the internet, many of you while driving in your vehicle, so we now know both the above mentioned counterpoints to be a falsity. So I sit here once again upon my blogger throne, not suggesting, but informing you, that I know the future.

The future rests on the back of mobile. Mobile in the form of smartphone, games, apps, connectivity, etc. Mobile in reference to the mobility of phone, the mobility of tablets. Every great tech company somehow is correlated to mobile, be it that of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft. Just to name a few. Wherever one looks, mobile surrounds you. Mobile encompasses every aspect of our life. Mobile allows for ease of life, which for those of you who obviously lack vision, means that it is necessary for the future.

Why has Apple been the tech baby of the last decade? They have taken mobile to the next level. They invented the smartphone. By the end of the year they will take it to the next level by making the world between your phone and television one in the same. Microsoft recently announced their launch of the next big tablet. This may be insignificant for many of you, who believe apple cannot be touched, though with an actual quality product by the PC giant Microsoft, the number 2 spot in the tablet world is now up for sale. No matter who stands on the leader pole of the tablet or smartphone industry, one thing remains, the future and dominance of the app world.

The mobile space continues to heat up, as I have said for some time, and with the launch of the the surface tablet, even old tech is decisively saying that the future is in handheld devices (phones and tablets). This means one thing: mobile gaming. We all know the story of Microsoft and Apple. The masses have failed to capture the mobile gaming tale. In the coming months as we will see mobile gamers like Zynga balance social and mobile gaming, pumping gangster rap in an electric powered car headed  forward towards a bright future. The mobile phase has just begun. As we see better monetization and a wider customer base in the coming months Zynga shall eat the shorts for a late night snack.

Don’t get me wrong either, Zynga is not the only soon to be giant to benefit from this continued trend towards mobile and tablets. Companies like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the list goes on, will benefit handsomely. One of the basic ideals instilled in every trader is to not fight the trend. The trend is smacking you in the face. Mobile, tablets, they are here to stay. The world of apps has just gotten started and those stupid enough to fight the trend will capitulate when its far too late. The results will be disastrous for the shorts and they will not be able to find a building high enough.

Photo by Sam Howzit

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