Beats by Dre: Designed by Apple in California

I know it’s been a while (over a year) since I last posted anything on here. 2013 was just a hectic year. Lots of stuff happened in tech, but I won’t bother to point out what I was right about last year (almost everything). So what has brought me back to Tumblr? This Apple acquisition of Beats Electronics. Ever since rumors first broke of this deal, my mind has been churning as to what makes Beats worth $3.2B. And while the deal came in at $3B ($2.5B for Beats Electronics and $500M for Beats Music) and many reports as to why Apple wanted Beats, I’m still a little mystified. Are Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine really that valuable? Is Beats streaming music service and their 200,000 subscribers worth $3B? This certainly isn’t about overpriced and mediocre-sounding headphones and speakers. Can’t be. And I don’t want anyone to think I’m hating on a widely popular electronics brand. I’ve owned Beats headphones and earbuds since day one. I’ve been lucky enough to never have had to pay for any. The quality just isn’t there for me. I’d much rather listen to music via a pair of Sennheiser RS 180’s. I won’t even mention the HD 700’s. Best consumer headphones you could ever buy. Even still, I’m in love with my Beats Executives and my Beats Pill. They are amazing products for what they are designed to do. Amazing. And they also have a certain cool factor. Apple products also have a cool factor. So there’s that synergy between two lifestyle brands. But that alone isn’t worth Apple largest ever purchase. Apple’s largest purchase before this was it’s purchase of NeXT in 1996 for $429M (inflated to $639M today). The purchase of NeXT allowed Apple to develop Mac OS X. This was key in Apple developing a modern operating system for it’s Mac lineup, and later iOS for iPhone and iPad. Considering all the products that run on NeXT code, that purchase was cheap. I just don’t see the same value in this Beats purchase. Tim Cook has gone on record as saying that new features for Beats will “blow your mind” and that there are “products you haven’t thought of yet”. Those are bold statements. Some could say that they are for investors who are concerned that Apple just blew $3B of their money on a company that only cleared $1.5B in revenue last year. I think it’s clear to say that the return on this investment won’t come in the form of headphone sales, no matter how high the profit margin is for Beats products. From everything I’ve been reading, this purchase was for the people resources that Beats will bring to Apple. Dre and Iovine will be full-time employees at Apple. Still not sure how that is going to work. You don’t just go from owning a company to being an employee. No matter how much money ($700M for Dr. Dre in this case) you made from selling your company. It’s a different mindset when you’re the guy at the top making the decisions than when you’re just another employee. And yes, I know they won’t be too far from senior management, reporting to Apple SVP Eddy Cue. But they won’t be involved in many closed door meetings. That’s not an easy pill to swallow. Egos can wreck a business faster than any rival. I don’t see that happening with Dre as he’s a relatively quiet figure and Iovine has had a good relationship with Apple in the past. But the chemistry between these two and Apple’s top brass should be watched. I think Apple is betting on Iovine’s relationships in the music and TV industry to boost declining music sales and to possible secure some content deals for Apple’s heavily rumored television product. Apple has promised to go into categories that it currently isn’t in. So along with the obvious iWatch, a true Apple TV is likely the other. While the iWatch will generate a few billion for Apple, television is a much bigger opportunity. Should Apple be able to successfully tap into that, we’re talking about the worlds first trillion dollar valuation for a company. In the short term (I’m thinking holiday quarter), we can expect to see some Jonny Ive inspired headphones and speakers. Too early to see Beats Audio in iPhones but it will likely come. Still, nothing mind-blowing. All very predictable really. For this deal to be successful, Iovine has to deliver some huge content deals.

The Rise Of BlackBerry?

Has anyone noticed that RIMM (Research In Motion) is up over 100% since September? I have. And I wish I could have predicted it! Double your money in just 4 months??? Damn, I wish I could have seen this coming! But what does this mean? Is BlackBerry again on the rise? Maybe. There are plenty of investors who have been hurt by RIMM but if you are looking for a tech company to put money in for the first time, this would be the stock to buy. The barrier to entry is low enough and they have a brand new product/platform launching this year. And lets not forget that BlackBerry hasn’t been completely left behind in the world. Sales in Europe are still decent and in emerging markets like South America, Africa, and Pacific Asia is where BlackBerry will see lots of growth. Even if this is just smoke and mirrors, there is money to be made in RIMM.

What Will 2013 Bring In Tech

Well here’s what it won’t bring:

  1. SOPA/PIPA - This isn’t coming back. The Internet easily defeated this and it will be some time before we revisit it again.
  2. MegaUpload - I hope I’m wrong about this. I will be looking forward to the launch of Kim Dotcom’s Mega on January 20th.
  3. Sales of Microsoft Surface - People just aren’t going to buy this thing. Surface will be a failure and I stand behind my opinion on this 100%.
  4. The end of Apple/Samsung lawsuits - These companies aren’t going to kiss and make up anytime soon. At least not until Samsung forks over that $1B in damages.
  5. The death of Google - No matter how much I keep hoping and wishing, it just won’t happen.
  6. The end of the iPad’s dominance - Not going to happen for some time….if ever. While competition in the tablet market will continue to increase, the iPad will still remain king.
  7. Popularity of Google+ - I don’t care how much Google forces people to use their social networking service, it is not going to be popular.
  8. Next gen game consoles - Now I could be wrong about this one but I think Microsoft and Sony will debut their upgraded Xbox and Playstation consoles in 2013.
  9. Online piracy will end - This one actually made me laugh.
  10. Apple television set - I don’t think Apple will unveil their full television product this year. 2014 seems like a safer bet. But I really really hope I’m wrong.

Al (Jazeera) Gore Will Never Be President, Now!

I surely hope Mr. Gore gave up his dream of being President of the United States because he certainly isn’t going to make it to the White House now.

R.I.P. Netbooks

I’m actually in shock that a category of computers has died so quickly. I knew netbooks weren’t going to last forever, but I didn’t think that they’d be gone after only 5 years. Both Asus and Acer have announced that they will no longer be making these ultra-portable laptops. While there are several contributing factors, the primary factors were Apple’s iPad and MacBook Air (and the ultrabook category that the Air inspired). When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in 2010, he aimed directly at netbooks. Most people who wanted a netbook, wanted one because it was more portable than a full laptop. They primarily tasks that people used netbooks for were to surf the web and check email and the iPad did both tasks better. But being attacked by the MacBook Air (and ultrabooks) was the final nail in the netbook’s coffin. Why buy an inferior category of laptop when you can spend a little more and get a laptop that is just as portable and does everything better. Netbooks didn’t stand a chance. More blood on Apple’s hands.

Project X is 2012’s Most Pirated Movie

Let me just start by saying that I recently watched my 1080p Blu-ray bootleg of Project X and it was great. Sound and picture quality were awesome! So why would someone want to pay for something that they can get for free? And why would an ISP police what people use their service for? And why would the government enforce anti-pirating policies? But lets for a second say that the government enforces those policies and ISPs begin policing their customers. You know what happens? People stop downloading. And then there is less need for the Internet. Or at least high-speed Internet connections. A 3Mbps connection is plenty sufficient to simply browse the web. ISPs sell 50Mbps (and soon 1Gbps) connections because of people who illegally download. If those people can no longer download, then they stop paying for Internet. They’ll probably just mooch off of their neighbors unsecured Wi-Fi network, “NETGEAR91376”. If the big downloaders stop downloading then they cancel their Internet service then ISPs make less money and governments get less money in taxes. Do you understand how this works? Now some would say that people would just buy the movie instead of downloading it and the government would still get their money in another way. Wrong! People that bootleg movies, TV shows, music, etc. are never going to buy the stuff. They’ll just get in their car to borrow whatever it is they need from whomever and make a copy of it themselves if they can’t get it via the Interwebz. The Internet has just made it easier and quicker to stea…copy. This isn’t going to stop anytime soon. So the motion picture and television industries need to get it together and deliver content in a more innovative way. Or stop releasing movies in Russia or any other Eastern European country (they make the quickest and best bootlegs).

So cheers to all the 8.72 million people that bootlegged Project X.

Why Instagram Should Sell Your Pictures!

I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment. Instagram should absolutely sell your pictures. Why don’t you get up off your lazy butt and develop a photo-sharing service and app. And then after you’ve done all that work, make it free for any idiot to post pictures of their breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner with some stupid filter. Have all these idiots who were complaining even bothered to think about how much it costs Instagram (now, Facebook) to host servers, buy bandwidth, pay staff, etc. just so any idiot with an iPhone/iPod Touch and Android phone (*shudders*) can upload pictures for people they barely know? Of course not. Everyone just wants things to be so great and free. The amount of backlash that online services get just when they change a feature or user-interface element is ridiculous. The service is absolutely free and people think they have some say as to what a company should do to generate revenue from it. In case people forgot, Facebook paid $1 Billion for Instagram. They are well within their right to make back every penny of that $1 Billion off of you idiots. I hope they sell all those selfies people take to companies who make hemorrhoid cream, erectile dysfunction pills, acne cream, and menstrual cramp remedies!

Go ahead, Instagram. Sell those pics!

Apple Made Google Maps Better

I’ve had the chance to use the Google Maps app for iOS for a few days now and I have been blown away by how great the app is. It is hands down the best mapping app available for mobile devices. But you know what else I realized in using the app? Apple was right to kick Google Maps off of its devices in favor of its own mapping solution. Sure, the new Maps for iOS app isn’t that great (I’m not going to slam it like others have), but it accomplished what it needed to do. Apple showed everyone what type of company Google really is. For at least two years, Google refused to bring turn-by-turn navigation to the iPhone because it wanted its Android operating system to have a competitive advantage. And so only but being kicked off of the platform, did Google update its app. And now, iOS has the best version of Google Maps available. And look at how quickly it took Google to push out the app. It’s amazing what a company can do when given the right amount of incentive. Kudos to Apple for pushing Google to release a better app. Now if Google can only fix this Gmail issue with iOS devices!

Just What The World Was Waiting For. BBM7!

<sarcasm> I can finally breathe now that it’s here! </sarcasm>