CUPERTINO, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Apple® today announced that it will hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) June 10 through June 14 at San Francisco’s Moscone West. At the five-day conference, developers from around the world will learn about the future of iOS and OS X®, enabling them to create incredible new apps with innovative features. WWDC will also feature more than 100 technical sessions presented by over 1,000 Apple engineers, hands-on labs to help developers integrate new technologies, as well as the popular Apple Design Awards, a showcase of the most outstanding apps available through the App Store℠ and Mac® App Store. Tickets for this year’s WWDC go on sale Thursday, April 25 at 10 a.m. PDT.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft offer all three things: devices, platforms, and services. But each has a different starting point. With Apple it’s the device. With Microsoft it’s the platform. With Google it’s the services.

And thus all three companies can brag about things that only they can achieve. What Cook is arguing, and which I would say last week’s WWDC exemplified more so than at any point since the original iPhone in 2007, is that there are more advantages to Apple’s approach.

Or, better put, there are potentially more advantages to Apple’s approach, and Tim Cook seems maniacally focused on tapping into that potential.
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Some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, like Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Eric Schmidt, were directly involved in a wage-fixing agreement between their companies. That’s according to analysis of confidential internal Google and Apple memos reviewed and published by the news site PandoDaily. They found that it wasn’t just Google and Apple who were guilty, but dozens of other tech companies were also involved, affecting the salaries of more than a million employees.


Over on Yahoo Tech, they’ve a post up titled 15 Wacky and Wild iPhone Cases but one in particular is anything but wacky and nothing less than AWESOME!

In particular, the Prong PocketPlug Case has a wall plug built into it.

Let me say that again, IT HAS A WALL PLUG BUILT IN!

This is sublime and inspired genius for anyone who has ever stumbled about on low battery searching in desperation for someone, anyone who might happen to have an iPhone plug and be generous enough to allow you to monopolize it for an hour or two.

Source: 15 Wild and Wacky iPhone Cases

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Apple - Diversity - Inclusion inspires innovation

i-am-the-last-timelord said:

Hey I have an iPhone 4 and am considering upgrading to the 5s (I just saw your post in the 5s tag) and was wondering how it turned out. Do you like the phone? Do you think I should get one? Thanks :)

Hello stranger.

If you can afford it, then go for it. It’s been less than 24 hours, but the increased speed is noticeable every time I touch the phone. The only thing I don’t like is that the sleep/wake button and the volume buttons are a little too “clicky” and the sleep/wake button rattles when you shake the phone, but from what I can tell, that’s been an issue going all the way back to the iPhone 5.

*Full disclosure: I’m an AAPL shareholder (so whatever you buy, make sure it’s a 64GB model).

2014 Predictions from Some of the Smartest Market Watchers

Sure, making predictions is folly. No one really has a crystal ball and so no one really knows the future.

Still, speculation abounds because we love to pit our vision against the markets, we crave risk as much as we fear it and sometimes people really do nail it and make a killing.

So without further ado, here’s a collection of predictions from some notable friends who are willing to put themselves on record.

Jonathan Krinsky (MKM Partners): The SPX will test its 200 day moving average at some point. It has currently gone 278 sessions without doing so, for the 8th longest streak since 1980. The remarkable aspect of the current streak is that it began following a very strong run in 2012. Most of the other streaks followed some period that was flat or down, resulting in pent up demand. Currently the SPX is over 8% above its 200 DMA. As that continues to rise, we suspect the SPX will test it at some point in 2014.

Ralph Acampora (New York Institute of Finance): I am bullish for 2014 but I expect some kind of correction (maybe a bad one) during the year. So, I would start accumulating the VIX as the early rally continues.

Tadas Viskanta (Abnormal Returns) My blog Abnormal Returns is by design “forecast-free” so predictions are not typically my game. However in 2014 I can pretty safely bet that there will be no shortage of self-serving financial advice that on the margin harms individual investors rather than helping them. In certain cases seeking out professional advice is not only advisable but necessary. However you won’t find a better set of personal finance guidelines that fit on an index card than we saw this year:

image via Harold Pollack

In the end you, and you alone, are in charge of your finances. Don’t let the financial media distract you from from what’s important.

Brian Gilmartin (Trinity Asset Management): Synchronous global economic recovery will occur faster than many think, which will cause global interest rates i.e US Treasuries, Japan govt bonds, German sovereign debt rates to rise in a correlated fashion.

We are moving from an environment of slower growth and subdued economic data globally to risk arising from stronger-than-expected growth, similar to 1994.

In 1994, SP 500 earnings growth was 19%, while SP 500 returned 1% after Fed raised fed funds rate 6 times, from February ’94 through early ’95.

The risk is shifting from “it’s worse than we think” to “It’s stronger than we think”.

Todd Sullivan (ValuePlays): The theme for 2014 will be housing. All doubters will turn to bulls. New home construction explodes to finally catch up to demand (>1M units annually). This causes unemployment to dive below 6.5%. GDP exceeds 4% for the FY as the government drag on GDP is gone.  

Greg Harmon (Dragonfly Capital): Boring old materials will be big winners. Steel (AKS, X), cement (CX) and aluminum (AA) all moving out of long bases.

Howard Lindzon (StockTwits): Uber and Lending Club go public and Google hits 1500 per share and makes 20 more acquisitions greater than $100 million.

Gregor Macdonald (TerraJoule): Oil will finally begin its next repricing cycle late in 2014. It will begin quietly, and will bring together many of the same factors that led to the previous repricing, which began in 2003. Spare capacity, the cost of the marginal barrel, and the continued decline of the cheap barrel will all confront a new upswing in global demand. The upswing in demand will largely be led by a return to global growth, even as renewables and the powergrid will become the main avenue for global GDP. Oil’s next repricing will not be as dramatic in percentage terms. But the road to $150 oil begins in late 2014.

JC Parets (All Star Charts) Crude Oil prices double in Gold terms. $CL_F/GC_F currently at 0.08 - goes to 0.15+. Interest rates see 2% before 4% (10yr). Corn Rallies 30%. Blackberry doubles in Price. And Lebron ends the regular season shooting 50% better from the field than Carmelo Anthony.

Josh Brown (The Reformed Broker) The 2009 Generational Bottom is replaced as the reference point for the current bull market with the new all-time highs of 2013. An acknowledgement of the fact that this is a secular bull leads to a rethinking of its starting point - just as we refer to the start of the ‘82 bull market from the new high and not the 1973 low.

Scott Redler (T3 Live) While Microsoft (MSFT) has come a long way in 2013, I think it still has a ton of potential going forward. The stock provides the rare combination of value AND growth in one package. The company sits on a pile of cash but current leadership has never really known how to deploy it effectively. With Ballmer stepping down they have the chance to go from tech dinosaur to an innovator again if they can find the right person - much like we saw with Yahoo! and Marissa Mayer this year (which was one of my top 2013 picks). The stock also offers a hearty 3% dividend yield. From an anecdotal standpoint, they now have a phone that stands out a little but in the Nokia Lumina with 41 megapixel camera, and I think the new Surface Pro tablets are pretty cool - sort of like a laptop and tablet in one.


Eric Jackson (Ironfire Capital): (SFX Entertainment (SFXE) will do very well. Electro Dance Music (EDM) is not a fad but the fastest growing music niche that’s here to stay and SFXE is the purest play way to ride its success through the growth of festivals, music, DJ talent, merchandising and sponsorship. CEO Bob Sillerman knows how to make money.

Brian Sozzi (Belus Capital): Wal-Mart’s stock is up a meager 11.83% in 2013, but it could finish in the red next year.  Here is what you won’t hear anywhere else: Wal-Mart will issue a 2014 EPS warning in mid-February that hits the stock, due to a post-holiday inventory build brought on by aggressive HQ ordering and cautious consumers. Wal-Mart will announce a restructuring plan under its new CEO (focus: closing underperforming U.S. and international stores) that ratchets up the fear on the internal health of the company amongst the usually bullish Street.

Scott Krisiloff (Avondale Asset Management) We’ll start to see signs of inflation for the first time in five years. The yield curve will flatten. The Fed will be viewed as acting too timidly. The economic cycle will crest, along with share prices. Democrats will win control of congress.

The banking system will finally put the ghosts of 2008 to rest and there will be consolidation among small and mid cap banks. Consumers will continue to focus on quality of life. That means eating healthier, building relationships and taking time for leisure. Unfortunately for capitalists it doesn’t mean spending more.

Apple will release an iPhone with a bigger screen. More consumers will cut their cable subscriptions. More advertising dollars will be spent online. The PC market will stabilize

Health insurance companies will pretend to have a tough year adjusting to Obamacare but the transition will be smooth for healthcare providers. There will start to be a realization that genetic testing is crossing the chasm toward mass market relevance.

Dan Mirkin (TradeIdeas): Apple buys Tivo :-)

Brian Shannon (AlphaTrends): I predict that the people foolish enough to make predictions will be set up to look like jerks next year this time.  Learn to tune out the noise and focus on price action and risk management for a lower stress approach to the market in 2014.

Craig Johnson (Piper Jaffray): We are on track to achieve our SPX 2,000 price target next year, possibly earlier than we thought. We suspect 2014 will be a good but not great year, up high single to low double digits on the S&P 500.

Stowe Boyd (Chautauqua): (Whomping big prediction for 2014: The year that business leaders come to admit that, as Marco Steinberg said, we have 18th century organizations facing 21st century problems. And instead of fooling around at the margins of the issue, leaders and influencers will start to make real, substantive, and deep changes to how businesses operate.

Jamie Lissette (Hammerstone): Bitcoin crashes and trades below 100.

Ryan Detrick (Schaeffer’s): We think the VIX will once again stay below the 20 area.  Yes, the 20 area is the longer-term mean for the VIX, but it actually rarely trades around this area.  It will spend years below, then years above this area. 

In the ‘90s, it spent six years beneath this area and then last decade about four years below 20.  The other periods were marked by multiple years above 20. 

The recent ‘low’ VIX world started in early 2012 and very well could have multiple years left.  In other words, 2014 should continue see very little volatility and any VIX spikes up to 20 should be faded. 


Adam Warner (Schaeffer’s): I predict that at some point in 2014, someone will make a huge long bet on either VIX calls or VIX futures or both. In fact I predict that will happen many times. I also predict that one of those times, they will time a market selloff very well, and the chattering class will internalize that any time someone makes a big VIX bet, its smart money, so sell everything!

Joe Donohue (UpsideTrader): Best Buy revisits the teens.

Andrew Thrasher ( Commodities were hated for nearly all of 2013 with the CRB Index off nearly 4% and gold down 27% through December 22nd, while the equity market has moved higher by almost 30%. Sentiment for agriculture and metals are at or near historic lows. For example, nearly all three categories of the Commitment of Traders report, Commercial, Large Traders, and Small Traders are short or near a net-short position for gold. Typically we see the most hated areas of the market one year rotate back to strength the following year. I’ll be watching to see if this happens for the commodities market in 2014. While commodities are very weather dependent, there’s a chance we see at least a partial rotation back to the beaten down agriculture and metal markets.

Erik Swarts (Market Anthropology): Silver rallies 50% in 2014 as inflation expectations rise and worldwide growth reaccelerates. 

We have used the Nasdaq bust in 2000 as a comparative guide for silver and the precious metals complex over the past three years. From a momentum and performance point-of-view, silver found a cycle low this past summer. From a relative performance perspective, silver has been outperforming gold since late July. As such, we believe the low inflation backdrop is shifting discretely as gold and silver have tested the panic lows from early summer and look poised for reversal into 2014. 

As obituaries are now being freshly penned for the precious metals sector, we pause at the timing - considering the trade had died almost three years before. 

On the contrary, we believe a new birth announcement is in order. 


Dynamic Hedge (Market Memory): Capital flows continue on the path of least resistance toward developed economies. Volatility will bite down hard, but S&P 500 continues in a long-term bull market. Our studies identified several historical market cases which model a relatively big correction in the first half of the 2014, after which the market begins to really accumulate upside momentum. I expect the US economy will fully recover from the 2008 financial crisis by the end of 2014, and we will head into the next phase of the bull market and the generation of the next (real) bubble.

Hard assets (Gold and Bitcoin) become synonymous with volatility and risk rather than stability and opportunity.

More people step out of the shadow of the 2008 crisis. The slow recovery continues, and liquidity gradually makes its way into the real economy and actual business development activities. Startups and business creation gather momentum as capital allocators realize that ZIRP money unattached to a great project is dead capital.

Quint Tatro (Tatro Capital): We see a major shift into base metal, energy and all things NON-Precious metals in commodity land.

Barry Ritholtz (The Big Picture): My annual Predictions for the coming year, 2014 edition:

  • Dow Jones Industrials: No idea

  • S&P500: Why are you asking me?

  • 10 Year Bond: Could not fathom a guess

  • Emerging Markets: Who knows?

  • Fed Fund Rates: Haven’t a clue

  • GDP: Yes, we will probably have a GDP

  • Unemployment: Thhhhpppptttt?

  • ECB Rates: $%^&*!

  • 2014 Election outcome: How the heck should I know?


Happy Birthday Mac!

Tomorrow (January 24) marks the 30th birthday of the revolutionary Apple Macintosh computer.

Here’s to the GUI, Mouse, MacPaint & the 1984 commercial. All hinting at Steve Jobs bountiful genius.

Check out the rest of these wonderful photos taken by the fine folks at Reuters and collected on Yahoo Finance.

What the Beats is Going on? Thoughts on Apple Acquiring Beats

Apple is reportedly interested in acquiring Beats for $3.2 billion. 

Here’s what I’m thinking:

1) Separate the rumored deal price from the transaction.  It’s a lot of money for Apple and in many ways focusing too much on the money will make it difficult to focus on the underlining acquisition target. 

2) What is Beats?  While everyone seems to have a different answer, to me Beats is a start-up music company that is after one thing: music mind share. Think of music and Beats comes to mind, right? No? Well give it a few more years and the growing popularity of those “obnoxiously large” headphones may change things.  Co-founded by intelligent musicians (and businessmen) who “get” music, Beats knows what it is doing and more importantly what it’s after.  Headphones, stereo equipment, music streaming service, and the list goes on. Beats wants to own music. 

3) Apple is Afraid. I suspect Apple feels threatened as its mind share for music is declining. The iPod died on behalf of its older sibling, the iPhone, and following its death, the grip Apple had on music has started to slip. Think of digital music, and Pandora or Spotify may come to mind. Beats could very well be on the same path of music stardom. This past holiday shopping season, Beats headphones were everywhere (and people were buying them in droves). Walk down the street and you could tell when someone was wearing Beats. For the first time, the white EarPod was being threatened. Who knows what things would look like in a few years. Apple would be looking to change that with this acquisition. I suspect Apple is interested in buying Beats to gain music mind share.  

4) Similar Cultures. Beats and Apple share similar cultures where passion is the ultimate driver. While there would undoubtedly be segments or pieces of Beats that Apple will shutter, Beats could very easily represent a decently sized (fewer than 200 people) division within the Apple system. Sure, this would mark a departure from the way things have been, but judging from Disney’s success, sometimes you have to let the past go and embrace the future. 

5) Let’s go back to price. I think Apple is overpaying for Beats. Recent valuations pegged the music streaming service at around $100 million with the entire company worth a reportedly $1 billion last year. While additional details may come out in the coming days I suspect Apple is overpaying to avoid others from coming in and competing over price. It’s a lot of money for any company, and regardless of how much cash Apple has in its bank account, it’s still a lot of money. To me this means Apple is serious about this bet.  

6) Lots of unanswered questions.

- Will Apple actually promote the Beats brand post acquisition? Such an idea is still hard to grasp, but maybe they would have to in order to maintain a gripe on the music mind share they are acquiring.  Is the reason Beats headphones are popular because they aren’t Apple branded?  If I had to bet I would say Apple walks a thin line introducing new Apple-branded music product, while also keeping the Beats brand around.  Such an idea is still hard to swallow though…

- Will there be a Beats brain drain (employees leave) and does it even matter?

- How will this impact future Apple products? I suspect we are going to see Apple attempt a very significant push at a true music streaming service where I can have any song, when I want it (NOT RADIO), wherever I want it…and it would be free for iOS users signed up for Apple’s new mobile payment system.  

- Will this open the floodgates to additional Apple acquisitions?  If the answer is yes, then we may be entering a new era in tech M&A as the biggest tech company in existence is officially an acquirer (I don’t think this is the case though). 

Acquiring Beats would be a new type of transaction for Apple. While there are similarities to previous acquisitions, there are just as many differences and for the first time we may be seeing Apple “doing what is right” - fighting for its survival. Apple wants to own music

14 hour update: After plenty of Twitter discussions and thought, the only additional comments I have include:

1) Jimmy Iovine may play a big role. If the $3.2 billion price tag holds up, it becomes obvious that Apple is paying for intangibles (branding, music industry relationships) and not current products or services.   In essence, Apple would be buying the music industry - something that Apple would not be able to do organically. Iovine has been critical of iTunes and it’s possible Apple wants him to revamp iTunes and bring the service into a new era (with the full support of the music industry).  

2) Would Apple replace the iTunes brand with Beats? Is it possible for a declining consumer electronics brand (iTunes) to turn around and regain its strength? Maybe the only way for Apple to regain its grip on music is to update its branding from iTunes to Beats (among other things).  In such a case, a $3 billion price tag doesn’t seem as crazy. 

The word “innovation” gets thrown around so much one might think it’s as easy as applying enough elbow grease. The mere notion of innovation has become some sort of arms race in wowing people with newness. This might be a straw man for our attention-mongering culture, but it’s far from reality. If you think innovation happens by continually introducing things no one has ever seen or dreamed of before, you would make a poor product lead.

Real innovation means thinking around a problem from a different point of view. Trying to be innovative, just like trying to be cool, usually fails.