Explaining Southern California's economy

Is Research in Motion where Apple was before Steve Jobs came back?

The International Consumer Electronics Show Highlights Latest Gadgets

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A Blackberry Bold with the new Slacker personalized radio application is displayed at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 8, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I've been advocating, to pretty much anyone who will listen, that Apple should buy Research in Motion, the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry smartphone and has seen its stock price completely collapse in the past few years, falling more than 70 percent. Apple, mean while, has gone from around $350 per share per-holiday last year to more than $600 this week. 

Apple's success has yielded a cash hoard of $100 billion, some of which Cupertino is dealing with through a dividend and stock-buyback plan. But there's still tons of money left over. I say, Why not buy RIM? At a market cap of $7.25 billion, Apple could pick up the dominant player in the business-and-government smartphone market and plug the one gaping hole in its dominance of consumer electronics.

Apple could do this, possibly using cash that it's keeping outside the U.S. (RIM is Canadian! Apple wouldn't have to re-patriate the money!), and still have enough left over to buy, you know, the Eiffel Tower or something...

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New iPad reveals Apple's customers-last sales strategy

Ipad Fanatic

Ashley Bailey/KPCC

Laverne Mirley of Monrovia was one of the first to get her hands on a new iPad in Pasadena. Her grandson held her a spot in line all night outside the Apple Store on Colorado Blvd.

Just in case you've spent the last 24 hours sleeping under an old iBook G4, the NEW Apple iPad hit Apple Stores today. One man reportedly waited in line for week, presumably to pick up the 4G-enabled 64GB tablet with the awesome retina display screen (price: $829).

Classic Apple, in the Greatest Company on Earth Era. The entry level iPad 2 (WiFi only) even went on sale for $399. But unless you're a completely blinkered Apple devotee, you have to ask yourself why Apple waited until now to launch what we're not supposed to call the iPad 2S or the iPad 3, because Apple wants us to henceforth refer to the iPad only as an iPad, better to avoid the generation-creep that plagues the iPhone, version 5 of which is expected to arrive this summer. 

The iPad, old and wizened as the device is since its appearance in 2010, traditionally sees a new model in March. This provides Apple with a nine-month period in which to sell the device, capping what has up to this point been a veritable frenzy with the holiday season. It then holds on for a year and squeezes every last sale is can out of the current generation of the device before pulling the trigger on the upgrade following holiday season number two.

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The hot Apple time machine

Apple Announces Digital Textbooks Service At Guggenheim

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Apple's new iBooks 2 app is demonstrated for the media on an iPad at an event in the Guggenheim Museum, January 19, 2012 in New York City.

We've all done it. Lamented the fact that we didn't load up on Apple stock back in the day, when it was trading at $10 or $15 a share and and the company, with Steve Jobs in exile, was fumbling toward bankruptcy. 

What a difference a decade makes. Apple is now either the most valuable company in the world or among the most valuable, depending on what the stock market is doing on a given day. Fifteen bucks a share to $533. Zowie!

Oh, how easy it is to set the investment time machine to 1999 and say that you would have bought AAPL instead of sinking your dough blindly into a 401(k) or chasing a dot.com "superstar," post-IPO.

At USA Today, Matt Krantz throws some cold water on that nostalgia trip. Should you consider Apple, which has risen nearly 5,000 percent since 1999, the big beating heart of a current retirement plan? Nope:

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Gadget nut? AyeGear has your jacket

Gaze upon the many-pocketed splendor of the ultimate gadget jacket. Unfortuantely, while AyeGear, the company that makes it, ships "worldwide" (according to its website), that wide world doesn't include the U.S. The jacket does look like its was designed by gadget geeks for gadget geeks. I can see how it would be useful for travel. It's a wearable backpack, capable of accomodating Apple iPhonesand iPads, passports, chargers, headphones, you name it. I feel that maybe it could get a tad heavy, but the way it's organized, with 22 pockets, means that you could dash through airport security.

Wonder if it will make it across the pond any time soon...

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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This is where Apple pays Chinese workers $2 an hour to make iPhones

 

It's actually starting to build: the Apple backlash. A decade ago, the company was almost bankrupt. Today, it has a market cap of $481 billion, almost $100 billion cash in the bank, and a share price that some analyst think could go to $1000 by 2015, if not sooner.

Those numbers come from Apple's astonishing growth — around 40 percent since January of last year — and its equally astonishing operating profit margins: 30-plus percent. But what enables that growth and those margins is two things: cheap Chinese labor; and customers who are willing to pay a premium.

The video above is from a February 22 broadcast of ABC's "Nightline." The news program got an inside look at Foxconn, the "iFactory" in China where workers are paid less than $2 an hour for a 12-hour shift. More than a dozen of these workers have committed suicide, although it's unclear whether the working conditions drove them to it or whether Foxconn's facilities employ so many Chinese that suicides are going to be inevitable, as a percentage of the employed population.

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