Explaining Southern California's economy

Apple earnings: Record iPhone and iPad sales, stock still drops. Why?

Apple Unveils Updated iPad In San Francisco

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple product launch in San Francisco. Apple sold a record number of iOS devices in its fiscal quarter, but Wall Street was disappointed by profit margins.

Apple reported quarterly earnings for its first fiscal 2013 quarter on Wednesday after the markets closed. On the surface, the results were astonishing: Apple sold a record number of iPhones and iPads — 48 million and 23 million, respectively. It wasn't able to build enough iPad Minis to meet demand. It raked in $54.5 billion in revenue and netted a profit of $13.1 billion.

But. But. But...CEO Tim Cook set investors up for disappointment during his opening comments on an earnings call for analysts. "You're going to hear a lot of impressive numbers," he said. "But the most important thing to us is that customers love our products, not just buy them."

The numbers are monumentally impressive, but Cook emphasizes that in a weird way, Apple is now relying on customers' devotion to its products — and also to the Apple ecosystem that includes software like iTunes and new technologies like the Internet-based iCloud. Were the numbers somehow not impressive enough? Why the focus on soft values rather than on the bottom line?

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Are U.S. households really paying an 'Apple tax?'

FRANCE-TECHNOLOGY-COMPANY-APPLE

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The Apple iPhone 5. Does getting one mean that you're paying the equivalent of a tax to Cupertino?

At Reuters, Chris Taylor argues that they most definitely are:

The analogy of an Apple tax might sound facetious, but think about it. Median U.S. household income was $50,054 in 2011, according to the Census Bureau. A sizable chunk of that is getting diverted to Apple headquarters in Cupertino.

Remember, this is not something that consumers are being forced to pay. They are dipping willingly into their own pockets, because they're essentially slaves to the devices.

Taylor quotes an analyst who expects Apple-related spending to rise to over $800 a year per American household by 2015. How does that compare with other taxes?

Well, if the median household has two parents filing joint tax returns, and two kids, it's paying about half the 2015 "Apple Tax" each month in federal income and Social Security tax: close to $450. So households may be spending a lot on the Apple ecosystem of products — from iPhones to iPads to iTunes — but a lot more of their money continues to go to the government. 

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At long last, Steve Jobs gets a Grammy

Apple CEO Steve Jobs Delivers Opening Keynote At Macworld

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Steve Jobs will be awarded a special Grammy (posthumously) in February, 2012.

Maybe he should get ten. Or a special Giant Grammy that can only exist in low-earth orbit, or be used as statuary at Apple's Cupertino, Calif. campus.

This is from the New York Times' ArtsBeat blog:

Jobs, who died on Oct. 5, will be given a Trustees Award, which honors “outstanding contributions to the industry in a nonperforming capacity.” The academy’s national board of trustees decided to honor Jobs because he “helped create products and technology that transformed the way we consume music, TV, movies, and books,” the announcement said.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences certainly made the right call here, even if the Jobs Grammy will have to awarded posthumously. 

I'm far from the first person to argue that Steve Jobs saved the music business, making it possible for there to continue to be a National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to award posthumous Grammys. Here's Ed Nash, who runs a entertainment management firm in, yes, Nashville:

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Tech Geek Monday: All hail PandoraJam!

Pandora Jam

Bitcartel

It's the little Pandora app that makes a very big difference in how you use the music streaming service.

I've been a big Pandora fan for about a year now. Lately, my love has been getting steamrolled by various Spotify evangelists, but for me, I don't feel like I've really gotten everything I can out of the Pandora experience. As you probably know, Pandora is internet "radio" — its killer technology is a predictive algorithm that can take a song, artist, even an album title and turn it into a stream of music, by using the song's DNA. This is the "Music Genone Project"). You provide an input based on what you like — say, Ozzy Osbourne or Gustav Mahler — and...Pandora's box of music is opened! 

Pandora has effectively replaced iTunes as my go-to music resource. iTunes is fine, but I've always liked radio better than the self-programming that more self-contained music formats entail — everything from mix-tapes in the 1980s and '90s to iTunes playlists now. Like the radio, Pandora does the work for me. (See, this is how I wound up working at a radio station!)

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