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Applesauce: All Things Apple – April 7, 2013

Apr 07, 13 Applesauce: All Things Apple – April 7, 2013

If Tim Cook has taught us anything, it’s that an apology will get you damn near anywhere in China. While it looked for a while as if China were going to make an example of Apple in retaliation for America’s persecution of Huawei and ZTE, one letter from Tim Cook seems to have cleared it all up.

Also, Apple analysts are mostly making stuff up at this point.

Finally, Facebook released their phone, only it’s an app, not a phone, and it looks pretty cool with one exception: it’s from Facebook.

Has a brainstorm taken you away from the norm? Well, then I’ve got to tell you something…Applesauce is the color of your energy.

There’s something weird happening in China.

For the past several weeks, State-owned media has been telling all to stay away from Apple due to what they believe are subpar repair and warranty policies. The funny thing is (or was) is that these policies are the same as they are in the United States.

When Chinese iPhone owners would bring their devices in for replacement, they’d be given a “new” phone in the same way that American customers would be given a “new” phone.

Which is to say, Apple has been handing out refurbished phones as replacements for years, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The parts have been checked with Apple.

They work fine.

They’re leaving Apple’s storehouses with Apple’s blessing.

Ah, but the Chinese government believed that Apple was ignoring the country that they’ve been so fervently pursuing and handing out shoddy replacements instead of brand new gear.

So, on March 15, otherwise known as “Consumer Rights Day” around China, the State-run China Central Television (CCTV) ran a piece about how terribly Apple treats their Chinese customers.

Then, the Chinese government may or may not have instructed several celebrities to post anti-Apple sentiments on their Weibo pages. Weibo is China’s version of Twitter, by the by.

Then the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce began asking for all “subordinate agencies across China” to begin cracking down on ol’ Apple, citing a number of complaints about the company’s hurtful warranty practices.

Then a Chinese film studio said they were suing Apple, claiming that the company was…get this…pirating their movies and selling them for profit on iTunes,

This was all very bad news, of course. Apple wants — no, needs — to do business in China if they want to keep raking in that sweet, sweet profit and keep their investors happy.

We’ve already seen what happens whenever their shares slip in any way.

So, Tim Cook did something that Steve Jobs would never do. Again.

He apologized to the Chinese people, saying that he understood Apple’s silence on the matter (something they’re prone to do) likely made things worse and made them appear as if they were arrogant.

“We are aware that insufficient communications during this process has led to the perception that Apple is arrogant and disregard, or pays little attention to, consumer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for any concern or misunderstanding arising therefrom,” reads a version of the apology translated to English. Cook, apparently, had no intention to share this apology with any other country or even discuss it elsewhere.

Here’s where things get a little strange.

Cook issued an apology, announced a minor change here and there in their warranty and report policies, and the next day we’re hearing reports that the State bought it and are now singing Apple’s praises once more.

Wait, what?

Before Apple issued this apology, there were some who were claiming China was trying to make a point by treating Apple the same way the United States treated Huawei and ZTE.

Remember when the House Intelligence Committee told everyone not to buy products from these Chinese companies?

Yeah, same thing.

“The company’s apology letter has eased the situation, softening the tense relationship between Apple and the Chinese market,” writes the Global Times, according to Fortune.

“Its reaction is worth respect compared with other American companies.”

At this point, the theory about striking back against the US by way of Apple no longer seems plausible. If the Chinese government really wanted to stick it to the US, they’d shut Apple out completely.

You don’t want to see a hefty American deprived of his Apple gear.

No, this reaction makes China look like a vindictive and small person, someone who will throw a fit just for the satisfaction of seeing the object of their ire have to humble themselves and apologize.

Something just seems off about the whole thing, and perhaps we’ll see more come from this little scuffle in the future.

For now, the fact that a simple apology from Cook was all China wanted for all their slanderous acts seems too good to be true.

Mostly Making This Up

Remember Brian White, that Topeka Capital Market analyst who once claimed a while back that Apple stock would one day hit that magical mark of $1,001 by April 4, 2013?

(I feel it must be mentioned that we’ve already blown by that date and yet, here we are, with shares of AAPL selling for under $500…)

Well, he’s back and still up to his old hare-brained tricks.

Analysts have for years now been predicting that Apple will soon release a full sized HDTV. In these instances, “soon” normally means “by the end of the year.”

Yet, as each year comes and goes, we see no TV from Apple. No offense to these analysts (mostly Gene Munster), but I think your timing might be off by a few years.

In a new note released to investors on Wednesday, Mr. White claims that this will really be the year of the Apple Television.

(No, really, it will happen this time, you guys!)

If I’m being honest, predicting an Apple TV is a pretty safe bet. Just like predicting that Apple stock will continue to climb.

Wait…

After all, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and there’s been plenty of smoke about both the Apple TV and the Apple “iWatch” for quite some time now. Apple may very well have these products somewhere in the pipeline, but at the very least, they’ve been testing them out as prototypes and decided somewhere along the line that these things simply wouldn’t sell well.

Moving on…

In a new letter to investors, White claims that not only will an Apple TV be released by the end of the year, it will also feature “a major innovation that will revolutionize the TV experience.”

Again, you’re not telling us anything we didn’t already know, White.

“Clearly, there has been plenty of mis-guided speculation around the timing of the Apple’s ‘iTV’ launch and we believe that this is largely due to changes by Apple, most recently around the creation of entirely new user interface aesthetics,” writes White in his letter to investors, which was picked up by the kind folks at BGR.

Now here’s where it gets good.

“First of all, we believe “iTV” will be 60-inches in size (but could also include 50-55 inch options). Secondly, we believe Apple will release a miniature device called “iRing” that will be placed on a user’s finger and act as a navigation pointer for “iTV”, enhancing the motion detection experience and negating some of the functionality found in a remote.”

We should really stop here for a second.

White believes that the Apple designers, led by Sir Jony Ive, one of the greatest designers of our modern era, will release a television that will be controlled…by a ring.

I’m struggling to come up with the appropriate Tolkien joke, but they all just seem way too easy.

“Will the Apple TV ship with a channel guide called ‘Samwise Gamgee?’ It will most likely bungle all of your DVR recordings, but man will it be loyal and feel terrible about it afterwards.“

“If the ring stops working, will an Apple Genius be required to toss it into the fires of Mount Doom, which just so happened to be located somewhere near the Google campus in Mountain View?”

“If the battery dies, does it play the one sound you hear just hours before you die?”

(An aside…yes, I know. One of those jokes was not like the others. Learn to flow with the punches, reader!)

According to White, the same company which said people don’t want to have to reach out to touch their iMacs to control them is going to ship their Apple TV with a ring with which normal, everyday users (many of whom probably never played a game of Dungeons and Dragons in their life) will be required to wave their hand in the air to switch from “So You Think You Can Dance” to “The Bachelor.”

Seems…suspicious?

Let’s move on.

“Thirdly, “iTV” will come with a “mini iTV” screen that will seamlessly allow users to view content on this smaller, 9.7-inch screen, while also opening up use cases around home security, phone calls, video conferencing and other areas. As part of this experience, Siri and FaceTime will be important. Essentially, we believe the “mini iTV” screens will be able to capture content from the 60-inch “iTV” across a distance of up to 200 meters, allowing a user to view “iTV” content in the kitchen, washroom, garage, bedroom, backyard, etc. We believe Apple will offer one “mini iTV” per “iTV” but package options will include up to four screens (i.e., one screen is part of the standard package and pay extra for each additional).”

Dear Mr White,

The rest of us call it an “iPad.”

Look, Apple will probably release a full size Apple TV at some point in the near future.

It’s the whole thing about smoke and fire.

But these are the most hare-brained and un-Apple like features I’ve ever heard of. Were I tasked with coming up with the polar opposite of how an Apple TV would be controlled, I couldn’t have come up with this kind of nonsense.

Microsoft would do this kind of thing, sure…but Apple?

Even if you buy into the fallacy that Apple can “no longer innovate” or that “Apple is floundering without Steve Jobs,” this seems so far out of their realm that I don’t know what anyone would ever take this seriously.

White even goes on to mention that farcical iWatch as another option for controlling this new TV, but I’m just too tired to come up with anymore jokes,

Again, Apple probably will release a TV, and this TV will probably feature some “revolutionary” designs and methods with which to control it. This is simply what Apple has done, and they’ve proven it over the years.

Just as White tried to make headlines with his $1,001 prediction,  (don’t forget, before this he also predicted Apple stock would be worth $666…) he is now trying to get even more headlines by coming up with the most asinine rumors he could dream up.

Why don’t you step away from that crack pipe, Mr. White, and start directing your investors with rumors that at least make a little sense?

Not a phone, a Home

And what’s to make of that Facebook phone, er, Home?

On Thursday, the social giant announced something that caught many by surprise. No, it wasn’t a phone and, no, it wasn’t a forked version of Android.

What Facebook has done instead is take full advantage of what Android really is…an operating system with the permissions to let app makers do whatever the hell they want to do.

Fortunately for us, Facebook has some decent designers on staff who were able to create something very slick and very good looking.

There’re some cool features in Facebook Home, what they’re calling their “Family of Apps.”

The Chat Heads, tiny little icons that float about the screen, look to be a fresh new approach to chatting and texting. The fluidity and physics of the entire UI are a testament to how hard these engineers and designers must have worked on this project.

There’s only one problem.

It’s from Facebook, and you can bet your sweet bippy they’re going to do something you don’t like with your information.

Perhaps even sell ads.

I believe Zuckerberg’s exact words were “there are no ads in this yet. [Emphasis mine.] I’m sure at some point there will be.”

Can we get a slow clap going for Zuck and team?

They look poised and ready to get ads on a smartphone lock screen.

Kind of sad, isn’t it?

Years ago (pre-Android) when people were talking about a “Google phone,” a widely believed rumor was that Google would simply give the phone away, so long as they could serve up some ads, a la the Amazon Kindle.

It’s ironic, then, that Facebook is twisting Google’s Android into the shape it wants AND likely getting to the ads game first.

It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for Google, but I don’t.

If we’re being honest, I watched the live video feed for the Facebook event and looked with envy on the new Facebook phone. I wish iOS had similar features and relied so much on gestures as Facebook Home does.

Yet, I don’t use Facebook all that often. I try my best to stay away from it every day.

And my Cover Stories (the slideshow of photos which plays on the lock screen) would either be filled with ridiculous eCards or religious sentiments that I no longer agree with.

Seriously, why would anyone want to trust their lock screen content to their Facebook friends?

Its creator aside, Facebook Home looks like a really slick product with some smarts behind it.

By not forking Android, more people will be able to install it, use it and ultimately, bring more mobile traffic to Facebook, which is something they’ve been needing for some time now.

I say, “Kudos, Facebook.” You’ve done what appears to be a good job, and I hope you persuade even more people to trust you with their GPS data, messaging habits, and address books.

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