Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Touching the Third Rail

Yesterday I was perusing the Wall Street Journal when I came across their Consumer Electronics Show blog. It had an article about a new cell phone that played music. It was pretty cool. It reinforced my concern about Apple as a good stock to buy so I wrote a short blog post about it. I just don't see their long term competitive edge, especially when they get into the phone business against people who've been doing it for a long time like Motorola.

Man, was that a mistake. I would have been better off suggesting the Pope had been swearing during Mass. My little post got referenced on an Apple discussion board and one of them left an insulting comment. They all had a good laugh at my expense. It turns out I'm an ignorant boob.

Like that's news.

Anyway, I had forgotten what a religious following Apple has. I've posted about my concern that Google is way overvalued, but I was never insulted for that. Dittos for the New York Times and others. Apple is a different beast altogether. At least the link on the discussion board got me a few more hits.


Update: Our Missionary to the Frozen Wastelands tipped me off to the unveiling of the iPhone. You can read about it here. It will do all kinds of cool things, is controlled by a touch screen and will retail for $499-$599 depending on the amount of storage it comes with. I may be an odd sort, but $500 for a phone? I think my phone cost $50. That's an awful lot of cash for a phone no matter what else it can do. My bet is that they've priced themselves above the rest of the market.

The WSJ is running a discussion board on the topic as well. It is dominated by Apple supporters, but I thought this comment to be particularly trenchant.

The launch price is above the consumer mass market. Looks like the costs to make the product will preclude it falling below $300, and that will keep it a niche aspirational product.
The real eye opener to me is not the phone or the stock, but the audience. Apple supporters are fanatics. The reaction to this little post, one where I did not troll for links like I usually do, was way out of proportion to the content.

Update 2: The WSJ has a couple more articles on the topic. Here's one that gives a good summary of the situation.

However, whether the iPhone can match the success of the iPod remains to be seen. One potential stumbling block: The price tag is high for the U.S. market, where as much as 80% of handsets sell for $99 or less, Mr. de la Vergne said. Analysts say Apple is unlikely to lower the phone's price because it doesn't want to cannibalize its iPod business.
I thought of that argument, too. Are customers going to buy both an iPod and an iPhone?

Another article goes straight to the heart of the matter. Price.

All of the product's features come at a steep cost for consumers, though, leading some analysts to question how big Apple's opportunity is to tap the mass market, as it has with the iPod. Mr. Jobs said Apple was aiming to sell about 10 million iPhones through the end of 2008, which would account for about 1% of annual global shipments of cellphones.
1%?!? You're reshaping the entire company to take over 1% of a new market? Just how many rules of business strategy does that break?

Update 3: I'm pretty much alone in my analysis. The WSJ as another article where industry analysts size up the situation. Almost all of them are bullish on the iPhone. I guess I'm just a cheap crank.

1 comment:

Kelly the little black dog said...

KT this is culture war stuff. Play with fire .....

Besides your post was a tad premature and might have taken a softer position had you today's announcement. Pretty cool stuff.