This is no conspiracy theory. The Greek government has done an admirable job handling the pandemic. To be honest, it was much easier than others. We have no economy. Sending everyone home when half the population isn’t working anyway is no big decision. Taking an aggressive approach when your economy depends largely on tourism is also an easy choice. If we manage to salvage July and August on the Greek islands it will be a major victory. Leaders of countries with actual working economies that produce something had a much harder job. Sure Trump and Boris Johnson are inept, but we should not disregard how much harder it is to make any decision when there are billions riding on it.
Here in Greece it was easy to stop schools. We have a terrible educational system run by civil servants who do their best not to work or be evaluated. Not much difference if they close. In England it could cripple many companies when parents have to stay at home. Here it is easy for most people. Same with our enormous civil sector. Nobody misses the paper pushers when they are gone.
Some years ago, when my kids still thought I knew the answer to everything, they asked me what I would do if I became prime minister. (Because it was so obvious that I was the wisest man in the world!) I didn’t have to think much, the answer was obvious: “I would force everyone to get on a single IT system for everything.” This would solve most of our woes, from the black economy, to corruption.
We now have most of the population at home. Online most of the time. How will they return to work when this is all over? They won’t! Our Prime minister used to be minister of Interior. He had a thing about organizing the civil service better. Here is how he will do it: What we will do is ask them, under the pretense of health and safety, to work online. Civil servants in Greece have managed to avoid using computers. About two decades ago some minister tried to make it compulsory for them to use email. He failed. They still don’t. But they could now!
These civil servants are all being paid full salaries and bonuses even though they are at home. So you could easily ask them to start signing in on a computerized system. Next step would be to get them to monitor some simple procedure, much as they would stamp approval on paper in their offices. Then more procedures on the same electronic platform. “Hey, we are paying you, it is dangerous to go back to the office, this is the only way!” It is not hard to imagine the entire civil service being restructured in less than a year like this. And the best part is that whoever can’t or won’t join the digital revolution will be self exiling themselves.
I am optimistic I know. My kids tell me that too now that they are older.
When Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage this September, nobody expected the shocking news he was about to deliver…
He unveiled the new iPhone 11—the most advanced phone Apple has ever made.
But it was not the triple-lens camera and lustrous finishes that stole the show. It was the phone’s price tag.
For the first time ever, Apple cut its iPhone price.
As I’ll explain, Apple made this move out of desperation… and it may well spell the beginning of the end of Apple’s run as a dominant company.
Apple Is a Phone Company
Let’s get one thing straight…
Apple is not a computer company anymore.
Apple is a phone company.
Since it introduced the iPhone in 2007, Apple has sold 2.2 billion phones raking in over a trillion dollars in sales—more than any other phone maker in history. Meanwhile, Apple stock shot up over 2,037%… and became the world’s largest publicly traded company.
iPhone Is Apple’s Golden Goose
Apple has earned a whopping $1.99 trillion since 2007. The thing is, more than half of it came from iPhone sales.
iPhone is not only Apple’s best-selling product by far. It’s also the company’s most profitable product.
For every dollar an iPhone brings into the company, Apple earns $0.60–0.74, according to PhoneArena. Compare that to the MacBook Air… Apple’s most profitable notebook…which earns a mere $0.29 on the dollar.
If it weren’t for the iPhone, Apple wouldn’t be where it is today. Without the iPhone, Apple would be a mediocre computer company like Dell at best.
iPhone Sales Stalled Out
For years, iPhone revenues have sprinted higher at an exponential pace.
But in 2015, Apple reached an inflection point. The growth of its iPhone sales has died out, as you can see below…
Last year, Apple sold 14 million fewer phones than it did three years ago.
That’s not unusual, though.
When Apple unveiled the first iPhone, the smartphone was groundbreaking technology. The typical lifecycle of a groundbreaking technology looks like this:
Sales skyrocket out of the gate… then flatten out as the market matures… and finally take an inevitable downturn.
Twelve years ago, only 120 million people had a cell phone. Today, over five billion people own a smartphone, according to IDC.
Think about it… In 2010, you could buy a brand-new iPhone 4 for $599.
In 2017, you would have had to fork over $849 for the iPhone 8 and $1,149 for the iPhone X… Apple’s most expensive phone.
The price hikes kept Apple’s growth engine alive… and for this reason, its revenues have gone on marching higher since 2011.
But there was also another reason Apple was forced to hike its phone prices…
iPhones Are More Expensive for Apple, Too
Take a close look at the chart below. It shows how much it costs for Apple to make an iPhone…
With the exception of a few years, the cost of making an iPhone has been climbing higher since 2007.
The first iPhone cost Apple just above $200 to make. Meanwhile, iPhone XS (the latest iPhone Apple reported on) costs double that.
Apple has always set records with its phone prices. But as you can see, it did it for a reason. It had to offset the ever-growing costs.
But as I warned my readers before, it was just a matter of time before Apple had to pull back with its pricing.
It didn’t take long….
iPhone Has a New Feature: Lower Prices
Last September, Apple unveiled iPhone XR, a less advanced and more affordable version of the iPhone X.
It cost $749, a 35% drop from the iPhone X’s $1,145 price tag.
But in truth, it was almost the same iPhone X, only disguised as a budget phone. It was basically an excuse for Apple to release a cheaper phone to get its sales figures back on track.
This year, Apple went a step further. It slashed the price of its full-fledged iPhone. The newly released iPhone 11 started at $699, a price point not seen since 2017.
Apple did it as a last resort to spur lackluster demand. But in doing so, it has signaled the beginning of the end of its lucrative iPhone business.
The End of Apple
See what’s happening?
Not only is Apple selling fewer iPhones, it’s now earning much less on each one.
Recent financial reports show that iPhone revenues… which have been Apple’s lifeblood… are starting to sink.
Last quarter, Apple earned 10% less from iPhones than it did during the same period last year. That’s a loss of about $20 billion!
Apple has never earned so little from iPhones… and all this will start showing up in Apple’s financial reports very soon.
Let me make it clear: half of Apple’s business is going off the rails, and there’s no turning back.
While Apple admits the demise of iPhone and is looking into new business directions, these things don’t happen overnight. Meanwhile, Apple’s money-making machine is grinding to a halt.
As I warned you earlier this year, Apple is a ticking time bomb… and for this reason, I’d recommend staying away from this stock.
Written with the assistance of Dainius Runkevičius.“
Pretty straightforward stuff. Forbes’ analysts have made similar predictions in the past, that is what analysts do after all. Last August Forbes published one entitled “Dark days are closing in on Apple” for example. But getting an article deleted like this now is either Apple with its usual heavy-handed journalist blackmailing techniques or a very clever and sneaky Forbes self-promotion.
The tech world also has cliches. And if you have been around long enough they stand out. Apple as an opponent is a big one. When Microsoft ruled the world, they made it look as if a company with less than 7% market share was the opponent. That way they could pretend not to be a monopoly.
Google is copying that strategy. Inundating us with ads comparing the new, affordable Pixel to an iPhone. Yeah, right, sure, anything you say. Android is running billions of phones all over the world while iPhones are relevant only in a few countries or even cities. Or maybe just the posh neighborhoods within those cities. Google owns the AI, the data and the tech. Apple is buying up 2 companies a month trying to catch up as always. Google does not even want to sell many Pixel phones, they never did. Pixel phones are just a way of kicking the rest of the Android ecosystem in the butt. The cheap Pixel is also a shot across the bow at Tim Cook for him talking crap about privacy.
There is of course absolutely no justification for what Donald Trump did to Huawei. Not that the Chinese are not terrible at stealing intellectual property and ripping off stuff. They are also likely to be trying to spy on us through their tech. But hitting Huawei is no solution. Why not Xiaomi too? Or any number of other Chinese manufacturers for that matter. And why just tech? They copy, steal and might be up to nasty spying with all sorts of other things they produce. Maybe even toys. Apple and Google met with Trump. He made them both promise to spend gazillions on new offices so that he could talk about new jobs in America. That is how it works.
Donald Trump does not understand what the late great master of propaganda Steve Jobs and his teacher Bill Gates knew well. His heavy-handed approach and erratic moves to please either his corporate friends or Russian blackmailers are ruining the facade so carefully built over many years.
Running a monopoly is not the hard part. Pretending it is not a monopoly is the real game.
As I watched the champions get annihilated by the Raptors this morning over breakfast I had yesterday’s Senate hearings in mind. Steph Curry only got 3 out of 12 but didn’t look worried. Much like Sundar Pichai yesterday.
Here’s what happened NBA-side in summary: The Warriors gathered not one, not two but five All Stars. These people are basically statistical outliers, freaks that make a difference when it matters. There have been maybe a hundred such homo sapiens since basketball started and the Warriors have five. So they dominate. They dominated so badly last year that a lot of us were put off the game. So what did the NBA do about it? For starters they tweaked the schedule to help the Lakers just to keep up the LeBron narrative. A bit like the stock market pumps up Apple every so often even though Apple has hardly no technological advantage. Just so it looks like Google has a competitor. Then they tweaked the rules to help teams that play in the paint. Then they gave refs instructions on how to execute the rules so as to give the Warriors a harder time. Not to get too technical, but the NBA did everything it could to make this years championship more fun. They even asked the Warriors to tone it down.
It is pretty similar to the Google situation. The company has created not just 5 but an almost infinite number of All Star technologies. Worse still, they have tools that ensure they stay ahead of the pack. They just need to choose when they will uncover what. Not to look too good, that will increase calls for regulation and intervention. The Golden State Warriors are following this example. All year they bench key players with phony excuses to rest them, or simply play as if it is practice. They don’t even use their best game plays all year unless they need them. Maybe one or twice here and there, like…well, like a Google experiment.
Is this bad? I have written about the Google monopoly since Google started and my position is the same. It is the kindest dictator we could ask for. I would much rather Google decides on major issues than Donald Trump or most other politicians. Is it fair? Business was never fair. Should we change it? I don’t see how and to be honest I don’t see why. Much like the NBA, maybe tweak the rules a bit so that it is more fun to watch at least…
“So, seriously Alex, do you think Apple has a problem?”
Financial analysts call me up some times for “insights”. It is usually when their job is on the line and/or they have to handle a really really big investor. The guy was worried and wanted me to give him something new to say in the big meeting, something none of the others in the office had thought about. And he came to the right place. I hate Apple, I have hated Apple since 1981 when I realized how little the company cares about technology. So the analyst got some dirt and we chatted away.
“OK, so I will tell them to buy Apple then” he concluded. I didn’t disagree. Because this is not about technology. Apple had the smallest research and development budget for many years. Apple has fallen way behind in artificial intelligence and the smart home. Apple’s new computers are a joke that took years coming and isn’t even funny if you are a professional that relies on them. No, this is not about technology. It is about the stock market. Apple is to stock what the dollar is to global currency markets. And all it needs to do every so often is produce a fairy tale.
Take the recent iPad launch. This is a a truly insignificant dying sector. About 4% of devices sold globally are tablets. Apple has a third of a market nobody wants. Apple is losing ground in education, medical and pretty much any vertical you want to pick. But what are the analysts saying? Every so often someone flashes that graph about revenue being too dependent on the iPhone but then they forget it like the Apple fan boys and girls they rely on in the media for information.
So don’t call me about Apple anymore. You don’t need my decades of experience in tech to guess what Apple will do next and how successful it will be. Tim Cook could present a half eaten moldy apple and sell it for a thousand dollars tomorrow. Nobody would care if he only sold five of them at a loss. Nobody cares about it working or actually helping somebody in the real world work. Antennagates, Batterygates and even Bill Gates knew what he was doing when he saved Apple. It was never about tech.
(That’s not an apple in the photo by the way. But who cares?)
It appeared in my Facebook timeline and took me by surprise. A Greek island is aiming to be smoke free. Nice initiative. Nice touchy feely video and all. Oh, wait a minute. It is sponsored by Philip Morris. How does that work?
I mean seriously. How do we allow that to work?
The first set of problems are the legal issues. In Greece nobody enforces smoking laws. People smoke everywhere. I was in court recently sitting under a sign that read “smoking is prohibited by XYZ law. Smokers will be arrested and prosecute immediately.” Two people were smoking right under the sign and next to a policeman. I asked him to do something. He asked them politely. They declined. End of story. So is Philip Morris going to pay for better policing? Of course not.
Which brings us to the second set of problems. When they say “smoke free” they don’t mean that they will help everyone quit. They mean they will help you switch from regular cigarettes to their new smoke free products. Which even Philip Morris admits have not been proven in any way to be better. In their words: “Studies on our most advanced smoke-free product,IQOS, are progressing rapidly and the results are encouraging.” So they are pushing people from one of their products which we know for sure is bad for you, to another one of their products which we don’t know yet.
The third, very glaring problem, is the selectivity of it all. Funnily enough in Greece they recently passed a strange law against vaping products without nicotine. It is almost as if someone bribed law makers to bend laws in their direction. No, wait, that is the sort of thing that happens in films. For example films depicting what the tobacco companies did in the past in fact.
And of course there is a fundamental, logical problem. Philip Morris is in the business of selling products for smoking. “We’re dedicated to doing something very dramatic – replacing cigarettes with the smoke-free products that we’re developing and selling.” That is the closest you get to a mission statement. So they are not are not actually going to help the inhabitants of any Greek island reduce smoking. They just want to get visitors and locals to switch to their products. This would be acceptable maybe as a step in the right direction if:
a) we were sure it is better for your health and
b)if they did it all around the world.
But of course in other countries where they can still sell traditional cigarettes, that is what they sell. They are lying in your face and not even holding crossed fingers behind their back.
The history of American Tobacco, their lies and deceits and illegal monstrosities has been relatively well documented. This new chapter in their history emulates Donald Trump’s sheer audacity in lying straight to your face but makes it worse but applying a veneer of do-goodery. A tobacco company paying a municipality to pretend it is doing something about a public health problem when in fact it is just giving free reign to Philip Morris to sell and promote their products like crazy all over the island.
It would be great if there was someone that could do something about it.
When Tim Cook came out to the media as gay I was not surprised. We all knew that Apple products were disproportionately favored by gays. The statistics occasionally cropped up and then disappeared in a very…Apple sort of way. A very “gay” sort of way in fact if you wanted to use a crude and unfair generalisation in terms of stereotyping 5-7% of the world population and the richest corporation in the history of homo sapiens. Interestingly enough that is about the market share of Apple products globally. (If you add smartphone and computers it may be a bit less but both kind of statistics are really hard to nail with any precision.) Apple is the perfect demonstration of how hypocritical a gay CEO can be when he is the one in a position of power.
We don’t know exactly how many people on the planet are homosexual. And to be honest, we shouldn’t really care. I have walked Gay Pride marches enough to know that all my gay friends, and the friends of their friends are a fantastically varied collection of human beings. In fact I don’t even think classifications help. There is no “gay meter”, human sexuality is a wonderfully complex thing, nobody is completely “straight” and what people fantasize about or do in terms of their sex life is nobody else’s business. It shouldn’t even be mentioned in business.
Oh wait. Actually it is.
One of the biggest, most consistent and absolutely fair demands of all of us who believe in equal opportunities, is the push for fair pay. I want my daughter to get paid as much as a man when she works doing a similar job. Hey Siri, is this true in Apple regarding gay employees? Hmmm…no response, eh? I want my kids to grow up in a world where we don’t need quotas in upper management. Hey Siri, are there disproportionately more gays in Apple? Siri won’t tell you. Apple won’t tell you. It is their right after all not to tell you. But why is nobody asking? We ask about all sort of other groups of people. We do our politically correct best to help minorities of every kind. We read and write about how a corporation needs a coherent mission and values. If Apple is more camp than others why is not openly projecting it?
It seems rather impressive that we can #meToo ourselves until we are blue in the face and turn a blind eye to this opportunity. If Tim Cook was a Yankees fan, when he met the President of the USA, we would read “and they joked about the game”. If the CEO of the richest corporation in the history of humanity was married to a woman we would probably see her at his side there too. Through a combination of good timing and the all powerful Apple PR machine, since he bravely came out openly as gay however we have heard almost nothing. A few carefully planned and executed, possibly paid for, high profile, profiles about it then. And since? Is Tim Cook in some way obligated to bring up LGBT issues since he has the ear of the world? Should he be doing more?
Of course it is a personal choice. And he should have the right to a private life. Other CEO keep their families away from the media. But the case of Apple and Tim Cook is a remarkable demonstration of the limits of selective political correctness, the limits of #metoo type of approaches and our extremely hypocritical approach to demands for transparency and “the truth” about our world.
It was almost two decades ago. After a dozen times at the International Broadcasting Convention I felt ready to summarize the trends and predict the future. “TV and the internet are linked forever now” I pronounced as if I had discovered a new continent. Checking out the trailer for my then TV show summary, other than cringing at the old fashioned editing and abuse of transition effects, it is impressive how little has changed.
Television is a “traditional” business. We are right to make fun of so many things about it which don’t change. It is true that young people have moved away, relying on YouTube, Twitch or Netflix more. But take it from an analyst who has often used click-baity “X is dead” titles. Television will never die. Neither will Facebook which many people enjoy attacking for the drops in younger audiences lately. In fact, unless we wipe Homo Sapiens off the planet, nothing will “die”. It will simply adapt.
And that is why IBC is such a great show. Constantly changing and looking for the new angle. If you want to call it “media” instead of “television” shoot away. “Digital cinema” instead of “the movies” yeah, whatever. You will always need something we now call “content” and you will always need people and technologies to make it, convert it, cut it up, promote and distribute it. Unless you want to lock down on a specific angle, as long as people live and communicate, there will be a thriving party at Amsterdam or wherever these people meet to discuss how to move ahead in their craft.
Let television and this trade show be a lesson to all of us.
The www.amydv.gr team will be at Amsterdam in force as usual this year. Get an agenda, do the business.
If you think Greece has made progress in the past three years, you really should tell me how you get informed. I need that sort of optimism and selective perception. I live in Greece and I breathe with Greek businesses of all sizes, shapes and forms. Things are much much worse than they were when we started these bailouts.
Corruption is not only endemic but in our face. That is something not measured in the international lists of corrupt countries but it matters. The rule of law is a joke when you combine corruption with delays in decisions. Greek courts can ruin any business endeavor. They do. Every day. The so called “ease of doing business” indicator hasn’t moved much. But companies have! Bulgaria, Cyprus or even Brexiting UK are preferred by Greeks starting a new business. Tax regulations change all the time. They even applied additional taxes retrospectively which is possibly a world first. Greece has signed up to surpluses so ridiculous that taxing anything that moves, anything that doesn’t move and anyone even looking at the scene, is the only way to conform to the demands.
The population of Greece has been babyfed government handouts for many decades. They pay those ridiculous taxes because they still have money stashed in various guides. The young people that don’t leave the country are the ones hoping for a job in the public sector. So we are left with the worse kind of employee. Unless you are a tech start up that can get by with a few bright minds, you are likely to come out of job interviews wondering what the hell these kids are thinking; demanding high salaries but not willing to put in the effort or show any kind of flexibility. Don’t be harsh on them. They grew up in houses with two parents living comfortably from the public sector, essentially not working. Whatever you offer them can never be as good as that!
We have one of the worse governments on the planet. Pretty sweeping statement but I can back it up. They sign laws to appease our debtors but these laws are not enforced. Worse still, and the reason I claim the world title so easily, is the amazing way they use a pseudo ideological way to dismantle anything good, decent or productive in Greece. You can’t call them “common thieves” because thieves are not so ignorant, nor so bold. They haven’t even managed to proceed with obvious and easy privatizations, partly because of these schizophrenic pseudo ideological concerns. You know this is investment hell when they can’t even sell off prime beach real estate (Asteras Vouliagmenis) or develop an ideal part of the city. (Ellinikon)
Our infrastructure is pathetic. Yes I know the roads are better than they are in Nigeria and we have a fairly stable electricity supply. But as has been proved time and time again by our current government, they cannot reach agreements on major issues like privatizing the grid. They can’t control labor unions which strike because they demand the right to continue destroying the environment with lignite abuse. So our infrastructure was OK but whether it will be able to ever get to any next phase of development is doubtful.
Probably the best place to witness all the above problems together is tourism. That great hope. Probably what you thought of when you read the title. “Invest in Greece: get a house on the beach”. Sure, after you deal with the corruption, the spoilt locals, the crazy government and the lack of infrastructure. All sorts of people will be asking for bribes or giving bribes on your behalf to speed up proceedings. Then you will discover that the neighbor built something right in front of your house, or cut off your way to the beach and there is nothing you can do about it. Then the government will impose yet another tax on your property, a tax you have to pay every year on top of the tax you paid when you bought it. Then you will wait for a decent internet connection, sort of get it, then it will be down again.
I don’t think you would spend even a small amount on buying a house on the beach if you looked carefully enough. So who the hell is stupid enough to make a real investment in Greece?
As an experiment, I decided to ask Google to remove all my contributions to the Google Maps Local Guides scheme. For those of you not aware, Google Maps uses volunteers to improve maps. And we do a lot. They have gamified the process, which makes me a Level 9 guide (of 10 levels) thanks to thousands of reviews, ratings and photos seen by millions of users that I have uploaded. So what happens if I want to leave?
Joke No1. Google itself, clearly says that you can delete your profile but your contributions will remain! End of story, judge makes verdict, 4% of your global revenue please.
Joke No2. It is not easy to even find what to do if you are not OK with the above Joke No1. Suppose you look hard, you will find somewhere under legal a procedure. So you fill in a form. Already we are way out of GDPR, this is not easy or intuitive.
Joke No3. Google doesn’t even have a human to respond. Their first email is generic:
“Thanks for reaching out to us!
We have received your legal request. We receive many such complaints each day; your message is in our queue, and we’ll get to it as quickly as our workload permits.
Due to the large volume of requests that we experience, please note that we will only be able to provide you with a response if we determine your request may be a valid and actionable legal complaint, and we may respond with questions or requests for clarification. For more information on Google‘s Terms of Service, please visit http://www.google.com/accounts/TOS
Regards, The Google Team”
Whoops! Under GDPR, referring to fine print just doesn’t cut it. Even if the judge hadn’t slammed the hammer and demanded gazillions before, now he can.
Joke No4. Luckily for them, I too think GDPR is crap, so I respond honestly and fully. Oh no, bot response again:
If you need to send additional information in relation to your request, please respond to the email confirmation you receive after you send in the form. If you have already filled out the above form, your request will be processed shortly.
If you need to send additional information in relation to your request, please respond to the email confirmation you receive after you send in the form.
If you have already filled out the above form, your request will be processed shortly.
Regards, The Google Team”
This is pretty bad. The bot didn’t even get it right. So I send “This request does NOT concern blocking information. The form you are sending me to is irrelevant. Please get a homo sapiens to respond.” And the bot insists: “After reviewing your submission, we weren’t able to fully understand your request. If you send us more details to clarify your concerns, we will investigate further.”
Luckily for Google, I am on their side, so I explain with plenty links.
“I am a Google maps local guide. Level 9 in fact. This means I have made thousands of contributions. However if I want to remove these contributions, there is no automatic way of doing it.Under GDPR this should be possible more easily. Manually deleting tens of thousands of comments, reviews and photos is not practical or even feasible.
If you need to send additional information in relation to your request, please respond to the email confirmation you receive after you send in the form.
If you have already filled out the above form, your request will be processed shortly.”
Now, if you follow that last link, it is as unGDPR as humanly possible. And it is off topic, it won’t even work if I request it like that.
I really need no further proof than the above emails to sue Google under GDPR. Will it work? Hell yeah! Class action? Easily! Google has been pushing users on to Local Guides for ages, millions of Android users are on it already. Will I do it? Of course not. GDPR is ridiculous, useless and bureaucratic for no reason. Google Maps is useful and Local Guides wonderful.
This is a complicated world but useful trumps EuroBureaucracy every time. Even well meaning European initiatives are counter productive when they are implemented like this. A horse designed by a Euro Committee isn’t even a camel, it is a monster that can’t walk. GDPR is not enforceable in any practical sense, it is simply the threat of a vindictive consumer.