Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gauging Apple's Mobile Success By Examining Its Vision, Not Stock Price

I do own a couple of shares of Apple that I did not sell from way back when things were still bad. As a believer, albeit naïve at the time, I thought things would turn around. The naïve part would have come true had Steve Jobs not entered the halls of Apple Proper and took things over and shook the music, PC, and, now, the mobile markets.

I was watching a CNBC video today where two analysts, pretty much clueless about tech and what we mobile warriors are about, took both sides of the Apple stock. One thinks it’ll go up while the other thinks things about to come to a head for Apple’s stock price.

Where do I stand?

I don’t know. I don’t make my living off Apple’s stock price. But if you’re in this as a stockholder, you need to understand where Apple’s vision is all about and what it has in stored for 2011 and beyond. When Steve Jobs took a leave of absence, one thing Tim Cook and company pointed out was that Apple’s product are planned years ahead. I’m sure things get moved around a bit but I believe that to be the case. While other companies might have similar plans, unfortunately, they are not as far reaching, innovative, and they likely have to toss them out or rethink because they have a competitor in Apple that likes to disrupt things.

Google is one such company. Ask Microsoft though I don’t see Balmer admit it. However, in the Apple-Google battle, Google is at a great disadvantage. Simply put, Google is playing in a different market unlike search.

When Google came onto the scene, there was nothing like Google in the search market. When Apple came onto the mobile market, the market was stagnant and the incumbents were fat and lazy. Now that Google is entering the mobile market, the players are stronger and then there’s Apple.

And from what Apple has learned, specifically Steve Jobs, about the PC market in the 80s and 90s, they are doing everything they can to win this one. That includes the tablet market. They mean to duplicate their dominance in the MP3 player and music market with the iPod in the mobile market with the iPhone and iPad.

Now back to the stock prices. I don’t get the daily movement or what day traders will do just before earnings and product announcements. I don’t know. I don’t think the brasses at Apple care about it other than the long term pricing of the stock. And they are right. I am not even sure they care about where AAPL is on a quarterly basis either.

How does a long term stock player evaluate Apple then? Look at their product line and the consumers who flock to the Apple stores in LA, SF, NY, and Shanghai. Look at the corporations who are giving the iOS a chance and deploying iPads in factories, sales teams on the field, and in hospitals.

Also look at Antennagate that CNN has called the worst fail of 2010. What a joke. No wonder no one watches CNN anymore. Do they even know the meaning of “fail”. By CNN’s definition, “fail” meant Apple selling out of iPhone 4’s for weeks, shortages in Asia, Verizon finally coming to terms that its Droid lines and Blackberry Storms haven’t lived up as worthy competitors to the iPhone 4 despite it available on one of the worst 3G network in the US market.

Then for 2011, we have to look at Verizon. By all accounts, the iPhone is coming to Verizon Wireless. By all accounts, Apple is working with the carriers to push out the iPad to corporate users. By all accounts, Apple is taking a more serious stab at enterprise.

All that means volume.

But more importantly for stock watchers, it’s Apple’s vision. An easy “just works” ecosystem that consumers will continue to love. In 2011, we’ll see a more closely integrated solution for users on the go and for when they return home to their living room. What we saw with Apple TV 2, Apple only opened a small crack into the possibilities and what they want to provide us with as far as media and games.

2011 will see a flood of Apple TV fly off the shelves as movie and TV selections expand for users and more importantly, I believe we’ll see an integration of iOS mobile devices with Apple TV. Imagine iPads and iPod touches working as keyboards or game controllers. Being able to communicate with others in their home through Facetime or on the go.

And what about Macs? Apple made a killing this Christmas with the reworked Macbook Air and we’ll see more of those features likes SDD and 30-day sleep period, and long battery life. Oh, and let’s not forget about multi-touch. And the soon-to-be launched Mac app store. And OS X Lion.

With all that, Apple is not done just yet. Apple has more than $51 billion in the bank (that was as of September of 2010). Remember when rumors were flying that Apple was looking to buy Sony, Adobe, or Disney? One of the analysts on CNBC took a brave stab and mentioned Dell as a potential Apple acquisition. While it did show just how clueless Wall Street analysts are, he did brought up a good point that Apple may also be making a major move in the capital market without sacrificing valuation for its shareholders.

So all that’s been said, again, it’s what Apple envisions for the future in PC, home, and mobile. If Steve Jobs continues to deliver, you don’t have to worry about the long-term price of Apple’s stocks.

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