Part 3: Apple Rocks On – The Jolt! from ckwrites 09.24.2014

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Who would have thought that one product launch would provide us with three weeks worth of entertainment…? But for all kinds of reasons, this one has great legs.

Show Me The Money

Let’s start with the home run. CNN Money reported that Apple sold 10,000,000 of the Sixes the first weekend.

The achievement is remarkable, considering that China wasn’t a part of this year’s opening weekend.Apple (AAPL, Tech30) sold 9 million iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S smartphones during the first three days of sales a year ago — a weekend that included Chinese sales.

By all accounts the Plus ‘phablets’ are in high demand. I mean why not. What’s another $100 on a two year contract?

And please. Indulge yourself. Because according to Bloomberg who commissioned a cost analysis:

It costs an additional $15.50 to make the larger iPhones, according to a breakdown by researchers at IHS (IHS). So Apple pockets an extra $84.50 on each iPhone 6 Plus.

The total margin of an iPhone 6 Plus comes to just over 71 percent, compared with 69 percent for the iPhone 6 and now just under 65 percent for the iPhone 5S.

Phone sales are not the only thing that Apple watchers (pun =) are tracking. iOS8 adoption is another bellwether that reflects the installed base as well as the Sixes. iClarified is reporting that

Apple has announced that iOS 8 adoption reached 46% on September 21, 2014…. (this) is impressive considering iOS 8 was just released on September 17th. Before the release, iOS 7 adoption was over 90%.

49% of users are still using iOS 7 and 5% of users are on earlier firmware versions.

Part of the attraction might be based on the promise of enhanced privacy.

In a blog post, Apple says that iOS 8, which began rolling out Wednesday, has new encryption that will no longer allow the company to bypass a customer’s passcode to access the data.

“So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8,” it said.

Please, Show Me More Money

This was seen at my local mailbox. And yours…?

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The Citi press release reads:

Citi to Integrate Credit and Debit Cards with Apple Pay

With a single touch, pay with a Citi credit or debit card using iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus…

Deep Six

Long, long before Jony Ives discovered Biondi Blue, Apple led the way in design for manufacturing. It’s not just a matter of getting everything to fit – it’s a matter of getting it to fit so that units can be assembled quickly with a minimum of fasteners and other costly parts.

So it wasn’t long after the first Sixes hit the street, that people began tearing them down to find out just what makes a Six tick. iFixIt presents the very cool The iPhone 6 Plus Teardown Review.

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Things start to get interesting at Step 6 when the team announces that it’s “iSclack time.” In case you’re wondering the iSclack “allows us to easily shuck the display assembly from the rear enclosure.”

It took the fearless explorers 22 more carefully annotated steps to complete their work. The result? An “iFixIt Repairability Score of 7.”

We have slain the giant. The iPhone 6 Plus earned a respectable seven out of ten, an improvement over the iPhone 5s.

But seriously – who wants to endure a repair if you can avoid the experience. Fast Company Design guessed that what you really wanted to know was The Best Way To Protect Your iPhone 6 Without Destroying Its Design. And the promise is one I wasn’t expecting…

YOU DON’T NEED AN IPHONE CASE. HERE’S A KILLER DESIGN TRICK FOR PROTECTING YOUR IPHONE 6 WITHOUT OBSCURING ITS DESIGN.

Spoiler Alert – well you do need some stuff – just not a whole case. The argument being that you really shouldn’t need to protect it from the slings and arrows of daily life. This is newsjacking at its best.

It’s All About Tim

Boy was I proud when this weeks cover of BusinessWeek read “Tim Cook’s Apple.”  Because you so absolutely read it here first two whole weeks ago in “It’s Tim Cook’s Turn.”

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Tim makes much the same point I did:

…The lines between hardware, software and services are blurred or disappearing. The only way you can pull this off is when everyone is working together well… (when) they are so focused on a great experience that they are not taking functional views of things.

But who doesn’t think that Steve would be beyond verklempt over this cover? As with all things Apple, the new normal requires not mincing any words.

Fast Company took a seemingly indirect approach with “Why Businessweek’s Ugly Tim Cook Cover Is Subversive Genius:”

To say that the design of Bloomberg Businessweek‘s latest cover has raised eyebrows is to underestimate the ability of human eyebrows to literally rip themselves off of the skull to which they are attached.

After the announcement of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, Businessweek put Apple CEO Tim Cook on the cover, flashing the most shit-eating grin in history.

OK – I know you’re having a hard time believing that anybody could contribute anything more to the discussion but you would be wrong. BoingBoing noted that:

A graphic designer at Bloomberg Businessweek instantly ascends to world grandmaster of not giving a f__k.

Yup, they used the f-bomb so it must be true. But wait, there is one more person in the Fast Company story to be heard from:

I asked Businessweek Creative Director Robert Vargas if the intention was to send a message to readers about Tim Cook’s credentials (or lack thereof) by choosing these specific colors and typeface for the cover. Perhaps not so surprisingly, Vargas stuck with Bloomberg’s official (making of) story that the only intent was make Tim Cook look like a happy, fun-loving CEO.

“We were really happy with the spirit of the cover photo, and how it’s the antithesis of the formality and seriousness you might expect from a portrait of a powerful CEO.”

All right then – please try marching your antithetical seriousness into your local C-suite, and be sure to write if you lived to tell the tale.

Nope, It’s All About U2

You know this is actually painful… Because it’s all too easy to imagine a bunch of (old white) guys sitting in a conference room for at least an hour thinking of ways to end the greatest launch on earth. (Yes, if you’re tracking with my reference, Tim should have called Mick.) But the Infinite Loop speed dial is set to U2.

And you know what – I would have pitched it.

  • You’ve got surprise.
  • You’ve got the live performance reminding you why an Apple event is the hottest ticket in town.
  • You’ve got gift of unimagined largesse… though I would have liked it better if Bono would have said all the money went to his charity, Red. Perhaps the rest of the band didn’t agree?
  • You’ve got an ad campaign that is vaguely reminiscent (though not nearly as good) as the Black Eyed Peas “Hey Mama” spot for the iPod 3G (2004) that started it all. You’ve got a lock on the Guinness Book of Records.
  • And if that wasn’t enough, you’ve got some world class bragging rights about your ability to reach out and touch your installed base.

Given a chance I would have rocked it. Heck. I could have made it sound sane.

That said, anyone who has ever endured picking an event headliner, knows that everything about it is high risk, low reward. (This is especially true when the CEO’s wife or kids have the deciding vote.) Because there is simply no way that you can fool – or please – all the people, all the time.

The fact that not everybody was delighted is neither surprising, nor IMO much cause for concern. Hey – these guys haven’t put out an album for 5 years – might that be a clue about supply and demand?

In fact I suspect that the band may well have appreciated the challenge since they started teasing a cut from the album in February on the Tonight Show with a spectacular rooftop performance.

I love the way that Stereogum reported it:

Last night was the night Jimmy Fallon finally wrested control of The Tonight Show from Jay Leno’s fierce, demonic clutches. Fallon’s first musical guest on the show was a big one: U2, there to hype up their forthcoming as-yet-untitled album. The band played two songs, and they did both in notable fashion. For their new single “Invisible,” they took over the rooftop at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, performing with the Rutgers University Marching Band at sunset. That is not a huge rooftop, so I’m guessing every last person up there was afraid for his or her life. (NOTE this is pretty amazing.)

Clearly it was the reach out and touch my inbox that provided the chattering class with a whole new definition of impropriety. Personally I think the whole thing is seriously over-wrought, but the reaction is kinda fascinating.

Tumblr had a thread entitled “whoisU2” that is flat-out ugly.

Tumblr U2

“We’re here to revel in the hysteria” seems a bit more vicarious than may be healthy. Still, it is amazing to me (as an old white guy) how many people posted claiming not to have the slightest clue who U2 is. Really?

In a bid to go a bit more up-market, a blog called B2C – Business To Community – weighed in with Content Marketing Lessons Learned From U2. In their opinion:

…Content marketing should cause consumers to feel like they’ve found your brand—not like you’ve targeted them and hounded them.

The band and Apple left no room for the consumer to play a part, to feel like he or she contributed to the process. There’s no sense of choice here. It simply feels as though a product has been forced upon us…

In other words – it’s always good to maintain a bit of mystery – and to make sure that it’s Oliver who is pleading with Fagan, “please sir, may I have some more.”

Even Forbes weighed in with some of the same comments in Analyzing Apple’s U2 Mistake noting that:

  • People want pull, not push. For me this is the important take away for the event-o-sphere.
  • Downloads are over. You know what, I hadn’t thought about it but the younger you skew, the truer it is.
  • The band isn’t as cool anymore. Hurts to say so but again if you want to target Millenials you need to get your p’s and cues right.
  • With no current tour, U2 can’t capitalize on either the album or the current hype surrounding it. This is strictly an insider industry insight – and it does make you wonder.

The Guardian (a UK paper) provides a sorely needed, entirely refreshing counterpoint with How to take this strange protest over Apple’s giveaway:

Maybe the real problem is that the music industry has actually done what every internet critic kept saying it should: find a different business model. Getting Apple to pay for an album is the same process as the Coca-Cola company licensing the Ting Tings for new ads…Perhaps the problem isn’t with U2; it’s with some people’s expectation a few years ago that the music business would roll over and start giving everything away without strings. That was never going to happen – except in the minds of those less imaginative than record executives.

It only seems right to give Bono the last word.

(In an interview in The Mirror) Bono said he was pleased with how many people had bothered to listen to it.

“I’ve just heard that 38 million people have listened to Songs Of Innocence in the last seven days. If you’re a songwriter, if you’re in a band, that’s kinda all you can ask for,” he said.

He went on: “We get people might want to delete it, but believe me, no-one has deleted more U2 songs over the last five years than U2. It’s just a thrill that so many people have heard them.

All I can say is that there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears which went into your junk mail.

That’s it from Taos. Rock on.