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  • MacBook Air with M2 processor review: The sweet spot for Mac portables in 2022

    I find this review to be disingenuous.  Instead of saying up front that Apple goofed and put a base SSD configuration that halved the speed of the M2 MacBook Air, that the one fan-version of the M2 MacBook Pro 13” did not provide sufficient cooling to prevent throttling of the computer after 15 minutes of hard usage, that differences of size and weight between the M1 MacBook Air/Pro, and the M2 MacBook Air/Pro at best minor, the review suggested that the 2022 Air and Pro hit the “sweet spot”.  The only thing that did hit the “sweet spot” was the longer battery life but that is not worth the price.  This is whether people should by an M2 Air/Pro laptop with several serious deficiencies.  I have a M1 MacBook Air with 16 Gb RAM and 2 Tb SSD that I bought in 2020.  An honest reviewer would have told me that upgrading my M1 Air to an M2 Air to 2 Tb SSD and 16 Gb RAM would  a serious mistake and that I would have seriously regretted investing >$2500 to buy a 14” M2 Pro with 2 Tb SSD.  
  • Chinese iPhone shipments dipped 3.1M in Q4 2018, full year down 2.5M units

    lukei said:
    Arresting the Huawei CFO in Canada has had the effect of Chinese companies either giving away or heavily subsidising Huawei phones for employees. 

    There was a country-wide boycott of Apple iPhones starting the second week of December in China after the Meng’s detention in Vancouver in the first week of December.  Feelings were very strong in China.  Even in Hong Kong, many people bought Huawei phones rather than iPhones in protest of the detention.  This has not been covered much, if at all, by the American press.  The timing of the event was very unfortunate and, in my opinion, was largely responsible for the reduction in sales because iPhone sales were actually quite strong going into November.  
  • Goldman Sachs sees Apple stock stagnant for a year, slashes estimate

    The recent 20% decline in Apple stock price is not based on any credible data.  Some claim that it is because Apple changed its policy of divulging unit sales and average sales prices of IPhones, IPads, and Macs.  Others attribute the drop to unit sales not increasing.  Neither of these can be true because no other cell phone company divulges unit sales and average sales prices and it is wrong to penalize Apple for deciding against this practice.  They will continue to report revenues and earnings.  The fact that unit sales did not increase should not be bothering anybody.  In case nobody noticed, Apple had a 27% increase in iPhone revenues last quarter, despite the lack of increase in unit sales.  Apple had a choice, sell few units and make more money or sell more units and make less money.  They chose the former and I don’t think that any shareholder should fault them for making that decision.  

    It is likely that the decline of Apple share represent two factors occurring simultaneously.  

    First, many articles have reported that suppliers have cut back on the parts they are delivering.  As pointed out by Tim Cook and others, these are not reliable indicators of iPhone sales for many reasons.  First, there will always be cutbacks.  After all, companies order parts for manifacturing and companies reduce those orders when their planned manufacturing run has been fulfilled.  Nobody knows, least of all stock analysts, whether these cutbacks mean a reduction in the number of units that are being sold.  People should also remember that many manufacturers are using some of these component manufacturers and cutbacks could also represent the general decline in smartphone sales.  

    Second, the entire stock market is falling.  Previously high flying stocks such as Amazon and Facebook have lost 25% or more of their value.  Stock fund managers are rushing to take their profits before the market drips further.   In my opinion, falls of Amazon and Facebook are warranted because Amazon is extremely overvalued and Facebook is having serious problems with protecting their user data.  On the other hand, no bad news has emerged since its spectacular Q4’18 earnings report.  In fact, Apple news has been very positive. Apple’s China business is looking up, the first cooperative agreement between China and the U.S. was announced suggest s beginning to the end of the trade war.  Reviews of the iPhone XR, iPad Pros, and MacBook Air have been glowingly positive.  

    Analysts appear to be ignoring to striking new developments:  Apple has opened up its own online store refurbished Apple products and many large retailers (Walmart, Bestbuy, Target, Costco) are selling iPhone 6, 6s, 7, X, and 8 for very low prices.  The fact that Apple has started selling its own refurbished products tells you that this market has grown large enough for Apple to try to take a cut.  Older models of Apple iPhones will be taking market share away from cheaper Androids.  Which one would you rather have, an iPhone X or any Samsung or Huawei smartphone for the same price?  Apple has found a way to grab market share from Android makers.  By leapfrogging all the other smartphone makers in terms of technology, Apple now can offer year old or even two year old technology for the same or lower price as their competitors.  I think that Q1’19 sales will pleasantly surprise many people, even diehard Apple fans. Goldman Sachs will be kicking itself for giving its customers bad advice.
  • Qualcomm adopts cheaper licensing for 5G tech, hoping to appeal to Apple & others

    Sigh, Qualcomm does not learn.  The Apple lawsuit of Qualcomm had one primary objection to Qualcomm’s royalty package and that objection was based on Qualcomm’s policy to charge royalty rates based on the wholesale price of the device.  Apple has to pay much more royalty for the same chip as a manufacturer of a cheaper device.  Apple believes that this is unfair.  

    Qualcomm should wave goodbye to their former best customer.  Any other company would have learned and charged a straight royalty rate of $25 for their modem chips to all their customers.  They can make up for this increase price to Android customers by charging $15 less for their Snapdragon chips, which most Android smartphones use.  This would circumvent Apple’s complaint and earn the same profit.

    For a company that is supposedly smart and visionary, the following decisions suggest not just stupidity but blindness.  First, they kick Apple, their biggest customer, in the teeth by charging Apple twice as much royalty per modem chip as the other customers.  To make these high charges palatable, they gave billions in rebates to Apple to not buy competitor chips, making the rebates contingent on secrecy.  

    Second, when Korea went after Qualcomm for these anti-competitive practices, Qualcomm withheld a billion dollars of rebates from Apple because Apple disclosed the terms of its agreement with Qualcomm.  What did Qualcomm think would happen?  Apple files a $1 billion lawsuit.  The US FTC takes notice and files its own suit against Qualcomm.

    Third, Qualcomm then initiates lawsuits against Apple for infringing on Qualcomm’s patent rights, taking care not to include any of the standard essential patents (SEP) in these lawsuits.  But, in doing so, they expose their second egregious practice of forcing all their customers to license a bundle of Qualcomm patents in exchange for cross-licensing all of the customer’s IP.

    Finally, Qualcomm included SEP in their cross-licensing bundle and may be infringing on its agreement not to overcharge for SEP.  It is likely that FTC will no longer allow Qualcomm to include SEP in the cross-licensing bundles but instead must license the SEP separately at a low rate unrelated to device wholesale price, hence the lower royalty for the SEP based on the wholesale price.  

    Qualcomm has damaged, perhaps irretrievably, their relationship with their largest customer that was providing about a third of Qualcomm’s licensing profit.  Instead of stopping their illegal practice of providing rebates contingent on not buying competitor chips and keeping the rebates secret, Qualcomm opened the Pandora’s box to expose their dirty dealings.

    In the last three years, Qualcomm has lost four major lawsuits in China, Korea, Taiwan, and the European Union and paid as much as $4 billion dollars of record fines for anti-competitive practices.  In my opinion, they will lose the lawsuit filed by Apple and FTC as well.  And, here they are proposing essentially similar royalty packages that had gotten them into trouble in the first place.