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Thoughts on Apple's Fiscal Q1 Earning Call

One thing you can pretty much "bet the bank on" is that Apple's stock in going to drop the day after any Apple's Earning Call. The call yesterday was no exception. The stock dropped over 8% in after hours trading. Why?

The "Why" is the topic of much speculation on numerous blogs, podcasts and news reports last night and today. The two top reasons seem to be the fact that Apple "only" sold 51M iPhones versus the street's estimates of around 55M. The other what that the forecast for the current quarter (Jan-Mar 2014) was lower than expected by the street. 

I believe both guesses are "true" but for a possibly a different "root" reason. 

All markets approach "saturation" at some point. Automobiles have been there for many years. TV's have been there for at least 3-5 years. As market saturation is reached several things happen. First, the number of manufacturers shrink. Think of the diminishing market presence of Motorola, HTC, Blackberry as examples. Second, the number of world wide unit shipments flatten. Worldwide smart phone unit sales from a number of analysis firms support this. Third, the usability life-span of the product being shipped gets longer and longer. Cars are now expected to be usable for 10-20 years. TV's are lasting 5-10 years. By the same token, many people who have iPhone 4s's or Samsung Galaxy S3's are still very happy with their phone and feel no need to go spend $200+ subsidized (or $600 to $900 unsubsidized) to buy the latest phone. Vendors need to supply a strong "emotional reason" to buy a new phone now. Both Apple and Samsung have so far failed to do this is a sufficiently strong manner to restore a strong upward unit growth rate for either company.

Many analysts and consumers have been unimpressed with Apple's iPhone 5, 5c and 5s. While the screen did grow from 3.5" to 4.0" from the iPhone 4s, it only grew longer, not wider. The switch to a metal back from a glass one was a positive step from a user breakage perspective and getting lighter was a nice plus, but Apples' sales would have grown overall regardless of either of these "improvements" as there were still large world-wide markets that Apple was not even selling in at the time of the iPhone 4s. 

I applauded Apple's introduction of the iPad Mini with Retina last December for one key reason. They gave me hope that they had figured what many of us already know - consumers wanted a 7.9" iPad that had "exactly" the same processor, camera and other "internals" as the larger 9.7" iPad. Consumers didn't want to "step down" in features "just because" they were buying an iPad with a smaller screen. Most HD TV's that you buy have the "same internals" and feature sets, you are just picking your preferred screen size and the manufacturer is not forcing you to give up on features based on screen size. Samsung hasn't figured this "feature parity" importance out at all from what I see in their broad phone line. If you have smaller hands, or just want a smaller 4" screen phone for whatever reason, but with the "same internals" as their larger 5" Galaxy 4s, forget it! Samsung doesn't have it to sell to you. Neither does Apple.

I am still hopeful that what we have seen Apple do with the iPad line at the end of 2013 will carry over into the 2014 iPhone line. For this to happen, Apple needs to introduce a slightly larger screened 4.5" phone (in about the same footprint as the current iPhone 5s) and a larger "Phablet-sized" iPhone at around 5.5", both with identical internals and feature sets, so users are only deciding on which screen size they prefer -  exactly as they do with the iPad Mini with Retina vs. the iPad Air.  Doing these two screen size distinct iPhones will allow Apple to add the "sweet spot" of the larger "Phablet" sized iPhone to their product portfolio that Samsung has with their Galaxy Note series, that is sorely missing from Apple now. Both of these new iPhones will give more consumers a strong emotional reason to upgrade to a new iPhone in late 2014 through 2015. If Apple doesn't, I believe iPhone unit growth will flatten further, if not outright decline, even with China Mobile.

Some people will think that I'm suggesting that Apple needs to copy Samsung. I'm definitely not as Samsung has NOT done what I am suggesting. I'm suggesting Apple be "first" in the smart phone space to duplicate what Apple was "first" in the tablet space to do - give consumers their choice of screen size WITHOUT any change in electronic internals (other than battery size) or feature set. 

What do you think Apple needs to do to return to a more rapid iPhone unit growth rate while maintaining their brand identity and margins?

Step 1: Cut Your TV Watching Costs (Save $50 to $150 per month)

12 Easy Steps to Have More Money Starting Today Series

Step 1: Cut Your TV Watching Costs

     What! Don't tell me to give up my (Insert your favorite TV show name here) you say! Don't worry! Remember, this series is about "Saving" money and not "giving up" the life style you want live. So, how do you "Save" on your TV costs?

     If you are like 90%+ of all USA residents, you get your daily dose of television from either Cable, Satellite, Fiber-optics or DSL. But, did you know that many/most of your TV shows and TV movies are also available "Over-The-Internet"?

     Over the last few years networks have been experimenting with broadcasting their shows "Over-The-Internet" to attract the 13 to 30 year old audience that has grown up watching video's on their smart phones and/or tablets (and not watching as much old-fashiTV). This "experimenting" has now turned into a "flood" as virtually every network show and movie is available "Over-The-Internet" in your web browser and/or as an "app" on your smart phone, tablet and HDTV.

     People wanting to save $50 to $150 or more/month on their home TV watching have turned in their cable TV boxes and become "Cord-Cutter" and switched to watching all of their TV and movies "Over-the-Air" (OTA) and "Over-the-Internet" (OTI). 

     Here are the items you will need to save lots of money watching TV by becoming a "Cord-Cutter"!

1. HDTV, Smart phone or Tablet

     Already got an HDTV? No? How about a smart phone (iPhone, Android or Windows model) or a tablet (iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPad Mini with Retina, Android tablet or Windows tablet). With any of these devices you can easily access almost any of of the TV or movies that you currently get from your current TV box.

2. "Internet Only" plan from your Cable, Satellite, Fiber-optics or DSL company

     Most cable companies (Comcast, Cox, Charter, Time Warner, Mediacom, Bright House, etcetera) (click blue text to see price & details) provide you with 250GB to "unlimited" data downloads per month. This amount of data will provide even the most TV addicted of us with enough TV and movies over the month to make us comatose. Fiber-optic-based providers (like Google Fiber in Kansas city) are also a great choice and supply similar amounts of data per month. DSL is an "old" telephone-line-based service from your local telephone company (and resold by other companies), but because of relatively slow download speeds and low monthly data download caps (as compared to most cable internet providers), I don't recommend DSL unless your only other choice is Satellite for Internet service, which is almost prohibitively expensive, has very low data caps (1GB/month is typical) and is VERY SLOW (a few Mbit/second download speed, versus 10-50 Mbit/second for cable and even faster for Fiber-optic-based services). I recommend a cable provider or Google Fiber for the best combination of price and performance.

3. A Modem and Router (or Modem and Router with WiFi)

     A modem is small s an electronic device that provides you a connection between your Cable/DSL/Satellite/Fiber-optics provider and the internet. Your provider will rent you one for around $6.00/month, but it's cheaper in the long run to buy one. For those of you that go with one of the cable companies (Comcast, Cox, Charter, Time Warner, Mediacom, Bright House) for your internet, I recommend the ARRIS / Motorola SurfBoard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem  (click blue text to see price & details). If you also need wireless internet (to wirelessly connect the internet to your smart phones and tablets) I recommend the ARRIS / Motorola SURFboard Gateway SBG6580 DOCSIS 3.0 Wireless N Cable Modem (click blue text to see price & details) which combines the modem and wireless internet (WiFi) into a single device. 

4. indoor or outdoor HDTV Antenna 

     For an great but inexpensive indoor digital antennae, I recommend the Winegard Company FL-5000 FlatWave HDTV Indoor Digital Flat Antenna (click blue text to see price & details). For a great outdoor antennae I recommend the RCA ANT751 High Quality Durable Compact Outdoor Antenna (click blue text to see price & details). You can spend more, but these are top rated on Amazon and if you are an Amazon Prime Member (click blue text to see price & details), you get FREE 2 day shipping on many Amazon products for a full year, including the two I've recommended above.

5. Roku 3 Streaming Media Player or an Apple TV streaming media player

     A streaming media player is a small hockey-puck size electronic device that will give your HDTV, smart phone and tablet access to a library of TV and movie services. This device connects via either an ethernet cable or over your wifi network to your cable modem. Prices for either device are around $100. I personally have both, but most people with choose one. If you are a Amazon Prime Member (click blue text to see price & details) you get access to thousands of "free" movies as part of your membership, but you want to choose the Roku 3 Streaming Media Player to get access to those movies (the Apple TV Streaming Media Player does not currently offer a way to access Amazon movies). If you own an Apple iPhone and/or iPad's, you will likely be happier with the Apple TV Steaming Media Player as there is a number of interoperability features you won't get on the Roku. 

6. Netflix subscription for $7.99/month (optional)

     If you are not familiar with Netflix (click blue text to see price & details), it is an internet-based on-demand movie and TV show provider. Netflix licenses many old, first run and Netflix Only shows and provide "on demand" viewing for the incredibly low price of $7.99/month. If you watch lots of TV, have small children who you want to entertain with on-demand movies and children show, it is well worth the money. They offer 30 day free trial and you can cancel at anytime.

Step 1 Savings: $50 to $150 per month / $600 to $1800 per year

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12 Easy Steps To Have More Money Starting Today

12 Easy Steps to Have More Money Starting Today

12 Easy Steps to Have More Money Starting Today Series

Since I started IFinancials with the primary goal of helping others learn easy ways to do more with their money, it seems like I should be writing about topics on that subject on a regular basis. Therefore, starting today, I am going to tackle this subject by outlining "12 Easy Steps to Have More Money Starting Today".

     Over the next 12 posts on this subject, I will show you how to get more from the money you now have with 12 easy steps each and every one of us can do with a minimal amount of effort. In fact, I have done all 12 of these steps and find that I am not only better off financially for doing them, but felt more empowered as I did each one of these steps. I not only "feel" I am living a richer life, but I am "in fact" living a richer life because of these 12 steps.

     As you read my future posts, you will find that most of these steps take very little effort and you only need access to a telephone and a computer (use one from your local library if you don't have one) to accomplish each and every one of these actions. You can do them in any order you wish, but I have tried to present them in an order which most readers will find easy to execute right away after reading. Let's get started today by my listing the "12 Easy Steps to Have More Money Starting Today" (Click any text colored "Blue" to jump to that article).

Step 1: Cut your TV watching costs

Step 2: Cut your Cell Phone costs

Step 3: Cut your Energy costs

Step 4: Cut your Transportation costs

Step 5: Cut your Entertainment costs

Step 6: Cut your Food costs

Step 7: Cut your Clothing costs

Step 8: Cut your Travel costs

Step 9: Cut your Interest & Other Fee's costs

Step 10: Cut your Housing costs

Step 11: Increase your Income without getting another job

Step 12: Save for a Rainy Day and Retirement

     That's the "12 Easy Steps to Have More Money Starting Today" sub-topics we're going to cover in this series.

     The easiest way to follow this series is to sign up on our "Contact Us" page to receive automatic email notification when each new post is available. Do not worry. I give you my word of honor that won't sell (or rent) your name or email to any one and you can unsubscribe from the email notifications at any time. 

     Until we chat again, follow me on twitter by clicking on the twitter icon on this page (@ifinancials), and "Take a Step Towards a Safe and Richer Life".

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Step 1: Cut Your TV Watching Costs

 

2014 : Day One

 Today is Monday January 6th, my first "work" day of 2014 for me having taken the last two weeks off to spend with my family, as suspect all of you who could, did so as well. I am planning on this being a "good" year for myself as an Apple iOS Indie Developer. Why? Because I picked up my first book on programming iOS just under two years ago and have learned enough programming to now be able to push out apps 2 through "N" during this calendar year. 

In 2012, some seven months after opening that first iOS programming book, I pushed my first app into the Apple App Store. It has not been a great revenue generating app, but my goal was to "touch" as many library frameworks as possible in developing the app so as to "learn" as much about programming as possible. In this I succeeded. The app was first released in iOS 5 for the 3.5" iPhone screens, then updated shortly after iOS 6 was released in late 2012 to support both iOS 5, iOS 6 and the new 4" screen in addition to the original 3.5" screens. 

What I learned from that first app was several things which I focussed my time and energies on in 2013. First, for me learning coding styles and methods is fun and challenging at the same time. Second, I had a lot still to learn to do "good" apps that would attract a lot of users and get press coverage. Third, the number of apps (now over 1 million) in the app store is so massive and discovery so hard, that I needed to put serious effort into marketing if I am to ever have any significant sales. Fourth, I have a lot to learn about both UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) before I released another app.

Although I still have far to go in learning in these four learning focus areas, I am ready to put my 2013 learning into my next app, and several more that I have queued up to do.

Will I still screw some things up? Absolutely! Will I learn from those mistakes and improve? Absolutely! By the end of 2014 will I see significantly increased revenues and multiple apps in the iOS App Store? Absolutely!

Now its time to go to work!